Does the Document Promise?

—for Steve Siegel, in remembrance

Crying onto the documents doesn't make for very good metadata

Do you believe me when I tell you I am crying while I type this poem?

"The introduction of writing does not teach us how to remember better, just gives us an excuse to forget," said the Pharaoh to his scribe upon presentation of the new invention

All the tenses of this earth are wrong today

Wondering if everything in heaven will be searchable or whether it will be like totality

No need to search because everything is known instantly, all good and cruel deeds like angels on the head of a pin, even stupidity, because it is part of knowing

Crying into the file folders, documents remind us everything will one day be lost or ruined or totally without context

What will become of promises, and do things also make promises?

Does the document promise?

I would like the tense of the promise to be the tense of the poem I am dedicating to you, just as soon as I've written it

For, as the artist Jerome Caja says in reference to his many friends and lovers who died of AIDS: "I don't do stuff for the dead. I keep promises."

Now that everything becomes retrievable—notwithstanding totality—I am crying into the index, soaking it with tears

I am crying into a pattern of search and retrieval and losing everything because you can't be here.


A more interpretable ark than this
Blood is song your party
Apprenticeship of what one can’t have
Changed to money usury and the
World what was worth having
Ends up broken yesterday’s news
Like the blue of earth
Seen from outside atmosphere like
An egg we must begin
Anything can be charged with value
Changed to money Madonna of
A different blue
Still there is not
Just failure and despair in this world
Corruption of the flesh, forgotten sex
Still blesses our other names.

Related Poems

I cry your mercy—pity—love!—ay, love

To Fanny.

I cry your mercy—pity—love!—ay, love!
  Merciful love that tantalises not
One-thoughted, never-wandering, guileless love,
  Unmask'd, and being seen—without a blot!
O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!
  That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine,
  That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,—
Yourself—your soul—in pity give me all,
  Withhold no atom's atom or I die,
Or living on, perhaps, your wretched thrall,
  Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life's purposes,—the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind!