Blinking Beneath the Sun
A little while back when they opened me up
to replace my faulty heart valve
and something went a little wrong, I don’t know.
They installed the valve okay, but the two
chambers of my heart stopped talking
to each other and they had to give me
a temporary, and then a permanent pacemaker.
I was semi-conscious when they installed the thing
and it was like listening to two guys at a discount
garage putting in a car battery:
“Why you doing it that way? That’s not the way
I was taught to do it.”
“That’s not how those wires go.”
Anyway, I survived and I stand in front of the mirror
studying my scars. I don’t mind them as much
as I imagined I might.
There’s, of course, the vertical one
from where they split apart my sternum,
there’s a diagonal one on my upper chest
just below my left shoulder
where they put in the pacemaker
and there are three little horizontal slits
where tubes protruded from my stomach.
Most of the time I don’t think about it
but sometimes I remember that I am being kept alive
by some thing in my chest the size of an iPhone
that runs on batteries and wires
and I freak out a bit.
I feel like a Frankenstein
or a cyborg,
I feel like I’m already dead.
I get nervous the same way
I get nervous when I fly
because I think of how my life depends
upon some damnable contraption
invented and slapped together by some random assholes.
Who’s to say they weren’t drunk or vengeful
or hungover when they tightened those screws?
But then I get over it mostly because while I don’t
trust humans I trust god even less, so I figure
I’m as good as the next guy blinking beneath the sun
waiting for his wires to snap or his
doohickey to sputter out for good
with all the warranties expired.
We wait in the dark outside
the glow of trainwrecks
and the burning cities
we always knew
these things would find us
it’s just the broken sky
it’s just the fire singing
the only songs it knows
its just dust and bone
and the ghosts of the lonely
and forgotten swimming
through our blood
trying to make their way
there’s nothing needs saving
that will be saved
it’s nothing worth mentioning
it’s just the way it was written
in sand and stone
and the last look on her face
things will be quiet again
like before we were born
that beautiful silence
darling you can cry
for as long as you wish
the weeping is just a moment
a moment is just forever
cling to me in the pretty rain
until the ancient sorrow
of everything finally
finds and reclaims us
as its own.
William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.