BY JONATHON TODD.
If the fear is silence, raise the word with pitch and burn incense.
Talk about fear while trying
to stay warm and full,
watching the retroactive lights reverberate,
the disappearing act of simplicity and boredom.
The last last drink I had was at a bar in a translation /
before I tipped the long stem of a wine bottle
and fell asleep in a stunned position.
A half eaten ruben in a diner with a bleeding stomach
and a heart that moved against its own interest &
when time repeats and the lights go out
I laid on my kitchen floor screaming /
the tips of my fingers burning.
I would breathe and gasp shooting up
with electric fear.
& when I saw it coming again
I would lay down clutching the elusive fabric
serene with silence.
I would watch you play music trying to hold onto a note or a word.
What did I see then?
But the bright lights from the back of a cab really did me in.
I'm not sure what captivity feels like, but I know the fear
of against my will, dragging my feet across the floor
& making perfect mathematical circles
with outstretched arms.
Shock is a word I'll wield a bit more delicately now,
restart no longer a moral code.
What morality lies in visions?
When they shut the lights off & you see movement
where there shouldn’t be any?
When you cry out for visions &
grab for the inexplicable?
& light holds purpose that hurts your chest.
They take notes:
“This will be an interesting case.”
& I’ll forever hate my lack of understanding
and seeing that look again.
Making peace with the lack of light
because it made more sense than movement.
No calm or understanding,
just submission that was tired of trying.
And now there are ghosts in the music,
as I search for seeds in this lemon,
water boiling on the stove,
flashes of steam blow upwards across the city,
the same city I watched from a window,
while they made grave pronouncements from behind walls.
It’s easy to whisper in front of the deaf,
but much harder to hide your music.
And all I listened to was the piano,
staring out of windows and reciting words at neutral walls.
You can feel vibrations before you speak, or listen.
I would ask for tea, long after everyone had gone to sleep,
the refrain being isolation.
Dipping the tea bag, I’d watch water coming off the bottom,
relearning gravity in a dull but comfortable purgatory,
wishing for a cigarette or some incense to burn.
It’s amazing then that I didn’t think of Rome,
or some dusty cathedral,
or the oceans,
or a field.
I couldn’t think of anything except air,
& even that was just remembering to breathe.
Now I sit smoking,
the air is a different bit of magic now,
cold and even.
I sip tea, catching heat rising as I fall.
Not the usual blur of stupid happy information,
nor the creeping fear of my own skin plotting against me.
Not a state of grace
Just a little confusion and a clear look over
my shoulder to where the music grows.
Jonathon Todd is a poet and musician, living in South Philadelphia. His work deals with observations mainly written between breaks, trying to find humanity outside of and within labor. His work has been featured in Philadelphia Stories, Prolit Mag, and Protean Mag among others. His chapbook Over/time was released from Moonstone Press (2019). You can follow him on Twitter @JonathonTodd1, and on Instagram @toddjonathon.