Then

By Aaron Shurin b. 1947 Aaron Shurin
Once we were in the loop . . . slick with information and the luster of good timing. We folded our clothes. Once we stood up before the standing vigils, before the popping vats, before the annotated lists of marshaled forces with their Venn diagrams like anxious zygotes, their paratactic chasms . . . before the set of whirligig blades, modular torrent. We folded our clothes. Once we remembered to get up to pee . . . and how to pee in a gleaming bowl . . . soaked as we were in gin and coconut, licorice water with catalpa buds, golden beet syrup in Johnny Walker Blue and a beautiful blur like August fog, cantilevered over the headlands . . . We tucked into the crevices of the mattress pad twirling our auburn braids, or woke up at the nick of light and practiced folding our clothes. Our pod printed headbands with hourly updates, announcing the traversals of green-shouldered hawks through the downtown loop, of gillyfish threading the north canals, of the discovery of electron calligraphy or a new method of washing brine. We smoothed our feathers like birds do, and twitched ourselves into warm heaps, and followed the fourth hand on the platinum clocks sweeping in arcs from left to right, up and down, in and out . . . We were steeped in watchfulness, fully suspended, itinerant floaters — ocean of air — among  the ozone lily pads and imbrex domes, the busting thickets of nutmeg, and geode malls. At night we told stories about the future with clairvoyant certainty. Our clothing was spectacular and fit to a T. We admired each other with ferocity.

Aaron Shurin, “Then” from Citizen. Copyright © 2012 by Aaron Shurin. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

Source: Citizen (City Lights Books, 2012)

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Poet Aaron Shurin b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

Biography

Poet and essayist Aaron Shurin was born in Manhattan and grew up there, in eastern Texas, and in Los Angeles. He earned a BA at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied with poet Denise Levertov, and an MA in poetics at the New College of California. Influenced by Robert Duncan and Frank O’Hara, Shurin composes lyric poems that explore themes of sexuality and loss. 

Shurin is the author of more than a dozen . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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