Monday, November 03, 2003

Hermit (11.99)


... a thousand twangling instruments

I like to imagine an eremite
alone in his cell
wordless listening
supremely irrelevant
a crystal of the purest patience

while all night my radio
To lie down
To lie with
To lie
pits white noise against nuit blanc.

On clear nights we could pull Canada
straight down from the aurora
a map mostly white
dark green for taiga
pale gray for tundra
Cap-chat, Chibougamau
mysterious names and distances
a Frenchman in a dark room

Gone are the days of imperfect reception
Gone are the screens of hissing snow
Gone is the bull’s-eye socket
that opened on unspangled darkness
Gone is the pure tone of void and emergency

One ancient trope, anaphora,
has survived rhyme and reason.
Infinitely antiphonal, it says
Give us this day and
Eat, drink
image and metaphor, its goons,
the self, its god,
goods, its gross grace.

Now the air twangles with testimonials
ravishing ! wondrous ! splendid ! --
until you’d think the tongue had been
clear-cut and strip-mined of superlatives
shucked to its dumb root
but still it screams down sheer ironsides
on the latest machine
spitting in today’s most phosphorescent chic !

From deep inside the basement’s
freshly poured neiges d’antan concrete
Fido’s bow-wow bow-wow bow-wow bow-wow
joins the cricket behind the boiler,
and the fizzling smoke-detector
in an new arrangement of
O iambic tabernacle O pentacle
while upstairs Old Uncle Gulliver
squirms in his AM FM truss.
Oh, how he likes it.

What burns on the MC’s index card,
fruit or beast ?
Which of a thousand thousand savors will suffice ?
What’s the consolation prize ?
What info-perdition lies
between words between stations ?
And when will the smoke clear
so that I might rescan
the spectrum of the terrible
for the vanishing slit between BC and AD ?

In the desert parabolas reread
the zodiac sign by sign by sign.
What strange music, half faith half math,

will loom our new ear ?

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