Space Between


Negative space drawing: eraser on charcoal background

Night gleaming by. Brick, concrete, lights lit and unlit, continual pantomime of red to green. The dance of the inanimate which evening tempers into the empty city after-dark. If you focus on the negative space the objects which claim it lose their urgency of presence. They connect where no confluence ever was. If you pedal harder the wind draws further into you.




Like Borges’ lone travelers through the eternal and vast Library, never nearing an edge or a center, the separate Voyagers drift further from what we know. Forty human years and counting, and all throughout, we were being born, suffered the pains of growing up, found first loves, paved the rock-strewn roads of our own journeys. Moving outward into the orbits of planets, they swung from one to the other and glided towards the edge of our solar system. What is there at the very end? No end at all. What could we know, if anything at all? Our signals scratch the surface. Icy Saturn came into view, its rings suddenly multiplying. The Voyagers made their exit, sailing surely through the fabric between worlds, beholden to the human race, vessels bearing the things for which, and because of which, we have survived.


A note slipped into
the lining of a cheap purse
sewn by deadweight hands,
machines resounding

the automation of life
between four walls
no one else will know
how far away, how

inmates in the Yingshan Prison
in Guangxi, China are working 14 hours
daily with no break/rest at noon

and black faux-leather becoming
an identical cipher packaged
air-tight into boxes are
shipped to the home of the brave

to be pawed at by desperate
shoppers; mall moms
trail toddlers under fluorescent
wash, swim through merchandise,

continue working overtime until 12 midnight,
and whoever doesn’t finish his work will be
beaten — their meals are without oil and salt,

fast, distracted hands run
over pockets and poorly-made
zipper, flip of price tag — “this will do”

tossing purse into cart among
spread of diapers and tv dinners
and gliding to checkout aisle 4

every month, the boss pays the inmate
2000 yuan, any additional dishes will be
finished by the police. If the inmates are sick
and need medicine, the cost will be deducted from the salary.

credit card emerges from the depth
banal beep over laser scanner
items dumped into flurry of plastic

monotone “Thank you” of
name-tag touting employee,
great doors slide open

prison in China is unlike prison in America,
horse cow goat pig dog —

“My heart went into my stomach”
she says, note unfurled in hand —

the outside world is suddenly
a gleam of cars, sunshine,
fast food signs


This poem was a reaction to this news article which came out several months ago.