Sam Witt – The Face in a Hospital Bar

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Sam Witt

The Face in a Hospital Bar

Between my ½ and the condom dispenser,
bolted to the wall; here, where New and Exciting Savage Bliss
stands in its fragility, a smudged human forehead shape
just barely reflected in the rippled epiderm of tinfoil
behind the gin bottles and empty glasses,

between my ½ and my ½,

I wear my face proudly like a surgical instrument,

an X scratched into plaster, a room exchanging its fluids with mine,
when I drink, its missing face with mine, between my ½
and this portal, which dissolves in me, sing in me, Stoma,
Sing in me repeated a disfigured mouth:
This is anybody else in the form of your father.

A wall streaked with grease crayon, and ballpoint pen.
I swallow rather than speaking,
swallow matchflames one by one,
and the moment extracted from my mouth
like a little person, torn between the light

into this too too general amnesia to stand in this space,
where I find myself moving without moving:
Wearing a room that inhabits me
just to gestate its sunshine
through the streaked, plastic window as a moment of separation

from the dimness, suddenly bright

with many small, floating lives, and lost nerves,
hanging almost directly into the valuum inside of me,
the fate of ethers to hang this way, into the vacuum inside of me,
into my flushed nowhere cheeks,
just hatched from my small hands,

smeared all over with my own wet light

dissolvingly, inconsolably, albumenescently so.
Through which please, has been spoken, “pineapple-&-tequila,”
in the form of a two-headed voice, mine,
whomsoever and inconsequentially claps my teeth together
to exhale one more faint page

from this small book of sulphur.  One more anybody else,
somebody.  A being of smoke
inscribes me as erasing, rising: all repeats
as a thing endlessly inside of me, moving my lips,
blinking my empty eyelid,

among other bright, sudden vessels
that occupy the air beside me, other vibrations
of frustrated waking, her wakelessness among these
in the form of a pea-green bomber coat on a stool beside me,
near the hospital where I haven’t suffered,

or even been born.

A face worn bluntly into the grandiose defacement.
I’ve seen this woman before, and her voice
wears her this afternoon, in the form of pink fibre-glass—
a clarity that suffers itself to flash off her dead brother’s dogtags,
the ones she wears around her neck.

And if hers shall bear the instant
“Hide your money, Sam,”
then I cannot believe these great, blooming
optic lobes that listen
are able to fit inside my blindness, torn whole and sperm-wet,

set against the light that hides itself in my glowing ears.

Hides itself in the liquids that are composing me.
That which fills my shirt, like a stomach, in the form of this waiting
for the sugars to heal me into this place
where things overwhelmingly dwell in their awkward distribution—
matchboxes on the bar, zippo-lid clicking shut,

a lunchroom clock on the wall: this emptiness
poised against the counter, and the cinched closing in my belly
searched for its little, human finger.
For a draft off the hospital gasworks
to move the door in its metalloid jamb.

The breadcrumb, caught in the craw of my eye,
to give its issue as a flowing down my cheek,
or backwater from the john constantly rushing in the pipes.
Or me, standing in a blur of fluids,
where the wall hid its veins behind tears of oxidization,

sweat from the pipes.  Filled, like me, with pink, contaminated cotton—
a gauzlet of surplus voices, including hers,
coming across oceans of formaldehyde through which
I suppose your fear learns to live with you
comes, “one more, Ben,” comes please, once, I was spoken

in my listening, I moved this way
because of the sounds that were inside me,
Mutilate me into pure sound, or so the song goes,
swimming forth through the spacious,
elongated earlobe they have carved out for me this afternoon,

of blue tube-flicker and noise,
as though the medicated air were just a place for us
to trade our small emissions: hers,
with its brown hair and glasses and red, distended nose.
My thick silences and baby cheeks: her cheeks

soft as old money I’ve had my fingers on.
Ruptured, shortwave vessels beneath the eyes,

signifying that to see violently was to drink through
to the heart of exactly such a piercing, nurturing moment
as this, when I actually turned to the woman beside me,
to the tiny cheekhairs that catch the light, and glow,
my little ones, my lost moments,

my red-in-the-face-drunk-ones. . .

Do you love me like I was your brother?

“Nope,” she’s saying, “no screaming babies
in my ward. Pretty much all of them are intubated,
which means they can’t make any vocal sounds—”

Which means I can’t speak for the vanished asphodels in my face,
these red shadows.  Out of the mask of my sleeping,

they bespeak my past: to go forth
drunk at rush-hour in 15 minutes or so.
Wander among other sneakers assembled by children in Jakarta.
Beneath the skeletal overpass dripping with lights.
Open beloward by a trash-can of burning planks,

Young man in the glasses, God bless you.

He that hath but half an eye.
Have fallen into the tunnel of my seeing as I walked past.
An owl’s cry released into that corridor of each hollow,
missing face where its body shall follow, each
with our helmet of dogskin, which, after all,

can’t be torn off, cocked to one side
and listening for something: the wearing away of the faces
of those who will not be born,
Those for whome the entry to life is foreclosed,
which can’t be torn off, and don’t quite hear it on her stool—

what I’ll leave here behind me,
inside of her broken face, in a room the size of this one,
already exhausted of the place where I stood once,
now, in a forgotten moment, extinguishing the small fires
with my mouth.  Begging the light, another jagged,

6:05 p.m. glitter ej**ulated off the chromework of a passing car,

another aching behind my eyes to tear me forth,
gracefully, into the plastic motion of many vanished hands;
touch the mechanics of this lesion in time, young man,
droplet of what’s born and dying simultaneously,
where the waking shall begin.

Into this orphaned room, the sirens
suddenly shriek human, absorb
their 6:06 p.m.’s to emit wearepassingwepass
folded among one another and alone, she,
in her bright green orderly smock:

I, in my stretch-polyester oxford
through which humbly, like a bad tip, nevertheless
I submit my small nipples
to be transmitted now into the high-pitched,
human wailing of small flies that hover

in a small emission of exhaust left in the light,
which of them sings sweetest?—

so that I might become the wet-nurse to this room,
even though I’m its baby. . .

“Baby,” she says into her drink, “the machines.
Sometimes I go home, and hear them in my sleep.”

In me what is dark ( —illumine— ) Does she hear it?
That which comes preinstalled with an unborn face
through the membranes of certain foul, dirty mirrors?
Like that one, behind the bottles, emptied
to a face which is the back of my head,

pressed against the wall? ( —raise and support— )
A face which is the buzzing of neon bulbs?
Begging, irradiate where I’ve been: behind many chained,
padlocked storefronts like this,
with its pleasure-having-served-you’s, and its arguments,

behind which calls: my face shall be repeated
through Sector C of this city of dismantled docks,

used condoms floating on the sickened baywaters,
and I too shall be ingested for this,
our only truly unborn instant,
a destiny of unborn action, must be paid for. . .
behind which calls

the sleep, the sleep—

one small instinct to the next
torn out of the mouth of our general pleasure,
a breathing ward I float through.
Out of the mouth of the past, which was now.
Out of the mouth of the passing, which was then,

born within me as a soft, tearing sound.

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