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Christy Cottle

Date of Birth: 1/26/69
Location: North Carolina
Publications: Coraddi, Independence Boulevard
Readings At: Poets Eat, a reading series in Greensboro


I. Mercury's in Retrograde

I can only process a few puffs now,
before the war,
before the hejira,
the sudden onset of an inspired lethargy.
Without it (money? liberation? the first person pronoun?) you could go crazy,
crazy like Crowley, inspired, crammed with sorrow.
And with it, raving sober.
Just now, I'm processing.

This morning I passed the stillness of a finished car accident,
surrounded with people
jostling among the feast of interruption.
This image I contrasted with mountain silhouette, urgently calm,
like an unmoored grief finally given name.

Everything stopped going wrong
when I quit paying attention.

I can only talk for a second now,
shed a morsel of mentation;
I can hold out my crumbs of certain.

Because you didn't ask.
Because I cannot sleep.
Because I noticed ions in the sky,
swaying with the immanence of intuition.
Because I won the bet.
Because I gave up knowing.

II. The old man I will be tomorrow

I am formless and void
in the lair
of contingent ego,
using only sparsest words
to refuse to pray for or against:
"Thy will be done."
I am eschewing the manufacture of loved ones,
abstaining from city,
absorbed by city.

I am made quiet and motionless in the street,
seeing the old man I will be tomorrow.
I cannot speak to him;
I can only pry at him with my eyes,
to observe my future
lack of encumbrance.

When the moments return to order,
I can walk again, fluid and slow in the heat,
as I shake stillness from the knees of my belief.
Feeling the cool finger of light in my lungs,
telling me I could be happy.

When the moments return to order,
one following speciously upon the next,
the old man crosses the street,
blinking in the sun,
smiling at the near-memory
of the daughter he almost was.

III. Have mercy (the satisfaction of denial)

Considering a chocolate ice cream kiss,
bewildering in its complexity,
I crashed the market.