l.e.-sissman

1

Nowhere is all around us, pressureless,
A vacuum waiting for a rupture in
The tegument, a puncture in the skin,
To pass inside without a password and
Implode us into Erewhon. This room
Is dangerously unguarded: in one wall
An empty elevator clangs its doors,
Imperiously, for fodder; in the hall,
Bare stretchers gape for commerce; in the air
Outside, a trembling, empty brightness falls
In hunger on those whom it would devour
Like any sparrow hawk as darkness falls
And rises silently up the steel stairs
To the eleventh and last floor, where I
Reside on sufferance of authorities
Until my visas wither, and I die.
—  “Homage to Clotho: A Hospital Suite” by L.E. Sissman

A College Room: Lowell R-34, 1945

BY L. E. SISSMAN

A single bed. A single room. I sing Of man alone on the skew surface of life. No kith, no kin, no cat, no kid, no wife, No Frigidaire, no furniture, no ring.   Yes, but the perfect state of weightlessness Is a vacuum the natural mind abhors: The strait bed straightway magnetizes whores; The bare room, aching, itches to possess.   Thus I no sooner shut the tan tin door Behind me than I am at once at home. Will I, nill I, a budget pleasure dome Will rear itself in Suite R-34.   A pleasure dome of Klees and Watteaus made, Of chairs and couches from the Fair Exchange, Of leavings from the previous rich and strange Tenant, of fabrics guaranteed to fade.   Here I will entertain the young idea Of Cambridge, wounded, winsome, and sardonic; Here I will walk the uttermost euphonic Marches of English, where no lines are clear.   Here I will take the interchangeable Parts of ephemerid girls to fit my bed; Here death will first enter my freshman head On a visitor’s passport, putting one tangible   Word in my mouth, a capsule for the day When I will be evicted from my home Suite home so full of life and damned to roam Bodiless and without a thing to say.