Dereliction sprawled past the hustings into sad cries
from Aunt Aline and her old pals. Arriving with parcels
and good-natured greetings seemed to have calming effects
momentarily. Uncle Maurice had lost his battle
with resentment long before. Still giving out,
he made us all gather round him at the upright
to shuffle off to Borneo. I've always felt the need to make
boisterous noises just like this after eating cheese, he screamed,
then reconnoitered into Chopin's Fifth Étude. Aunt Aline
had quit all hope of recognizing the shape her mind had blent to,
stolidly built though she was, with a patent number
from nineteen ought eight in Sidney, Ohio, on the brass badge
on her shoulder. No hope for her ever again to notice
Uncle Maurice's nomenclature, his provenance, or his gifts.
He had left her there, as on a darkling plain,
posturing his way toward everlasting life.
Having purred himself whole again after his injury,
Ezra the Manx stepped into the potted plant and dreamed.
The knowledge of the saltmines deep below
the city made it hard to sleep at night.
Often it seemed, in winter particularly,
while I lay awake in the midnight imagining
subterranean hallways blinding white,
I saw myself wandering endlessly among them
maddened by whiteness till I no longer could tell
when I myself became a creature of salt.
After that, there grew an abundant vigor
from recent seasonal transformations,
instilling an excess of impressibleness
in the face of extrapersonal corporeality,
the multiplicity of bodily entities nearby
having fattened on other farther multiplicities
through a process by which the surface tactility
of one item became reduced to a point of accessibility
to interinfusion from another item, so that the one
could feed on the other, growing strong enough finally
to supplant the other's bodiliness with its own,
the one therewith extinguishing the other.
To begin with the expectation of continuity
and to perceive it before any examination of the facts
would present the mind under the aspect of closure,
which cannot engage its proper activity,
since the truth is true only tangentially to other truths
true only as tangents of tangents tangentially true.
If we take the end as the starting point
and carry ourselves back to the conclusion,
we will achieve some recognition against which
each nuance of every idea we half-shaped in our brains
assumes its purpose. I felt certain that,
should I ever get there, I would find myself in a world
where everything I had struggled to discover in my lifetime
would be taken for granted. The knowledge
of the saltmines deep beneath the city
made it impossible to sleep even fitfully.
Such silence as prevailed amidst such light
made my mind's ear throb as if to hear
a speck of sound obtruding on the silence
out of a world of audibles otherwise imperceptible
in this air which would admit
neither blemish of noise nor other soilure
upon the brightlit immaculacy of salt.
I could have been emparadised in that place.
Under me was a throne of molded brine.
EASY ON THE BREAD CRUMBS NEXT TIME
There I am in the closet taking a shower
and strangling the old baguette.
The oily ruffian and his lopsided wife
who run this boutique flophouse
are downstairs masticating
meatloaf and green beans.
He has his sleeves rolled up like a barber’s.
She has just finished lacquering her toes.
My meatloaf bubbles with unquenchable fire
to reckon what sort of lodging I have washed up at.
Across town, at the train station, I needed to rescue
my collection of Anthony Trollope first editions
from a crack team of hydrocephalics in ill-fit suits
like the ones monkeys wear in cartoons
about monkeys and hurdygurdymen.
I quit my urge to quiet myself down.
It’s either the trollop or the monkeys
or the stench of meatloaf does it.
It was thus I made my way to the Convention.