to 5

    on the 5ives


for Pat Silliman

Hospital bed moved into the sun room, his moments of rising the stairs to the second floor of his own house are numbered (but that's where the bathroom is). Forest illuminated by moonlight.

The weekend all the leaves fall. Empty house as an index of possibility. Out by the private airport, Sunday at dusk, all the weekend fliers heading in. Kneeling, you run your finger along the moist sill of the window.

A condition of light on a narrow street near the campus late in the afternoon triggers an emotion as if it were a memory. I stand here reading aloud to you, wondering at your reaction, able only to interpret the sounds of bodies shifting in these chairs.

Walking around with a post-it stuck to the bottom of my shoe. Crossing the church parking lot in the rain, I enter the brightly lit hall, walls an almost butterscotch brown, brown linoleum floors, where, behind a row of three long tables, a row of seniors serve as local election commissioners. Red light reflected on the rain-slicked road.

Two quilt night. Weight of my trousers, pockets full of keys, wallet, coins, handkerchief, security badge for work, beeper on my belt. The "r" in "Goethe."

Obsessing over whether or not to counter the seller's counter offer, and how, I rise and climb the carpeted stairs to the unheated attic study. An image of Deleuze in flight of Poulantzas - the philosophers are falling.

At the mall: a new anchor tenant means a new idea. I can hear the fax machine as it auto-redials. Broken spider web dangles from the lampshade.


A lost pen extracts an emotional cost, a crust through which one must push this cheapened, impossible substitute.

The outside of the building - in the shape of a lion - is constructed in an industrial vinyl and sounds hollow when you rap it with your knuckles (the high hotel walls are tinted green and illumined further by green floodlights, suggesting the Emerald City).

At dawn (no clocks or even windows in the casino), the slots are more or less quiet, but a crowd still around the craps table (off in one corner, I spy an old woman in bathrobe and slippers playing the nickel slots).

In the distance, the desert has been reduced to an effect. She speaks and in her voice I hear the husky tones of years of tobacco and alcohol and suddenly realize how this young face has been structured and preserved through makeup that now looks too thick to be trusted.

Sparse beauty of the desert visible only at a distance (thick belt of smog smears the base of the mountains, their peaks utterly clear, defined in the cloudless sky). Small wizened Mestizo in a baseball cap (so and grainy the logo's impossible to discern) hands me a pamphlet full of color photos offering "X-otic in-room entertainment." Duck and goat cheese quesadilla. On the elevator, I realize this young woman in the short skirt isn't wearing panties.

In Detroit there is snow and there is waiting, there is waiting at the gate and there is waiting, there is waiting on the tarmac and there is waiting, there is a woman on a gurney, having deplaned and she is waiting, the cabin lights dimmed for take-off and we are waiting.

The terrain is different, the forest stripped of leaves, the sky gray, houses visible I'd not seen before. Blister on my lower lip, old familiar.


Backslash. The light barely glimmers through the old bedspread curtain. Mr Cake and Mr Snake. Moss on a rooftop makes the footing dangerous. Leafless, the forest holds the gray-green tone of the trees' bark.

Sky in which the clouds are so omnipresent as to be invisible ( a vast dull grayness). At the McDonald's, the "bus boy" is a woman who must be 70. Initializing modem. The sidewalk is an afterthought, little more than a buffer from the rush of Sunday traffic, one parking lot melting into another. World in which John Lennon never grows old.

Children in a circle on the floor of a Quaker meeting house, drums, tambourines, triangles, blocks and bells in hand. Insert disk 2. A child recites the alphabet so that you can hear the alphabet.

A man recalls first learning to drink from a cup. Shoe with Velcro straps. I recall the angle of that hill as though it were a condition of heaven. Last week's paper cut become this week's rough-edged scar.

A man is digging in the woods, but whether to find or hide something I cannot tell. Crowded mall interior seen in slow motion: you pan slowly over each person's expression, reading it as if it were a narrative (an old woman who is still extraordinarily beautiful and knows it, a teenage boy very nervous next to what may be a very new girlfriend, a man with a child of a different race, a woman who can't be more than 20 with two toddlers.)

Are you Egon? In the dream, I walk through decades as easily as rooms. to convey the point, shape the broccoli into a pyramid. Trifocals partition sight. In the middle of the night, atop the bed you stood over me and removed your clothing, piece by piece. He can't stop talking because his mind is full and his stomach's empty. What are your intentions?

Point at which the last leaves remaining on all the trees retain almost no discernible color: green that's brown that's grey. Two lanes over the Conowingo Hydroelectric Project (aka dam), the water on one side still, essentially lifeless, on the other active, rolling over rocks and past green islands out to the sea.