—a poem by Carl James Grindley

The world might be unreadable,
Impervious, even, to zombie Jean-François Champollion,
A shambling half-skeletal anime of the little bearded Frenchman,
Powered by lesser brains and a surplus of coarse paté du maison,
Drafting vast indices, as if order and sense could be distilled
From a litany of soft moans, little noises that never promised
Even a compensatory code.
Guideless, cameraless, stuck like an idiot under
The hot hot sun, I am abandoned in a doomed,
Soon to be flooded temple,
As the Aswan of the world's dead hopes
Fills to the brim and then some.
Modernity is a religion that might compass countless ages,
Daft and half corked, I roam its wind-swept ruins
Unable to read the simplest of expressions
As the waters lap around my knees.
This is a message written in jelly beans
A sub-standard take out Pad Thai
That lives in the refrigerator until Lovecraftian
Horror exiles it to a dumpster some blocks away,
This is song sung on a borrowed guitar,
An empty priority package that promised a face staring
Back in the morning's mirror,
A clever telephone,
And an alarm clock that merely tells me how much
Of my life has been lost to staring at roses and laundry.
How does one decipher a bag of carrots,
A jar of alfredo sauce, a bulletin board,
And trees in bloom and trees covered in snow?
Is the world seduced?
Should I describe the light that shines
Above its shifting plates right now?
That light is a tiny flag and a jar of pencils,
Agar and sectioned cultures of bacteria scientists suspect could be growing
Absolutely everywhere.
The world is a rope hung around my neck,
Held taut with the approaching tempest.
The world's touch is a difficult plate of guts,
A statue with too many legs,
And a myriad molecules
All pointing to an empty concert hall and thirty-six discarded costumes.
This screwed up face is the face
I wear when I fear truth the most.
The world hits the hookah
And pins photos of angels on its cracked firmament,
The world takes refuge in a bed of cedar needles
As the coast blisters down from
Windswept Uculet to the Pacific and beyond.

Carl James Grindley grew up on an island on Canada's pacific coast but now lives and works in the South Bronx. His last book of poetry, Lora and The Dark Lady, was published in 2013 by Ravenna Press. Three of his novellas were published under the title ICON by No Record Press in 2008.