noncommittal cosmic gestures add up
not in the sense of make sense
they don’t


meaningless accumulation
like all accumulation
manufactured necessity deceives


the shrug of equanimity says
das ist mir egal
a seductive voice repeats


painfully beautiful surfaces
insistent sounds and
then release


subtle expressions of
deflated desire
this is the metaphysical


what grim realities reside
beneath the gaudy surface?
air oppresses and
elemental imbalances
suggest the presence
of a threshold


passing through or
across or over
or beyond


the cold prickle
of intense heat
prepares the body
for strange rituals


the room that’s not a room
holds pain pleasure madness
in equal measure
unexpected lines of resistance open
dead silence between vocal explosions
inspires moderate dread


path worn almost to nonexistence
leads to a sign reading
chamber number two


the number two implies
the existence of other chambers
does the french chambre
offer a place of rest?
or six loaded chambers
poised against time’s temple?


or the other roulette?
red or black?
odd or even?
uncategorizable sounds and
unrecognizable shapes
foster labored breathing


there must be one point
on one line in one plane
about which we can
know one thing


or one note in one sequence—
could its true
tone be heard
by ears in this shadow realm?


there must be a light somewhere
and an object for us
to reside within this shadow

Patrick Hurley taught writing and literature at various colleges for many years until he discovered bartenders make more than adjunct faculty and don’t have to grade papers. Now he makes poems. He is obsessed with a long project called walking.