At Kafka’s Grave

genius too is a man
who lived and breathed and unbuttoned his collar
who settled his arms at the kitchen table
spooning food in the mouth
who sometimes stained his blouse
cursed his hands

genius too is a man
with aunts and cousins and
holiday meals to attend
small talk to him just the same
up the stairs his feet sore
winter reminds of fractured bones
to-do lists on the board
dried suits at the tailor
sometimes he forgot to take notice
of the earth’s orbit
the floorboards creaking beneath his weight
the banister straightening
his crooked gait

genius too is a man
who perked up at the sight of friends
drowned in cacophonies the selfsame litany—
to what end? to what end?
crammed into a quarter space
the infinite muse
a second behind, a second late
a half tone off key
always the wrong color
always the improvised line
existing only to be
improved upon

genius too is a man
who balanced a scale on the mantel
the photos of a lover
echoed in perennial demands
birth memory strained
longer than a year
some laughter, some choked pride
ties nonetheless severed
dust remains

genius too is a man and mostly a man
who set alarms to awaken
cleared the table
adjusted the drapes
ignored the demons that whispered
you can’t


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