No matter how many times I smile and say “nothing,”
they will keep barking like yuppy seagulls,
“what’s up?” “what’s up!” “what’s up?!”
They’re a syrup-cloud of probable annoyance,
or maybe that’s me and they’re gnats.
Or maybe it’s just what’s in my mouth,
all stuck and shut and stuffed,
bursting against my thin white lips
as I’m clamping.
Because nothing I could say is yet clever enough
to be what I mean.
And you and I are not speaking,
and they think they know that.
They think that quiet is something doled out
in spoonfuls, that cogs must all have a little
bit of buzz to be spinning
and that if I would just scream or
chase them away,
I’d have some way to be better off.
If I jumped off a bridge they’d say
it must’ve been my shoes untied;
they give my purposes away to the fish,
invent my ponderings in swallowable fiction,
take the stock right out of my bones,
and all for help.
Because, they think, you and I
are not speaking. That’s true.
But to clam entirely is a sin which they
will not assign to me yet.
They will not think it much worse,
they will not conceive
of any greater change
than the ebbing they all know-
there are no ghosts behind murders,
it’s always just a man.
When it’s proven that I am irreparable,
they’ll never let me get near a bridge,
and how many more times will they then ask
if I’ve gone to lunch and will I be back by two
and do I need anything from the market
and by the way when will I get any better
and expect me to answer in mournful tones,
“when we are speaking again”