One is thinking this morning
of revolution and despotism, faltering
hands at the dashboard of an immensely
large, immensely clumsy wheeled
machine. Watching the old men
cross the parking lot to the supermarket
in an ecstatic slow-motion, as if
the electric doors will slide open
on the riches of Ali Baba’s cave.
Winding down towards the sleep
of stones in a perpetually more
quiescent rhythm, missing beats
and dropped feet. The sky
conjures motion from the black
fringes of trees, viral birdsong
downloaded on our heads
willy-nilly. Inference above
language, intuition of the divine –
perfect bullshit, at least to nodding cynics
who know that language hems in
our brains like a barbed-wire
fence. The world, Mr. Bronk – I say
gaily – is solid as you want it.
We make our own reality. We speak
a goodly frame, and the squamous facts
conform themselves thereto. At least that’s
the official line. The end of history,
triumphal apotheosis of the behemoth
Capital, has been momentarily postponed.
Once upon a time Reason, or a deity,
extended itself and grew into the shape
of history. Once there was a “tendency”
in human affairs. As we buy
our shoes, lace them up, walk
our errands across the steaming asphalt.
Kiss our lovers or children, ignore
or huddle down against
the unspecified hour. Our present
swallows all pasts into its self-contented,
pixellated maw. The future,
a child screaming for your
admiration, is uncontained.
The Emerald City, the Rock Candy
Mountain, were levelled long ago
by the bulldozers and wrecking balls
of incessant imagination. You speak
of happiness in mutual labor,
a bright future of shared
sunrises and common weal –
I’m imagining you in a thong
and garter belt. The Paris Hilton,
I believe, was once only a hotel.
Lexus lanes arouse our virtuous
class indignation, but when haven’t
we paid more coin to get there
faster? Shanks’s pony a phrase
in need of annotation, like Ruskin’s
illth , Hobbes’s state of nature,
Pound’s usura , Milton’s free will.
Those exquisite polychrome tags
lighting up the railroad bridges –
Mr. Bennett, Mr. Bloom –
are scribbles in the margin
of Capital’s black-letter folio text.
A certain sort of poet
would wind it all up
with a brisk nostos, renewing
Nestea plunge into the immediate –
the sun, unblurred by smog;
breeze unsmudged by particulate
from the abattoir or freeway;
a wee bit of cozy love, unconditioned
by the constant rain of copulation-
ready limbs on the plasma screen,
of printer-ready, skin-severing
admonitions and laws.
What we owe power, built
up in the telling, letter by
littoral, hands in the till
and finger-smudges smeared
on the edges of paychecks.
Dynamic, Greekly energetic,
power seizes us beyond intertia
and places us where it pleases;
diaphanous ridges smother
our eyes, waves edge over
our mouths to still
The fine worked gold is hid
in a smudge of oily smoke.
Chances are few, but dance
and dance again, fuelled
by a kind of passionate
disinterest. Dance hard enough,
we’ll disinter some ghosts
of old and hidden gain,
final mouthless sculpture,
gaunt and cockless herm.