The Futility of Feeling

by Darius Stewart

Across the way the neighbors again argue
the virtues of fidelity & discretion.
I’ve come out into the cold, dark winter
the white elephant smoking a cigarette,
leaning against the porch-rail intruding upon
their privacy, such impertinence I feel
like a child disobedient. Without coat
or toboggan, a cup of hot water to warm
their hands, one talks, the other pretends
to see a crack in the sky. Each voice
pitches louder, a constant campaign
of half-truthing, fictioning, then their voices
lowing, their heads craning my direction,
toward the smoke, the spire lifted in my hand
a dying torch & me shrinking back
as if from a scolding hand. Against my lips
a snifter of cognac might betray how clearly
I’m a saboteur of their feuding. A box
of Harry London chocolates poised
for sampling is a veiled attempt at metaphoring
I’m a sweetheart who enjoys a good show—
half-nelsoned as if by a Mahler symphony.
But even Mahler isn’t so bullying,
the way the air is now a deeper purple,
night beaten to a plum,
as they each refuse to see inside
the heart of the matter, which is
almost like tossing salt over one’s shoulder
to preserve some semblance of luck.
I’d like to tell them that, if only to conform
to the idea of wisdom coming from the mouths
of babes. Because I do have something to say.
Though often, I admit, (when I do say)
I’m the pummeled air between my neighbors
that bars her from tracing a finger along the crease
of his shirt sleeve, or him from blurting out
the biggest shock of all: that he’s fallen out of love
& can’t continue on this way, & then I have to admit
sometimes words fail, that more & more
words are instruments of futility, like trying
to conceive that pennies fall from heaven,
or when one pulls the beds apart
the other spends the night restless on the couch
because they each possess a god-like wrath,
a stubbornness that keeps a deer stationary
in the wake of oncoming traffic.
My neighbors can’t hear themselves out
to hear the imminent crash. They find a sort of peace
from knowing one will walk away with blood
on their hands. That’s how they know they’ve won
& one day will tell their children how
they left the other in a downward spiral, not
able to pick their battered body up off the ground,
& this, they will say, is how to prove resilience,
(or worse) that they’re not one to be trifled with.
If you were here you would know all that I say
is true because you, too, have tried to settle in
for the night but are called back again
& again by voices across the way rising
like the resurrection. It becomes news to you
the same way senseless tragedies encourage
pillow-talk or campfire stories, gossip
at the water cooler while the boss is in
the boardroom. You hear this news the same way
you hear a turkey buzzard lifting up heavily
from a tree branch & the leaves hitting the roof
of the car below like drum-taps. You hear it like rain
when there is no rain & you so badly desire it
because you’ve never seen the earth so parched,
or anything, for that matter, fighting the good fight
to survive & losing so terribly.


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I am a dreamer, as well as a doer, who lives in the North Georgia mountains. I started my publishing journey August of 2013, have had moderate success, but my utmost passion is my "daytime" job, which is working with adults who are constantly striving to better their lives as they obtain the GED credential.

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