{ x | f'(x) does not exist }

(La Motte, Iowa)


That sky—so close

as if pressing down

on us, and this

down on this moment like

coffee grounds being pushed

against the sieve to extract

its liquid soul, brew who

we are and discard the rest.

I feel the weight of its blues

and whites on my shoulder

mimicking the solitude I

pretend to brush off, that I

pretend isn’t stalking me,

shadowing my movements

among a sea of people on

the top of this hill like

a gathered blanket, politely

tripping over the passionless

music and becoming entranced

in their own pretenses and not

noticing mine. I’m supposed

to feel something, I think.

Small, perhaps. Or hopeful.

Overwhelmed? That the field

is endless in all directions

except up, where the sky

is oppressive and suffocating

and I am questioning the way

time here is constructed,

with its vacuum singularities

dotting the sway of celebrating

voices like landmines.

It would be nice if someone

other than me would get

sucked into one of them, and

we could huddle shielded from

that sky and make remarks about

the hypocrisy and plastic gaiety

and that music that says nothing

to us, punctuated by fireworks.

And maybe afterwards we could

bury our secret with loosely

packed dirt and agree to

leave it, sealed with a handshake

and emerge, as from a theatre

of light, into the new night,

our eyes adjusting to the darkness

and the newly drunken quality of

the voices, go our separate ways

and act casually around each other

on the bus on the way home,

as if we hadn’t judged all that

was here, like small, overwhelmed,

fallen gods.

Iris Orpi is a Filipina poet, novelist, and screenwriter living in Chicago, IL. She is the author of four books of compiled poems, including Hand Painted and Rampant and Golden. Her work has appeared in over two dozen online and print publications all over Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa. She was a 2014 Honorable Mention for the Contemporary American Poetry Prize, given annually by Chicago Poetry Press.