To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jerome Rothenberg
The President of Desolation
that farce
replaces tragedy
even to think it

& yet to come
into another age
& find it
proven true

this is the price of
growing old
the progress truly
of a state

of mind
the center

of mind
the gap
& mindless

not farce but madness
from the start
the roots of tragedy
in the barely human
ready to bring us down

to which he leads us
in a dream
almost as deadly
as a tunnel
the mind winds through
seeing the sky ahead

but kept from it
by stumbling
tumbling where the face
of someone like
a swollen clown
steps forth

whose fat cheeks grow
enormous while his body
shrinks    until he stands
before us like a tiny
naked man who neither
thinks nor dreams

when in the morning sun
his face escapes him
in the empty mirror
he must ask the sky
to bring it back to him
hapless to find his way

the rage inside him
slides into his mouth
from which he vomits
words & empty sounds
his name the only
meme he knows

he is the cockeyed boss
the president of desolation
chin thrust forward
arms akimbo
legs astride
the world his crucible

a body without shape
that shrinks
& drives his mind out
through his eyes
whose teeth still clatter
syllables cut free

with this the world
will end & time
return to endless space
not to be counted
past what the fabled
start was

& the end to come

while down to earth
a fool sits
on the throne
a king
by his own counting
wrapped in gold

the ground beneath him
also gold
the buckle on his belt
even the belt itself
the buttons on his shirt
all gold

gold is his heart
the rumble in his gut
gold’s essence
blowing golden farts
& on his golden briefs
a stain of gold

for which all women
flock to him
all men bow down
his ring is gold
& held against your cheek
leaves gold behind

not truly gold
but close enough
to make his suitors pause
his dross
turned golden
in their sight

how loyal
little men become
losing all thought
of sacrifice
& ardor
for the common good

in acts of
the past
comes back
to life

never more true
than when
he wages
war against
the sky

the door to heaven
opens   closes
at his touch
fat angels
crowd around him

some adhering
to his flesh
the burning babes
in fancy dreams of
god & power

with an eye
that turns
from those below
his notice
or regard

the world
his mirror
fragile hands
hiding his face
& eyes

too safely blind
he will not
see you now
or me
outside his dreams

he stalks
his shadow &
his only love
the voice returning
when he dies

deeper down
the hole
he digs for us
by digging *                           * dealing

pit where pity
drops away
letting the dead
stay dead

or raising
too cruel
by far

the scorn
a frail man
into the air

until the world
around him
bursts with voices
calling back

endlessly the words
he shows them

finding the hidden
hole his fingers
fat & swollen
open in his mouth

then raises
his frail arm
in feigned


No comments: