All it took was the flick of a chisel
And the bathroom wall came sighing down.
It wasn’t quite what we had hoped for
But we took it for what it was:
One more act
in a prolonged dramaturgy
The new wall came up quickly.
Overnight, it was back in place.
It was all that a new wall should be
Or so we hoped.
Only, the next morning and the next
When, sleep-clogged, we lurched into it
We found it was our old wall.
With a suicide note still scrawled on it
The blood still fresh on it.
We paid the masons anyway
And learned something about renovation.
Were I to draw my home, I don’t think
I would do it quite like this drawing of yours.
All these right angles and hinges bear no resemblance
To my memories of suddenness and curves, odd shapes
And our balancing act: four on a trapeze.
Still, I don’t resent your drawing.
I rather like it, in fact; this way of making coherent
Scenes of such randomness.
You could play one camera. I could be the other.
We could ask for a neutral third so that
Between the three of us, we’d miss nothing.
You could go for the big picture; I have an eye for nuance.
The third camera, full-frontal, unblinking
Could mediate. We might arrive at something
Between your version and mine.
What can you do with a window?
It will always remain four-cornered
Always be a savagery to the sky
Always offer enough room for only one head
Or one cloud.
There’s nothing open about a window.
The Psychopathology of a Child’s Drawing
You did not draw a house, boy.
You drew yourself.
Your head keeps the cloud out and blots out the sun.
Your roof is pointy, a triangle.
Your thoughts will remain in the attic, boy, and gather dust.
You are safe, tiled, tarred and
The last few feathers are drying under the eaves.
Your eyes are windows.
They are closed. Why close your eyes?
You precious shit, did you add curtains?
That mouth is closed too.
Your tongue comes slipping, sliding, slithering
Out into the world of utterance.
Your house is two-dimensional
It has no room
It has no backstory.
Yet smoke rises from your chimney.
And when they opened his head, to air the room, through the eyes winds blew in and out came cotton-ball clouds of old thought but before anyone could net them or pin them down or flashfreeze them or even photograph them, they dissolved and left us all clutching at each other, lost anthologists of the thoughts of others.
This has now happened so often that we have decided that only one last poem can be written about it and then we’ll stop, all of us, you too in the back, scribbling away to get yours done before this one.
If that works, it works. If it doesn’t work, we have only the Other Way. And we’re not going there, not without insurance and a glass-bottomed boat.
Exce, Jerry Pinto, Speaking Tiger.