Newspoem 18 May 1996

Only certain things seem newsworthy:

The noise the shopping cart made as she dragged it straight down the center of University Avenue around midnight.

How the man across the street laughed at me as I filled colorful balloons with helium and walked around downtown affixing them to parking meters near the windows where the paintings were hung.

The accumulated pile of unread newspapers flutters on my desktop like a shredded dove.

This sudden springtime.

Walking through downtown at two in the morning, glancing up stairs that led up to someone’s doorway, seeing her curled there, eyes snapping open as I passed, thinking: so this is where she’s been sleeping all these years I’ve only known her as the customer from many restaurants who has loud fights with herself, changes her order, and leaves without paying.

The look on the faces of the people we passed on the sidewalk around 11 PM in East Urbana as the friend I was walking with commented: "I mean, he has a crummy convenience store job and he’s happy. I’d kill myself for sure." And wondering where they worked and what I looked like to them.

I have mononucleosis, clinical depression, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The tone of voice with which my mother said: "Look at that woman." In reference to a large black woman wearing a bikini top, shorts, and white tights crossing the street in front of our car, smiling broadly.

How my friend’s computer was stolen the night before last, and years of unbackedup writing with it; how odd that a petty thief would choose to steal exactly the only thing of inestimable value; how frightening that it would be something other than petty theft; how I left all the lights on when I went out last night.

How much I want to abandon my ambition to write a poem a day anyway, how I need to find a job.

The world is warm and hostile.

It is suddenly a wonderful place to be, whether it is or not.

The text thaws and the speech grows as aggressively as the weeds in the yard below me.

Everyone I know is terrified and helpless and slipping into insensible denial, myself included.

We are in love and no longer have anything important enough to die for.

How tired I have been since the semester ended, how tragic, how in need of a paperweight.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books