A Poem by Noah Eli Gordon

In Praise of Negative Capability

I must have been about twenty

Old enough to sneak into a bar

But not to frequent one

Not that it’s important

Save to establish authenticity

But this was when my mother

Lived in Pompano Beach

Right by the intercostal

I was going to visit Marcus

Who was hanging out at Ray’s

Ray lived on the other side

Of the water so I had to cross over

The road when the bridge

Was down which was often

Late at night like this

South Florida in the 90s

Was one of the few places

Where people could still disappear

And most everyone I encountered

Was on the cusp of doing so

Rounding the corner this red car

Skids out in front of me

Some kind of expensive convertible

I was walking in the street

(Because there weren’t sidewalks)

I’m sure the driver didn’t see me

He had the top down

And let fly what looked like

The desiccated remnants

Of a dove before speeding off

Tiny white pieces covered the road

They were just paper just a letter

I collected the torn-up squares

And walked on to Ray’s to get

High with him and Marcus

Later I reassembled the entire thing

A two-page letter to a now-ex lover

It was a pretty standard affair

The mystery for me was that I was there

At the intersection of this drama

And I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

To piece the thing back together

Since it would have been better

Had I left it as a dove

Noah Eli Gordon lives in Denver and teaches in the MFA Program at CU–Boulder, where he currently directs Subito Press. His books include The Word Kingdom in the Word Kingdom (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2015) and Novel Pictorial Noise (Harper Perennial, 2007), which was selected by John Ashbery for the National Poetry Series and subsequently chosen for the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.