Las musas inquietantes, Giorgio de Chirico

Our lives we do not weep / Are like wild cigarettes
That on a stormy day / Men light against the wind

— Malcolm Lowry, Men with coats thrashing

We are the people of another country,
encountered (never on the way to any place)
in every darvish-dance of foil and cellophane
that sweeps the sidewalk’s stricken face.

You’ve sensed us hunched in doorways,
cowled and billowed as a bellied sail,
glimpsed a match-lit cheekbone in a hollow hand
and recognized your hunger’s lambent shell.

Indigent of agenda, our incandescent ash
weaves its feeble torchlight through the town
to cast peculiar glamour in the glistening street
once all the midnight revelers have gone.

We drift among the waste-heat exhalations
of the city, the emanations of a subway stair,
elisions from the stream of jostling bodies,
abstractions you may never know are there.

And lest the startling emptiness alarm you,
rest assured that we’re not here to harm you,
since we don’t seek what you possess or want,
idling in the passageways your dark desires haunt.