Unsuitable Biography, Written in the Latter Part
of the 20th Century
Show me a Polaroid of your suffering: a burnt child, a limping dog,
a departure at night, two suitcases, a blue coat. The latter a last
possession of your golden age. Elsewhere, people say, it's worse.
But even this is enough.
A taxi pulls away from the curb. It doesn't matter who's inside.
I forgot to tell you this: nothing matters. Nothing, except skin,
voice, glance. That's not quite true, of course, and I don't believe
it myself but it's August, and behind the saturated green wheat fields
lies a tempting horizon which allows us to rise above the gloomiest
of weather forecasts or biblical floods or snow in Miami and all
end-time predictions, and be happy. Just be happy, for God's sake!
It's never so bad it can't get worse.
No Fear, the shirt says. But then
this courage bleeds in the wash
and a horoscope is consulted: Trust
your emotions. A romantic
interlude brightens your afternoon. Tacitus
tells us about runed
sticks, thrown and read like the migration of birds.
Amphitheaters collapse, and, earlier, the Tower of Babel. In 1902,
Pelee erupts, flattening Martinique's capitol city and killing
except the city's only prisoner. In that year,
the silk tail, a flashy
bird at home in extreme northern latitudes
appeared in mass quantities,
fleeing south to escape the arctic winter.
(The history of doom can
be written in a language of feathers.)
Three days after the eruption,
Jacques, the prisoner, speaks to birds,
confesses the theft, the rape,
What There Is
Grass, water, endless sky--
things I can't break
or lose or invent
or forget in the middle
of a conversation.
There is no conversation,
only screaming in this
our given emptiness
which knows only two
signs: the scream
and the screamer.
And the way of the scream
is known: man looses
himself in the shiny
surfaces of deserts
and cities. There are no
cities, only rooms
for death. Where would we be
without death to make room
for the living.
There is no living
only homesickness of people
for a barely remembered
trace, a wave, which has left
their mind, a trace of something
once called "I", or "you".
Red cat hair in my soup,
and the black, they are yours.
Yes, you haven't been seen
around here a while. Sometimes,
someone comes by and whispers
your name, I tell them,
I ate him--skin and all
and now he wanders inside me,
this man, not registered,
unknown to the census
counters, one too many
in this golden city,
this green land.