Poem by Alex Duensing


 

The Well

Someone always answers—even a recording.

I have noticed how you deny perpetual motion. As if were not earth. Nor field around it. Yet,
press the numbers. Dial the residence. Someone always answers—even a recording. I wonder if
you deny the perceptual as well. As in fine. As in treasure at the bottom of a well. How often
you’ve longed to reach it. Though been afraid to fall in. Forever. The earth the whole while –
adjacent to your feet. Neither above nor below. You stood. An inverse well. A drawing
in the air. They say that pictures are worth many words. But which? Which words?

The sky is not above my head.
Though the ground be ‘jacent to my feet.

The ground up.
The ground up.
The ground up.

A boss asks an employee for the form. The employee is distracted. On the wall, a texture
resembles someone reaching for something in a well. It’s so close. It tickles. As the feeling of
forever—tickles. You know. What you deny. For the sake of fear. Blindfold sight. That taste
you’ve felt with your hands: chocolate, citrus.

I should warn you, however, forever is not there forever.

“Well—the form!” the boss demands.
“If I could only see the world with my own eyes,” an employee laments.

Laments:

The ground up.
The ground up.
The ground up.

And to think. You used to think. Memory was enough. To restore the conditions. Don’t leave!
Stupid dog. Stupid tree. Even the wallpaper. I love you. Chairs, books, glass – what thing does
not know our dreams? Yet, would I put it back: odd light and all? What’s gone is gone.

Desire, mainly, is the desire to be alive. And the lives around you, as well. The well. Sometimes,
you do not know if you’ve fallen — or reached a thing.

Section 2: The Classes

The class of things: if they aren’t known by anyone, it’s because by everyone.
Or those things: if done by anyone – then by everyone. Who doesn’t know of the room where
you share the contents of your heart, little bird? Or, that I sat in a cosmic house with my father
and learned to put time together.

Allow me to show you. Over there, he said, the residence – you dialed earlier.

“As each of you hear this— and I mean each,” he said, “along with the sad and wonderful
thoughts of that little bird – when you hear it, I feel you behind my eyes. Not here though. I’m
not here. No, in a coffeeshop at closing time. Can you picture that?”

“A woman in a brown cap and blonde hair drawn into ponytail is vacuuming. That’s worth
repeating: A woman in a brown cap and blonde hair drawn into ponytail is vacuuming. Let me
ask her name.

It’s Morgan.

I have run out of ginger-peach tea. I am taking bags out of my cup to see what I can taste with
my hands. Sugar, starlight, sugar-light. Are you with me? I believe you are. Someone always
answers—even a recording.”

“This time, I think it’s you. You do not need an excuse to be alive.”

The ground up.
The ground up.
The ground up.

It’s the same as the last section. In orbit. Imagine no adjacencies— only orbits.
The class of things: if possible, then actual.
Little star, are you reflecting the moon?
How ‘bout in the well?

Section 2: The Classes is over.

Section 3: Morning

It’s early and tone is different. Yet, we have stepped into the same, Sugarlight–to think tea
would have a new sense—I wish. Still. In a blink, over breakfast, you’ll recall the evening’s
conversation of orbits, organism. The precision of clouds. They are precise, aren’t they? You
too, little bird. Profoundly remembering. Fearing death: the not breath, the photograph
only, the ground up. You’ll think: “Clouds don’t orbit earth, do they?” No. Too brief: beautiful,
precise – and brief. How is it we love them? Why are we so—happy? Because it’s morning.

That tone speeds up. A difference between eight and ten o’clock. In another blink, while
working, you’ll recall the punch line of a joke: a New Yorker takes a fork to himself and tells that
murderous savage – “there goes your F—ing canoe.” “Yeah, death,” you declare, “there goes
your F—ing canoe.” “And while you’re at it—bring back the birds you’ve stolen.”

Now—could this be the future?

You look up –
The boss demanding that form.
“Why can’t I see the world with my own eyes?”

The ground up.
The ground up.
The ground up.

Morning, of course, is over—and also the future. What’s left, Sugarlight? An orbit of guilt and
phone numbers? Aphasia at the bottom of a well? Who stands where – adjacent to what? Was
there someone next to you, little bird, or at least some thing? Let’s try to recall.

(727) 987-0897 the number of that lady who played good jazz on the radio.
(914) 654-1987: that’s your brother. (973) 752-5277: a childhood home.
(231) 456-2312: your first kiss.
(718) 601-3429:the sky.
Where did they go? Or are they still going?

“Sugarlight, little bird, I feel you behind my eyes,” said my father in the cosmic house—
and the coffeeshop.

“Her name was Morgan.”

“The last woman…in the brown cap and blonde hair drawn into a ponytail…vacuuming—her
name was Morgan. What’s yours?” I see, Sugarlight. These jobs—they’re like bodies aren’t
they? “The patterns on the carpet—she mused they looked like vines.” As in memory. Like
stupid recitations we all had as kids. Time hung on the vine – as summertime hung on the vine—
as ducks crossed the sovereign line of the horseshoe court quacking, “Tequlia!”
Families are like
bodies too. The gazebo. A family reunion. That is where I sat with my father. That is the cosmic
house. Time, what are you doing to my eyes?

I heard that. Was it a ringer?

The ground up.
The ground up.
The ground up.

You know— I think you’re right. I’ve heard of people falling into wells. And, seem to remember.
Up the road, there was a child playing inversely—in the air.

Are you reflecting the moon, little star? What do you think now?

It tickles.

That child was stranded for hours. Moving in and out of awareness. Considering everything
special provided some comfort. Somehow, the whole thing managed to be stupid and loveable
at the same time.

And forever.

There was also a field covering the earth—called a residence. You dialed earlier. This
was the recording: “Hello, you have reached the well. Forever is not in at the moment. Leave a
message.”

“Alright,” thought the child, “I’ll say something.”

You might think, looking back at this moment, that we were stupid in the old days. We were
not. Our awareness was not unlike your own. In fact, we saw the world through your own
eyes. The prize at the bottom of the well. Unending, Unendingness. Don’t stop. I love you.

Eventually, that child was rescued and placed ‘jacent to the ground.
Are you O.K.?
All that kid could muster was,
“Do what you like, I am new to the world.”

The ground up.
The ground up.
The ground up.

Section 4: Sections

Someone turn the dial
on the body of that angel—
if there is an angel.

The ground up.

Is morning over?
Who was next to me?
Would it be OK if I remember you as someone else?

The ground up.

Pick a date in history.
Tell me, how do you know the color of that sky?
Sugarlight.

The ground up.

(973) 752-5277
I don’t know. You’re at my old phone number.
Could you be my friend?

The ground up.

Please don’t tell me it’s a tragedy…
From you of all people…

The ground up.

Hoping for truth despite an angry sky, she stood against honest rain, waiting that judgment
passed from dying to dying to fall upon her. “Oh, the wind,” she cried, “what love can pass
in the blink of an eye.” Already, she felt it moving within – swallowing darkness, filling outline in
– with simple space. Little did she know that there began the race – of hope against time – of
love against the end.

Will we be spared, little bird?

We build from the ground up–
yet, are ground up.

Is this forever?

  

Alex Duensing. Graduate of William Paterson and Columbia? Yes. Ran for St. Petersburg, FL City Council? Yes. Won? No. Stopped Mayan Apocalypse on rooftop with performance art? Yup. Strange but nice fellow? Clearly. Protégé of Arakawa+Gins, masters of the architectural body? Ongoing even after the supposed end. Able to create mechanical engines that run completely on the energy a person creates while appreciating a painting? On delightful rare occasions.

 

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