Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE, living with Sari Krosinsky, teaching at UNM and T-VI), December 2003. This series was conceived the fall I settled with Sari for good, and revised and reordered in 2009. I should say I don’t believe in an afterlife, so poems that explicitly explored Jeffrey the dead boy’s situation have been eliminated or drastically reduced. He’s important only as a commentator on this world anyway—to my mind. Other readers may have other opinions. The Prologue and Epilogue say—not very straightforwardly—that life-after-death is a device I know nothing about. “Cars” was published in my book 3 Cycles.
It hardly even happened.
Well, nothing happens unless you notice
and he hardly even did,
for a long time after it was over.
So weird to get lost in this city—
he can cross it in a second now
one end to the other
and he always knows the way—
but he got lost that day all right,
he’d only been here once or twice before,
and just thought without thinking
that the school group’d stay straggled over a couple blocks
the way it had been,
but when he glanced up from the magazine rack
he couldn’t see anybody.
It was a short cut
was the plan,
he was sure he knew which way they’d gone
and could make it there faster.
He was a little proud of himself.
Four big kids jamming the sidewalk
didn’t mean anything necessarily,
or meant various things in various situations.
Something about him wasn’t from here:
this city, this ’hood, this doorway.
A drawing-together took place around him.
He didn’t even dislike it,
which was what he always did,
and it wasn’t the wrong thing to do,
it wasn’t the right thing or the wrong thing.
When the knife came out
that wasn’t wrong or right either,
just something else to be settled
before he got to go on down the block.
He was almost imagining what terms he’d use
to tell José about all this
and see if he could get José to say “Man,
what kinda magazines were those!”
Then Jeffrey’d say “Just cars, man.
I ain’t shittin’ ya. Only cars.”
He may’ve even said the word “Cars”
to the paramedics or whoever,
whoever was the last person
to hear his voice.