Prose Poetry by:
Where was I going? In circles. I was going in circles, and everyone I knew was going in circles also. When the panic started I began carefully reconsidering myself. It felt like time was moving in such redundant shifts of epoch and tragedy, and I couldn’t tell if I was being hysterical or wise for noticing. I couldn’t be the stoic the moment required. But I had to do something. Then one day I was looking at my legs in the mirror, and it suddenly hit me – the track.
The high school track was under a hill a short walk from my apartment. 10 minutes, maybe. The hill was spotted with blue bonnets. The older women walked in the mornings. They wore sun faded sweat suits and moved in a sort of combustive way, arms bent, severe at the elbow propelling in little thrusts with their fists forward like mountaineers. There’s a determination about them I like. I’m at the track now as I write this. Sunday smells industrious and I’ll tell you some more about it.
This afternoon I saw a ten year old boy with what looked like a parachute strapped to his back sprint forty yards while his father or uncle filmed from lane 7.
I was worried I’d get in the shot. I was worried about the IRS. I was embracing repetition.
I make my rounds. I don’t even run. It’s not the speed or the endurance or the dopamine or the longevity that I’m after. It’s the reiteration of process. Articulating in body my worst habit of mind. I go in circles, and walk until I can’t continue. At pace I find my life pleasant, sometimes, as I’m doing now, writing in my notebook.
In the event of a return to industry, I’ll be ready, taut, calmer, tawny in shoulder, and so much better overall.
I pass the corduroy yellow belt of earth left by construction equipment. I watch clouds pass behind a tower crane. I hear welders in the development yard. I smell fresh earth.
I distrust bald men in trucks. The wide ones you see described in commercials as “Super Duty.” There’s something ominous, truly, about the mirrored sunglasses on the pig faced men who sit in their trucks in my neighborhood. I’m contingent on the cycles, I swear. We all know: you see a condo, you steal the wood. But that’s a nighttime thing. In day you shudder the thrum of an idling crew cab— the call of pink men as they instruct the day-laborers in garbled Spanish.
In the event of a return to industry, I’ll miss the old man with incredible strength. He’s wearing a tank top with tiny straps like a circus strongman or an 80’s movie lifeguard. Impossible. I see him bend to the kettlebell. Doesn’t gleam. His face contorts, like he was both within and above it.
Lift like this was the diving board era, friend!
guide the banks, one of the guards.
The more serious athletes pull resistance rope under the shade of the concession vendor’s roof. We all have our thing. Me, for instance, I oscillate between despair and joy. One example is, earlier, I was rounding a lap when I heard a rumble above the hill. A blue sports car was revving its engine. On the street in front of the projects. The tire squeals grew louder and plumes of smoke began to accumulate. I was bracing for it. Then—just then—the burnout. The blue car was gone.
Laughing kids ran through the cloud of smoke and spent asphalt. There was an aura of great joy. There were squeals of delight. As the plumes began to rise, as they dissipated, the form of a jumping girl appeared to me with her arms raised. I rubbed my eyes. Several children were clapping. It was marvelous. We should all be so lucky to appear, vertiginous, from the smoke, like some cult who’d forgotten every god but the sky.
Fool that I am, I sometimes pray. I’ll share one of the ones I’ve been trying:
Lord, grant me
the love of morning and
an energy that verdict is blue
blue light in the hallway
held blue light
Tomorrow’s another massive content offer
That night we sat in plastic chairs in front of our garden. We have a new garden. We have a modest backyard. A shotgun yard. I said, I’m worried about the IRS. She said, I don’t know how to say that moonlight is the surrogate’s reward for loyalty. I said, us. She said, the sun. Tomorrow’s an opportunity. What should we do?
What titans, We’ll shoplift!
But the next day we couldn’t because they closed all the box stores.
For a while we drove around aimlessly, discussing the panic, admiring the empty city. Eventually, we park at the mouth of a construction sight. Our mall’s a college and growing. Dirt caked in shoe. Our house is a holiday but it’s under threat. Slip between a fence. Compete to see who can skip rocks down the crevice. Doing pull ups on a bulldozer. Leaning in to take selfies on the grouser pad. I squat in the Slavic fashion. Her hand a peace sign under her right eye her left a peace sign to the air.
I’ve seen the industry.
It’s blue-blue. And it spills over everything.
Follow Matthew:Instagram: @mhodg
Bio:Matthew Hodges is a writer currently based in Texas. He is the co-author of Austerity Brunch (published by KEITH LLC, 2017) along with various pieces both online and in print. He releases audio work under the name Oil Company. Various mediums.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
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© THE QUARTERLESS REVIEW ALL RIGHTS RESERVED