Two Poems from Lindsey Gilbert
Two are striking:
grandfather and mantel.
The old clock rectifies
the new clock’s brain.
They’ll be bashing it out
if we don’t intervene.
We are the constable.
Take out your notebook.
Under this shade
is a lamp with a switch:
three clicks for full brightness.
Find out where it’s going.
Two fans: ceiling AND oscillating,
both of them running.
Which one blows back the featureless curtain?
Where do the air currents go when they meet?
It may be the suspect stood by the window
and saw someone else in the vestibule’s mirror.
You can check out the story by standing there too.
The mirror is blotchy where they touched up the silver.
You’ll notice the matte patch absorbing the glow.
What do you think the matte patch is hiding?
What do you think of the lamp?
Is it a clue?
— ∞ —
The one who whispered through the bench slats
about the liquid drying up
was painting the bench
with a stiff-bristled brush.
The sign he left
was for our notification:
Better sit while
the sign still applies.
He turned up again under the parking garage,
mouthing the drain lid.
(It’s true it never rained here,
but it was time to hose the concrete.)
Some said they heard it coming
from the snowed-in fire
hydrant, “Shovel me out.”
Others said the sprinkler system
had a new pop and hiss,
but the men in the rain coats
denied it. They weren’t too aware
of exterior conditions.
On this we can all agree:
Three years ago we saw him in the city’s burbliest fountain,
trading aggressively. Delphina’s mouth squirting,
and Cupid’s bow sourcing a dribble.
We threw him coins then, for wishes,
and clapped in delight, like seals.
He threw us back kisses,
and made oinking noises.
It can’t be his fault, or ours.
All it took for a business
built on confidence
was none of our business.
Plus, he talked the best babble,
and murmured a lot. At certain volumes
certain words sound alike, like “surge”
and “fall” and “brook no.”
Remember those puzzles with the slippery bubble in the linear grooves?
What a regulatory failure. It all came out later.
(“Is your life mercury free?”
got a no from the authorities.)
See, nothing’s risk free.
He gave us a whisper, and winked at us,
I think, or maybe his eye
“Are you managing your risks?” “Are you sure about this?”
“There is no way to know what a crisis is.”
Lindsey Gilbert is an editor in Washington, DC.
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