Ed Pavlic

Results of the Polygraph : The Autobiography

of What   If   & When

if this was a wet blouse
there’d be the shadow of fingers
if a leaf poured from a can
of paint there’d be veins
stiffened by the cold if this
was summer wind there’d be laughter
from across the lake if an
abandoned well it’d smell of broken
stone & you’d look down
in the dark for the loose end
of frayed rope if this was
a rusty nail there’d be a little
boy licking red dust
from his fingers if I was 13
again it’d be a simple matter
of off & on drag the pen
& pain runs down the block
if he was 20 again he’d have cut
himself & gone in after it
fist into brick if the angle was
right it’d move thru the flesh
like a song climbs swole & yellow
up past the elbow if a novel
there’d be a scream’s chance
of meeting again somewhere
unthinkable if it were mine
one of us would miss the other
in an empty street there’d
be the panic of living
again the act like I knew
far more than I did if
these were letters to you
they’d be in the well
if breached inside
there’d be ash on the hips
& rattlesnake tea
when Paul Wittgenstein
returned from the war
the family refused to pay Ravel
for what he wrote to the phantom
right hand often we find
simply from impact reasonable
persons infer decisions
on the part of others
if she’d told me she needed
two things to count on
there’d have been
these at least : if it hadn’t been
for the broken guitar string
her hair’d have blown
left to right across her face
into my mouth & no one would ask
me what I said if
I spoke any louder than this here

Ed Pavlic
“Results of the Polygraph: The Autobiography of What If & When” first appeared in Jubilat, 9.