April 10 (continued)
and who remembers why?
Numbers were clarified for the moment,
an encyclopedia of wishes
ready for the asking. And then
Time enough. Go further in till the dogs bark
and the rebels cite chapter and verse.
Coming back brings with it
old burdens coated with breezes
or at least the occasional mistral.
Thumping was heard in the foyer
and then down in the cellar,
and all the while we stood at the bar
waiting for a signal in the heavens,
a day when sound would collect itself,
returning to earth like books
covered in cotton.
Let us not assume we know what this means.
Prefer surprise to last year's costumes,
or those names you gave the mastiff
that seemed to know you through the window
as you came and went, delivering milk.
We all know we're supposed to dial the number
and ask for Jean, but some of us recall
how endlessly sad her little voice is
and will never have the nerve.
Better bread, he said,
but then such news is stale,
and everyone went “mmmhmm”
in hopes such things find favor
with the cult leaders, making
charlatans tow the line.
We're always adjusting our angle to suit.
There's little chance of us needing the bigger model
but if the motor fits, so be it,
I'm not one to haggle over price.
I'd as soon shoot my dachshund into space,
or plant flowers at the bottom of the lake.
I'm coming back to her now
from far away, soon I'll be so close
I'll make her skin crawl,
and then she'll have to invite me inside
her house of windows on a beach
where I had the good fortune to find her
sleeping on a couch, dreaming of ladles.
Quixotic isn't it, I'll ask
and she'll sigh with such melancholy
all hope of distracting her will vanish.
It's then I'll impose the limitations
of old acquaintance, ask for
my stamps back, attack
the Aquafier with paint.
“Caligula” can't be right,
consists of too many letters,
and anyway a discarded ticket
has been left in the ashtray.
When next you see me I'll be cashiered
and your uncle will barely remember we spoke.
You'll have to take up the hem of that dress
you always wore, the blue and white one,
so thin it seemed made of veils
and you at the center of its bright agitation
as though sun rays reflecting
on sunken treasure.
I'll keep your place till you get back.
“Visigoths” is a perfectly valid word
and seems to signal a new chapter
in this trance you're seeking,
but let me be the first to remind you
that bird has flown,
never again will your patience be tried
by having to walk sightless in the woods.
All paths lead to Rome anyway,
and I was just coming to that
when you interrupted
with that nonsense about your shoes.
Dogs don't mind,
do they, if you always walk
the same way through the neighborhood?
The light plays with just the right freedom
in the end, and whatever you keep
in that box under the bed
remains when you're gone.
I'd like to cancel my subscription
but they always find me again,
those loud and clever braggarts
with their infernal rhyming games,
and just when I thought pizza
would be our undoing,
Alicia brings in nachos
and starts it up again,
those convivial evenings stuffing face
and saying things we'll later regret.
Everyone avoids that alley
where smokers collect in the dark
and pretend to be making speeches
about the perils of fracking
while occult circumstances
hamper our efforts
to circumvent the side effects
like the sickness unto death
and the great lawsuit.
Someday we’ll thrive
as explorers in a landfill,
grateful for whatever we can use.
Everyone, evidently, will be glad you won,
erroneously or not.
That was the wind in the barley, I suppose,
that made us look again and wince
at the condition of the roof tiles.
Everything left out in the weather
comes to this eventually,
and those baubles you salvage give
to the tinkers making their rounds
with a hey-nonny-no and the like.
There are shotgun shells
for the asking, and pelts of animals
so dear in our museums still.
It's a great land, this, with its codicils
and liens, with its habeas corpus
and et in arcadia ego, its whirlwinds
and hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.
I'm still shouting fire in a theater aren't I,
and he stands ready to queen his pawn
while the shadows grow longer
and the peregrine falcon named Gomez
hunts with a clear conscience in the azure.
The families that moved to the mountains
had their reasons, secure in their trust
of all the bounty needed to flourish,
with no one to tell them what to build.
Forget, friends, the Alamo
for soon it will be too late to help,
and the rallying cry will die
on lips grown cold for want of love
or at least the ammunition wagons
tethered to the jail, and the armaments they carried.
No one take a shot till I get back
and yet how dreadful is the air
hereabouts. The cold stones
of this rustic altar invite blood,
a sacrifice of the innocent or at least
a slaughter of edible critters.
We'll be told to swallow our pride,
oh yes, but at least we all knew
and shrinking violets, and never
let the muse of history muddy her skirts.
Tomorrow we’ll slay that Goliath
and go lightly into death, for this is the hour
of our anointing, look you,
and this our scaffold, and this our noose.
Remember to cast ashes on your pillow
and to soak your clothes in ink.
Sorted and compressed are your texts.
© Donald Brown 2010/2013