Had I Lived

by Maya Miro Johnson

Had I lived                               I would not have

remembered to be grateful,

would have never learned the meaning of gracefulness,
during the long, limping, somnambular TripToTheMoon through a meteorite-lanced horizon,
or alternately during the descent down the stairs in the bleary way of a decaffeinated morning, stripped
of cocoa and
sunshine, pleasure and dignity

Supposing so-
that I (and here an obviousness for those of you unwilling to follow my gist, tilt my slant, surmount my Tibetan point, calculate the exact distance between my roguish tongue and the lay of reality) had not, in fact, hit-the-road-Jack-and-not-come-back, so unexpectedly thrust into the role of “hobo jim’s crazy hitchhiking cousin no.2”, with witty hat, shoes, and all extraneously meaningful items of detritus

then a second condition emerges, not yawning but lisping
        2) (that we must [honor + obey] Newton’s laws/ 4 everything=its
        opposite → IFF no loneliness allowed to explicate, exponentializ^e
        existence here, dummodo the binomial theorem (in this dogmatic
        playground with swing set ∫ so oddly (√-1) rhythmic and precise
        ↔ life is but a poxy recess negative pi suffering from arrhythmia
         of the dot)) QED à la ∞:

Supposing so,
I would not have forgotten the stove’s static blueness,
somehow, perhaps

by catching the whiff of lighter fluid on the breeze, placing it on the spectrum of fair to plain to goshgollyit’sagreatday.
but instead:

only the smell of grimy green success, like a sweat which chalks the fingers
infects the nails, contaminates the scent of things
like a crop plane (scene from childhood no. 1: a technicolor box of TV
scatters chemicals like ice picks in the brain

)scene from postmortem no. 1:
under my eyelashes what do I see at night

And further,
Supposing so:
ᾦould that I had not lived alone:
        despotic clock faces leered,
        companionship enough
        to tell
        of big-ben-swing-step-double-time-jumpin-jive
        dance hall madness,
        flurries of neon,
        and restless sheep in android dreams;
        my sockets scorched
                                      yet I lived in the dark,
        made firefly queen
        by all the       almost-nothings       that, sweetened into poison,
        shocked the fear of lightning and failure into this cowering
      (scene from childhood no. 2 tree, purple sleet, mommy)
        who pretended that her cave did not reek of tumid coughing
sounding with the resonance of tuberculosis and saxophones;
        who mocked the dead with her reenactments of disappearance and
striking with palm trees against the snow castles of mortal inevitability, yet timidly begging admittance;
      who wished against wishing yet succumbed to succulents all times but one

The brief candle burned brightly,
just as I was warned,
               like a rocket eating its tail,
but here       )scene from postmortem no. 2: the sense of place divided by a square root is not rational. discuss(       there is this light, sans retina-
subsequently inescapable-
                            (scene from childhood no. 3 Lear eats his eyeballs)

but by this cancerously starry lamplight I can read
for millennia
the oracles must have been reverse wayfarers,
high on life
after death

at very least…
        Supposing …
I’m elucidated now:
no more wonder,
known unknowns-
to use a tired, freckled old Eichmann of a phrase-
my tedious suppositions confined to the realm of diversion only;
no more must I posit for my daily bread,

the unanswerable questions answered.

        yet the age of anxiety remains
quicksilver pools in the brain,
speed-skating its way in a halo around the circuitry of the mind
a cleft causes crashes

… just as I am now
fetal, alone with my disillusionment.

what             might have been
is so clear,
whereas what might be,
                                                                          I see now,
was only what          had already come before

                                   )scene from postmortem no. 3: I see now the living
at the supermarket, filling their carts with cocaine and moments(

fun fact
                          (scene from childhood no. 4: my mother was in an
    accident ! while giving birth)
my head is filled with pronouns, articles, words beginning with Q,
no longer necessary;
I am a defunct,
      a toy symphony, my notes all used up.
I understand only my own ignorance,
like that Cadillac I used to covet with its prime rustiness and
perfect ineptitude,

                                      and this is the ultimate truth of a wooden box,
if you’re curious to know:
                                              a one-way ticket means no phone calls,

)scene from postmortem no 4: Miranda had no rights, as it happens, when Caliban
broke her spine against a wall/I am too stunned by star implosions to think slowly(

there is a telegraph, however!!
problem is, I don’t know how to operate it :/
they say you can’t learn once you’re over 25
                          (scene from childhood no. 5: new dog old tricks)
“at play,
another bone gone today”
(god have I started keeping track?)
                                SCENE FROM POSTMORTEM NO. 4? 5?
                          now I can see the bats clearly as they
                          nibble down one quarter meal at a time, perch upon me
                               for a shit
                          then don their leather jackets and accelerate to a fault

the days nearly disintegrated to a half million years’ worth of seconds
I remember nothing of suffocation, having now become it:

Supposing so,
what should I do [at present time]       but watch?
seeing as that’s always what I’ve always done.
I have, after all, been given no instruction…

I Suppose
that I can only assume
that my goal is not to die-
(WaitNo, perhaps I am repeating myself)

        so now I think only of poetry, as in
        A tongueless Limerick:

wherever you may go!
remember to remember
else, before you know,
what might be is what there never was,
thy passions now unsuspecting snow
which like flaking skin
or acidic whim
floats calmly as a fractured balloon
to the earth
where it inters itself with a detonation

of course, I am
No Stein…                                                                         Ginsburg…

Sappho…                                     Basho…

you should know they don’t await in the parting of the thunderhead;
                                                                  they rust elsewhere
                  is more idleness than anything
so the brain becomes things it is not
as the body di…sint..igr……ate…s
                                                      leaving only
-the memory of could haves (as in “I could have won”)
-and will dos (“Tomorrow, at the crack and crow of dawn, night
    just leaving behind her varmints and requiems”)
-and have nots (as in she whom I pass in the sewers and secretly admire for
    her independence of sanity)
-and will nevers (scene from act 2: “nooit, neen, nimmer/I will never marry
-and nearlies
so many nearlies

had I not lived alone-
just Supposing so, just Supposing-

not smelling the sweat of discarded headbands taping over irreconcilable wounds
gaping like lion’s maws into the sunset of death every day,
almost knowing its intimate rays
but yet not,
            not yet;

I always assumed the static electricity was percolating when it was truly plotting.

Unblissful in ignorance,
I lived.
but had I lived
(longer, more, at all)
what might I have learned?
what bliss might I have gained
that I have not been able to glean
                                                                          in a box?

but on the other hand,
when you suppose instead that
life is a box
and death is a bin,
the only question remaining is,
which is emptier?