March 3, 2012

how do you think it feels
if all you can say is if only

Alighiero Boetti, Mappa, 1971–72

If U Cn Rd Ths
-- James Merrill (1983)

u cn gt a gd jb w hi pa!
So thinks a sign in the subway.
Think twice when letters disappear
Into Commodity’s black hole—
No turning back from that career.
This counterspell may save your soul

Inside Every Vending Machine It's 1979
-- by Mary Biddinger

There’s no such thing as nostalgia
for artificial wood grain, especially when the color
mimics a wet pig yard in April. Nevertheless

we’re trapped in an elevator, and the rug
is missing, and the walls are meant to imitate
the basements we all had and loved.

Some jackass shoved a vending machine
in here: a coin-operated elevator, with more
seductive ways of removing passengers.

Nothing left for sale but algae-green mints.
If only it had been the soda machine
that dropped its solitary paper cup, shuddered

its ounces with everyone as witness.
It’s one box of wood grain inside another, and I
almost want to look down my shirt to verify

that it hasn’t gotten to me. I’m not stocked
with anybody’s marzipan octopus. Everything
is looking for a way out, or a way back in.


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