The boy is thinking about living
forever again--confiding to his pillow,
the sheets he’s pulled over his head like a shroud,
another litany of his sins he’s exposed via x-ray,
and taken stock of along with his bones.
Now the stars are blurring in and then out
before delivering their prognosis.
Meanwhile, he is poking his tongue into dark holes,
his teeth and jaw lit up from within
as if calling the night on its bluffs--
sure that even it can’t go on as if limitless.

By noon he’ll be back, slapping his mitt
leaning in for some counsel from the flies and the dust.
He’s hypnotized--through with thinking, for now.
Even though the fences are plotting into the horizon,
the overhead wires taut with false gods.
Early August and already their lawn is burnt beyond recognition.

If these are the least of his problems
he’ll later welcome the baptism served up by his bicycle tire,
the bag crammed with jawbreakers bouncing off of his knee.
But instead he’s projecting himself past the least of what was lent him—
feels a wind dating back before time, the fanfare of derelict angels.

All that time in the womb, all afloat in formaldehyde
did nothing to prepare him for the chill of just-morning,
the palest tone of these telephones as we drift
in and out between dreams, more dumb slumber.
How he longs for that reduced brand of silence, oblivion
where nothing’s admitted out of the light.
For what could be worse than this waiting?
Anything but redemption, this straight-out salvation.
Rather, the imperfect strain of the bird’s song,
the bewildering geometry of the swing set out back.
Clouds pause and then pass across sky.
For a minute, this eternity lost to him.

Mark DeCarteret's work has appeared in the anthologies American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press), Places of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry (Story Line Press), Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998 (Black Sparrow Press) and Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets (Oyster River Press) which he also co-edited. His fourth book (If This Is the) New World was released last year from March Street Press.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761