About the Feature

I’m dreaming of urban renewal right now:

Entropy, abandoned homes, insurance

Scams, the Bronx is burning. When I recall

The past I’m actually in the past. My mind

Is blank. And then it was December. We

Were visiting my mother at Christmas.

I had nothing to read. Time, etc.

I had plenty to write about in my

Black marbled notebook. It was a nice day.

I wanted to go back to see if there was

Something there for me still. I didn’t find

What I was looking for. I bought a book

To learn the alphabet. For instance: “A”

Is for “Agamemnon.” I find myself

Wishing for retribution. On a bench

In Central Park, the old guard seems to be

Getting phased out, and I am now too sleepy

To type out the fragments. The story opens

In a frigid field, the limits of which

Signal a beginning or an end. A young

Lover talking to himself about love.

They have a word for that. Anyhow,

My markings seem to indicate that I

Have read this passage before. Can you tell

I was educated by Jesuits?

Wild profusions of scrawl take over the page.

Beginning at the outer edge, at just

The point at which it rubs against the world,

The yellowing works its way inward, forming

An aura around the words, which will themselves

Succumb to this ineluctable dis-

coloration. One day the edges will crack

And the pages will biodegrade. The book

Will be no more. O Rose, thou art Sick.

Once I tried to write a poem by writing

The opposite meaning of every line

From another poem. It didn’t really work.

At the time I had almost no money

And borrowed all of my books. Our first night

We ate dinner at a little bistro.

Seven feet of snow fell on the city.

It very nearly drowned her quiet voice.

I sometimes wonder if I’ve actually done

The things I think I’ve done, known the people

I think I’ve known, lived in the places

I think I’ve lived, or if I’ve made it up

In order to please myself (and others).

We were living in our last house, the one

We sold that year, if memory serves, sitting

Outside on the porch, watching the children

Attack each other with chestnuts, so it

Must have been in early fall. We talked

About the various cities in which

We’d lived: New York, Vienna, Buffalo,

Silverthorne, Washington, Los Angeles,

Quito, and the minor vicissitudes

Of living in the desert among an

Unfamiliar set of desert creatures.

The outcome, of course, was foretold.

The light from the lamp and the light from the flash

Canceled one another out. I let

The camera wander down to her hands, which

Gestured in ways that seemed to contradict

The things she said. There is, in essence,

No past. What we call “past” is still extant,

Lost among the amassing details of time.

I was catching a nap in the lounge when

I was awakened by a rumbling.

In the center of the room, on top of

The desk, there sat a box of candy squares.

I chose a chocolate wrapped in golden foil,

And I ate it, and it was delicious.

I savored each bite, but then I thought

I should not have eaten that one. It was

The only one, and now it’s gone. Indeed,

The ephemerality of thought serves

Often as a kind of double for the

Ephemerality of life. Now I’m

Feeling sort of sad, as if I could repent

Of something I have or have yet to do.

About the Author

Michael Kelleher has authored two collections of poems, Human Scale and To Be Sung, both from Blazevox. He lives in Buffalo, NY where he works as Artistic Director of Just Buffalo Literary Center. His ongoing literary memoir project, Aimless Reading, can be found at http://pearlblossomhighway.blogspot.com.