I find myself
as a vehicle,
Free Local Midwestern Poetry, By Terry Scott Niebeling
I find myself
as a vehicle,
I’ve seen doors locked for all time,
purpose in moments changed,
and boxes closed indefinitely
with familiar occupants inside.
Yet, still I lift my head in ice pellets
coming down on the campus mall,
and still my view is fixed straight-
forward when allowed, and with
this aside, and taking on alternatives.
I exist in a one bedroom apartment
in Southeast, brushing teeth, put-
ting my eyeballs in to see just this.
wondering as an adult
of money of property
of pomp of present
why we try so hard
wasting our time
in-doors at desks
to be put into
a box within the earth
as if we hardly noticed
air and how it was sweet
how eyes hurt at the sun
if only to be there
and take it rather
than away and not,
to be what a part you were
the kettle bubbles
the radio barks
the morning begins
where to go?
a waxen yellow
the cutting tops of
as we watched from
an open window
across a slipping river
in red leather
chairs and candle
of some brick structure.
it was smooth
as Tullamore Dew
and matured grapes
in crystal glasses,
and silk stalks outside
in Oktober wind,
and crushed leaves
under pedestrian feet,
and third avenue bridge
loomed the same.
the moon died
at Aster, it was just
it was coming anew,
meeting familiar horizons
on a different day.
All is well when the lights are on.
I know someone is in.
The office is not empty.
I know something, anything is happening.
The outside world glows a peach aura.
A warm mason jar of coffee is held in my hand.
I note the orange chasing
up over a distant horizon.
We drive in listening to MPR news.
Cold is below trees in crossed arms
and a longing for warmth.
Shaking as it settles to the bone.
The fields are not frosted crystals yet.
How morning is manipulated from lush summer
to autumn colors to bleak black in white.
In months this will seem a dream.
The end is near and those involved understand.
Nuclear power chimneys back the brick façade.
This entire campus is a tragic set.
With impromptu scenes between.
Maples come nude welcoming along the walk.
I step through a waiting room maze.
My key goes in at the elevator’s threshold,
head bumps to the door.
Inside rows of lights cast down
to shine a mute tile floor;
Here was wood and leather,
keyboards and desktop screens.
And then I heard what was for me.
Comfort in words: it will come…
Just give it time.
As everything else, patience and fate.
Ah, the answer is there, as usual.
It’s right in front of me.
And the lights were on.
They were waiting inside the same.
that world you’d dreamed
that thought you’d heard
had only happened for you
as if it had not occurred
Joe, he kills it in class
with his well-formed questions,
he does—it’s true.
I wish I would have gone
to the same high school as him,
I assume he was popular,
probably played ball.
Alas, I didn’t, alas, I sit far,
far away from his dicey interactions.
Another classmate I sit in a room with—confusedly,
she uses the word “like” more times
than I ever thought understandably possible,
like, oh my fucking god,
if I hear that word once more in rapid succession
I may just leave class early unannounced.
But Joe—back to him, he is like the honey bee that stings,
he is like a one hit wonder from the mid-90s,
he also dies intellectually from his act.
It is tragic like Hamlet, not enough college to know:
let the teacher talk, this is their show.
As a peer I will admit this is fun
to watch and hear and be a part of—
(The professor’s ahem interruption of the grasshopper!)
like the Titanic sinking on film,
like an ungraceful fall on March ice,
or like a public argument growing in volume and irrelevance,
as the instructor says: we are a part of everything…
OOOOWWWWW! AAAAAAHHHHHH! Some theory…
The classroom is full of minds blown.
I enjoy these acts,
but they are painful.
Oh yes, but fun.
Education offers much.