« Natalie Shapero | Contents | Carrie Olivia Adams »

Kate Colby

Almost ten years ago, when I was in graduate school in San Francisco, my friend and mentor, Sarah Anne Cox, challenged me to write a poem that just came out and said whatever it was I was always trying to say in all of my poems. I didn’t do it, but I’ve thought about it ever since. I Mean is my attempt to finally complete her assignment, even though I’m turning it in incomplete. The following is just an excerpt of a larger excerpt of a poem that never ends.

 

I mean

 

I mean to say

 

I mean I keep meaning to

 

I mean amending

 

I mean correcting

 

I mean qualifying

 

I mean collecting

 

I mean X + X + X

and so forth

 

I mean all possible values

 

I mean adding

 

I mean and also

 

I mean pileups happen

when you can’t see

where you’re going

 

I mean where you are

 

I mean your hand

in front of your face

 

I mean my hand

 

I mean if that’s all

I can see

 

I mean if that’s all

I’m looking at

 

I mean that’s not all

 

I mean there is no end

 

I mean this isn’t the beginning

 

I mean only means

 

I mean blow the house down

with breathlessness

 

I mean a house of breathlessness

 

I mean the walls

are braced

against themselves

 

I mean brace yourself

 

I mean to take the house down

with its own components

 

I mean throw the whole deck at it

 

I mean two-by-fours and oven mitts

 

I mean rocks

hucking them

at walls of rocks

 

I mean self-healing walls

 

I mean with insipid pocks

 

I mean bb dings in street signs

 

I mean bullet holes in stop signs

 

I mean to riddle

 

I mean all signs point to “yes”

 

I mean eyelids are designed to admit some light

 

I mean sound

 

I mean boom

 

I mean faster than gravity

 

I mean I am not equal to the work

 

I mean I’m over my head

 

I mean hovering

 

I mean levitating

 

I mean light as a feather

wide as a plane

 

I mean fight as a feather

(infinitesimally)

 

I mean the first rule of Fight Club

is sleight (perceived

syllogism, sinking

deep into the La-Z-Boy)

 

I mean I’m going to talk about it

 

I mean talk about it

by talking about

talking about it

 

I mean write about it

 

I mean scrape it all towards me

with the edge of my hand

 

I mean like a spray of crumbs

 

I mean pile

 

I mean to pile up

and get on top of

 

I mean for the prospect

 

I mean for the pea

beneath the mattress

 

I mean to feel the ceiling

 

I mean to figure it

like a mime

 

I mean just imagine it

 

I mean kiss it

 

I mean I’m already running out of air

 

I mean steam

 

I mean fire

 

I mean fight it

 

I mean feed

 

I mean with fire

 

I mean fire

is not finite

only fuel

 

I mean light

is not finite

only illumination

 

I mean things to illuminate

 

I mean to throw shadows

 

I mean I have an important

question: is this important?

 

I mean there are no stupid questions

only precarious piles of them

 

I mean I don’t think

 

I mean I have my work

cut out

 

I mean decoupage

 

I mean to decorate empty boxes

 

I mean mountains of them

 

I mean to make mountains of them

 

I mean I like to see

the whole horizon

 

I mean just putting it out there

 

I mean the horizon

is where I see it

 

I mean where does a mountain end

and everything else begin?

 

I mean the foothills

 

I mean the valley

 

I mean the sky

 

I mean how far from my head

 

I mean I know there are names 

but I don’t want to know them

 

I mean everything is of a piece

 

I mean right now

 

I mean a meteorite slashes through

atmosphere, roof, ceiling, lands

on the living room rug and smolders

 

I mean in front of the television

 

I mean there’s a smoking hole in the rug

and a laugh track

 

I mean Mork & Mindy

 

I mean mise en abîme

 

I mean playing people playing people

 

I mean sets within sets of themselves

 

I mean I dream about myself

 

I mean I’ve canceled myself out

 

I mean I’m over here

while you’re staring at

the smoldering hole in the rug

where you thought I was

 

I mean a black grid on a white field

and the fuzzy gray dots where the lines cross

that you can see but not look at

 

I mean “slippage”

 

I mean the slip-proof dots

on the baby’s socks

 

I mean things for which

names may or may not exist

 

I mean there are names

for what you are and for who

 

I mean names for things

that don’t or no longer exist

 

I mean kicking bones

down the stairs

they’re in my way

 

I mean in the desert

 

I mean everything is contained

 

I mean bound

 

I mean imminent

 

I mean right now

 

I mean immanence

 

I mean all at once

 

I mean an infinitely subdividing distance

from your face, your hand

 

I mean your frame

 

I mean immanence of adolescence,

winter sunset behind bare branches.

In a car. Cat Stevens.

 

I mean you can’t make this shit up

 

I mean it’s Cartesian

 

I mean the sum

 

I mean gestalt

 

I mean more

 

I mean soul

 

I mean stab

pen through paper

 

I mean repeatedly

 

I mean stomata

let the light through

 

I mean oven mitts

are words

 

I mean syntactic units

 

I mean tools

 

I mean means

 

I mean oven-mitt puppet theater

 

I mean in the round

 

I mean all the walls

are see-through

 

I mean no one can see the light

is coming from the wrong direction

 

I mean the aisle lighting

is on the ceiling

 

I mean the walls

don’t meet the ceiling

 

I mean the sky

 

I mean the ends of the earth

 

I mean there are ways to get around them

 

I mean get over them

 

I mean with a kind of stile

 

I mean pile

of individually useless tools

 

I mean poems as piles

of perfume test strips

 

I mean litmus strips

in innumerable labs

of trash cans

 

I mean the letter-shaped

spaces in my correction tape

 

I mean dead letters

denoting notes

 

I mean chords

 

I mean to correct the bad ones

 

I mean the bad one

 

I mean the only chord I know

is differently bad each time

 

I mean except when I hit it

 

I mean I go limp in my own arms

 

I mean it’s major

 

I mean in motion

 

I mean pictures

 

I mean the moment

a woman exhales

and slides beneath

her mounds of bubbles

 

I mean mountains

 

I mean hill beyond hill beyond hill

 

I mean the boundaries of the kingdom

I can see

 

I mean the periphery

is a circle and I am

seldom at its center

 

I mean except when I am

 

I mean the circumference

of sound

 

I mean a plane

crossing the sky

 

I mean how long does it take?

 

I mean how far away is the furthest

visible point in a cloudless sky

 

I mean the furthest visible cloud

in the cloud cover

 

I mean as far as the eye can see

 

I mean define

 

I mean the horizon is the shape of the eye

 

I mean is the lake the shape of its shoreline

or the shoreline the shape of the lake?

 

I mean the same

of me and my skin

 

I mean bodies of water

become their shores

 

I mean everything is round

and around you

 

I mean everything takes shape

of itself

 

I mean shapes come to look like

the shapes they once stood for

 

I mean five-pointed stars

and six

 

I mean what we divine there

 

I mean everything is pointing

 

I mean in Jodhpur there are three

different reasons given for

the walls being blue. Depends

who you ask. Nobody remembers.

 

I mean some things are blue as Jodhpur

 

I mean 1:1:1

 

I mean more than authenticity

 

I mean true blue

 

I mean verdigris

 

I mean which is the natural state of a surface,

the patina or the polish?

 

I mean ore or artifact

 

I mean mud flaps with sexy silhouettes

 

I mean having it made

 

I mean for you? Half price.

 

I mean you really had to be there

and were

is the new picaresque

 

I mean access with lingering

whiff of difficulty  

 

I mean fare thee

forward

 

I mean no sleep is never enough

 

 

« Natalie Shapero | Contents | Carrie Olivia Adams »