by Jake McPherson
On the first reading
A locomotive rhythm propels me through the lines driving me from one syllable to the next. A hunger in the sounds claws at the words to reach deep in my mind’s eye conjuring images of a man standing at a microphone eyes closed coughing line after line into the air falling on ears drowning thoughts out of blank stares soaked with yesterday’s tears. I’m left wondering when this force shoved my head into its vise grip.
Who gives way to what. The Fates are there. A god appears. Denver takes a beating. Sex’s scent rides high over the pages. There is dirt and anguish and women and men.
Was there laughter?
There was pounding sound. There was a beat. There was a need to move on on on.
I do not sense a wood fire. This is a modern, internal combustion. Sparks ignite gas, and a thousand intimate hopes burn through the paper and drive the pistons to push and pull on on on.
There were commas. Were there periods? Did anything stop? I don’t remember rest. I remember need.
The second reading
There was one period. And I’m out of breath! The words! They come relentlessly driving me over the cliff.
The rooms are unshaven. Purgatory is not a place but an active force. The ashcans scream. And what is a “kind king light of mind”? How does a mind illuminate? “Grandfather night” smiles on us all and gives us just a line or two of rest. “Hotrod-Golgatha jail-solitude watch” reaches in and twists me.
The commas are not punctuation. The lack of commas speaks of need to make language.
“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” Oh, God! What sphinx indeed?! I am laid waste. My breast is open, and my beating heart is there to be eaten.
I have so many questions. Why does this make me want to rush to the corner to buy a pack of cigarettes?
Need. Hunger. Want.
Breath. Sound. Rending.
I forgot how to read. I must learn again.