by Ellen Kombiyil
with two lines from Bernadette Mayer
On the avenues, white exhaust tinges blue;
a pigeon nearly gets me, perched over the red church door.
For lunch I pack a ham & turkey sandwich;
I want to hose the city down with bleach.
Mostly images don’t form patterns;
or they do—it’s my mind
arranging them, giving an impression
of continuity, not unlike the man with a serpentine walk
I’ve avoided all my life looking down at my shoes—
When I say the man I don’t mean my father.
Of course, I’m told we walk alike;
from behind we have the same stooped cadence,
arches collapsed, soles worn on a slant—
Is that him I just passed?
I don’t like cooking dinner,
get bored listening to my husband’s yakety yak.
“I have to send my meeting notes out in the morning,” he says;
I stir fry the tofu-slash-get distracted
by the inner turmoil of paying rent
& what it means to be a good person.
In another place or through window tint
it appears to be raining on asphalt.
Storm pipes branch beneath swarming feet;
we weave around each other
like flamingos on takeoff or just before dancing,
each of us moving in unison, a dot on the GPS.
Little Dot move left;
Little Dot don’t move just blink in vertical space
going up the office escalator, toting coffee in a paper cup;
Little Dot plugged with earbuds.
Riding backwards on trains we’re time-lapsed
like night scenes, streaming taillights, headlights
the signal’s shifting red-green;
or we flicker like flamingos
mating in the infrared,
each orange splotch with a yellow heart
pulsing “at once above/below” as Bernadette says,
and “it’s easier for love to have a million neighbors”
seems a breezy thing to say, appropriate
not slutty, our mouths’ sucking frenzy;
or we zag in blue swaths like zebra fish
flaunting eyes, lacing fins, in fact
yes, I’m avoiding the text
just in from my landlord asking WHERE IS THE RENT