R. T. Castleberry

Twelve Months, Motionless

In the year I stood still—
no lover, no loss,
I watched working Sundays slip,
like abacus beads on a line.
I watched each day interred,
debased as a calendar of crows.
I saw the poets
get fat, go dry.
The deaths that year—
hundreds in book burning accidents,
hundreds more in circus riots,
the raising of the mountain bells,
became the logical expression
of full moon elections,
a monsoon every quarter.

For 12 months, motionless,
I heard the talk around me—
dreamy satires of bliss and destruction,
diet regimens and dinner chat.
I registered the repetition
as ex-wives returned to remarry,
ex-girlfriends named their children
for the mood in our months together.
From June to January
I slept three times a day,
I learned five new phrases for “Hesitation.”
From the frieze of an aching, anxious night,
livid with gaunt moon, hissing rain,
I memorized this warning:
“Don’t fight. I’ll hurt you if you fight.”