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By Ari Banias
Some Kind of We
These churchbells bong out
one to another in easy conversation
a pattern, a deep ringing that wants to say
things are okay,
things are okay –
but things are
the compromised gesture,
the mind divorcing
from the eye as it sees, and I can’t
trust a churchbell, though I would like to
the way I can trust
that in this country, in houses,
apartments, there somewhere is a cabinet or drawer
where it’s stashed, the large plastic bag
with slightly smaller mashed together
plastic bags inside it; it is overflowing, and we keep adding,
bringing home more than we need, we should have
to weave a three piece suit of plastic bags
a rug, a quilt, a bed of bags even, anything
more useful than this collection this excess
why am I writing about plastic bags, because
it is this year in this country and I am this person
with this set of meanings on my body and the majority of what I have,
I mean, what I literally
have the most of in my apartment, more
than plants, more than forks and spoons and knives combined, or chairs
or jars or pens or socks, is plastic bags, and I
am trying to write, generally and specifically,
through what I see and what I know,
about my life (about our lives?),
if in all this there can still be—tarnished,
problematic, and certainly uneven—a we.
It was strange but now it’s normal:
the day ended, then in wolf-light
. hair sprouted where previously was none –
Now the days are shorter. We learn to do in the dark, we get used to it.
And now I’m a fake man I’m talking moving but
I never learned how.. I’m faking and not-faking it, making it
up as I go which so far means
I’m not sure what’s expected and I’m probably not doing it right
hell, I might not even care –
a handshake can be awkward. a hug is too
The choices:. cheating husband, vapid fag
checked-out corporate guy, self-centered evolved guy, predator, sensitive
yet inarticulate, messiah, martyr, angry man, father
these are godawful
and I would like ethics to play a role but
is good fashion too much to ask for?
I’m not sure I want to do this but here goes
drop my pants and the needle sinks in. Is it weird I feel it surge
powerfully through me? OK maybe that’s imaginary
but not the question of what it means to be a white dude
. after having been a white girl –
How much is learned how much given how much taken on voluntarily?
I know I’d prefer to misbehave
continuously. Any squirrel would get what I mean – anarchic revelry,
refusing to ever be still, such keenness.
They own no tree so they all own all of them. I’d like to flick my tail too
whenever I want as if to say WHAT.
But at any moment I’m wherever someone puts me
then I change my mind. I’ll pick a side
when I need to
. handshake: OK;. backslap-chortle: hell no.
Sometimes we’re engulfed by sides.
Granted this is no place to air-kiss or shake hands
but I’m pleased to meet you however I can.
This page another frame like any. you look through & are
invited to step into
And though I’ve never
met your body before and you’ve never met mine I am sure
they are spinning out someplace past where anyone could reach
I am sure now
there is no true body
our cells are always still freaking out.
When I went on vacation with my dad
it was awkward. Were we two men sharing a bed. Were we father
and daughter. We fought
as we always have, like brothers.
At dusk we took a walk into town. You know what we call this he said?
Wolf-light. Just after sundown the sky a deep bruise
the air anticipates.
When you’re in love the world appears more beautiful is something
people like to say. For me it’s this: the heart’s throat
is choked. Someone went in & scrawled a moustache on the upper lip and then
one under each eye.
There’s the flood, the dam you have to keep
rebuilding. Who was driving? I didn’t remember being
the passenger; we switched?. – it’s understandable;
. I almost drove us off the bridge.
As if rotating on an axis and thrust into light
it’s like this: I want us to be alone
but here’s the world again that glows and strikes. I admit
I do want love to swallow us whole
and have us stay alive somehow in the being-swallowed and then not be
swallowed forever; we can come up for air, and then we come up new and wise.
But it’s true, his arm is so heavy sometimes
I can’t breathe. The difference is
I’m not bothered, some other place breathes for me:. I become
light and fast as music. And now I don’t want to ever live
without that. (The mind always goes to without that.
Then the other thought: You’ll be fine.)
But these days I’m not fine: love takes its big sharpie
and draws moustaches on everything
which is to say it is everywhere reminding me of it and
laughing at me and sometimes I’m laughing too but mostly
stuttering a longing a doubting is a very difficult feeling
to maintain with the moustaches
like little dancing birds everywhere and my eyes so tired
. And no balm exists or it does but it never
. lasts long enough because then morning –
The only thing that stops the moustaches is the original moustache
belonging to the one shot through with this my stuttering my stumble
Except one thing. I did see the disco ball, two beefed up guys on Bowery
lifted out of the truckbed carefully.
One of them held it up waist-high and every
surface around them trembled with flecks of light.
The corrugated metal of the storefront gate, clutch of red
plastic grocery bags
in a woman’s hands,
the austere stone entrance to the bank. Little white
ripplings, the world mirroring itself back. Saying Hello. Here we are
we’re still here. And I walked through.
“Some Kind of We” first appeared in Portable Boog Reader 3 and was reprinted in Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion, and Spirituality, ed. Kevin Simmonds (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011)
“Wolf-Light” first appeared in What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012)
Ari Banias is the author of a chapbook, What’s Personal is Being Here With All of You (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012). Recent work has appeared in Subtropics, DIAGRAM, Gulf Coast, and Evening Will Come. Currently the Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing in Madison, he was a 2011-12 Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.