I can trace your movements in this vacant room     by the paper cups
propped about,      your quiet surveillance      of the street below
your shiftings      through growing paper mounds      and later
or perhaps sooner      you were at your desk      where confusion and method
compete with equal energy      while whole conversations gathered and scaffold
the air      and you reminded me of Steppenwolf      though I read it
so long ago      that I’m not sure why.

I met my friend’s older brother      when he just finished college and was moving
up to politics      in Belfast.      So long ago.      He smiled like you      and gave me
Herman Hesse, the I Ching, Gurdjieff, and one I’ve never found again
about such longing      and all that hinders it
may also foster it      and they say you know a man by his interests.

These long days I think a lot.
I try to figure out why systems stay in place      with no underlying
logic and how the answer’s always ‘well it’s always been that way’
and the way people rarely move beyond what suits them      at the time
and how principles are pliable and external and it’s hard to make any sense
and all these senseless, aimless commentaries      chatter through our minds
neither following a single line of inquiry to its conclusion, nor imagining new ones
and I Ching’s, Gurdjieff’s and God can’t help us.

But the cold glass panels of your window      press like a balm      against my face
in your empty room high above the streets      as if life needed a cooling
and could afford me quiet against the temperature
of so many thoughts      at once      because these days clarity only transpires,
takes shape, becomes      visible in the air of our conversations
and I know myself      through them      as if I could only know myself
through
others.