05.23.2002

Chicago
for P.O’L. and E.M.S.


    1

a poem is crawling across the foot
of the screen, and a cursor
is erasing the words as soon
as they appear


    2

crawling stock-tokens, and a man
furrows his brow to deform
a cliché, twist a platitude
into something approaching
rectitude, standing by one’s word


    3

four hundred channels buzz
revelation and midrash, rewording
the phone book’s sortes virgilianae
in a colorized newsreel — the man
who pressed his cheek to mine, the woman
who kissed my throat on the darkened
dancefloor, have been digitally
removed — fallen under official
disfavor


    4

like literal-minded Church Fathers,
their sentences — it is said — emasculated
themselves, a wallow of present-
tense verbs, passive copulatives


    5

he died with the last stroke, last
poems scrawled or typed on pages colored
with coffee stains, wine rings, intravenous
drips—life encompassed in eight
acid-free cardboard document containers


    6

she covered carefully the stroller,
with a blanket, before crossing the street —
a driving snow, pools of slush, honking
and snarling, city a system
of alleyways and hardwood floors


    7

pulsing joint of duck that melts
the camembert into the bed of lentil,
my fifth glass of wine, and money
throbbing through the muffled black veins
of the avant-garde


    8

grace before challah, and the lighting
of the candles; on this day the Lord rested,
the ass rested, the manservant and the
maidservant rested, and the poets read

Mark Scroggins (© 2002)