I think I heard someone say that Chancellor Green eats people. But it might have been something else.

– Brunelleschi


I. South Campus

From the distance, they could be tinfoil constructions;

too perfectly square to be occurring in space.

But look. Shift places and they follow the rules of perspective.

(Profane that we walk through ideal mathematics with hardly an acknowledgment.)


From the distance, they can be picturesque.

Sharpened photographs or an artist’s fantasia on structure.

Get too close and they become concrete. Right angles on blue plastic.

‘Built environment.’ Outsized ungreen trees.


II. View from McCosh 24

One of the panes is warped and gives a warped view

melting the leaves and the lines of the chapel.

That one was impossible: five times as tall

as any building in Albuquerque.

It was more like a battleship.

The rest of the window is squared off in just-frozen lead.

The leaves ripple, the stained-glass figure

is without colors, only color

pure saturation, lightless from this direction

promising with any sun to crystalize a vision.

But from here just another pane of glass.


III. McCarter Theater Center

By daylight, the brick chimney

looks very majestic against a clear sky.

Only one side ever catches the sun.


At night, any absence is supplied

by yellow floodlights, unfolding growing things

as they creep up its wall.


IV. Grad College Tower

So many parallel lines stretching

narrowing to four points.

From the distance it looks birdlike:

it tapers. Though as I’m running up, the lines are straight.

A broad base, a mortared front.

Last year I said that its face was an owl.

This was a day when I was sitting on a roof—

I’d never seen it in person. It was still an abstraction to me.

There was a sunset: blue and gold,

I sat with a friend listening to music from a cell phone speaker.

How could I know it was more than a silhouette

until I found it this morning?


V. Chancellor Green (by evening)

All these little fires

give me a sense of placelessness

odd because the walk here at night

is landmarked to tell me exactly where I am.

Strange things happen

in liminal spaces, the sky is violet,

and a snatch of speech,

not understood, could take me away.

That or sleep before the night is done.