Two Poems by Joshua Corey

We Admitted Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

In the boxed-wine section, in
flight from paper streamers, in mid-
air under hot lights, we opened
our faces to one another

together we froze the hour, together
we addressed the chair,
together we were huddled mammals
licking one another’s scorched fur

as the contrails crossed our minds, as
the emptiness of the past asserted
itself as marriages gone bad or stale
swiped left or right with evolution

beside the man or woman who
speaks for us we twisted kleenex
into rags beside ourselves we
refused comfortless comparisons

back of the unseeable face,
back of the color of the book,
back of the wisdom of praying
to nothing and nobody in our lives.

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Imagine feeling responsible.
The poem reaches across space and time
To drop so quietly into your flowerpot.
My answer festering there, unlooked for,
Negligible as my action. The world
Reduces itself without much help from us
Like an actor without a SAG card repeating her single line
In a deleted scene that nevertheless registers
Our helplessness before the inverted spectacle.
Shock value of la vie interieur
Stripped to something red, something orange
(Fade out on the moment of intensest suffering
Which itself suffers or summons us
To the nonexistence that is not peace).
Not war, not buying and selling, not choking,
Running on fumes and catching them up
Like the boy I was I want to shut all the doors
Let windows reflect on polished surfaces
Auto-tuned to skirt the pain of harmonics,
Something to say in light language.

But newspapers are killing us so we killed them first
And there’s no longer much point in killing your television.
When you shoot in portrait mode you try and cut the person
Out of the panorama that constantly intrudes
On Lawrence of Arabia resting by the well
Watching the long approach of the man who is death
His time to react foreshortened by the lens
Of the already here, the really really here.
I wish then I knew what I know now:
Watching you rack up points on Space Invaders
Accelerates the heartrending mic-drop of the sky
We live in the sky the whole world now sky
Nowhere to touch ground sky comes bearing clouds
Images we shape these images ourselves
Until there’s no longer any room for thinking or living
Or registering our protest or walking instead of driving
The spirit of the times slain by the times
Like the face we discover in the heart of the tree
Our own face—what face? Face of the age,
Face of a bad me trending within your face in profile
Surrendering this desert and its castles and their clouds.


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