I could let them all go, the letters pencils
hands and scheming numerals;
only they and I would feel a difference.
I would still sit here alone late with water
early with coffee, wrestling quiet
and little stacks of terror.
At most the Ark would be short a mosquito.
Everything else is splintering out there,
chewed by the wind,
why not let them go too?
Tomorrow is New Years’ day,
the day after that rent’s due,
a week after that I get paid.
If I play these silent games that make quiet
bearable, praying to nothing sometimes overheard,
only they and I feel a difference.

Out there dreaming in a black freeze
–know who that is?  It’s them,
the carnival masks a day after
spattered with glitter, food and blood.  Don’t be afraid,
they just want in, a little warmth,
a space to know a moment from another.
Their faces are perfect ohs of need.
My secrets are safer with them
than with stones, and when warmed
they say things I wouldn’t tell God if He asked,
things unsayable except by a fire
on nights like this fifty years after
with all names changed, all referents
repainted in made-up alphabets.

There’s no point in saying things are bad,
they’re bad everywhere.
Your pain trumps mine, mine yours, and if we scream
God deaf with the neighbors He’ll move away too.
Yet this early these dark days
groaning with a grabbing chill
glaring through the window
sometimes I need to scream,
just toss my head back and exit through the mouth.
That’s when I let in the handkerchief ghosts,
the humiliated totems,
and cradle them in coffee-warm hands.
Such good company, so much worse off than me.

© 2019 Evan Fowler