THE BEAUTIFUL ARTIFICE DESTROYED
The beautiful artifice destroyed,
is the ugly one any less fictional?
O the glow of wisdom on a disappointed man’s face.
Auroral veils in the ashes of flypaper cobwebs.
You can know someone who’s lived well
by whether children are happy around them or not.
Bleak concrete and arterial air ducts
painted red so every grey day’s got its poppy,
more like a bunker than a peripatetic perch
of higher learning. A perch for nesting missiles.
Military-industrial. Everywhere the inert gases
of the overhead lights interrogate you
overenthusiastically. Que sais je? Nothing.
Incriminated by a metaphor that ratted her out,
I heard a writer say every time she came across
some unexpected jewel of language, she
plucked it out before the Taliban splashed acid
in its eyes. Flowers aren’t allowed at a funeral,
but the asters still crowd around the muskrat
like roadkill, death and the beautiful united
in belief. And to judge from the silky, sunken
eye-sockets, the minimalist ants extol squinting
over seeing the same way. A local habitation
and a name, ok, but GPS is not a starmap
and o little journey, a step across the threshold
is only so many miles to an inch. Desecration
is hitching thoroughbreds to the bullet proof hearse
plagiarized from the sun god’s chariot. Inspire
a matchbook, you might flare for a moment,
but nothing of any consequence is going to go down
in flames. Speak for yourself like the voice
of a species. Who cares how many mammoth bones
or shoes you’ve got in the closet of your psyche?
You can look at a field and at first all you can see
is a blur of golden hay the wind is polishing
to a sheen you can breathe on like the skin of a lover,
and then, stars emerging, the wildflowers begin to come out.
I like to listen to what they’re saying in their sleep.
I don’t feel a compulsion to run and uproot them
because some nitwit’s got a writing style
that doesn’t include them. All gate, and no garden.
Even the weeds will surprise you with what
they know about flowering if they’re left
to their own resources. I got up one morning
and was mystically mauled by the New England asters
in the apple orchard caught in a bolt of sunlight,
a black bear among the ungathered windfall,
as shocked as I was to stare into the eyes
of another mammal there, doing what I was.
Biting into the amazing sweetness of the same
sacred syllables, jewels glistening on our lips
like the firesticks of diamonds raining
on Saturn and Jupiter as for one brief moment
we understood each other like apple juice
and the strange elixirs of September that
make fools out of the wasps too comatose to fly.