J o s e p h M a s s e y




Last night I stood outside a white building, windowless, surrounded by layers of red scaffolding. Metal roof ridged in such a way the sun shredded off in all directions. Beside the building a tangled wooden launch pad encased a vertical silver rocket.

Inside the rocket: four crew members. I remember one in particular, a young woman: pale face that clarified everything inside and around it---her lips looked like two lines of dark water bobbing between her cheeks as she talked. I asked what they were doing---We're Zen Buddhists experimenting with weightlessness as a means of helping us reach Nirvana. I told them I had to get out of there. They sat still, silent. I found a hatch, cracked it open and jumped out. Soon as I landed the boosters started churning. The hatch opened---the pale girl looked at me and said, You forgot your hairbrush!







Random letters and numbers scrolled horizontally across the ceiling. I stared, paralyzed. When I woke, I picked up a book, and found it difficult to read.







A renowned park---whispered a male voice. I opened my eyes. Foliage twitched peripherally on wind. Mild air. Maybe spring. I couldn't move. My focus froze on a sign. Across the sign's center, a tree scribbled in green and brown crayon. Along the drawing's left side, a sprawling cursive script, blue ink:


This tree
is known
for stopping
people and
burying them
in peppermint-
perfect lisps
of affection


The sign dissolved after I read it.







I stole Tina's blue cadillac and decided to push it full speed past the fields where she lived---having become a famous photographer she wanted to isolate herself---in a gaudy Victorian house in Virginia. She furnished the backyard with dozens of Arabian horses. As I accelerated two of the horses ran with me. I watched them. I gained speed and their bodies splintered apart---first their noses flaked off, then their heads, and so on, until nothing was left but hooves. I raced the hooves all day and night.

Sun pushed into my eyes. I squinted and saw the cadillac crumpled against the side of a convenience store. Tina stood over me. I told her it wasn't my fault. I fell asleep, my foot got stuck. She handed me my shoes. I walked away without putting them on.







An older man talked to me. He was with three girls and two boys. They wore black t-shirts and no pants.
We were the only people on the boardwalk.

At the end of a dock a skyscraper was being built. So far it was only a series of metal beams, arranged sparingly, over a hundred stories. Long, clear plastic sheets wagged from the top.

They gathered into a prayer-circle.

What are you doing?
We worship structure.




Joseph Massey lives in Delaware. His work has appeared in House Organ, Longhouse, Milk
(www.milkmag.org), Mungo Vs. Ranger, Nemocolin X Press, Poethia
(www.burningpress.org/va/poethiaindex), Poetry Broadside, and is forthcoming
in Oyster Boy Review (www.oysterboyreview.com)