From Here Your Future Looks Very Small

"The Day is a Manhole" and "Birds in Space," two poems by Hillery Stone

bird's eye view of carnival

From Here Your Future Looks Very Small

 The Day is a Manhole

 The day is a manhole you drop into
 in broad daylight. Everything had been
 quite fine, though
 the electronic chirps of birds from the far east 
 roused you from an early dream in which 
 women were heaving their bodies 
 like Rusalkas into the sea. The way he squeezed you 
 was criminal. The way your future looks from here
 is very small. Through a telescope 
 you can see him by the pool, his pale children
 in their suits. He cannot hear Jeanne-Marie Darré 
 playing Chopin’s waltz
 or Rimsky’s Scheherazade popping with age 
 on the record player by the open window. 
 And outside? Miles
 of trees, reddish crowns you are too late
 identifying as fire, an emptiness both familiar 
 and penitent, like wondering 
 about a particular sign that says CAUTION
 as you’re falling. 

Birds in Space

On the list of things I can live without: 
tomato slicers, wedding speeches,
miniature replicas of the world’s majestic structures. 
The towering Cyclone with its 60-degree 
plunge. Everything starts somewhere, most obviously 
in the body where the multiplicate cells split 
and copy, 50 billion of them a day, while the nerves leap
and desist in turn. So many things designed 
to prompt them! The Romanian sculptor and his birds 
in space. Subjective sensations argued 
by Schopenhauer. Artificial lights; 
county fairs. I don’t want to get stuck 
in a car chain-linked to other cars, creeping up the back rail
of a trestle. I don’t want to be taken inside any
leery version of something else, debating the Principle
of Sufficient Reason, thrown into space 
and held there in a rusty portal
to bliss. At Coney Island, the benches line the boardwalk
like Neolithic stones to the Fun House. 
In the Hall of Mirrors, your actual body cannot 
be found. Each convexed figure peers out from the infinite, 
the thrill in the ad infinitum, the fun a vacuum 
of your own repeating face. 
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