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Might still be. Became was, as if pastness were a pill, not a mystery
but shut. Polished armor grows thin; unpolished armor rusts and grows thin.
The New Abbot had unusual ears and feet with a very wide division between
big and little toes. Absent from chapel he sat for hours in a black marble chair
reading a book he brought with him. This has been etched on zinc, the
title backwards. The oddity of left and right, reversal of a printed image,
is not made ordinary by habituation, points to an odd fold in time, not
space. The rabbits strung, etched bleeding with a gun, are backward, mirror
images of rabbits. If we entered it we'd have to eat cellulose righthanded,
contemplate the fork's four tines, live like Merlin backward, all electricity
DC, the letter D a backward half moon. Can we handle this candle
in a high wind, write backward as it slopes (under the wick) toward the window
where breezes blow, prevenient chromed plate under brass holder?
Sylvester, blackest cat with gush of white fur under, idles in, miaows,
fullthroated as monks at some four a.m. plainchant ceremony,
chair with the high back empty. She (Sylvester is a she) seems to ask
a question. What temptations had Laforgue translating Leaves of Grass?
I took time out from a twelve-part long poem to write a longish poem in
twelve parts. Keats dives with Lautréamont, Endymion a Symbolist.
The cruelty of poetry is not adolescent, the peignoir a half-top, thin,
thing to wear to bed to cover breasts, upper chest. Reversed's good luck.
Under the earth a black stone cave with no rubble, lightless, defines itself as lair
from the fitful presence, off and on, of a large snake which could be colored but no
light has fallen on it. It spends some time in another dimension and in transition
from its to ours is often massless and imaginably transparent, transitive coils "linking"
what by the same apologetic quotes are "worlds," ours and its. Unseen, it doesn't
"exhibit" behavior which, by analogy to reptiles, it may have. Swans to symbolist
poets were not biological systems, scarcely have gender, the snake a snake
only as Sylvester's name might be said to make her male. I have known
people named Black. Hroswitha's downwind of her dream, perceives it before
she falls asleep. Sylvester comes on to the desk, disrupts the next line, which was
to have been "I could say she dreams of a snake's underground" something & why
not, cats dream, seem to dream, the name of the snake in its other world different,
sekan, sibillant, in Hroswitha's dream distinct from identity, not its or its.
Ariadne in the other world's Arachne. One stone by the snake
is rhomboidal, may have writing on one face, or more than one, the
writing about a sunken sea, underwater sea, ripples at the interface, kept
apart by definition. Ocean is a lovely word, the notion of ocean.
One walnut mailed a victim could explode. There are mice inside Erasmus's mind.
Dreamed anatomies, degenerate species. The Ascidian rejects its history; the
armadillo counts its yolks. Jealous of oracles, a milk snake pierces the crystal ball.
Gender is imposed on Whitman over and over. Nutcrackers go bang.
Antagonize the patient. Envy plots its curve like a fever chart.
Plop into a pail, Whitman's heart, lungs. Seriality demands orality;
a brain surrounds the mouth. If testicles had spikes like chestnut hulls.
Anterior and posterior, one said, like poles of a magnet, silly polarity.
Antiquity works in our favor; everyone stops bleeding eventually. She stole my
title, I steal her remark. Erasmus thinks of cheese dipped in wax.
The start of August is cold as if Connecticut. I look down on trees from my second story.
The arrow, backward bifurcation, makes its tangs; prolepsis mirrors time.
On the backs of chasubles a snake wound around a key, vêtements


Copyright Gerald Burns 1995-1997

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