Illustration by John Kazior

Poetry The Sun Sets, Input Not Detected

Greg Nissan

The guide exits the square

as anyone would, drawn by dusk

to the edges of rivers a pulse

erupts, parade of intervals

we could fill pointing to beer drinkers

or the mayflies but either way to sound

a space for our recurrence, where the promise

of the night and the night

coincide tomorrow, if you’ll join us.

I won’t deny I wrote alone

I am a cold metal feather. I think

input not detected

the season changed and with it

throngs, crowds, gatherings

must be somewhere but this bar

is so empty it must be

a beautiful night. Try to remember

what it looked like the first time you

input not detected. I could claw

to that loss, shine a flashlight

on my eyelids just to summon

daylight, but I’d rather not grip

a private image joystick,

content instead to let the breeze

weep through the both of us and spill

this dinner backwards through a funnel

wide spherical lawn where I

could not surmise the coordinates.

You were saying something about a painting

so bad you cowered to be associated with it

but Joe I insist you are only your granular

voice at a table outside where people line up

and you take your time telling us.

Any less vague than this

might strip the night’s fabric

into threads and though we split

for separate homes I keep wafting that pollen

my sinus tectonic input

not detected. Let us go and cross out

our pleasures. The city, after all, is

input not detected, the only wall the sun

can write “The city, after all, is”

on and still avoid explanation,

ignite the smacking concrete of your central

square, an emptiness that chews,

even chokes on cookied fortunes and

turns, your very shoulder the bright incoming

input not detected. After a month or two

we don’t know how to get out of

this night, record spinning too slow

to hear a melody, though its parts

mete the day out, you said addiction’s pendulum

dusk. Any less than the summer

would be us, having just missed its bricks

for the caulking, the very fingering of which

disclosed that input not detected I’ve heard

could be a grip if only you give

it up and let the wind give it

a proper sibilance. These edges

and legs over the ledge at dusk

seem to produce and summarize the season

all at once, our citations rich with light

“the sun was setting…” everyone was sitting

outside I gave this gesture

input not detected a name

and called you over

the light soft as ash

like description filling ovals

with legroom for echoes

a condition of our love

for the city and its input

not detected which becomes us

the periphery

another periphery

clears I could list the colors

but still I think love is

next question

Greg Nissan is the author of The City Is Lush With / Obstructed Views (DoubleCross Press) and the recipient of a 2020 NEA Fellowship to translate Ann Cotten’s Banned! An Epic Poem from the German.