by Nicholas Manning



When people die
they never say: “I should have spent
more time with my mechanical
topiary replica
of the Winged Victory
of Samothrace.” Axiology is about
attributing value to what is truly valuable,
if by “valuable” you mean
money and ephemeral
social status.
I should have spent
more time with my kids
and my North African diamond mine.
With his final breath he wished for infinites wishes.
Sadly, the genie was inside his own head,
and the dirty, complex soul of man
cannot be rubbed
like a lamp.

Can you make art
out of nice feelings? I’m sorry
what? I wasn’t listening. I was trying
to make this miniature
clockwork model
of the universe stop losing
infinitesimally small amounts
of energy.
I am a good father.
I think they sent it to me
with a piece missing. That piece is you,
and this issue with temporal inertia
is due to the force of amalgam
your beauty
when it first shuddered,
screaming, into the world. It came
carefully wrapped in a small plastic flower,
caught forever within the grinding
of my mechanisms. No wait,
sorry – here it is.
I found it.  

I feel like I only have
the choice between hurting others
and hurting myself. The shades of vases
make silhouettes on the walls
of the pear arbour,
with sexist clichés
of barren female creativity
and such intense androgynous passion
it makes the stucco silently fall. When I take
your hand, there is always a wind machine
which starts silently somewhere,
blowing from a place far
within my future,
making billow the sails
of mid-distant merchant vessels
stitched with the same longing
as that which rims
my face.

When your life ends,
always walk towards something.
Before you may enter the flowered
gates of Elysium, you are asked:
“What did you make?”
You are allowed
to hold up
children, books,
and various craft projects.
You are not allowed to hold up
bloodied limbs, piles of cash, or political
pamphlets. So you see, it’s all fairly
simple. Got it?
Now go. 




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