Poem in the Third Style
I've made a decision to smoke and drink
In my own home, the man says.
(He blows on his fingers.)
The odor of wet wool drifts into the room.
To the right of his armchair
Crouches Bowser. A tubercular Turk
Is itching for a game of pétanque.
The man in the armchair declines.
(Makes the motion of someone pitching la boule.)
Several people drop to the floor
In obeisance to an unseen power.
Do you remember the Hapsburg chin
You spotted last year? The eye
Was epileptic green. That one over there
Went deaf in Afghanistan.
My responsibilities are concluded.
(He makes the hitchhiker sign.)
I'm just an ancillary figure.
You remember the one who appended doo-dah, doo-dah
To remarks he detested? (Asked abruptly,
As if the man had just entered his own conversation.)
I began with abstractions. When I turned
My back, a meadow of words broke into flower.
They say you've returned from... (He draws
A circle in the air.)... We often travel in
Circles. (Said in a low voice.) Night comes early.
Here too. What I want (grimace)... There's...
(He runs his index finger horizontally across his neck
In the off-with-the-head sign.) If that's...
(Pulls in his index, turns out his thumb, and shakes
His hand downward: no mercy.) When the pertinent wheels
(Coughs)... Who can (drawn out slowly)... Who
Can (peremptorily)... Once, I too (dry laugh –
Slaps the air twice)....
Let's say you're standing
On the corner and somebody
Lowers a newspaper
And starts speaking a language
You don't understand,
Then covers his face. No problem.
But what if a passer-by
Points to that person and says,
A question arises:
Pretty soon a lot
Of people might be speaking
That kind of talk and you'll
Be handing on by your
Fingertips. You demur,
"It's nonsense. I'll
Just say something that doesn't
Mean anything." Won't work.
Soon you realize
You're making sense. You can't
Speak nonsense. No matter
How hard you try, you're lucid.
In fact, you're eloquent.
You do justice
To urgent theories
That give life coherence.
You begin to issue statements.
Your latest releases tend
To unify vast audiences.
The scene shifts. You are alone.
The sun goes down cold red.
It is a disdain for process. Natural
Aristocracy does not remember
The means of production. Linguistic appearance
(Lies, gossip, rumor) does not exist.
To remember is degrading. Later,
By a paradoxical flip, process
Will be revered – as if by simply explaining
The arduous journey to a bad decision,
One is excused. Even lucubration
Has no place. The origin of the question
Is the consideration of antecedents and consequents,
Untidy matters contradictive of divinity.
To have an uncle would be derivative.
The words proceed steadily.
They are not screaming or being maladroit.
To speak interminably without reservation
Is a succinct gesture. One wonders
If a new form of nonsense is being created.
Perhaps pure sound. Across the page
It runs. Who will transcribe it?
As we learn to discern, we learn to be deceived.
For many years one trains strenuously. Refines. Focuses.
Nuance narrows. We presuppose a number of things.
A connoisseur passes. Phone calls bounce back.
We want to be present at the birth of something exquisite.
Plenitude beckons. Key 305 hands from peg 316a.
Someone with thudding feet is following us.
The narrative stops for a scuffle. Ned from Argentina
Is in town. Four on a side we shoot 'em up.
As we track the animal, we hear the bell
Attached to our belts. The mouth is bleeding. Many sit
At table. The food has been prepared in magic ovens. April.
Forty miles from nowhere. The azaleas looking vaguely
Familiar. An elderly man kicking a rock.
By Michael FesslerQLRS Vol. 4 No. 2 Jan 2005