Two Poems

Alissa Quart

Protocol

In Rome, they forget
their time, though such
forgetting is an error
of sense. Forget an age
of shoe bomber, of underwear
detonator, of airplane
null. Forget American
Gosselin serialism: eight
children they do not
love; a dozen screens,
playing losing games.

These are all signs; bright
as a street corner,
audible as punks-with-beasts.

New York’s dowdy water
towers are sentinels
of a time unremarked, a decade, unremarkable.
Save for
the rise of protocol.

Driftwood

One day you are ordering extra
olives and the next day: one
of The Damned.

I had worked this carapace,
that I lived in: modular, notched,
pieces of oak. I built myself
of driftwood, cables.
My face forced yet nonchalant.
Sometimes I was an artist’s wife
my dress long, hair a sheaf
Sometimes I was an extra on
the show Cop Rock.
A singing policewoman
waiting for crimes.
I was pleated,
a follower, collateral
damage on the sands.
Sometimes I prevailed: a memo,
lithographic, afternoon-like, sharp-edged.

The stamp of unbelonging
had always belonged to me.
Soon I returned to anywhere
but the beginning.
Homes of cockroaches.
Sunken rooms of bruisers.
Islands of police Sirens.
Each year I lived was broken
back into pieces

of driftwood, as if born
to lose. An explosive device
in every fucking pot.