I love a book about you and I. I’m not always convinced there’s anything else. One of my favorite pigeons of love, Raul Zurita, speaks in his book, Song for His Disappeared Love, of how impossibly big you and I can mean to each other, and yet, he emphasizes over and over how you and I always seem like they are on the heart twisting brink of falling apart in their own mouths. “Now the entire universe is you and I minus you and I / After the blows ended, we moved a bit and destroyed I was / only one you felt come closer” (6). What a cloth house we all are when we try to together/two gather. I’m never sure if we’re standing up or collapsing with love. I think it is going to have to be both ways if we’re actually going to climb much of anywhere. At any given point in Thomas Patrick Levy’s book, I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone, you and I are at different distances from each other, at different points of collapsing or standing with huge love. They reek of the empowered fragility that Zurita tries to illuminate for us. Levy puts you and I in cornfield after cornfield. He puts you and I next to corn-infused products and corn-infused foods and watches you and I squirm full of kernels (Why, oh why, aren’t there more glorious poems involving the most American of foods, corn?). His you and I struggle often in the house and in the bedroom of the house before they get dropped down the front of Scarlet Johansson’s dress. His you and I wake up on an island for the third time and they smell like the different kinds of cars they ride in. You and I make strange, domestic circles around each other, they sometimes touch. They sometimes speak despite all the leafy prose swaying between them.
May 18th, 2012 / 12:00 pm
from I Don’t Mind if You’re Feeling Alone
Have you lacked power?
When you were in the mall, I was drunk, looking for the toilet, photocopies following me everywhere. When you were brushing my teeth, I was in the Oldsmobile, the cold water flushed over my face like a flash of light in the woods.
I could see you there, watching me with your ugly lens, my body bent into the ice chest like a baseball bat. The baseball bat wrapped out of a tree into the angles of my body.
At 4 am we’re crossing the street as if it were a river. Your eyes watching me like the eyes of a water beetle. I turn around twice, tabs of mint against my cheek.
I tell you how precise I am. I touch the neck of the steering column. I laugh to myself, folded like a gerbil. I touch your thigh which trembles with your bones. I’m trying to sand this down, dropping each telescope into a glass, carrying a small bag between my fingertips.
Did you ever wonder if you were crazy?
I walked and walked to understand blood oranges and avocados. I walked until perhaps I thought to keep walking north until I became a mountain. And when I became a mountain you looked at me in the morning, I was obscured by clouds, but you saw me beautifully—my new hair style, a pair of pants, my tie perfectly knotted.
Did this seem normal?
Feels like a film. Mostly rock stars, stairs, boots, coats. Shadows covering the street. Cold like a walk-in. I am saving the milk, breaking a box apart. Smiling at you. A leather strap across your chest, a melon beneath your arm.
Have you experienced any cravings?
Once, I’m like a twenty-dollar bill. I can’t find you anywhere. I go around and around. At the store I see a girl with striped arms looking into the glass at a bottle of seltzer. I go back to your house and find her drinking alone. You’re there too, smoking, staring through a kind of enlightenment, looking like a peachy finger, brush strokes of smoke crushed against your forehead.
What is an allergy?
Or once, I am in your car driving through the woods, hot air kicking in at us through the windows, we have dust in our mouths, I cannot see but watch the ghosts jogging on the roadside.
Your lover turns to me, her hair like the discarded shell of snake skin, and she tells me that I am small, that I am inside her box.
I close my eyes and watch soccer players silhouetted against a wall. I feel like a rapist. Maybe my throat closes up and I can’t breathe, maybe my heart rate increases, maybe I see the morning in her chest, coming at me like headlights through the trees.
Are you convinced that your life can hardly be successful?
Please understand, I tried to find the perfect place to sit.
I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I sat on the floor, folded back the cover of a coloring book. Your tongue came later, after it was in Charlie’s mouth, after it licked the gummy insides of a shot glass.
I still worry about my breath.
I sat under the pool table, then on a rock in the yard. You might have found me like that, your hands running across my shoulders and down my thighs while I thought of my grandmother with her hands of crucifix wood.
Later, with the crucifix in my mind, I would remember that I was wearing fishnets and high heels, that you were moving not like a whore but like a drapery. I buried myself in you, a game of hide and seek.
I went upstairs to sit in the folding chair, tried the recliner, walked home, frustrated.
I furiously wiped the surfaces in our kitchen. You came home late and found me strangling around the apartment like a weed, a muted cooking show on the television.
Are you on your way?
It was late. You had spent all day like this. I cut a lemon, put it down the drain. I wanted to break you like an axle. I went outside, drove my fingers through the bark of a tree as if my eyes were made of trees.
I thought you only cry at night. I felt like breath, I took off my sunglasses. I thought you will never change and drove into the mountain hoping for a truck to come between us.
Do you understand that self-knowledge is insufficient?
I was worried I wouldn’t wake before the fish started swimming. We had been around your yard all night, started in the grass and went through the cellar door as we began to hear them waking.
One day, you said, the fungus just started going away at your brain, saw them coming up from the ground each week, watched the gardeners hack them down.
One day, with your eyes flushed like the burn of a cigarette, you said you woke and couldn’t get your feet down on the world.
They came down later and called us fucking freaks.
I was on the couch in a trench coat, my heavy boots dug into the cushions. I rocked back a little bit, thought about walking outside across the street, into the stream near the train tracks, into their pink sky.
A native of New Jersey, Thomas Patrick Levy now resides in Southern California. His work has appeared widely across the internet and in select print journals. For more information visit him at www.enumerations.org.