Two Poems

Sarah Manguso

The Black Garden

The first thing I did was imagine a circle and get in it.
Then I paid my bills and coughed up some neutrinos.
Things seemed to be going my way.
Outside the circle the world waited
with its dinner party and its hologram floor of moving stars.
Sometimes I left the circle and let things happen in that other place.

*

It was safer outside the circle than in
as I had not yet named the rescue dogs.
More correctly, I had thought of them
not in the garden but in the time capsule
under the civil war memorial which was invisible.

*

Why is it called thus
the tourists asked the inhabitants.
Nothing grew or died there,
and they could not see where the circle ended and began.
I am the only one who can see it.
I am a lonely albino, I pour dark tea down my gullet
all day long just so they can see me.

*

I am stifled by extreme joy.
In the enclosure in my excitement
I think I will soon give birth to an enormous idea.

*

Today I woke up, juggled, made a few notes,
and became symbolically suicidal.
My juggling balls are shaped like stars.

I tend the black garden by sitting down in it
and gnawing on my fingers.

At night I bark like a bloodhound.

*

Where are you if not outside the enclosure?
Only figments live inside.
I am colourless and cold, I am my own figment.

Wickedest Man

I met the wickedest man in the world,
he threw a deck of cards at me and fucked me everywhere.
I was ready for it. I didn’t need props,
I couldn’t wait for my head to start aching like the Black Hills.
I walked over the bald ground with the wickedest man
and we took pictures of ourselves as we imagined
having already burned it. The wickedest man
tied me to the track and stopped the train.
After that we attended a council of tears
behind a house, I am walking toward it moving my hips
like a born-again whore, there is darkness in that house.
I understand now: I am to live there into my dotage
kneeling and whispering incantations in the corners
and waiting for the wickedest man.
I am walking toward it, it is so close now.
I see I am nothing like this house.
It is leaning toward me, I think it is happy I am finally home.
I am ready for the windows to break and nothing
to come out but a dust that kills you and a crying sound:
My inhabitant!