One calls in sick. Another calls from the street. The last calls in, I can barely hear, says, “They are bombing my quarter today. I cannot possibly make it in to work.” I look around me. What can I do? I cannot build the great ship without others to fit it together. I have a model, here, I’ve made out of toothpicks. I could show you what I expect. But the last time I showed you, you said there was thunder. But I hear no thunder now, just your voice. Saying “no you’re crazy,” falling off again until morning.


All But Finished

You cannot know what sense to make. The lamb you pet may have swallowed a clock. The clock may explode without warning. When this happens, you look at the wreckage and find that you cannot reconnoiter. The lever you used has broken, or never was. In its place is a piece of glue. You cannot melt it with your breath. And if you could, nothing would form but another melting device. Once such moments rose often. You used a ruler the size of a synapse to measure the distance between them. Equaling what. You reach for my hand, and you find it has become a numbered post. In the middle of December, you are alone. The camera is rolling. You are the hero’s replacement. In your undershirt. You will save a plaster cosmos that sits in a tank full of sparkles. You do not need to speak. The emphasis is on action. Just cut the cord when they say slide. Let yourself fall until you hit the thorns. Someone will scream for you, if you can’t think of the words. The enemy is putting on its costume. I glance away at the sound of a whistle blowing. I realize it is my tea, and I have been writing a letter to you all this time, and the cause is perfectly hopeless.

Max Winter, winner of the Fifth Annual Boston Review Poetry Contest, has poems appearing recently in Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Colorado Review, Volt, The Yale Review, The Canary, Denver Quarterly, First Intensity, GutCult, TYPO, and New Young American Poets (Southern Illinois, 2000). He has published reviews in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, and BOMB. He is a Poetry Editor of Fence.


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