Farewell to Poetry by Daniel Ruiz
For Shang yang Fang
I give myself to the end of this poem to decide.
I empty myself, have emptied myself 10,000 times,
like a lung. I guess that’s a terrible estimate. We breathe a fuckton—
even when air has skunk taste and texture, as opposed
to its usual quiescence. Never thought I’d get to use
that word, quiescence, or specious, or obeisance, even though
I think a lot, which seems like a straight shot to writing,
yet side by side body and mind struggle to work in tandem,
but one at a time you feel the other melt into instinct,
yanking your hands out of the hearth or daydreaming about Kyoto
while a stranger who thinks you’re staring at him makes a face
your eyes can’t see, having flipped the iris inward
like a standing mirror before a bed a couple shamefully shares.
What makes us so deserving of space in other people’s minds?
When the car window breaks open and you seal your blind spot
with a black garbage bag, as you’re trying to change lanes,
do you remember how much we’ve complained about
ourselves, throwing meaning into our mischief like salt into a pool?
Beware! The sidewalk scorpions are prowling about the kitchen,
claws scraping through grout. Meanwhile we turn and turn,
first to some garden, briefly, next to a scatterbrained table,
before finally the shapeshifter’s trench coat unhooks itself
from the shower rod. We take turns putting it on, choosing
the Invisibility setting, which we intuit as addictive
before retreating to our personas to deal with withdrawal.
Yet having developed a taste for breath we find we cannot stop
losing it. It’s elusive as the glimmer of oil on asphalt, a blackbird’s
coat bending to sunbeams. This is what we have decided to pursue,
bent on one leg, two ballerinas of imbalance. We are chasing it
up the parking garage, ignoring the various fonts
in which slurs are sharpied on stairwells before, on the roof,
we lose the color we sought in the light in a violent sunset,
yet go on staring into it, trying to read the negative language
the sun scribbles inside our eyelids. Yours says,
“Do not damage with your eye all that already shines.”
Here’s mine: “What are you staring at the sun for?
Some of its darkness it gets from us.”
© 2020 Daniel Ruiz. Today’s poem was taken from the November 2020 issue of Poetry.
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