THE LOST LANGUAGE #11
If you are searching for a friend online,
an insomniac to break the bread
of misery and silence, look no farther.
Trust me, says anonymous, the voice
in rivers after dark is no illusion.
It is an angel. And who can resist.
If I am broken just enough, I fly.
I suspend my physical heart, alive,
among the saints and champion banners.
I never met an angel, but I saw one
once in a painting, in one hand poppies,
the other a harp, and though it made no music,
it seemed so finely strung in the fire
of a child's hair, it nearly played itself.
NARCISSUS IN THE UNDERWORLD #9
It's not all bad. Hell has its comforts,
threnodies, charms in the shapes of cups.
But imagine what it takes to make
a life's work there, with only your powers
of invention to sustain you. Think of
the focus it takes to complete the journey.
I do not envy a creator that devoted,
divided, but here I am, on the edge
of the river. A lighter craft will carry you,
says the boatman, because I am that light.
I take his reasoning on faith. After all,
his Italian is so lovely, and the world so
full of weightless things, here a boat,
there a fly drinking from the open eye.
NARCISSUS IN THE UNDERWORLD #26
The creak of boats in swells of the harbor
sounds a warning like hinges of a forest
or failed estate. So difficult to get
news from news, history from history,
by which I mean writing and the written
off. The auguries of smoke and wind
blow dust from the glass of eyes that sting.
Earth keeps spinning the storm surge north,
and mountains sink, and refugees come,
and foreign words for home in the distance.
When a shoreline breaks, it breaks open,
and in flow the pixels too small to see,
stars of neither cruelty nor grace, but
a sorrow so deep its name has not arrived.
NARCISSUS IN THE UNDERWORLD #28
When a high wind tears down the power
and it's you and me and the emptiness
that gives us license to move, we do not move.
We gather our cats in the pantry, we listen,
we hear in heaven the enormous sigh
of an iron lung exhaling, the storm eye
passing, the terrible burden coming to rest.
One part of every wind is trembling.
The other the stillness the trembling moves aside.
The future, as we know it, is never true.
Never false. It is here in the quiet turn
of every breath, the little death a singer breathes.
One part of each departure is a mirror,
the other the wall to which a mirror turns.
NARCISSUS IN THE UNDERWORLD #29
Panoptes, the god with a hundred eyes,
became a captive of the prison that bore
his name, the circle with guards in the center
and inmates on all sides who saw no one.
All that dark out there, and the hundred
fears to take a hundred points of view.
Why else does a man grow so many.
Misery, we know, is too much company.
Or too little. No one sees you, or no
one appears. When I see a prisoner in hell,
I see those eyes. I see a flock of grackles.
They break into the shrapnel of applause.
And then, nothing. I am alone. Just me
and a hundred sorrows. None of them mine.