from "THE OCEAN: A Fragment"

Boyd Nielson



The ocean was blinding light!
At noon the seabirds could be seen
recreating the reflection of the moon.
Circle, circling.


Halogen rooms sputter in earshot
of private companies making money
off the boon of prisoners’ suffering
because vomit once spilled goes everywhere
in every crack of the glass shard, held,
not at all unlike the crimes of banks
or subprime loans crushed
between the knees of anthropogenic summer lightning
when the power grid fails
bitterness will seem confusing because
what is the IMF doing when it promotes
stable growth & frogs die,
butterflies, bees, gnawing on untrust
believing in something
so potent that you bite down hard, & hold
even afterwards, disillusionment
in not understanding maneuver suicidal
phone calls to the point you walk on them
or crawl on them or fall on them
because you wouldn’t even know
where to start without this or
without you—where to end—


The loss is at root
of language,

impurity existing in time
in that curvature
                              are some who live
as nightmares
so cleverly joined
divided. However unlikely.



Funeral expenses cathect purple body
once loved or still loved violet capsicum
& if you want to see pity engorged in straps
taunted in froth in pointless enthrallment
an eyelash fluttering to earth a pendulum ui9
all the pomp of being ignorant to have a thought
for the bill collector who knows yr name
& if these dead fingers were my own
into what kind of havoc would I have them thrown
dreaming to pull away from my body
when few are days I don’t hate my dreams
of falling thru the ground a mouthful of earth
but imagine if you can, the very body that is you
impossibly dead like a trace of breath
over there, somewhere, in corner or distant wind
just a bill for the makeup on yr stiff skin
which wages pay for because
they are the dead living & only in a fantasy
can you imagine yrself out of them
a blue lip or a fold of skin,
untruth curved in the gurgle arc spit truth.



Down the path where
over two million people
are incarcerated, do not
let go of either. The errant
lie is hard to read, makes reality
harder to see, shimmering,
where prices appeared stable
& realists declared liberation.
Indigent clip turn block cell.


The sky & sloping shorelines.
It is enough to know
that nothing is coming back,
that resting on what is over
only means worse on the way.
Home gets displaced by
the defibrillator. Language
gets lost in a hole,
divorced from the present,
unable or truly refusing
to declare it was worth it.
Many lives overlap
in the fantasy of saying that once.



The emptiness a surprise
the pointlessness, ground down
absurdity, overbearing hopelessness
slights, hollowness
irredeemable memory,
faults, menial acceptance,
shock, shaking head,
years of meaninglessness
futility’s kingdom, unreality either way.


The knocking in the walls
& the pipes, the armistice
troubled by the sound in the bed,
the floor or the stairs,
no one will remember the twin
figures made of toilet paper,
pitiful attempt at magic, or symbol
that nothing will ever be true
again but this upside-down image crossed out.
The hoax that cd be forsaken doubt.

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Author Bio: Boyd Nielson is a poet and translator. He lives and teaches in Boston, Massachusetts. His poem "Halogen rooms sputter in earshot" (number ii. in this sequence) was previously printed in NO INFINITE #4.