Pain is darkness.
You can tell when you close your eyes and it’s still there.
The thing that really disappears is light.

Removed from the center of the world,
I am alone, but that’s not the point.
There is no center as my life expands,

at least, not for more than an instant.
That is why time acts the way it does –
it knows the center is everywhere.


Removed from the center, I begin again, 
where someone in the crowd might be, 
those absolute strangers, in whose lives I am.

I can only look into the mind for five more seconds.
The true mind, the one of thinking, is far too bright to see directly. 
I have to veil it to contain it.

I have to trick myself into believing I even can contain it.
The way someone drowning swallows the ocean,
I can take no more than a glass of river, and the rest consumes me.


The mind could be a very long poem.
It could pick up where you left off, so many years ago, 
before you became so law abiding.

And yes, you could refer to yourself this way. 
You could go off on tangents in any direction, 
into nothingness and silence,

metaphysically, like a reflex prepares to dot an I, 
in case one should ever enter
with the impeccable timing required.

From The Mind, Part I: Removed from the Centre (Salmon Poetry, 2011)

John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor and attorney in Los Angeles. A dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, he graduated from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review. His first book, the novel in verse, Spring Water, was a Turning Point Books prize selection in 2005. Telling Time by the Shadows (Turning Point Books) was released in 2008. His most recent work, The Mind, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2011. His fourth collection,Favorite Bedtime Stories, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2014. 

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