19: the day Jim DeCesare became a pencil drawing

It was a day like any other
they always are
when suddenly my brother Daniel,
his girl Melissa, and my odd neighbor
Henry suddenly turned into pencil marks on the couch
and the couch too and the geometric painting
I’d made years ago which I swore had once
been more colors than just black and white
more than just pencil marks on the wall

my odd neighbor Henry had just turned
to me and the stare he gave me became
something etched, odd etchments, graphite features,
his strangeness fixed in pencil marks
like when we were in the barn and he
turned to me with just that look he has
in the frozenness of penciled things and suddenly
asked me: how many cows do I have?
or was it: did you know I once knew a man
in the army who had two tongues?
or: when I came home that day I told
my mother I saw a cat crawl out of a hole
once, and then he gave me that look
he has in the sudden pencil drawing he had become
capturing his oddness, capturing that question
he had about cows and how many he had
and how I wanted to tell him he had no cows
at all and why was he asking.
It was the look he’d given me when I asked him:
that man with two tongues, could he say
two words at the same time, one word
with one tongue, another word with the other?

and then there’s Daniel and Melissa, Daniel
with his beard which was now a subtle shadow
in pencil and Melissa, how in pencil, she
revealed, or was about to reveal, suddenly
that they were all staring at a blank television
screen and how, in her innermost
thinking, she was just about to turn
to Daniel and say is someone going to turn
on the television and why are we just staring
at it and what would happen if someone
turned on the television and nothing
happened but no one would admit to it
and furthermore why do you always take up so much
room on the couch as if you want to eat the couch
and me and odd Henry on it with your
pencil drawing wingspan

yes it was the suddenness of pencil’dness,
of subtle gray etch marks that propelled me so quickly
from the room, leaving odd Henry to star in my direction,
Melissa, and Daniel just as they were on the couch,
motionless in their energy and graphitic proportions
and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror
and found that I too had become a mass of pencil marks
and that I watched back at myself in the mirror
with the expression of a drawing of myself, a drawing
of myself who had just realized that I had become a drawing
in pencil and that what I had become was a drawing
of a man who had come to understand
that he was indeed a drawing,
a drawing in pencil, a pencil drawing
of a man who had just learned he’d become a drawing

I wondered, backing away from myself,
whether I should return and tell the others
what we had all become