Oren Silverman

False Consciousness



It’s easier to escape some landscapes than to paint  them.  Wasn’t this true of botanists staking

out the hyacinth? Driving by and saying there goes the neighborhood, fiddling with likeness to

contaminate the flower.  The flower  obsessed return to  field  what’s  picked.  Aconite’s  three-

headed dog spit, blue larkspur’s ancient disc. Air traffic red and ambulance hue.


A neutral tone is trapped in sirens.  We inch along sound’s edge  wondering about exiles we’ve

known and ones we became. My survey doesn’t prove this. I’ve asked everyone I know upright

on stretchers  and  maybe  that’s  everyone.  That’s  why  I’ve asked you here to the parking lot.

Not far from death but moving into grocery. Police are moonlighting as distant moons.


It’s a good time to talk.

False Consciousness



Half-drunk and half-awake in one of Auden’s dives. Another three dollar pitcher another too-

quick cigarette.  Thumbs  twitch  on  phones as  votes get  counted, faces glow clenched under

The Ogden marquis.  And  at  Charlie’s  it’s  bingo  night with drag  queens,  it’s midnight with

nausea. It’s street light and threshold and please


Watching   the   unthinkable   on   a   row  of   screens   and   stunned   pundits   in   a   frieze.

The unthinkable is a thought  I’m  trying not to have.  Fumbling  home  past  lawn signs and

gourds a nervous raccoon makes a break for it. Watching the thinkable aspirate by numbers,

were you with me? I counted backwards from certainty. I closed my eyes.


I felt data buzz when it died.

False Consciousness



You keep you keep and you keep yourself in  the  caul in the sanctum of giving what you keep.

Daylight patches the basement. My cheek grazes a grey divot. I see you I think. In every place

I can’t recall I become the details I gloss over. A fragrant elevator. A glancing midrash. Maybe

I wasn’t one of the people I was.


Hot tar pours out a truck. Gets raked atop a surface atop another surface no longer good?

Blow torch on asphalt glints the eye back into commune with itself? Morning’s tone is uneven.

Rehearses itself.  Tries to do better with feeling.  Here ivy and boxwood corner my name. Here

I’m many shades between remembrance and estrangement. I’m close enough to the hospital


I can walk there.


OREN SILVERMAN’s poems have recently appeared in Poetry NorthwestDenver Quarterly, and Visible Binary. He lives in Brooklyn.