I realize that what I should be
is ragged claws under the sea:
I can’t get a date
and it’s getting late
and the mermaids aren’t talking to me.
COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: Do I dare / Disturb the universe?
COUNSELOR: That’s a big question. And a bit vague. Can you be more specific?
CALLER: In a minute
COUNSELOR: Take your time.
CALLER: there is time
COUNSELOR: Yes, there is. Or, um, are we talking higher physics? What time is and whether it exists? Because I just meant you don’t have to rush.
CALLER: For decisions
COUNSELOR: Exactly. Take all the time you need to decide.
CALLER: and revisions
COUNSELOR: And yes, you can change your mind.
CALLER: which a minute will reverse.
COUNSELOR: Yes, you can change it back, too. But be careful of changing your mind too often, or you might confuse yourself.
CALLER: For I have known them all already,
COUNSELOR: You mean all the choices?
CALLER: known them all:
COUNSELOR: Or all the people who might be affected?
CALLER: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
COUNSELOR: Just to make one decision?
CALLER: I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
COUNSELOR: I’m familiar with that method. Many people find it helpful.
CALLER: I know
COUNSELOR: So how many spoons do you feel like you have left?
CALLER: the voices dying with a dying fall
COUNSELOR: So, not many. Do you think–
CALLER: Beneath the music from a farther room.
COUNSELOR: Yes, it can help to step out of the room, and remove yourself from the situation.
CALLER: So how
COUNSELOR: Well, you might consider–
CALLER: should I presume?
COUNSELOR: I’m not trying to be presumptuous, sir. But I do think you might have more spoons left if you could streamline your decision-making process.
I have wandered half-
Empty streets before
Like a patient etherized beneath a sheet before.
Women come and go;
They discuss, but I just need to pee.
Do I dare disturb
The whole universe
With decisions and revisions that I might reverse?
Spend the afternoons
Counting coffee spoons
Then decide that I’d like to take tea?
And should I comb my hair forward?
And do I dare eat a peach?
I should have been ragged pincers
That scut across the silt beyond this beach.
I have doffed my socks
On this beach before,
I have wondered if I dare to eat a peach before,
Heard the mermaids sing
Each to each before—
But I don’t think that they’ll sing to me.