THE BRIEF HISTORY OF NOW
They cancelled the foundation stone
like quicksand, a god, or a bad cheque; finally
after thousands of years of watching her change in a window,
her lingerie spread softly on the clouds,
they seized the moon and raped her
and chained her to a bedpost by the neck. Science
denounced the sloppy dynasty of flesh and bone
and standing in the power circle of its denuded magic
disappeared in a delirium of mystical bosons
that added gravity to the argument that life
was neither divinely humorous nor infernally tragic,
but the astronomical defect of agitated genes.
No one really knows what that means,
but everyone took them at their word
and sacrificed their first-born like obsolete cell-phones
on the altars of the absurd. And in the leafless tree no birds sang
exalted by the morning, and without a warning
that it had had enough of sweeping up the mess,
the wind walked out with seeds in its hair and everywhere
the doctors listened for a pulse, a gust, a breath, a breeze,
nothing was heard but the silence of ancient vacancies
sphinxing the unmoved deserts with time.
There was nothing left to celebrate, nothing sublime
that could lift the human spirit
out of the post-diluvian slime of random selection
to commemorate its myth of origin
with a shrine or an obelisk, or, at the very least,
the good beginning of a spiritual erection.
Bread didn’t rise, and the sun in the east
was a mess of uncertainty and sad yeast.
Even the darkness lost its charisma and taste
and the night was no longer an act of grace
but a junkie turned out with the battered face of the moon.
Hard, hard, hard, the obscenity of human lovelessness
that sipped its sacrament from a coke-spoon
and stripped of its creeds, when down on its knees
to confess the infallibility of its helplessness. The worst
grew bolder than porn and celebrity children
that no one missed on the back of milk cartons
cursed the day they were born. The experts and the wise
pondered the weight of their proof like gold
and alloys of the tempered lies they once foretold,
calculated the infinite odds against the recovery of the truth,
and breaking into a sweat of febrile fears
distinguished the tenure of their correct careers
by calling in a bomb-threat from a telephone-booth in arrears.
Baghdad nosed among its ruins like a missile.
Rwanda cropped its people with machetes;
the gangrene of the Sudan reeked and ran
and everywhere that Jesus walked the Promised Land,
apocalypse was wired to a parked van
as the U.N. and the Vatican proof-read Paul’s epistle,
whistling in the dark about a veto and a thistle
thorning the heart of charity with reservations
that calmed the queasy conscience of the brave and sleazy nations
with press conferences and funeral orations
that talced the rabies of the demonically depraved.
So that in the end, with heartfelt regrets, no one was saved
from anything, not the butchers in the boardrooms
compounding third-world debts, not
the designer generals in their new-age epaulets, not
the testaments of never again that everyone forgets,
not even the babies in their prams and bassinets
waiting to have their asses wiped like bayonets.
And then the bottom fell out. Greed spoke like a nuclear tumour.
And all that was left of civilization
raised on the ethics of deprivation
from the ziggurats of ancient Sumer
to the stock-markets of New York
died like a vicious rumour.