By Sam Difalco

The alterity shadow intrudes on
your self-awareness. No doctor should smile
doing well by you—this one suddenly
wants to sign off with a cold so long.

And yet you told the little doctor nothing
that day at the clinic, nothing scary
save the joke, “I am tired of living.”
Then the doc called the apothecary.

Throughout the day you wait for someone
to arrive. People talk outside your door,
doctors from Paris you gather, or born
there and hoping to go back one day soon.

Back in the room, the ozonized cold air
strikes like a thing constructed, a harrow
of crystals and white hair merging into
cloud, overarching, and tinted ice blue.

In a sense, the outsider is never
good, whether wronged, or stuck inside his head.
Powerless, he stands by reality
as by a black, slow-moving river,

his mild expression poleaxed by sunlight
with alienating ease. He looms there
with his eyes shut and teeth clenched, listening
for the functional green richness of life.

Its unremitting hum creates a play
of contradictory uncertainties—
the duplicity of experience
forking from within and without the mind.

How things are in the world is a matter
of indifference to your cognition,
for you cannot think what you cannot think
and cannot see it as it should be seen.

Or you can shuffle to the nearby church
with the small sheltered graveyard beside it
and smoke cigarettes till your fingers turn
orange, or perfume the air with their char.

Around the weathered epitaphs violent
vegetation snaps and blares, orchestra
of life in riot, taunting the stone-dead,
making light of their infinite silence,

and true to a clamorous inner world
of pealing bells and horns and timpani
which the stricken, now motionless patient
perceives as his only state of being.