April 1, 2017 orangeq2017

Skyscraper Attendant

Zachary Michael Powell


I want stormdrains to flow into
these indoor spaces, these
elevator bombshelters where people
pack and wait.

What can I rename these rooms?

I’m a janitor here. Read the name badge.
See the clearance passes.
While I sweep the floors, labcoats
make viruses in the basement that can eat
through a monkey’s eyeballs.

Doors: Bubonic, Smallpox, Anthrax, Ebola.

In the rednight of the topfloor,
dogfights occur in an animal dance,
swirling the clouds in their machinegun dark,
and the planes fall like Christmas on the Highway.

Perhaps, I am dead.
My ghostself cleaning the memories
of these rooms and rooms in rooms,
like a restroom trashcan where one bag
swallows another, and barbarian hordes
grow in the mirrors behind the sinks.

After midnight, the lobbies sprout
tentacles to clutch out
at my squeaking feet, and I think of that man
holed-out in the jungle: Japanese.
It was the 70s, of course, and he in his cave
asked if the war was still on.

Floors: Dreams, Forgetfulness, Words, Forget-me-nots.

If my mop was to die
in my arms, hair wilting cold
over my face, I would know
my life for sleep at its
end, and I’d wake smiling to death.

So let fall the tiny cowboys
perched atop their nuclear shells,
let them spiral upside down
to topple these buildings where
no one seems to be able to put
their butts in the ashcan.

Stairwells: Coal, Ash, Sky, Your Finger.

To the outside city, my body’s smoke
will fog the office windows
with the way cooked flesh smells,
and perhaps my mouth will release into
all these sewer holes
so Audie Murphy, late in his cubicle,
will blink an insomniac code to the ceiling
that the saddest part of living
is holding a corpse like a receiver.

Emergency Exits: World. Mother. Father. Perceiver.


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