Moving Toward the Open, the Light

Quincy Troupe


you begin underneath all that concrete,
down inside corridors, labyrinthine
tubes that fan out like secret passageways,
come together in a place called the pipe gallery,
where signs point to danger, no smoking signs
beneath raw sludge sedimentation tanks,
where arrows pointing east & west, north & south
move us through corridors, up toward the light,
toward the exit sign, up a beveled, flat ramp,
stretching like a concrete tongue toward the yellow
light, just above the entranceway, over transparent,
soiled, dangling strips of plastic that flap—
like madmen waving their tongues & arms in a frenzy,
when they are hungry for something, anything—chard even—
their frazzled minds tell them they desire—
when the ocean wind stirs up, speaking in tongues,
drum rhythms in waves into rock & sand, craggy shores,
tonguing in from the west to tickle the sashaying, dirty
strips that waver, ripple, & move like dancers
as they form a kind of doorway you must go through,
from here to there, to reach the low, concrete wall,
so you can look out to where the water meets sky,
& where you are climbing toward now,
so you can see the muted, sometimes dazzling light,
always suffused with veils of pelting mist that prick
your face looking out as the pacific roars in
quick, speaking in tongues, cascading rhythms


& on a clear day when you move up & out from here,
up this concrete tongue that is a ramp, that leads to the top—
you move past two gray walls, that form a kind of chute,
you move up toward the low, concrete wall,
beyond which first you hear, then you see the miracle
laid out before you—the pacific seems so calm, placid even
when you cast out your eyes like a fisherman would his line
& hooks whatever dream fish he is looking for—
but when you look directly down you see the boiling edges
of rage foaming & spitting when the waves show their disappointment,
the journey has been spent, now you are beyond the concrete chute,
even the man sweeping dirt up the hill, up the concrete tongue,
beyond the secret passageways, the labyrinthine tubes,
the pipe gallery full of signs pointing in all directions,
now you are here, free of all you left behind, out in the open air,
you are crossing the street, where before, in this poem,
it was all about your imagination, what you thought
you would see & hear & now you are here, crossing the street—
like a deer crossing wide-eyed an empty road,
out in the middle of nowhere, looking for those dreaded twin lights
hurtling toward it, like its mother or father spoke of so many times
before—& you have come to the precipice to view
the pacific's mystery & power, stretching out before you now,
palm trees on your left & right, seals below, frolicking
on large wet rocks, in front of coves,
then you see the splendid power of it all, beyond what
you imagined it would be, out beyond the face of this wall,
the waves rolling, speaking in tongues continuously,
continuous as your abiding faith has been always ambushed,

flabbergasted by the repetition of miracles here, always,

like there, right now, in front of your eyes, right now

Transcircularities: New & Selected Poems

Last updated October 19, 2022