for P.O’L. and E.M.S.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)