Steven D. Schroeder

Tall Buildings & Flat Rocks

Ride up the Eiffel Tower elevator & stare along the Champ de Mars waiting for a toy battle & then churn your little legs like a mower toward grass descending all 1,665 steps & on the Seine’s left bank smooth a rock between your thumb & index finger until you sidearm it skipping over ripples to become a memory below the surface—as wind whimpers through windows crumbled in Urquhart Castle’s wall pretend a mile-off glint is not a boat but the monstrous legend & then search the loch shore for a stone to throw all the way to that idea—on your drift down the Rhine hear from Lorelei cleaving slate & climbable height in a single body the siren calling you back into fog she promises will clear—lean through railings above a cobbled piazza clinging as if you might unbalance & tumble into Pisa & everything past—Finding & losing yourself repeatedly reflect on your own image darting through Mad Ludwig’s hall of mirrors that captured you at Neuschwanstein or was it Herrenchiemsee?—among floating odors & column-bodies dotting the base of the Acropolis marvel at the Agora of tourists with you where you may never have been—wander like a hypnotic subject the corridor to where & when a slab of razor-wired wall & darker guards still loom into night terrors—in the Munich zoo clutch a lower leg you think is your mother’s but belongs to a German woman who speaks kind gibberish until your father returns & then vomit as he curses & wipes you clean with a handkerchief he drops ruined in the monkey house trash—view Michelangelo’s David or rather sort through a crowd obscuring what you want & still discover your vision blocked by the back of an adult.

Stepping Through My Shadow

Change is coming through my shadow.
Tool, “Forty-Six & 2”

With every stride, my toenails sink into the slick ahead
of the pursuing sun, my tread on paths already hidden.

Blackness baits its trap of tar, the world submerged in it
a dinosaur. The root of the murk at my feet, nearly inert,

plays chiaroscuro of gray with light a crystal splits to color
that climbs the ladder of legs, legs which intertwine each other,

double-organs spiraling out of the muck. The darker clay
at the junction cracks—a sidewinder sheds its skin so it can fly

and perch on branches. Up the trunk, lowland gorillas roll,
fur the shade of coal, thumbprints shirking earth for tools:

scrapers, engravers, lasers. From the larynx, a syrinx echoes
tympanum to tympanum. Each arm spells, the left an echo

of the right: enchantment, illusion, necromancy on one hand—
on the next: aleph, x, omega. But oh, the head, commanding

nothing of what it believes it oversees, outswells the body,
lies opaque as a cave at midnight, philosopher of the shadow

of a shadow. Heatwaves from this dirigible direct the way
to the future with visible vapor-haze. Shifting as if it’s made

of stem-cells, my doppelganger (book, transformer, gun) builds
momentum, scalpel cutting scab and muscle, abundant blood

loss lost amidst audience applause for the surgeon overreaching.
The stretch of sutures extends a scar around the globe to catch

the sun, cover itself, and run me over from behind.


back to Contents page