Truth Values

By Hunter Peters


there are only short brushfires     of Spanish    from the bank tellers
time stapled to you    as you bend forward to sign a check    and the feet of my chair balanced on the edge    of the carpet pattern        somewhere there is another soul        wrapped around my own    like a parasite        the clock taking ragged breaths    but I have stopped listening

(the night before I stood peeling carrots    the metal teeth of the potato peeler
digging into the curled larva of a fingertip        the heat from the oven still
trapped behind my eyelids         long after the carrots had finished roasting)

we follow a crack in the sidewalk    I miss the easy geometry of my room    you lead me toward the smell of a bakery    your jaw making small movements        beautiful sounds that I can no longer hear        sometimes it seems you forget that I exist    even as I am speaking to you 

there are the echoes of the human mind and its resistance to Boolean algebra, your contradictions like the workings of an intricate mechanism, as I brush unsolvable equations from your eyes

(you do not recognize yourself in my poetry
and now I cannot recognize you either—
this word as unyielding as rock
yet I can feel you stirring beneath it
the fading light from my animal eyes
snared for a moment in a mirror)

at times I remember the wound    
shards of what I was buried
beneath my skin like shrapnel
    
a woman is having a seizure     at the back of the bus    her husband yelling to the driver to pull over    but no, I have stopped listening    I cannot turn my head to look back at her        you are the one who calls 9-11    turning in disgust from my fear    there is only the sudden urge     to cover myself 

always my voice is a moment away from         breaking    as each poem is always a word away from falling         into silence.