After Ishmael Houston Jones’s Without Hope****


*********************This is a pas de deux for a man

Who takes a cinderblock as his partner.

*********************He kisses the brick, sets it on his back.

One shoulder leers at the ground.

*********************He walks like a man condemned

To lift his hammer and break stone.

*********************When he drops the brick it crumbles

And the dancer breaks his silence.

*********************He names each chunk for a bone.

Names them again for fractures.

*********************Before stillness claims the stage

The man steps out of the light

*********************And leaves the brick for his body.

Often my dreams are adagios.

*********************I dance the part of the cinderblock.

When I wake my hands look wrong.

*********************What they touch I name for myself.

Name again for how I use it.

*********************The splinters in the floorboards

A spider I drown in the sink—

*********************These exhaust me. I carry my trash

As one cradles a wounded arm.

*********************I bring it outside and a plastic bottle

Skitters its way across the lot.

*********************If I picture bending down for it

Touching too becomes my hands.

*********************There it goes into the street.



To learn more about Allyson Paty, read her poems on Low Log.