Roll back the stone from the sepulchre's mouth! I sense disturbance deep within, as if some sorcery had shocked the occupant's hand alive again, back to compose a document in calligraphy so dragonish that a single misstep made it necessary to stop right then and there and tear the botched draft up, begin again and stop, tear up again and scatter a squall of paper lozenges atop the architecture that the mind designs around it, assembling a city somewhat resembling the seaport of your birth, that blinking arrangement of towers and signage you now wander underneath, drawn forward by the spell of the sea's one scent, by the bell of the night ship that cleaves through the mist on its path to the pier. Surrender to that vision and the labor apprehensible as you take to the streets from the refuge of a chair so emphatically comfortable even Lazarus himself would have chosen to remain unrisen from its velvet, baffling the messiah, His many onlookers muttering awkwardly to themselves, downcast till a sudden dust devil spirals in from the dunes—a perfect excuse to duck back indoors. (The sand spangles their eyes, the little airborne stones impinge upon such faces as only Sorrow's pencil would ever dare to sketch, and even then, it wouldn't be a cakewalk, you realize. A dust devil at sea would be called a waterspout.) You fear that you have been demanded into being only to be dropped on the wintry streets of this imagination rashly, left easy prey for the dockside phantoms, unwatched and unawaited, and I know what you mean, almost exactly. This cardboard city collapses around us; another beautiful document disassembles into anguish—a cymbal-clap—and we can't prevent it. At one the wind rises, and the night ship trembles, drowsing back into its silver cloud. At two it embarks upon a fiercer derangement. We are in this together. And we will find protection only on the night ship.
Poem Interrupted by Whitesnake
That agreeable feeling we haven't yet been able
to convert into words to our satisfaction
despite several conscious attempts to do so
might prove in the end to be nothing
more than satisfaction itself, an advanced
new formula just sitting there waiting to be
marketed as such: Let my logo be the couch
I can feel it pulse as the inconstant moon
to which I've come to feel attached continues to pull
away from earth at a rate of 1.6 inches
every solar year: Let my logo be the couch
where you merge into nights until you can't
up from the shadows of a factory warehouse
in historic Secaucus built on top of old swamp-
land I can feel it: Let my logo be the couch
where you merge into nights until you can't
even remember what you wanted to begin with.
Let my slogan be the scrapes of an infinite
catalogue's pages turning over and over until you
find it again.
In the air above Secaucus
a goldfinch, state bird of New Jersey, stops dead
midflight and falls to the asphalt of a final
parking lot. Where it lands is a sacred site
and earth is covered in them. Each is like
the single seed from which an entire wheat field
generates. This happens inside oneself
so one believes oneself to be the owner of it.
From the perimeter of the field one watches
as its workers undertake their given tasks:
some cut the wheat, some bundle it; others picnic
in the shade of a pear tree, itself a form of
labor, too, when unfolding at the worksite.
A gentle pride engilds this last observation like
sun in September. Because this happens
inside oneself one feels one must be its owner.
But call out to the workers, even kindly,
and they won't call back, they won't even look up
from their work.
There must be someplace
else where life takes place besides in front of
merchandise, but at the moment I can't think of it.
In the clean white light of the market I am where
I appertain, where everything exists
for me to purchase. If there's a place of not meaning
what you feel but at the same time meaning
every word, or almost, I might have been taught
better to avoid it, but
here I go again
on my own, going down the only road I've ever
known, trusting Secaucus's first peoples
meant something specific and true when they fused
the words seke, meaning black, and achgook,
meaning snake, together to make a compound
variously translated as "place where the snake
hides," "place of black snakes," or, more simply,
Going moon over the gone marsh
Secaucus used to be, I keep making the same
mistake over and over, and so do you, slowly
speeding up your orbital velocity, and thereby
increasing your orbital radius, just like Kepler
said you would, and though I keep trying not
to take it to heart, I can't see where else there is
to go with it. In German, a Kepler makes caps
like those the workers wear who now bundle
twigs for kindling under the irregular gloom. One looks
to be making repairs to a skeletal umbrella
or to the thoughts a windmill entertains by means
of a silver fish. Off in the distance, ships tilt
and hazard up the choppy inlet. Often when I look
at an object, I feel it looking back, evaluating
my capacity to afford it.
Maybe not wanting
anything in particular means mildly wanting
whatever, constantly, spreading like a wheat
field inside you as far as the edge of the pine
forest where the real owners hunt fox. They keep you
believing what you see and feel are actually
yours or yours to choose. And maybe it's this
belief that keeps you from burning it all down.
In this economy, I am like the fox, my paws no good
for fire-starting yet, and so I scamper back
to my deep den to fatten on whatever I can find.
Sated, safe, disremembering what it's like
up there, meaning everywhere, I tuck nose under tail
after I exhaust the catalogues, the cheap stuff
and sad talk to the moon, including some yelping but
never howling at it, which is what a wolf does.