Tom Thompson

Gloss Upwards

The water towers of New York are shivering like egg sacs.
Shall we tell them to get down from there?
Their hairy legs attract the wind
up where they were so recklessly scattered
by their mothers—those phosphorescent ones,
so desperate to be shed of the past.
Do you hear them? A whinge in the distance like tree tops.
It’s the wet season and terrible to the towers.
Leaves rise up like the dead scratching to get in.
Dust motes grow by magnitudes of ten
until they clog each air hole and drainage spout,
strip all remnants of signage
with a black tar-like substance that works itself
between the slats and under the nail heads,
pushing in, displacing the original materials
bit by bit until each tower is itself
a wholly owned subsidiary of leaves.
It’s their despair at this process
that leads to the towers’ dream of imploding
directly over our bedrooms,
drenching our night-things with a violet-hued passivity.
It’s here, when they think of us, that we have them.
So radiantly and anonymously do they prepare for us,
in such individual-size portions.
Their various livers drain to a single point.
Their lungs and allowances and private social codes,
all their ambulatory innards, become our own—
that they might give rise to our mossy, mossy drives.


Tom Thompson
“Gloss Upwards” is from The Pitch (Alice James Books, 2006).