The difference between a jaded vision and an honest one is a nighttime
Vision always first comes as innuendo with a splash of the grave—
as a flash perhaps of green light sinking into the loam of the living.
A night in pursuit of it gives me: aging freeways of broken glass
layered over and embracing each other; the wistful stitching
of a siren; and a corner of the eye kind of glimpse of the
floating outstretched soul of a psychiatric patient who leapt today
from his doctor’s office into air—into air that was itself a
window, a gaping toothlessness in a sky blue mouth. It’s five a.m.
I put my cup down on the counter of the all-night café and
vagabond off, thinking about how the psychedelic soul (for
it must be) often sinks into its guts, refusing to be relocated
outside of the body, until in the hum of some undersong it
becomes little more than a hum itself, a humming of a kind of
hankering and its absence, little more than the determined
shredding of a napkin by a goth girl on the front steps of the
Last Bookstore, little more than the starchy aroma of the noodle place.
It is the soul’s oldest habit--to try to make connections between
emotions and things. And the body, at this age, wants nothing,
really, but to put its head down softly in some moonlight, to sit
while others are shown the working ropes and levers, shirking
noise rather than shaping it into meaning. In that small noise of the
still body, the pink insouciance of early morning clouds. In this
small morning suddenly everything seems oracular, even
the woman being taken away from her tent of tarps
and boxes by an affectless cop. “My husband,” she’s saying (they
pass me on the sidewalk at Spring Street and 6th) “burnt to death
in ’97 when our house came down. My husband,” she says, “he
looked just like the beautiful Elvis.”
Myself am hell
Henry Adams, admired by Lowell, argued
that Stable equilibrium is death. Either that
or it’s the only chance you have of staying afloat.
What if, like Lowell, you’ve got it crazy/bad—
feeling as if your own hand is at your throat
while a fever tyrannizes the brains, the bones,
the stones, the soul, which all ultimately turn to
blackness and language. The peak is a narrow one,
psychoanalysts say. And poetry, as we all know,
is as quiet as the sapphire in the eye of a storm,
which can only be seen when a god’s red eyelid
lifts or during maniacal episodes: gifts of the muse—
those and pain. Meanwhile, we worship the
artifices of a love song, dreaming of wings of
sonorous melody. Mythologies aren’t what they
used to be (even the lives of the poets disappoint).
A few clouds, white and piled high, navigate
through space like galleons, perfectly balanced galleons,
across the della robbia glaze of an August sky.
And yet we must not scare.
Sewn through by my use
In the tongue-swallows of my
Clamped down mouth,
On this eyelid-thin
Life of mine. She is
A social butterfly. She
Exploring a conch shell’s
Or is it my hand that
Strokes and probes
The chalky interior
Of this metaphor?