Not Actually in Bed

Win a deep-sea staring contest with a candle
Maybe just a bit of sparkle before the fizz
Invert the swindle – I’m not actually in bed
I’m on a stranger’s porch
Watching her watch Letterman
When he was a nerd trading in the absurd
With a discreet subtext of menace
I can hear him slightly through the window
I’m up against a boundary, excited and scared
Floating just outside her field of vision

Shadows somersault overhead
While I’m not actually in bed
Tomorrow I’ll go up and hang from the wire
Between celebration and complaint by myself
If you need me any sooner, check the wrong place first
I’m stitching the path from How do you do
To Do it all night across the back of a denim jacket
Learning the ins and outs by heart
So I can run them with my eyes closed

I’m hanging out downtown with my friend
Sitting on the edge of a dry fountain
Watching the vertical gyratory rotate
Finding new ways up to the skywalk
Posing as foreigners until the buses start running
We have the city to ourselves for the night
All we win is a taste of vagrancy

You’re still basing everything on ten digits
When I speak in elevens, it doesn’t get through
Mon dieu! I’m not actually in bed
I’m the graveyard shift smoke signaler
A hostage on the butte
With a blanket and a tin can of water
Churning semi-transparent remorse
Spell faster and save the aficionados
E-dot-G T-O-R N-A-D-O-S
Stop trying to tell me how to fill the palette
When it doesn’t really matter

I’m on the line between summer cicadas and a mystery woman
Cardboard Casanova waiting for the garbage men
She’s heartbreaking without shortwave, a static will-o’-the-wisp
Don’t speak to me of rivers, she’d say
Soak up all your water imagery with a sponge
And leave it in the basement
I know how the origami box unfolds
I memorized the lines hidden on the inside
I’ll trace your tattoos with my fingers and trace them with my tongue
I’ll answer the lies from the bottom of a well in sixty-five million years

I’m ready to trade in my useful fears
For the glass puzzle box no one’s ever claimed
The satraps will tell you if you ask
I’m not actually in bed
And I’m not going to physics class any more, so listen up:
Nibble on the tail of the faint syllogism
Dreams re-created by losing the poet
The bubble gum grenadier slows pace to match the marching band
If it’s possible or not I’ll have to rove alone
The beads and breasts of Mardi Gras are usually so far away
No one can fall in the blank like we can
No one wants to anyway
I’ll get a hundred halves of fortune cookies
And a paper chain for nothing
More than dreaming of Versailles
Green prayers slip between my fingers
Leaving stains under the nails
I don’t care, I’ve got to try

Rime edging windowpanes, dawn’s only clue
Dissolving like a ballerina troupe
Fever to the ice to the east to the tulle
Glance back, move one step inside
Step aside, ecstatically aside

The End

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