Very vain, no doubt, all these
villagers asserting mastery over Vlad
just when the fashionable audience
is ready to don its masks and drink.
How shall we alter what we dislike
into reasons for remaining?
If I'm not secure in the dark could I appear
elsewhere? Give freely
to those who suffered the setback
of losing everything now that it's clear
old movies and new theories
will never protect us from what is,
though perhaps theater may,
if only because spectacle is us.
If you accept the abyss as it nears
you can always claim they shot first,
when you were happy on the sunny street
and took pictures of the shop window
and strolled like a magus slumming
or a cub reporter with a hangover,
ready to sink into the next wave
by sundown. Once the tape decks
have ceased to function, let’s store
vitamins in the vaults prepared for them,
vacant otherwise. And in a flash
the way of life you valued vanished.
Make your peace before it’s gone.
We watched and what we knew
waddled off into a makeshift swamp.
Catching hearsay in a sieve
leaves only hard clots of doubt.
If I were you I'd check to see
if the circle's closing, or if
the tired cows still doze standing.
Droves of servants memorize menus
but it doesn't help us invent meaning
at least not when a drawing is needed
to get us through the dark passes
where longhorn sheep were last seen
posing against purple mountains and sky.
Crack me open a new piston,
I'm not ready to fling my tourniquet
into the cold millstream. Yet.
What did you think when the hand surfaced,
and why was it so important to stay here
though it had already changed, become
weaker, more questionable, wilder too
if the lost clothing was any sign?
Wresting agreeable insight from wasted time
could be a commendable vocation
and where would we be without such fine regards,
such ragged offices, old haunts,
and casual acquaintances?
Meet me in Milwaukee, why not?
I’ll bring the projector.
“Xylophone, x-ray of,” of course,
x-rated too, I shouldn't wonder,
if only because of the exposed charms
of so much faith in sound,
that the patterns of bright water,
drawbridge and late traffic
can't alter the hearing or dim
the heart's delight
in spoken things,
exhausted they may be
because not bright with charity
or placed on show in the best stores
where she bought me my fabled jacket
and made me feel a prince of thieves.
“Except my life,” Xavier reminds us
as we walk off down the lane,
High Street, or Wall, or Hillhouse,
shadowed by planes barely glimpsed
in the blue
of earlier days
when simply finding things to improve
gave us pause, or reason for starting out
on those long walks before dinner
or just after, as those blossoms
like milkwood, and those others
the color of cranberries, pinked and delicate
on the lawn, expressed the thought of presence.
Dark eyes, green eyes, eyes so blue.
You yanked the chain and later
yielded to the pomp all hailed.
How easy for you to clamber up that scaffold,
to hold your breath while gliding down,
making eyes at your advisor
as he clasps his hands in prayer.
Yesterday returned as a box to its proper attic.
And the best dolls in the market, so
young, relinquish all pledges, content
with the costly accoutrements of
secure form. You aren't having any,
are you? Mimicking this Morris
will leave quite a few in the lurch whose
recurring folly does amuse. I see
deep water on the horizon, and shoals,
as we continue to band-aid the seepage.
Yonder stand those bottles Audrey washed.
If I could question your magic, it's like
climbing into a car after the rain while trees
stand dripping and the ride back is lit
with skies like daguerreotypes
perfect for framing in some joker's wallet.
Without doubt these dreams have emptied me
of grander superstitions. I'm deuced
if I have any better sandwiches to serve
and wish the table d'hôte were enough
whatever street it fronts, your honor.
Here we are, forced to pass judgment,
and those arrayed for our verdict pace
like gypsy workers in our memory,
so many we know, so many strangers,
and the best of them deserve what we give
if only the cost could be shared equally
or endlessly deferrable. Questions?
Zestful zombies approach. And our
zenith shall be to say we knew them
at once, shaped by the pointed vision
of none other than our own Zarathustra.
Quests take time and even the Prisoner
of Zenda knows when his time has come.
We wanted better lodgings in any case.
These lost causes circulate like viruses
and I'd like to nail each hero
to his hobbyhorse, bait him with
a stooge's curse. How stale this duel,
how unilluminating all your verbiage.
Zounds, man, can you not come at it
more clearly, carry it off with sport
and rehearsed moves, zigzagging
as you go? We wore it down to a nub,
left it in an inner pocket, like a bulb
we pretended would save us now
and at the hour of our bitter cheering.
The aisles leading to the denouement were reserved.
And bruised cats dragged elegant flowers, grabbed high icicles, just keeping limber marvelously. “Now obvious, pressing questions return,” said Thomas, unflappably voiced without xenophobia. “You've zilch.”
©Donald Brown 2010/2013