John P. Rogers

You Know Where They Are

Published in: 33. Transcription of Multiplicity

John P. (JP) Rogers is a New Yorker by birth who now resides in Kansas. He has also lived in Boston, Paris, Dublin and San Francisco. For some reason, he’s been writing poems and stories since he was eight years old. He studied English and Philosophy at university and has worked as an editor for 25+ years. He is extremely confused by life and feels it is far too expensive relative to the level of joy attainable. He wishes many things were different.









They will always make it seem as if they know better than you

When they tire of that, they cry and act hurt if it gains them

something — forever lashing out from smaller places, trying to

defend what they only presume. They suck the night in deeper,

and leave you with just a sliver of moon. “Fine,” you think,

“Have Big Mind, swallow this tablet — it’s seven day’s worth of

humility.” Let it dissolve in your ear. Let your ear dissolve the

dirt. This is the dirt they will bury you in. They will smile at you

there, tucked under planet-skin, swimming in the red dirt like a

backwards Jesus, getting nowhere. They’re always smiling

somewhere. You know where they are. You know where they

are all the time — the sound of the ice clinking in their glasses

may as well be a bell on a kitten’s neck. They are all around

you, and they know nothing. But they will always make it seem

as if they know everything you don’t.





I often think of granting myself amnesty

wiping spent thoughts and scattering

the past; its wounds shed, sins absolved

(mine and the world’s). Scrap everything

and live now on a new earth, poles reversed,

magnetic field flipped, forgetting

even how I came to be this smooth

new animal untouched by regret.

When it happens, my mind will breathe

a pure moist silence to sweep away

those grinding days on dead necks

craned to spy on all hearts, and those nights

where in the slow hands of worry

I slept on dirty mounds that sang my name

and would wake, dazed, in the same salty skin

only to think again of granting myself amnesty.





We watch because we cannot help it. Each day it unfolds right

there in the front room of the house of time, with singular

purpose — a deliberate show of affection for everything and its

opposite. This is improvisation. There is no script or storyline

to follow, no routine to fall back on. Just us and this blunt

spectacle, with only the instrument of cognition to process it

all. The toolbox on the floor is filled with broken handles,

headless things good for holding, but little else. The absence of

structure is startling. The walls that used to keep things

separate have been translated out of existence; we are now

free to become our own children. Does this drama include its

own justification? For those who notice such things, there are

three books on the table. One is all covers, and the second has

feathers where the pages should be. It is the third one that

speaks as we look on. This is the narrator, spewing dust into

our ears and eyes, but the message inside is clean: We watch

because it is not over, and the tickets have already been paid






If I hold on a minute too long, I can’t sense it any more — time, I

mean, cast as a net for gathering everything else’s name.

Mistakes in judgment are likely to occur as the blizzard of data

that feeds us changes — silk to liquid and back.

What’s this called again? A condition or set of symptoms that

can be identified and pressed into the one true shape of matter,

something like a clock embryo in a shot glass. What I mean to

think — what we all do, really — is that it’s too hot inside this

ongoing embrace, and time will stop at nothing to make us half






1. I will grab a fresh eraser; we all know me too well. I can

become something else tomorrow. Perhaps a chicken

or a dog — nothing too exhausting.


2. Threats are multiplying all the time. Our friends live in

mortal fear they are going to be reupholstered. They

know the exact date.


3. There are turtles that can approximate love for

decades. Such things offer hope that we can overcome

our lives. Love, as a tool, has so many opposites, but I’m

keeping track of them… Will you help?


4. The mind and tongue form a deceptively simple

machine: silence goes in; misunderstanding comes out.

Or vice versa.


5. The day it was announced that hope was an incurable

condition, we began waiting for instructions on how to

proceed. Nothing has come yet. I check the mailbox

every morning.





We are us. Part of us is not us. On balance, or off — the same is

not different. Our velocity is suspect. We taste doubt in the

wind (it’s metallic). What we’re now thinking smells rotten

because of goodbye. The ideas we can afford are not

constructive. An end begins because everything is allergic to

time. I wish these boots wouldn’t fit anyone. All can be the

same if we let it — but we don’t. It’s not in our nature to be said,

swallowed or unseen. Sometimes a thing continues without itself.





*  Beginnings and ends are simply two different views of

the same thing.


*  The space between a question and an answer has no

name — or does it?


*  I don’t know why sometimes we seem to want back

what wasn’t ever ours.


*  It takes substance just to understand the realm of the



*  The relationship between life and death is constantly



*  I was in the same boat as you right before you drowned

— but I got out.


*  Human beings are quite often present and gone in

equal measure.


*  It’s ironic that what you choose to ignore says so much

about you.

Speak Your Mind