Tony Barnstone

Nice World

We were a little too high, walking through town,
under a sky so ocean deep and blue I was moved
to say, Nice sky today, and a dog all fanged smiles
and hairy muscle bounced by after a frisbee
and you said, Nice dog. The grass was greener
than grass, just dripping greenness,
and you took my hand and swung me out
onto a lawn to dance, our feet getting wet.
We walked down to the boardwalk and paid
our tickets for the rollercoaster
and whooped while the whole wooden structure
jiggled and jolted as if about to fall
apart; we dove into the tunnel, surfaced into sun,
climbed clack tick clack to the top
and rolled down again, and you said afterwards
Wasn’t that nice? And we stood for a long time
watching a spider make its intricate weave,
and even that was nice, as though
the spider’s only plan were to throw a thin web
into the air to catch the light, or something light,
ephemeral, and complicated as beauty.
After dinner I washed the dishes,
water hissing from the tap in a clear braid
that would never run out, and that too
was beautiful, as if there were a god
in the faucet, bleeding clarity for us to drink
and be clean, as if a god were in the grass,
a god in the sky, a god in our bodies in dark
intersection in the student bed,
and a god cried out from our lips
too loud not to wake the housemate
curled into a pillow beyond the thin wall.
You were in me like oxygen in the heart,
and the god blossomed from us
on a stalk of air, and the god left
our lips in small yelps, pants and curses,
and left and left as if the leaving
would never stop until at last today
you said I don’t love you anymore,
and something drained out of the world,
some fizz or subatomic crackle, and we,
dumb cluster of molecules bumbling apart,
sputtered out like dead seeds,
cut loose like so much loose electricity.
And just like that, everything, the grass
hissing with photosynthesis, the blue in the sky
like me in you, the dog sizzling with joy
at the simplicity of a frisbee in its teeth
and a master waiting to throw it again,
everything now seemed dead,
just a tick clack tick of atom against atom,
pool balls rolling through assigned motions
until they drop into a hole, matter passing
energy into other matter, like nothing mattered,
the sky turning white, the two of us clicking
higher and higher, anticipating the drop will be
the most exciting thing in the world.

Tony Barnstone
Nice World is from Impure: Poems by Tony Barnstone (University Press of Florida, 1999).