A cardboard tube
can make all the difference,
and I’ll tell you how.
through a flavor of solitude
in which I find myself sometimes,
covering my face to ward off
the trace of distant putrefaction,
and squinting into the heat
to see if my suspicion is correct
about the horizon stockpiling
behind its dusty curvature
all the sad carcasses
not fortunate enough
to receive a proper burial–
I’m wheezing in the fumes
of my own dissolution,
choking on the smoking obvious
hanging all around me.
It’s the clarity of meaning so little,
of drifting along the dried-up riverbed,
wandering past abandoned homes
with torn screen doors,
seeing just enough bones
protruding from the skin
of this broken tongue of ash
to make you think
they’re mile markers.
The songs I had have all withered
under the weight of measurement.
a cardboard tube
at a time like this…
a cardboard tube
can make all the difference.
Because first, if you let it,
it’ll give you the feeling
you’re looking for something
you can’t see without it.
You’ll get this glint in your eye.
You might even imagine you’re standing
at the prow of a great sailing vessel,
and focus, for instance, on one pixel of sky.
That little point of color will confound you.
You’ll be forced to look at another one.
Eventually, your experiments will wander
to the bottom of your shoe,
and you’ll find the stench
is not the bloodthirsty horizon,
but a couple of those vomit-flavored
jelly beans from the mall
you haplessly squashed
into the gum rubber grooves
of your inadequate footwear,
forcing them into rhythmic release
of their vehement fumes wherever you go.
Yes, it’s your fault,
if you want to call it that…
a simple thing
like a cardboard tube
can probably help you scrape
those rubber wrinkles clean…
Okay… I know…
The heavy stuff…
The hot dust in every direction…
The bones sticking up here and there…
The meaninglessness wearing you down
inside and out… sinking into your mind
like a thick mud.
What about that…?
Well this is what I mean
about that cardboard tube.
I look up from the scraping
of my scratch and sniff shoe sole,
raising the tube towards the level again,
and am interrupted by another set of footwear–
glittering, breathable fabrics and reflectors.
Scanning upwards, I see two legs,
a pair of shorts, a shirt, and then
eventually an eye.
Jesus is holding his cardboard tube, too.
He can’t be more than three feet away.
We’re just looking, eye to eye
through the spiral-wound paper wormhole,
completing an ancient circuit.
I came to find you, he says.
You’re doing that thing again…
Using the full power of the seen and the unseen
to see what makes futility futile.
You figure it out yet…?
His eye is like a–
like an I don’t know what–!?
like a double-dog dare drowning in trance,
or the eye of a savvy desert bandito–
one of those unruffable, slow-talkers
with a six shooter on his hip,
a belt loaded with world-changers,
and a fleet of doves at his beck and call.
Snap of the fingers
and you have cosmic messages
flying in from every point on the compass.
One glimpse of sanity changes everything.
One taste of unity
and inevitability turns in your favor.
You can’t pretend after that.
That’s how the cardboard tube saves me.
Small movements. Holy sight.
Now I want to start fresh.
I want to pour myself into the day’s mold.
Go buy a gigantic trampoline
and position it under the moon.
Hang a microphone off the
shirt pocket of a black hole.
Paint a bulls-eye on my shirt
and walk out onto the water.
Drink a thimbleful of our love,
stare out beyond the sea,
and chuckle about why I ever wrote this one.