Six Poems from Common Time
by Chris Pusateri

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Always take a gray suit, so you’ll be ready
for anything, says William Hurt. Gray
the color of rain, a necessary evil,
is the color of alloy, of shale. A tintype
of mama, an uncle’s disposition: it’s the stuff
documentaries are made of.

        Hold the chair, hold
        the door. When you can’t know what,
        say ‘sometimes.’

When all else fails, enjamb
like a fetus, curl to circles,
    live like everything
    worth noticing
    takes place
        on your lap.

I’ll cry so you can hear me. It’s a language
of flight that wants not
to run. There will be a corner
of the house where things accumulate
and this will be a sign of good fortune.


The remainder will be breathed
    elliptically, where the meaning’s in the tone,
not the message. It’s the literal world you’re worrying over.


Tax my cowardice until I’m nothing but an x-ray negative.

Only when I abandon ethics, do I become
             the inventor I might be? And that’s only
                          about twenty minutes a day. I can retroactively
                      activate my ethics
                            by erasing the text
                            I wrote during the forty minutes
                      a day when I was twice the inventor but half the man
                            I was born to be.

                                  I think all
                      should end in
                            infinitives. It lends
                        this whole nasty enterprise a note
                      of hope, like
                             leaving one window of your home
                           as the hurricane approaches.

                     Chimes are time’s way of reminding you
                      to worry. like time
                        telling the story of itself. is how we
                        pluralize memory—
                      by planting memories in the heads of the young
                        until they’re sure they remember
                        the conditions of their births.

                What we desire
                in manuscript
                is not what
                we value
                in life:

                a sameness, a consistency smooth as the movies.


Even the most creative of endeavors are documentary,
if enough time passes.

The rising seas will make for great data models.

But models are not reality.

When drowning in orange,
reach for peaches: canned, halved, faintly tinny.

There’s something of the earth in them.


                                            There is no say
                                            of waying, this way of
                                            unsaying is
                                            charnel chiseled
                                            into the mist of its shivering.

                 We could no more stain than stay,
                   when embrace takes into you something
                             of the other. There is no say of waying, yet

weight we will, the precise heft
        of past matters, some come to naught,
   others fallen to rot. There is no say.

                 There is no place like home,
                 an interesting axiom we’ll leave to beaver.

Neither laughter nor happenstance nor bonny striped bee.

Something will come along.

What it drags along
behind will come naturally
and you will call it that
for no better reason than that
order is a form of rhetoric

              and you have persuaded yourself
                 that there is no other way of saying.


Looking out the window
              on my way each day
                     I discover things
                         that were previously invisible:
                                 a funeral parlor,
                                 a pawnbroker,
                                 a sausage shop.

                     And then there are the people—

                                 the little moving fortresses
                                 of whom Thoreau so lovingly wrote.

Like the tines of a tyre, they go round endlessly,
              being vexed only when
           they are pulled like a bad tooth
                           from the duration of their habits.

                                       You can tell from east.
                                       You can sun from bugger.

                                       You can turn on the blur,
                                       then, add, baby, add.


His love of statistics
is not a love of numbers
but a love of the concepts
those numbers represent:
           the proclivities
    and tendencies
           of how we figure.

There is a green
in the picture
that is no natural
chemical process,

       so we think to ourselves
           that such a place
               could never exist.

                                       A possibility is but a causeway
                                       that joins two
                                       prospects into a single