My flat-mate was my name-sake
but my opposite. I was brash, argumentative,
he turned his hands up, calm as cliche.
Pages rose in me, sharp, mad, ambitious,
his light tunes lingered on piano, content
as envelopes. He rose early, I
worked late. We hardly met. It seemed
two Philips made a psychiatric term
for diametric difference. It would
be right, like Heisenberg, to ask
which one of us would be there
when the lid was lifted? Because
since then I've often noticed
how my one opinion turns into its opposite.
One day I'm all against police,
next I fill the streets with law and absence.
I feel grief and hatred for the barbarous
but shudder at the blank there that is innocence.
Something about this is a line
not wanting to repeat itself,
where moving on is urgent, and seems
to promise revelation. Unlike the Philip
who played on among the ripples of himself,
like the minor variations up and down
the scale he played once for me
on harmonium, always turning back to theme.
Decisions such as these are touched
from preference, like chords, in certain keys,
but mine seem snatched, staccato,
make a modal or then a modern music
that half the time I won't believe in,
even for the biggest themes: for days,
within my chest, I am convinced of God
as simply as cool water on a summer's day
seems right. Or sudden silence, or laughter
when making love, seems right.
Yet I hear the line unplay itself
when the world touches me so badly, or so well
I stay fiercely, profanely human,
which seems right, like the candle I once burnt
down into its glass container, down
among the chords of slow depressive music
cracking the glass just as the pity died,
seemed right. If now I laugh at this
in that crack is silence, in the vagueness
is silence, in my changing passions
is silence, in the hesitation is silence.
In silence, is the terrible and worldess truth
telling me to lay down certainty upon the table
like a decapitated head, and watch it
jabber on regardless, all lips and teeth.
Returning to it later, I'll find the head
tranquil, eyes open, dignified.
The flat I passed, I once lived in.
The tragic/comic masks upon the wall
have gone, the keyboard this alter-ego
played upon has gone, the candle's
glass container has gone. Something
like the line not wanting to repeat itself
started there, a natural if disagreeable
contrariness. And as simply as cool water
on a summer day, it seems right.