An excerpt from Commutation by Gregory Crosby

Please stand
      clear of the
            closing doors.

Dis must be de place. A hell
      of an old joke. Feathers floating
            everywhere round the gate.

It’s all in your mind, except for
      Limbo. I’m a virtuous pagan, sure. I didn’t go
            to the rail for the blessing, but I repeated the names,

embedded in the program like a poem to be read only once. The poem is
      a Get Out of Limbo Free card. Only the past is immortal, only
            the imagination is real, only connect, et cetera.

This life is a mirror where reflections never cohere.
      Pleasure & stardust, & death rays, tuning up. Always ready
            to burst, always contained. Abandon nothing, least of all names.

Names always have power. Names are human. Names are the true
      reflections, the distant novae, the last words, Stelle! Stelle!
            Like two wings, given. Volare, whoa oh. The beauty, yeah yeah,

but no one is prepared for the moment when Beauty turns
      on them, its eyes filled with contempt. When Beauty despises you,
            what’s left? Some wrap it in quotation marks, as if in their

knowingness they’ve risen above it; some declare for the
      loyal opposition. Feast your eyes! Gloat your soul on my
            accursed ugliness! Nice work if you can get it. Beauty

doesn’t care, it’s too stupid to understand your
      revenges on it. It can’t help itself. It only saves
            your life by ruining it, which, oddly enough, really does

make it Truth… poor Truth, which cannot see its own reflection.




Read the rest of “Commutation” in our seventh print annual, available now


Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (2014, The Operating System) and The Book of Thirteen (2016, Sylph Press). His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, Leveler, Sink Review, Ping Pong, & Rattle. He teaches creative writing at Lehman College, City University of New York.


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