This first appeared in Exileschild 11/22/16. Strange how poetry adapts to its context.
How swiftly came the killing season
swept in from hinterlands
just when we had remarked upon
the sameness of it all.
How soon the must-not-be-named
Weren’t we standing there,
thinking how wise it was
to not raise a ruckus
about minor disturbances,
how preferable to simply
turn our backs to the foul wind?
What good will be our platitudes
There, in a glass case
in the Cairo Museum
lay Rameses II, who imagined
that all who looked upon
his works would despair.
Desiccated, a shrunken pith
of a man, he reminded me
of nothing else but
the last slab of salted cod
at the closing of the market,
Despair, indeed, my king,
but not the way you imagined.
Tonight, we say goodbye
to the past, which long ago
left us without a word
We’ve lost the will to listen,
instead expressing and expressing
without end, without impression
as if we were generators and not motors,
as if beams of reality flowed
brainless and wantless
toward – what? Tomorrow?
There is no tomorrow,
today only, in a false succession
of todays. How can there be
expression, alone and only?
There must first be an emptiness,
gradually filled with the stuff of galaxies,
or more remote still, of giant gas clouds
or invisible matter, so dark.
Like me, the day resembles an empty vessel,
empty of all that radiates outward,
all that intends malice or desire,
that winks a hundred wishes onward,
holding only God accountable,
leaving any sense behind,
out where there is no boundary,
where edge melts into center,
where all becomes nothing,
where stellar wind washes light
from the first Nothing screamed aloud,
down to the yearning of stars to be born,
to the thin layer of life
astride the cosmos.