by Robert Nazarene


for Immanuel:



                  I.  THE CRUSH OF THE DEAD

Humans are the cruelest mice, breeding
memorials out of the dead grass, mixing
memory and monstrosity, excavating
the last from the first.  A man
hath no greater love—
than gnawing at his own ropes.
I glance down from my second story window
to survey Madame Chang-Chang
planting first the right then the left—
leaving the wicked imprint
of her hooves into the snow.
I smile and sip my morning potion
of Wuyi Oolong, drunk
from an exquisitely fashioned ruby dragon cup
bequeathed me by Aunt Marosselle, sister
to my dead mother.  Bequeath, bequeath, bequeath.
It is the native tongue
in this cancelled stamp we name The Homeland.
lest I forget, permit me
to share this,
percolating in my noggin…


                  II.  FIN NOVEMBRE

Et maintenant, je suis vieux and iambic in my gait,
capable of collapsing into a heap
at the news of the CAT scan or the doctor
pondering the tops of his shoes.  Or,
another suggestion:  a man
collapsing in on himself, plummeting down the insides
of a grain elevator madly punching the buttons
to make it stop.
A pileup of flesh not even worth
meaning: moneyless,
no favors to bestow, no kindnesses to be
purchased, addicted to the utterance
of truth or to, at the very least, its half brother.
A thrall to the dreams that race from the middles...
(Yes, middles, you lunkhead!  Stay awake!)...from the middles
of the night to the middle
of the morning.  Nowhere to get but up from my
thought littered bed.  And—my dreams,
staring down at me, said one-to-the-other:
This life—has let us down.


                  III.  LITTLE TIDINGS

The dead prefer their lawns turned down before they sleep—
blankets of white and green and brown to drown
the sounds of mound upon mound
of busyness and regret.  Perhaps the suicide of television.

The dead do not cease their explorations even at the end
of what we may think is the end. See:
they return and would never rhapsodize of leaving us.
Each one of them alive, slim as wands and magicless.

They love to cling to the sounds of little friends
skating the canvas of a frozen pond, then sneak inside
to sleep the night—only to reawaken to the smell
of pudding on the stove and the promise
of another Christmas in the parlor.  They are ready
as ever, like we, to shatter into smiles cold and thin as ice.




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