Transcontinental

By Lucas Gonzalez

i.

I like the idea that the West is still working
while the East that never sleeps
has long been tilted into darkness

Just as it once struck me to have ‘Karma’
So euphoniously explained as
‘The universal law of cause and effect.’

Some words. Like rich ink poured in your ear,
They stay. When I land back on my feet

And get a glimpse of ripe fruit fallen from trees uneaten,
overripe, I think, ‘no waste there, really’

And yet, I cringe to see expired groceries in the fridge
And still think nothing of leaving the dishes in the sink overnight,
Some distorted expression of my mental state as I fill my bag for traveling.

And like some pinnacle of man, I cross each skylit mile like an inch
So fast it made me think chivalry was not extinct, or at least love isn’t —

It is still living somewhere below me in the hives of windows
On the darkling streets, or someplace above me in a maze
Of pipes and tunnels as I crash down the rails of a city where,

Since last week, the storefronts have changed completely altogether
The way some seashells are no longer found on this or that beach
The way the have discontinued my favorite ice cream
Exiled me from such and such a zip code
And altered the ingredients of my tea.

What else have I done but had my fun and grown old?
What else have I done but trusted wind’s directions.
I left the suitors behind to love the island in my absence.

I make my way now backwards across the shifting landscapes
of an incinerated motherland my eyes hang on.
The destruction, its salvation, is my own.

ii.

When silver wings first gave me flight I crowded moonlight from my eyes
Tracked the pregnant razor light against west wind, a snowflake kite.

I never supposed until last week that heaven did not exist at all.
I always guessed purgatory was some unseen star, its light too recent for our eyes.

It’s not until my bag is packed and I am perched for absconding that in the early hours the trees begin their dance, cold and shaking in their wild grief—

Each agrees I am just another season, leaving with the key to their rattling cages
and the heat for their un-thawing.

Of the mild weather on late streets, I say forget the days without much thinking —
bend and sway like palms on a windy evening near your breaking

And the other side of night is a bleary sleep beset with fog.
You and me ,we lay in bed until it seems wrong to stay much longer.

I am giving up that guilt. I am soaring like an angel drunk through the gold air.
It is freezing my hair and skin and I can’t see, but I am on my way up there.

iii.

When I could not find the ground
That was beneath me yesterday
The carpet gone, floorboards out,
Even the dirt all swept away,
I scrambled to my window to make sure things were okay

But even the sky had become something else,
Like it had drained out over night,
Just as the air that had been dry and warm like summer
Was much too autumn for walking undressed
In the city morning light.

Some new covering had discovered the grass
And eaten it all as I dreamt.
Some strange dead blossoms
Were blowing about the cold cement as I walked.

My lover’s name bright on my tongue,

I got up at the very thought and left my same old room
And stepped out into a different one.
And when I turned around, some new skyline, confused
Sprouting like a ruin

And just like any morning, the desire for eggs and coffee hits me

I take a strange elevator going up where there used to be steps down from the porch
A doorman greets me, he knows me by name, wishes me happy holidays
But it isn’t even close to such a season
And there was never before a doorman in this building

What is happening to me
Where are the brilliant, tortured people that I used to see

My old ranch dissolved, I guess—every cowboy left
And here I am the cross street of 120th and Amsterdam
Knowing there must be a reason why I am forgetting where I live
But no memory of packing or moving comes to mind
Just this perpetual state I keep try to relate to:

Odd wings whose songs are rearranged,
The friends of yesterday who are not today’s friends.

I have worn through the bottoms of all my frying pans
And there is the echo of this thing I keep saying:
I am who I am — but who’s that

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Lucas Gonzalez

Lucas Gonzalez / About Author

Lucas Gonzalez is a poet from New York City. His first novel, Maple Machine (2006), was published by 826 National (McSweeney's Press). A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, Lucas holds an MA from Middlebury College and is currently an MFA candidate at Columbia University, where he serves as Community Outreach Editor for Columbia Journal.

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