Tuesday Evening, Aug. 25th, 2009

Tuesday Evening, Aug. 25th, 2009

 

At the edge of Madeline Island we walk barefoot

along the northern lakeshore.  The water is freezing. 

Gulls that had this morning feasted on insects

tide's-edge, left trails of three-toed feet in the sand. 

The sun has nearly set; the sky, burning.  It's hard

not to think of this day lasting forever.  But nothing

ever does.  Remnants of castles line the beach,

each unique except for the requisite moat. I feel

as though we've arrived just after the end of the world.

In this case I don't mean the end by force. 

That is never an end.  I mean the kind of ending

that means "you are free to go now" and the steel

gate lurches open and you resolve, no matter what,

you will always remember that first true breath of air.

Now you will make a new world, resplendent, an exact

model of this one, right down to the old man and woman

holding hands in the canoe, far out in the bay, waiting

for full dark to shock the moon into fullness.

 

Toward a Working Theory of Representation

Toward a Working Theory of Representation

It's "like" the third Monday in a month
of Tuesdays, a day so far off the year's radar
even the foliage appears in black and white.

Like that curiously colorless aisle
in grocery stores, circa 1983: everything's
labeled leaf, leaf, rock, tree.  The sun

is a narcissist sunning itself
from the top of the clouds: two scoops of raisins
and a pair of shades for the glare. 

Me?  I could use a vacation.  I've always wanted to see
the sea; me as me, standing shoeless on the shore,
toes dipped in the cool sex of the goddess.

The disassembled moon in fractured silver arcs,
if night; the endless blue line between water
and sky by day.

The postcard reads "glad you're not here,"
meaning me, meaning there.  Selfish bastard. 
He always takes me so literally.

The Boatman, so beyond tired of the dying, etc.

 

      for Carson Cistilli

 

 

The Boatman, so beyond tired

of the dying.  Hoo ha,

the Boatman lies when he says welcome.

 

All these years the Boatman's had no home. 

All these years ridden like the Devil's Rocinante,

Hades' bitch, gaunt

 

shepherd, no thanks, no, nothing

ever but the endless dead, the mummiform dead

in last attire, always mumbling, mumbling

 

their why me? stories, each

a pitiful variation of the same banal

one already said. 

 

No off hours. No rest, ever. No scented pillow

for the old skiff, no box seats

for the Elysian Games.  No after dinner hike

 

down the obsidian road to Gehenna.  Always

the dead, the shuffling, mindless dead 

holding coins for the bag slung round his shoulder. 

 

Boo hoo.  Boo hoo for the dead. 

Coming and going, going

and coming.  No one thinks to bring a Frisbee

 

or a scotch, neat.  No pile of meeting minutes 

to burn while they watch

a Medievil Pope dust off Dante's sign. 

 

Just the boring dead, surprised as always

by the grimness of the water that rims the island

he'll never see more of than the shore.