from then, we were still living



But wasn’t it always a scene

in a movie to delay it in the world?

The always movie?

In America, we make movies

before anything really happens.

It wasn’t like the movies and it wasn’t real.

It was our entirety emptying into the fully realized emptiness.

Then, we were still dead,

Then, we were still lost on our own soil.

Then, we were still living.



Some of the living have unpopular thoughts.

One of the living says: it isn’t

all dangerous life inside the mind of the terrorist.

Thought’s policy can still register a light called childhood.

Oh! childhood, where each little king

sings to the off-key world before joining.



The old fear always follows you into the new life. Who will I be?

Then, paradise takes the old fear back like something lost in light

of all the fear again.


Sometimes movies can see what’s invisible.

Dr. Frankenstein kept his new life from slipping around a spiral

threading science and then darkening down into the village. And rising from the middle

of those wavy white bolts he cooked up – rising from those electric

cords that passed back and forth like early television in the air

of his wavy life-after-death lab – rising from the final shock it took

to make the monster black and white – was ancient love.

Love made the air visible – made it

so those bolts didn’t escape the poles that made them current.

And burn up the place.



Some people look into the television into Afghanistan

and say they can’t see anything.

Or that they’ve missed that landscape,

in their own life – the moon,

horses on the moon,

men have nothing but what they have in front of them and have nothing.

Some people are in love with those men and the enemy.



Captured music set free

back on the radio, back in the air, through two speakers hanging like two amazed heads

on a pole

at the marketplace.

What kind of music is this? that makes a curtain rise

on these two radicals: a man’s close shave,

a woman’s face?

Such an old and beautiful world on top of such an old and modern world –

light mixed up with rubble.

Almost free?

Almost enough horses?

Peace passeth not their understanding, but ours.

* * * * * * * * *

Michael Klein‘s books are Track Conditions, a memoir, The End of Being Known, a memoir, and 1990, a book of poems which tied with James Schuyler to win a Lambda Literary Award in 1993. He teaches in the MFA Program at Goddard College and is on the summer faculty at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His new book, then, we were still living, will be published in October 2010 by GenPop Books, and he is currently working on a book version of his blog to be called States of Independence. He divides his time between Provincetown and New York City.