After Dark

after Haruki Murakami

I.

From a violet grows an expanse of trash.
Maggots gnaw on rotted bones.
Rats scurry. A scent of raw sewage.
We are here to police flowers,
but our cage is built of iron.
We are an anathema and a curse,
confined to licit darkness,
doomed to roam the Earth ad infinitum.

II.

A room divides via mitosis into two rooms,
one observed by secret camera.
On a television screen, static, the sound of a woman singing.
There is a bloody knife on the linoleum floor,
and blood congealed to the walls.
The Alphaville Hotel. Midnight.
We can’t escape the feeling
we are being observed.

III.

A bed on the roof of a 24-hr. Denny’s.
Beneath the covers lies a girl, perhaps nineteen
with straight black hair, peach lipstick.
A man in a black leather jacket, riding a motorcycle,
drops a cell phone in the street.
On the line, the voice of a woman:
Don’t ever show your face here again.

IV.

In the bathroom mirror, the reflection
of the sleeping girl. She levitates silently
without waking. We see on her wrist the scars,
we hear the sound of voices in the empty restaurant.

V.

The trash reverts to a purple violet. The violet grows
through the roof of a stadium.
We cannot tell if we are dreaming.
We are pure consciousness, floating above the city.
6:44. Trains rattle underground.
Before we black out, we eat tuna sandwiches in the park.
Then all returns to darkness.

VI.

We are hidden from ourselves.
The sea washes away our thoughts,

crowned with flickering light.
We are deep beneath the surface of the waves,

the tide heavy on our shoulders,
as we lift the city out of exile.

Kevin J.B. O’Connor received his MFA from Old Dominion University. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in English at University of Kentucky. He has work forthcoming in Notre Dame Review this fall. He lives in Lexington, KY.

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