The Way People Talk

by Bruce Cohen

The outside snow is the nothing kind of snow.

Alien parachuting white spiders onto wet pavement
Melt instantly on contact, a disappearance so precise
They should vaporize into some other life form.

You debate & half-convince your indefinite
Self it is okay, that it’s going to be okay,
That it’s never going to be
Okay, & mean both.

Later, much later, or not really that much later
As time is sort of simultaneous,
Instead of doing what you should
You waste an hour on a dog calendar website:
Dogs That Resemble Their Owners,

Matching jackets.

On your winter constitutional you pocket a rigor mortis pigeon
& pop it in the rewired time machine.
You toss him off the overpass & scream, fly, damn it.

Fly. A dead bird drops faster than the nothing
Type of snow. It’s easier when you say little—
Abbreviated communication—

Instead of shouting downstairs to your indefinite self
The last time I saw
The working stapler it was jammed
In the way-back of the junk drawer—

Just say: Junk drawer!

Baby sleeping! Home never! Check messages!
This is a world where it is rare to see men anymore
With pencils or cigarettes behind their ears.

Talking less is the one thing you do that doesn’t feel
Like you should be doing anything else.

Each snowflake has its pre-destiny of DNA
So gravitates towards its predetermined spot
& who are you
To be so pretentious as to shovel?
One would think, in the chaos of a blizzard,
There would be snowflake confusion, but no.
One would think people would get used to other people

Dying, one nationality replacing another,
& the chaos of people no longer there
Would get to them
But they keep their heads down & re-step

In previous footprints
Someone else made while hoofing it to check the mailbox

So it seems like only one person exists, but it’s not,
But it’s not two either, & certainly not the same person
Because everyone is, at minimum, two people mostly.

You want everyone to be okay but nobody is okay.
You want everyone to have a definite someone.

You want to be okay.
You stagger home to no dog that resembles you,

To the Indefinite who is
Half home, slumping on the sofa, the only brightness
Embers from her diminishing cigarette.

You’re panicked about the elongated unflicked ashes about to collapse
On the ivory couch, so rush over with your ashtray-ish cupped hands

A second too late.

Published on January 13, 2016