“we know life is so busy, but a larger activity shrouds it, and this is something we can never feel”

Cover Image

The opening of John Ashbery’s "Flow Chart"… 

 


                                 I


Still in the published city but not yet
overtaken by a new form of despair, I ask
the diagram: is it the foretaste of pain
it might easily be? Or an emptiness
so sudden it leaves the girders
whanging in the absence of wind,
the sky milk-blue and astringent? We know life is so busy,
but a larger activity shrouds it, and this is something
we can never feel, except occasionally, in small signs
put up to warn us and as soon expunged, in part
or wholly.
            Sad grows the river god as he oars past us
downstream without our knowinghim: for if, he reasons,
he can be overlooked, then to know him would be to eat him,
ingest the name he carries through time to set down
finally, on a strand of rotted hulks. And those who sense something
squeamish in his arrival know enough not to look up
from the page they are reading, the plaited lines that extend
like a bronze chain into eternity.
                                           It seems I was reading something;
I have forgotten the sense of it or what the small
role of the central poem made me want to feel. No matter.

The words, distant now, and mitred, glint. Yet not one
ever escapes the forest of agony and pleasure that keeps them
in a solution that has become permanent through inertia. The force
of meaning never extrudes. And the insects,
of course, don’t mind. I think it was at that moment he
knowingly and in my own interests took back from me
the slow-flowing idea of flight, now
too firmly channeled, its omnipresent reminders etched
too deeply into my forehead, its crass grievances and greetings
a class apart from the wonders every man feels,
whether alone in bed, or with a lover, or beached
with the shells on some atoll (and if solitude
swallow us up betimes, it is only later that
the idea of its permanence sifts into view, yea
later and perhaps only occasionally, and only much later
stands from dawn to dusk, just as the plaintive sound
of the harp of the waves is always there as a
backdrop
to conversation and conversion, even when
most forgotten) and cannot make sense of them, but he knows
the familiar, unmistakable thing, and that gives him courage
as day expires and evening marshals its hosts, in preparation
for the long night to come.
                                 And the horoscopes flung back
all we had meant to keep there: our meaning, for us, yet
how different the sense when another speaks it!
How cold the afterthought that takes us out of time
for a few moments (just as we were beginning to go with the fragile
penchants mother-love taught us) and transports us to a stepping-stone
far out at sea.
                  So no matter what the restrictions, admonitions,
premonitions that trellised us early, supporting this
artificial espaliered thing we have become, by the same token no
subsequent learning shall deprive us, it seems, no holy
sophistication loosen the bands
of blessed decorum, our present salvation, our hope for years to come.
Only let that river not beseech its banks too closely,
abrade and swamp its levees, for though the flood is always terrible,
much worse are the painted monsters born later
out of the swift-flowing alluvial mud.

                                                        And when the time for the breaking
of the law is here, be sure it is to take place in the matrix
of our everyday thoughts and fantasies, our wonderment
at how we got from there to here. In the unlashed eye of noon
these and other terrible things are written, yet it seems
at the time as mild as soughing of wavelets in a reservoir.
Only the belated certainty comes to matter much,
I suppose, and, when it does, comes to seem as immutable as roses.
Meanwhile a god has bungled it again.
                                              Early on
was a time of seeming: golden eggs that hatched
into regrets, a snowflake whose kiss burned like an enchanter’s
poison; yet it all seemed good in the growing dawn.
The breeze that always nurtures us (no matter how dry,
how filled with complaints about time and the weather the air)
pointed out a way that diverged from the true way without negating it,
to arrive at the same result by different spells,
so that no one was wiser for knowing the way we had grown,
almost unconsciously, into a cube of grace that was to be
a permanent shelter. Let the book end there, some few
said, but that was of course impossible; the growth must persist
into areas darkened and dangerous, undermined
by the curse of that death breeze, until one is handed a skull
as a birthday present, and each closing paragraph of the novella is
underlined: To be continued , that there should be no peace
in the present, no sleep save in glimpses of the future
on the crystal ball’s thick, bubble-like surface. No you and me
unless we are together. Only then does he mumble confused words
of affection at us as the barberry bleeds close against the frost,
a scarlet innocence, confused miracle, to us, for what we have done
to others, and to ourselves. There is no parting. There is
only the fading, guaranteed by the label, which lasts forever.

This much the gods divulged before they became too restless,
too preoccupied with other cares to see into the sole fact the
present allows, along with much ribbon, much icing
and pretended music. But we can’t live with them in their day:
the air, though pure, is too dense. And afterwards when others
come up and ask, what was it like, one is too amazed to behave strangely;
the future is extinguished; the world’s colored paths all lead
to my mouth, and I drop, humbled, eating from the red-clay floor.
And only then does inspiration come: late, yet never too late.

It’s possible, it’s just possible, that the god’s claims
fly out windows as soon as they are opened, are erased from the accounting. If one is alone,
it matters less than to others embarked on a casual voyage
into the promiscuity of dreams. Yet I am alwaysthe first to know
how he feels. The inventory of the silent auction
doesn’t promise much: one chewed cactus, an air mattress,

a verbatim report. Sandals. The massive transcriptions with which
he took unforgivable liberties—hell, I’d sooner join the project
farther ahead, retaining all benefits, but one is doomed,
repeating oneself, never to repeat oneself, you know what I mean?
If in the interval false accounts have circulated, why,
one is at least unaware of it, and can live one’s allotted arc
of time in feasible unconsciousness, watching the linen dresses of girls,
with a wreath of smoke to come home to. There is nothing beside the familiar
doormat to get excited about, yet when one goes out in loose weather
the change is akin to choirs singing in a distance nebulous with fear
and love. Sometimes one’s own hopes are realized
and life becomes a description of every second of the time it took;
conversely, some are put off by the sound of legions milling about.
One cultivates certain smells, is afraid to leave the charmed circle
of the anxious room lest uncommitted atmosphere befall
                                                                   and the oaks
are seen to be girdled with ivy.

Alack he said what stressful sounds

More of him another time but now you
in the ivory frame have stripped yourself one by one of your earliest
opinions, polluted in any case by bees, and stand
radiant in the circle of our lost, unhappy youth, oh my
friend that knew me before I knew you, and when you came to me
knew it was forever, here there would be no break, only I was
so ignorant I forgot what it was all about. You chided me
for forgetting and in an instant I remembered everything: the
schoolhouse, the tent meeting. And I came closer until the day
I wrote my name firmly on the ruled page: that was a
time to come, and all happy crying in memory placed the stone
in the magic box and covered it with wallpaper. It seemed our separate
lives could continue separately for themselves and shine like a single star.
I never knew such happiness. I never knew such happiness could exist.
Not that the dark world was removed or brightened, but
each thing in it was slightly enlarged, and in so seeming became its
true cameo self, a liquid thing, to be held in the hollow
of the hand like a bird. More formal times would come
of course but the abstract good sense would never drown in the elixir
of this private sorrow, that would always sing to itself
in good times and bad, an example to one’s consciousness,
an emblem of correct behavior, in darkness or under water.
How unshifting those secret times, and how stealthily
they grew! It was going to take forever just to get through
the first act, yet the scenery, a square of medieval houses, gardens
with huge blue and red flowers and solemn birds that dwarfed
the trees they sat on, need never have given way to the fumes and crevasses
of the high glen: the point is one was going to do toit
what mattered to us, and all would be correct as in a painting
that would never ache for a frame but dream on as nonchalantly as we did.
Who could have expected a dream like this to go away for there are some
that are the web on which our waking life is painstakingly elaborated:
there are real, bustling things there and the burgomaster of success
stalks back and forth, directing everything
with a small motion of a finger. But when it did come,
the denouement, we were off drinking in some restaurant,
too absorbed, too eternally, expectantly happy to be there or care.
                   

That inspiration came later, in sleep while it rained,
urgently, so that lines of darkness interfered with the careful
arrangement of the dream’s disguise: no takers? Anyway,
sleep itself became this chasm of repeated words,
of shifting banks of words rising like steam
out of someplace into something. Forget the promises the stars made you: they were half-stoned, and besides
are twinned to no notion that can have an impact
on our way of thinking, as crabbed now
as at any time in the past. A forlorn park stood before us
but there was no way to want to enter it, since the guards
had abandoned their posts to slate-gray daylight
flowing into your heart as though it were a blotter, confounding
or negating the rare survival of wit into our century:
these, at any rate, are my children, she intoned,
of whom I divest myself so as to fit into the notch
of infinity as defined by a long arc of crows returning to the distant
coppice. All’s aglow. But we see by it that some mortal
material was included in the glorious compound, that next to
nothing can prevent its mudslide from sweeping over us
while it renders the pitted earth smooth and pristine and something
like one’s original idea of it, only so primitive
it can’t understand us. Meanwhile the coat I wear,
woven of consumer products, asks you to pause and inspect
the still-fertile ground of our once-valid compact
with the ordinary and the true. It wants out and
we shall get it even with decreased services and an increased
number of spot-checks, since all of it, ourselves included,
is in our own interests to speak up for and deny when the proper
moment arrives. Now, nothing further remains to be done except
to sleep and pray, saving the pieces for a slightly
later time when they shall be recognized as holy remnants of the burnished
mirror in which the Almighty once saw Himself, and wept,
realizing how all His prophecies had come true for His people
at last and no one was any wiser for it as they walked the wide
shadowless streets with no eyelids or memory when it came to
intersecting the itineraries of other, similarly blessed creatures
(blessed for having no name, no preconceived strategies
unless they lay underground, too unprofitable to dig up
until the requisite technologies had been developed some
decades down the road and nodding as though in acknowledgment of
an acquaintance one doesn’t remember yet is not sure of
having ever formally renounced either: was it on land or at sea
that that bird first came to one, many miles from the nearest anything?).

What we are to each other is both less urgent and more
perturbing, having no discernible root, no raison d’être, or else flowing
backward into an origin like the primordial soup it’s so easy to pin
anything on, like a carnation to one’s lapel. So it seems we must
stay in an uneasy relationship, not quite fitting
together, not precisely friends or lovers though certainly not enemies, if
the buoyancy of the spongy terrain on which we exist is to be experienced
as an ichor, not a commentary on all that is missing from the reflection
in the mirror. Did I say that? Can this be me? Otherwise the treaty will
seem premature, the peace unearned, and one might as well slink back
into the solitude of the kennel, for the blunder to be read as anything
but willful, self-indulgent. And meanwhile everything around us is already
prepared for this resolution; the temperature, the season are exactly right
for it all not to be awash with sentiments expelled from some impossibly
distant situation; some episode from your childhood nobody knows about and
even you can’t remember accurately. It is time for the long beds
then, and the extra hours to be spent in them, but surely somebody can
find something spontaneous to say before it all fizzles, before the incandescent
tongs are slaked in mud and the tender yellow shoots of the willow
dry up instead of maturing having concluded that the moment
is inappropriate, the heroes gone to their rest, and all the plain
folk of history foundered in the subjective reading of their lives
as expendable, the stuff of ordinary heresy, shards of common crockery
interesting only because unearthed long after the time had come for a
decision on what to do at the very moment they disappeared into timelessness,
one of innumerable such tramping exits that no one hears,
so long as they may be promptly and justly forgotten,
subtracted like the soul we never knew we had and replaced with something
young, and easier, climate of any day and of all the days, postmillenarian.

Just so, some argue, some still are
nurtured by their innocence, a wanton
formula a nursemaid gives them. They grow up to be slim,
and tall, but often it seems something is lacking,
some point of concentration around which a person can collect itself,
and be neither conscious nor uncaring, be neutral.
And when the pitcher
is emptied of milk, it is not refilled, but washed and put away on a shelf.
Conversations are still initiated,
haltingly, under the leaves, around an outdoor table,
but they insist on nothing and are remembered
only as disquieting examples of how life might be
in that other halting yet prosperous time
when games of strength were put away.
And each guest rises
abruptly from the table, a star at his or her shoulder.
For then, in smeared night, no blotch or defect can erase it,
the wonderful greeting you heard in the morning
and heard yourself reply to.

                                   But at times such as
these late ones, a moaning in copper beeches is heard, of regret,
not for what happened, or even for what could conceivably have happened, but
for what never happened and which therefore exists, as dark
and transparent as a dream. A dream from nowhere. A dream
with no place to go, all dressed up with no place to go, that an axe
menaces, off and on, throughout eternity. Or ships, lands
which no one sees, islands scattered like pebbles
across the immense surface of the ocean; this is what it is
to believe and not see, to implore dreaming, then to arrive home
by cunning, stricken and exhausted, a framed picture of oneself. The ads
didn’t tell you this, they were too busy with their own professional sleight-of- hand
to notice those farther out in deep water (" when such a destin’d wretch
as I, wash’d headlong from on board "), decorating the maelstrom with
someone’s (I wish I knew whose) notion of what is right, or cute.
Soon the dark chairs and tables stand out sharply in front of strange
green-striped walls, gulls circle in the sky, smoke
from piles of old tires set alight at strategic points throughout the city
sifts through the crack where the pane doesn’t quite join the sill—
is this, I ask you, a mute entreaty on the part of some well-intentioned
but shy deity meant to take the temperature of the lives being squandered
by the few left here below? Ask, rather, why the clock slows down
a little more each day, necessitating double, triple and even quadruple tintinnabulations
in order for its fundamentally banal intentions to be elucidated
so that one may settle down to enjoying the usufruct of the sparse,
shattering seconds, the while looking forward to retiring at ninety
on a comfortable income without rueing the day one first took up the odd
gambit that has projected us into a lifetime of self-loathing and shallow interests.
One lives thus, plucking a mean sort of living from the rubbish heaps
of history, unaware that the parallel daintiness of the lives of the rich,
like fish in an ocean whose bottom is dotted with the rusted engines and debris
of long-forgotten wrecks, unfolds; yes, " And I in greater depths than he ," I suppose,
yet it doesn’t help deliver one back either to the after all sane and helpful blank square
one is always setting out from, having in the meantime forgotten those other
precepts, sane and insane, that intrude as soon as one begins to think
about anything at all. It is always on the rim of some fleshpot briefly
mentioned in the Bible one is seen to squirm, a pinned worm, so that
one is pitted against others as against oneself: lonesome, hungry,
and a little bit thirsty until the day of doom universally misconstrued as a
time of relief and pillars of dust rising straight up out of the desert valleys
where one’s feet take one, and all that mythology of broken tracks,
jettisoned equipment, and the long-uninhabited wadi whose watering-trough
is merely mud now and a few puddles of camel-stale, materializes.

                    

Latest reports show that the government
still controls everything but that the location of the blond captive
has been pinpointed thanks to urgent needling from the backwoods constituency
and the population in general is alive and well. But can we dwell
on any of it? Our privacy ends where the clouds’ begins, just here, just at
this bit of anonymity on the seashore. And we have the right
to be confirmed, just as animals or even plants do, provided we go away and leave
every essential piece of the architecture of us behind. Surely then, what we work for must be met
with approval sometime even though we haven’t the right to issue any
such thing. There are caves and caves, and almost none
of them has been explored yet. That doesn’t give us much
to go on, yet we insistently cry that someone else’s rondo is already
being played, and that over and over, so howcome nobody does anything about it,
relaxes us in our shoes and tells us about bedtime? Surely, in my younger
days people acted differently about it. There was no barnstorming, just quiet
people going about their business and not worrying too much about
being rewarded at the end when it came down to that. No, we were wandering
away, too busy for such things, toward the altar,
or better yet into the nave whose fruit-and-flower
decoration led unostentatiously and facilely into the outdoors it
anticipated. No use just sitting around juicing the lemon
or the orange for that matter as long as one was intending to get up and play
again. And now that the time of reckoning nears, it wears a changed coat;
its color is brighter. No but there must be some structural difference as well
in the ordering of the colors and how they were laid on, only
no one can conceivably care enough about this to talk about it. Well I do
and can, but the un-nice fractions almost always assert themselves
above the din of this great city and I have trouble remembering
even my name until some passing girl kindles its fancy, what my name was
to me when I first began to think about other things. There is not postage for
this boredom either really so that it keeps
returning, might be said never to have gone away at all,
except for the media with which it keeps getting compared. I say, the other
reaches really tickle you, when you have a chance. And all this time
I thought he was only farting around disinclined to have a serious opinion
on anything, and even more so to give it vent or utterance. And my sight clears
for the first time in a thousand years and it’s true, I can see up ahead
where no one waits and the long flags flap and droop in the dust of sunsets
and so may it be forever and ever till we get it right. Mine’s isn’t the option to
show you how to escape or comfort you unduly but with a little time
and a little patience we shall make this thing work. Even though you thought
everything you touched was doomed to fall apart or not start, time has
a few surprises up its sleeve and deserves to be spat on for not having more,
or would, if it didn’t. Yet it does. There are promises clad with the finest
silk you can imagine and silver ornaments hitherto undreamed of, if only you can
match them with something of equal loveliness and curiosity from your own
secret collection. And of course this does take time, but in the end one
senses it more richly bedizened than ever before, and in line for a promotion
out of the ranks of futility into the narrow furrows of bliss and total sublimity
crystallized in good humor that took over early on in the century. Of course,
no one is aware of this. Yet. But give
everybody time, even no-shows, and it will all flow backwards, that
caparisoned night, a trial for some, and otherwise it all gets out
into your childhood and the beach that was its launching pad before
hunger and fears took over even as delight fostered the notion that
there was going to be enough for everybody, for children to pause
and have a happy home no one talks about anymore. Best to rest, sleep and laugh
about it to someone who no longer matters and then you’ll find that you are indeed
in it and have been all along, only that the show was on a kind of treadmill moving
at the same leaden pace as your jokes and ambitions, which is why you
never knew about it and therefore consented to come along anyway
on this dangerous outing to the very sources of time. Don’t
excuse yourself, nothing could.

I’ve never really considered telling you. And now. He hated
doing it—he wasn’t sure why. And so just as the mirthless sequel was being
disinterred, a feeling of rage came over him, but also of relief, because
you couldn’t do it now. They’re lost somewhere out there between the trees
and muck, besides all cars have them now. And the colorful glasses and telephone
are there; he came for a fitting. It was proper, and in its time. But no
matter what you do someone will be malevolent about it, and try to stop you,
though there is no stopping them. He came for the fitting and tried
it on and it fit, just like that. What a laugh. Oh yes she laughed out
of the closet I’ll be there in a minute dear. You see
how fond of him she was, and he, well he just took it,
like most things, change, pretzels. And she thought he was
so good at it it kind of faked her when the last windshield whizzed
by and it was all over as though in a rush. And as meat is sung,
and lips only slowly parted for the alphabet of night chimes to come
clanging down like an immense ring of keys, so with the gale-
whipped morsel, notion of itself, that dogs us and all humans, and we never
quite get out from under it, there is always a thread of it attached to you
and when you remove that, another one as though magnetized takes its place.
Begorrah it was dumb to be in the pit with him, for then the sentence …
But who knows what all they may have tried before, what
avenues exhausted before it was time to mend and really be the interloper,
and for all its sparks it was never considered dangerous.
Everybody gets such ideas on occasion, but here was the little shot-glass
of night, all ready to drink, and you spread out in it
even before it radiates in you. It doesn’t matter whether or not
you like the striations, because, in the time it takes to consider them,
they will have merged, the rich man’s house become a kettle, the wreath
in the sink turned to something else, and still the potion holds,
prominent. And you want to see it and to have it be talked about this way,
not drool aimless compassion. So on that night we were almost boarded up,
packed off to a vacation—where? Moreover no men heard of it,
only teen-age girls and male adolescents with fruited complexions and scalps,
who were going to make it difficult for one should an occasion arise.
                                                                                      But a funny
thing happened, none of us were around to count, all incommensurate with our
duties as we should forever be, and not wanting much training. The dark
was like nectar that evening, rising in the mouth; you thought you had never heard
so pretty a sound. Then, of course, quietism was again broached
and that soon, and quite soon the pink of the salmon ignited the whey
of the plover’s egg and the black of old, scarred metal; then, how it
feels relaxes one like a warm, numbing bath, and her argument, and yours,
and all of theirs—why, why not just consider, or better yet, just
hold, hold on to them? For the speed of light is far away,
and you, sooner or later, must return
to a deteriorated situation, and, placing your hand in the fire, say
just what it means to you to be connected
and over, and kiss the burning edges of the unfolded, stiff
card, and be unable to avoid doing anything about it or acknowledging it
when we have passed, when all is past.
                                               And why did
he, by what was he it? Why, we push our little tales around
and back and forth and so on
by which time it literally implodes , I mean by then he was settling in
and no one called his attention to it. In your repertory of groans is one
glottal one—you’ll feel the difference. And if it can’t liberate itself from us,
just turns to dust in the air floating with the kind of negative majesty one thought
one would not see again in one’s life. But I had the horn-we had a deal we agreed on, yet
no record of its existence is sketched, and I am all I am
in the meanwhile and 13,000 fucking miles away like a planter
on his porch. And so I am unaware of the flambeaux and, possibly, the stealth
that brought me here. And abandoned me—I—
I’m awfully sorry, big boy, but my plans concern George and his wife over by the other side
of the lake slipping into a nervous breakdown, and I, we, well as you know, we
sit here determined, not like the rind
of the melon but not liking to say anything about it into the miraculous dawn
that—gasp—gathers us into its stocking. A pervasive air about him of studious
lyricism avoided us, and he turned, ever so quickly, to the hen house, and off
in the open was seen running, and then, it’s so easy, was probably not recorded
except between the trees of a clearing. And who, what patron saint, will pick up
the pieces of the glittering lighthouse and restore us to them in a kind
of Roman calm, that we were meant for? And suddenly SHIT it’s the fire and
glass breaking everywhere—it’s as though you were never born but you must somehow
drink a toast to the small nucleus of watch-springs or confusion that
lords it over you now but will be less than an unconsumed coal among ashes, soon,
until the dryer’s fixed. And then all out and along the
cinder path that led so alluringly down to the bayou, all we can know is hope
and fevers for a coming tomorrow of saffron and moist rage under the corner
of someone’s hat that wasn’t meant to like you. Me, I
rest in the sun regardless. We saw a car drive on to the city that
is the password. Ice-cubes played tag up and down my spine. I’m
here to collect the reward. Obey my every command, no matter
how strange it may seem, otherwise we’ll have been banished before the judgment,
not know how fortunate we were in our old simplicity. Other vanished
zinnias were interviewed and nobody had anything, good or bad, to say about us,
which doesn’t cause any tears yet one wonders: what if one were back there again?
On whom might one rely? What distractions would be concocted for us
if we had strayed? And who is the baron that manipulates our daily lives
from afar? Why even depend on industry and innocence when rebellion is growing
in the ditch just outside? Who knows about us? Who ever did? Weren’t we
lying to ourselves when we thought we caught someone being just slightly
interested in us one day, and if so, whose fault is it? That we came
too late to an overgrown baseball diamond? And in the meantime shacks had vanished
without a trace from the face of the globe
and now the evening star was combing her hair at the attic window
and no one is to blame, just be calm, don’t
rush, it’s all over or soon will be or just was, in any
other language sufficient to tell it in—just like it was.

It has long been my contention that jackals,
unlike other denizens of the epistemic forest, are able to predict
the future of metabolizing some kind of parasite that grows on other people’s
children and devours them. The eyes are a profound cobalt blue, accepting
of moral dilemmas and sprouting proverbs
slowly, like crystals,
but no, not innocent ,
and not lacking in character. Twenty years ago, you will recall, the eyes
thought they made a difference, were glazed, forgetting and impudent,
relieved of parenting. Arenas were quite happy to comply
though a little bewildered. At first at least. One very chewy advanced proposition
seemed to falter, then faded into the background noise, but—here’s the thing—
continued , to this day. Bald and bleeding. I don’t like it, no one
is obliged to, everyone may bon gré mal gré ignore it, yet it peaks
and in so doing has its say. The manageress was adamant, but I had the horrible idea
of prolonging beyond night and dawn one’s predilection for quoting old
dispatches and getting into hot water, and then? The sullen bathroom
question lasted, I was too far out into it, out of pocket, plus the by no means negligible
question of my own comfort to be decoded, and all other arguments
suddenly collapsed, like a dream of homecoming. How stung my myth;
my dream wasn’t over, we were only such a dream. By this time all the caissons
of power had been turned inside out anyway; it was considered correct to despise it
and rightly so, but how often can one shamble
back to the vegetable gunk and still retain at least a superficial appearance of contrition?
As often as the clock seems to say I love you and boulders
turn in their sleep and sigh and the cat is forever running away. It took
two weeks to lead up to this. The stores are quiet now.
I say lie down in it. I already asked Santa about it.
And then, you see, it became part of our cultural history. We can’t ignore it
even though we’d like to, it’s so mild and hurtless. And you thought
you had it bad, or good. With as many associations as that
to keep thumbing through, one winks at the legal filigrane that penetrates every
page of the mouldering sheaf down to the last one, like a spike
through a door. Somebody dust these ashes off, open
the curtains, get a little light on the subject: the subject
going off on its own again. Yes but if home were only light
sliding down darkened windows in rivulets, inhabiting their
concavities and generally adapting itself to the contours of what is already there,
one could understand that,
lie back on the stiff daybed shading one’s eyes from
omnipresent bleary dawn that acts as an uncle’s remonstrance: do this
not for me or for yourself but for your mother the way an empty circle
of daisies seeks to promote plausibility and is simultaneously too distraught
and ashamed to articulate the siren call crisply and sinks, it too,
into the foam of reliably not taking itself seriously. I wish you well darling always
especially days when the gray pain lifts for a moment like fog trapped under
a layer of warmer air, then sags definitively not knowing what to do
with itself or about anything. Days when the pointed freshness of forests
above the snowline
can consider itself numb, when the friendly gurgling of rills talks
back and one listens but never heeds
that desire for perfectability. Hey, it was here only a moment ago
I think or somebody misled me, as sometimes happens, yet with as many
associations as that some of it is bound to come down, to crumble, to be reduced
to a vexing powder but natural like dust, and that
within all our lifetimes. Local businessmen bristled. New painless
methods were introduced but somehow made it all thick and rubbery, an unwanted anthem.
No one said it. Care was off and running, the divorce courts
overflowing for once, and no one was going to take issue, dispute the power vacuum
that was walking around shaking hands, acting for all the world like a candidate.
But you feel it don’t you? How come nobody
has anything nice
to say, I mean you striped ball, even for a testimonial dinner on a commercial, then they all
run back, must have been a mistake. Yes, we have it here.

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