Adam Engel lives in NYC, where he studied and taught at several universities, administered corporate systems, published numerous poems, stories, essays, articles and four books, Topiary, Cella Fantastik, and I Hope My Corpse Gives you the Plague, and most recently, root (Oliver Arts & Open Press, 2016).
Poet Adam Engel
Here: where parents outlive children: fathers weep over puddles that once walked as sons.
Words stick like glue in the throat: despite recorded sightings of ether-phrases in-between: you know: like physicists see particles where most see nothing but what’s “really there.”
The laughing ones who drank us under tables: under ground now: cold as stone: nibbled by creatures nourishing their young (yet more moist life: tubular: revolting).
The dead are gone yet debates persist: unsettled: round after round.
For instance: the woman on the beach -- no longer slim: young: pretty on the sand -- compelled Yesterday to Dream lubricious rumbas -- roses crushed in tango teeth -- around the pretty young girl on the sand.
The man in the gray fedora chased a woman whose derringer held secret data: why do men crave females in pheromone sombreros?
They stopped: embraced: tip-toed through Georgia: eloped under UFO-light to star-struck Tennessee.
These “occurrences” are what we see feel touch – not physicists plucking quanta from dark metal: or sentences silent in deep tissue summoned to speech by poets (who hear them slither through gray-matter like worms).
“Here” is a chain of painful links that will endure until the final syllable is swallowed by the fattest wettest life.
And yet another dumb protagonist: all inner life: asocial: dwells in tunnels built for trains the City has outgrown: forgotten.
He dreams in darkest sanctuary. Remembers. How long since the sky? Tunnels above him and The City above the tunnels and the sky above the City. Space. Stars and darkness beyond the Sun he hasn’t seen in months. Maledictions of his species and the parasitic others that remain. Rats aloof: big as bears and vicious.
She comes to him with food procured by runners who deal daily with the light and traffic: hands and markets: of Above. He and She will never scavenge among them in the light: never among them in the noise. No: not again.
Better to Live -- He and She -- than to Survive.
After the After
So in this Nation of celebrities: schnooks: has-beens: never-beens: writers: programmers: hackers: convicts: executives: serfs: Information Architects and all manner of Data manipulators and killer-cop-thieves -- a Nation too big for one to know much less understand -- he was walking with a friend: young and ebullient on the asphalt – no: that was years ago: many years...
He walked with a friend -- experienced on the evident asphalt -- and concluded: all men are common who have not found their voice.
He has not found his voice in the wake of this riotous din. He keeps to himself: as far as possible from the hoi-polloi and their gadgets: gizmos: baubles.
A thinking man seeks peace.
But does it matter after the after (there’s always an “after:” when no one recalls the doings of his forebears) and after that: the final after -- when we’re sucked into blackness-blankness where actions are not marked nor deeds recorded?
Does it matter after curves in space: the next bird: if he was a master of dialog and faith: a poet who dug deep: slept fitfully and eventually?
Or is it enough that he was no longer ebullient: no longer young?
Dark Above Her
Twenty years ago the beach. Sun rise. Coppertone. Valium. Before the photograph you couldn’t recognize the slip of years. Records: archives. Moments snatched like butterflies: pinned to the board.
Watch us watch ourselves grow old: starched white sheets and all.
Without logic or intensity: we sought mountain stature: draped ourselves as if the world could end this way: in the boudoir: where dogs barked fantasies and women wept for virgin days of Summer: water-melon: songs around campfires (real or imagined): marshmallows burnt to ash but soft inside: white: sticky.
After the party: cocktails. Pure in the beginning: we spit on their ashes: escaped to yet another --
“This is the guest-room.”
Anticipate agony. We know no other way. Generic Memory of no particulars. No individuals or details. Just what The Race knows and remembers.
Every moment’s stealth-creep. When the floor drops. Beneath us we see red.
Eventually we all know peace. Or at the very least ignorance of or indifference to unrest. And all the years passed through the fiery moment of a dream.
She reached the very end: intensity of faith: absence of fear: and other freedoms surface when there’s absolutely, positively no place left to go.