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I’m trying to determine what my position is,

thinking about it

as Linnaeus might have,

placed in the appropriate class or category according to well-defined rules—

failure is almost always a kind of fuzziness or lack of inner clarity. 

Or is it a too meager commitment? 

I’m holding my hands apart,

concentrating on what’s in front of me,

trying to prepare myself,

my tongue curls like a spring—

there are people who find something every day, a piece of real estate or a building that’s been abandoned,

they know what use to make of it,

how to negotiate the benefit of the bargain, 

they always know where the dividing line is,

while I’m balancing like a canoeist, leaning both ways, thinking about the capacity and the shrinking resources,

the risks that lie like beached whales

looking out through the wrinkled moist eyes of an old person.

A part of me thinks what’s the rush,

and another let’s get it over with

Even in the cafeteria I don’t know what to take, what I’m going to put on my tray,

because I’m thinking about the rejection that’s involved. 

When I read I think I’m underlining every other word.

Sometimes I walk up and down on the platform without looking in front of me or turning to the side, or turning around,

putting on my coat and taking it off again,

as if I need to experience the alternation,

or I stop and look at somebody I don’t know—

somebody who is so close to me we’re practically touching,

I’m trying not to be disappointed or to pretend I’m not disappointed.


Dark Matter in the Midwest

At first you only notice the light matter in the midwest is darkened or overshadowed,

in some cases only slightly darker,

only a tad shadier,

soiled light matter or light-colored dark matter,

like a faded tan in the Midwest,

stained or darkened,

I don’t think anybody is measuring the amount or adding it up,

it’s not something you talk about,

even with your friends,

even though it’s plentiful in the midwest,

filling up the empty spaces on both sides of the door in the midwest, getting into jars and other containers,

ziplock bags, for instance, or vases,

mingling or cohabitating with light matter in the midwest,

I’m not saying it takes up space that’s being used for anything else in the midwest,

it’s not dangerous or anything like that.

Of course, everybody knows it’s not the need to be loved but the need to love that is truly essential in the midwest,

we need to love our friends more than ever,

in the morning we wake up with the same friends

we went to sleep with in the midwest,

sharing our rooms, sharing the sheets,

if you don’t have a lot of light matter in the midwest it doesn’t really matter because of the dark matter,

which belongs to everybody,

I’m not saying it’s a substitution or replacement in the economic sense,

or in the geographical sense,

and some of my friends think the midwest isn’t definite enough, squeezed in between the east and the west,

blending in or dissolving on both sides,

severed on both sides,

or undernourished,

it needs to bulk up,

the east’s little sister,

the west’s little brother,
although it turns out the manufacture of dark matter is a labor-saving process that doesn’t require you to hire, you know, people,

which is perfect for the midwest,

like the midwest itself it is beautiful but not outside,

not the outward appearance of beauty,

you don’t need to look at it to see how beautiful it is.  


Peter Leight has previously published poems in Paris Review, Partisan Review, AGNI, Western Humanities Review, Cincinnati Review, Seneca Review, The Southampton Review, Cimarron, Hubbub, and other magazines.