Knocking Weather by Zak Jones


Cool wind rattles loose doors at intervals
untimed. Clouds gather beyond the blinds—
a cool day, yes, and one that I don’t want
to see or acknowledge—a small sacrifice
when championed against the paralysis
of morning.

But what casts on me if not clouds?
What clambers in me if not organ pipes?
What bears upon me if not paternal expectations,
social exultations,
or the weight of a growing conscience?

I am years, years-old and only that.
I am cornered into a realm,
a fatigue.

This choice that I’ve made, to worship,
is buying a foolproof safe
and having no jewelry.

Now the clouds surmount, and my nose
runs and I can feel them diminish
beyond my eyelids and ceiling.
The winds knocking at my door ask, “What for?”
“What for?” and I lack an answer
in the shaking paucity, the denial of “Later…
Later…” Not today.

I answer the call and go out to them.

And a halo of Christmas lights hang from my brow,
Mardi Grasian, dangling between my eyes
and the world before me,
colouring my actions orange to a funereal drumbeat—
moving me moving me moving me back
to loss, and regret: the black ritual of love.

In my worried dreams a lime wash over me
whitens the terrible oatmeal earth consuming me.
Contours of leafshade halo me, dancing.
And nothing dynamic grows from me after time,
and after time I return to the rotten same that I am
and to the whole of my life, contoured by memory.

I cannot focus on anything familiar, and everything is familiar.
There are small calluses on my retinas from seeing
too many times over the façade of my aspirations,
the too real inaccuracy of daylight that reveals me.
Inside my eye is a failed and mirrored medusa
as everyone I meet is flesh and blood and I am static and stone in time.

It was in this neighbourhood in which I deafened myself
to a big, big problem: delusion.

Here I bore out a hole in which to plug my head and the earth shook
around me,
while I, dirt-blind, could hear ghosts laughing like kids under a blanket.
I knew the dream of my future, but did not want to live into it.
My body was thrashed and consumed
and turned to stone: my head, quaked and geysered in existential panic.
My family was a bloom of jellyfish swarming and stinging me.
My speech was an eruption, destructive.
My sleep, an usurpation of a grey Lord over me.
Here I was mentally dehydrated.
I was petting your dog in the kitchen and her fur felt like a Halloween wig.
I was petting the dog and looked away from the wine-joke fridge magnet.
The room smelled like after a shower. Then my hands in your hair—
stiff with hairspray, then sticky like I just pumped gas.
The room looked like stale chips taste.

I wind through a laneway of willows,
Trees of my past, frozen now, their shadows dancing in my wake.
The future will dance as it once did, I thought. For now it is steadfast.
Are the roots warm?
The willows’ branches are thin, but heavy and still—
Green against a backdrop of mauve sky and an always-present maybe.

Is the moon still huge?
The celestials are shy behind the cheap sheet of early morning.
The tree won’t sway,
no matter how hard or deep I breathe.
The sound from the head I buried comes up from the grass;
a static transmission from the antennae of time.
I’m feeling an uneasy shaking like lady birds
flailing beneath the floorboards of the earth.

I want to be truthful like yeasty wine in a coffee cup,
but in the grand scam of things I fear I’m an old hotel bed
and that makes me impersonal.

Alas, my clothes are clean except for me,
and I’m wondering about a different hallelujah,
here in the streetlights.

Here, a New New Orleans comes cruising into one of these hotels,
sexless as me, here with no enemy, here with no love
and here with only myself and starch—
I see the future: a bowl of cereal in the morning and on the way again
perhaps to awake to a sound somewhere else from somewhere else.
A repression I’m witness to but excluded from. Birds begin.

I am still awake.
The birds who sang so sullenly together have flown off to another church
and I am left under the willow tree with the thrush
who blows his coach’s whistle in time
and in tandem to the sound of his own license: he interrupts himself.
I wonder what he looks like,
but I cannot place him in the brown hymn of the willow.
It is spring but in these changing years
the dried locks of the tree blot and sweep
against the white white white overcast
and all moves like an old folks’ home,
and I am home in this nowness.
Only the birds fool themselves to chirp for tomorrow.

The radio plays and I wait for the desire to sleep.
The overcast has tricked the window
into letting confident light in.
The blue wake of day cools and stills the warring dust of the office.
In my consternation I can see my breath alter it
and I know that I play a role, even here in the stillness.

The radio plays and I do not hear about myself,
or this church or this community, country or state.
We are the dust floating in the light
and I want to be the breather
and blower.