i see you over there across the way from me.
carrying your machines, all of your tools.
but what are you doing over there?
disappearing into your cave like you do.
what are you doing over there?
i never know. with all of those
empty beer bottles and plastic bags
spilling over with garbage. what are
those clay pots for, the ones without
their flowers? what are you doing
with all of those tools
with all of those little machines?
i see you over there.
across the way. i see the back of your head,
never a face, never lifted up towards the sun.
i see you. only seconds at a time.
i see your thin arms carrying things
and dropping tiny nails and smoldering
cigarette butts. but they’re always
without fingers or lips.
i see your shadow behind closed curtains.
i hear your ghost and the noises it makes.
but what are you doing over there?
what are you doing in your dark cave,
without a face, without eyes or lips or fingers?
who is smoking those cigarettes you drop and
who is hammering those nails?
i hear your truck pull up to the curb.
and i see the tan lines on your neck.
only doors closing and a hurried gait.
i see your shadows and hear those noises.
the vibrations of your machines
like a herd of buffalo.
and always disappearing before i can see clear
enough. before i can place those noises.
what are you doing in your cave,
yours with faded shutters and overgrown grass?
not a man but a myth, some great Hephaestus.
but it’s not you, only your ghost.
without name, only a shadow.
and i never cross the pavement. i never
ask your name or hear your voice.
but what are those boxes outside your door?
what do the letters in your mailbox say?
i’ll never know.
i only sit and watch.
and soon someone will come and tell me
that you’re gone. moved or died or simply vanished.
but i’ll still hear the buffalo of your machines.
the footsteps of your ghost.
and i’ll never know what you’ve done in your cave,
over there, across the way.
and i guess you’ll never know
what i do in mine.
I am not so sure where I am from anymore.
My father, my mother, my sister, my brother, they seem
to know where they are from. But me, I have
yet to find out. I suppose I could say I
am from heartache, from inconsistency, from purest laughter. But that
wouldn’t be the full truth. There again, truth is simply
what people are raised to believe. I suppose I was raised
by Indian feats of bravery. Sparrow feathers in Danish hair.
I suppose I could blame my thinking on alcoholism, but
then again I seemed to have raised myself. I suppose
I was raised by the wilderness, the test always being
how much I could take and not be consumed. I
suppose I am from fighting words and lonely hearts, from
cowardly men with a razor sharp wits. I suppose I
am from guilt, from failure of perfection, from over-loving mothers,
from thinkers too ashamed to think. I suppose I am
from the weakness where brawn abounds. I suppose my fighting
instinct only lies in the will. I suppose I am
from herds of men where I am called weak and
pussy and womanly. Yes, I suppose I am from a
sensitive soul, fatherly and terrified of letting things fly away.
Of watching them be set free. I suppose I am
from a home of faded shutters and unpaid electric bills.
From gasless cars, empty beer bottles and half-gallons of wine.
I suppose I am from do it yourself, cause no
one else will. From don’t think of it cause you’ll
fail. From a home that is sacred, that is a
cult. Where deserters return and are welcomed back with sardonic
smiles of I told you so’s. From smoke filled houses
and sleeping on couches. Breathing in stale alcohol, where no
one has done but everyone can teach. I am from
sleepless nights of shouting which dances upon sin stained pillow
cases. From echoing howls of forgiveness of prayers to a
God only I have faith in. I suppose I am
from insane habits and cursed genealogies. From dull pocket knives
carving into beach trees, long since dead. I am from
fugitives on the run in stolen cars, taken back with
nightsticks and chrome pistols in winters gloom. I suppose I
am from a tribe, a pack of lovers who only
love themselves. From makeshift beds on hardwood floors. From drunken
scoops of vanilla ice cream. From tear-filled news of santaclausebankruptcy.
From poison ivy and dirtied finger nails. From packs of
cigarettes smoked on slippery rooftops. I am from a place
I was told to wait outside, and from be back
in a moment’s. Or maybe—maybe I am from nowhere,
everywhere. Maybe I am from the infinite, from azure summer
skies. To be the next great hope, to be find
my forgotten voice. Maybe I am no one, but what
difference would it make. Maybe I am to wander in
this wilderness. To be a nobody who came from nowhere.
And nobody sounds like a pretty fine name to me.
Spencer K. M. Brown was born in Bedfordshire, England. He attended Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. While in school, he wrote the first draft of his debut novel Swimming With Birds during a trip to Key West and completed it while living in his parents’ garage. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Prime Number Magazine, Unbroken Journal, and The Belle Reve Journal. He currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Spencer K. M. Brown is represented by Jo Schaffer and Gateway Literary Agency.