STARING AT THE CITY LIGHTS
AT TWO IN THE MORNING
They’re at their best when they’re blurred,
which is why I leave my glasses on the desk.
Out there are a few friends among the strangers,
and angels resting in the air as cops on the ground
in cop cars lower the volume on the dispatcher.
Yesterday’s contradictions haven’t been sorted out,
but I should be thankful since contradictions
can be to me what deprivation was to Larkin.
I have nothing to do and everything to do. I stay
put and travel the world slowly and at warp speed.
I want to have and eat a cake that doesn’t exist.
At last, I pick up my glasses and head off to bed,
becoming a shadow among many others, readying
myself to sleep deeper into the night—wide awake.
The Princess walks the front courtyard,
letting herself be lightly bombarded
by April’s snowflakes.
She’s hoping for a breather from the wars,
the domestic squabbles and obligations,
the Masters of Kung Fu and Poetry,
and the charlatan who actually believes
eternal youth lies in the veins of chicken
feet. In the distance
a train whistle, a gaggle of royals gearing
for a feast so big it will light up the night.
The Princess spreads out
her arms and looks at the sky dirty and pretty,
heavy with the shadows of birds,
ancestors quiet and winged.
This poem has nothing to do with a carnival—
I just liked the title.
Oh there’s still some of the twelve year old in me
running away from home, guided by the carny lights
moving like thin syrup through the thick tree branches.
The twelve year old who has money for a cheap ride
and the chance to see the Monster Child of Mozambique—
the twelve year old who knows the Child is a fraud but feels
for it all the same, the twelve year old who leaves a trail
of free cotton candy on his way back home, promising
to give his parents another chance, coming to the conclusion
it would be the right thing to do if, if they missed him.
But remember, this poem has nothing to do with a carnival—
we just liked the title.
Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections of poems: TRYING TO HELP THE ELEPHANT MAN DANCE (The Backwaters Press, 2007) and JUST BEAUTIFUL (New York Quarterly Books, 2010.) His third collection ELECTION NIGHT AND THE FIVE SATINS will be published early in 2016 by Glass Lyre Press. He has poems published and forthcoming in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, PANK, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal and Stand Magazine (U.K.) among others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.