Chalk Dust on The Air

Chalk Dust on The Air
Chalk Dust on The Air

for Gary Simmons

Our hero explains what lines behave as waves
also behave as particles depending upon the presence
of observers, a market of admirers, etc. Think of sifted
sands Tibetan monks spend months to whisk in minutes:
their attack on nostalgia. Think of Milky Ways of water
damage on the bedroom ceiling. The Apollo module
on the dresser and the Ring Nebula is the blur where
Mom tried to clean expletives crayoned on the wall.
Whorls beyond, imagine a can of Krylon ship-shaped
with braided-rubber-band-propeller roped out to 
the nosebleeds in the murk of heaven’s hood. The spray
can tags earth’s dewy rooftop with synesthetic stars,
foamy scars that welt the blue and melt like meringue
in the dusk, a residue of light in the periphery. Winged seeds
from silver maples at the feet of unshaven sheriffs
offering fists of baby’s breath. They smile with cigar stubs
plugging the breach. Renegade lines unleash the hounds,
shake the weight of undressed eyes. When some lines try
to pass for the color behind the color they came in, our hero
attempts no intervention. When he orders the lines disperse,
one sheriff’s bullhorn blast unsacks a rain of feathers


Those hammer-ons on Over the Hills made my fingers bleed.
That is, my devotion to their shapes made my fingers bleed.

Child of Crowley, Bukka White, paddling hips across the stage.
Time’s architect, sketch blueprints lesser innovators read.

Sight the neck like a rifle barrel. Diagnose the truss rod sound.
Let’s caress the fretwork, inlays pearl and filigreed. 

Contracts offer details juke growlers shrug off like sheet music.
"How much, — they only want to know, "am I guaranteed?"

On the frontiers of sound we are nocturnal, we move in shivers,
we watch bobcats, as night-blooming cereus lingers, feed.

My mind is a fuzz box today. Hellhound’s got my scent, cornered me
in Room 12-B with the hangman’s disposition whiskey drinkers need.

The left hand’s a gyromantic dancer, sinister. The cat’s cradle
of tablature captures the dragonfly’s hover, its speed.

At fourteen I walked the rivulets. A pilgrimage. Late harvest.
I cut my teeth on a washtub bass line shimmering like a centipede.

Spirits filled burn piles on the beach. Smoke and salt infused
the fuselage that hummed the lunar music six strings received.

Shoulda quit you on the shoulder, G, singing backward alphabets
of sky. Fingerprinted, you thought they made your fingers bleed.

(Excerpted from Digest by Gregory Pardlo, with permission from Four Way Books)

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