“Hillary Clinton wasn’t adept at using
a desktop for email, inquiry is told”—
she traveled too much; was busy; she’s very old.
It’s not so much the law that she’s abusing;
it’s our credulity. Look, choosing
to act the royalist is undersold
as a public good—at least it puts in bold
letters the truth America’s refusing
to admit: law, the rules, and decency
are for the little people. There is no aisle
dividing left from right; there is a gulf
between court-hassled masses and the truly free
princes of the world, a void of a million miles,
a dying echo: emailer, email thyself.
Priest, confessor, bureaucrat, alone
in a warehouse full of ordinary dreams,
aspirations and unexpurgated streams
of consciousness, all context, lacking tone
or affect, notices a bird has flown
in through a window, perched among the beams,
black-beaked and tiny, singing, it seems
semi-demiurgic, though a known
and common type, taxonomized and quite
familiar; still, indoors, becomes a kind
of miracle, unseen except by this
thin-wristed man beneath fluorescent light,
glorious excess born of a bored mind,
transubstantiated into bliss.
Patroclus, how could you? I’ll never forgive you
for dying. Don’t you remember how we tricked together,
up and down the Aegean? In every port
a dim and inexpensive bar where boys
bought drinks for any sailor dropping in
to warm his sandaled feet by the fire. They were
so beautiful Paris would have left Helen standing there
on that bare Spartan beach and sailed back off
to find them instead. Now you’re dead. Agamemnon
and our Greek soldiers are hurling their smooth bodies
against the Trojans’ spears for that woman. One
woman! The love between men and women is madness.
How can I go on fighting when you’ve left me to sleep
alone in this tent? Did they mean nothing to you,
the kisses I showered on your unblemished thighs?
You let war carry you down into that shaded kingdom
where the dead go on living without us and without me
now that the boatman’s accepted your rusty coin,
ferried you to the other side of the Lethe. Tomorrow
or very soon thereafter, if you press your ear
to the vaults of Hades’ underworldly colony,
you’ll hear my footsteps stop in the bright world
above. Probably the love between men and boys
is madness too. Forgive me, I’m going to turn
my mother’s mistake to the archers. I am no hero.
The wine-dark sea can flood and swallow up
every boy from Crete to the Dardanelles.
The rosy-fingered dawn can park itself
in Apollo’s garage. Tell Hades I’m not Theseus;
I won’t break his chains. If I can find you
in his dayless, nightless kingdom, I swear to stay
dead, to love death and let it keep me.
Does it imagine? Does it dream, or feel?
It dreamed it was a falcon; it did not
return to its perch. It snapped the tethering line.
Its once-bound eczemantic ankle healed.
Unhooded, it could not remember what
it had been when waking. Banking now, it climbs
the upward-drafting, dessicated air.
The falconer grows smaller, disappears.
The late sun is huge. The Hindu Kush
grow a long beard of shadow. A dark pair
of murine eyes gauges its passing. Here
and there small bands of village farmers push
their lowing beasts and plows without a word,
and do not fear, nor note, the spiraling bird.
I imagine that when Mary felt the first
small twinge of morning sickness, what she thought
was stomach flu or last night’s shrimp and not
that some bizarre vindictive god had cursed
her womb. Or all the Greeks those gods coerced
to bear their muscle-headed young! (There ought
to be a law, some liberal said.) We’ve got
ourselves an age of prophets. They’re the worst.
Injustice is the utter end of some
aggregated culmination of
an entrail-excised, data-modeled flock
of captive birds. The emperor is dumb
enough to buy it retail. The priests love
their mark-up. They bill each sparrow like a hawk.
It is, I think, the unborn sense that through
some demiurgic Will-to-Being all
our right intents can just meet up and do
an imitation of a shopping mall.
Is it convenient? Does it have enough
free parking for giant cars we bought to fill
with self-entitled kids and useless stuff
that we forget until the VISA bill
arrives? Well, we don’t mind; at least we get
the miles, our purchase transubstantiated—
unaffordable? Yes. And yet
we think it might be renegotiated,
our debts forgiven, household assets free
by act of god or luck at lottery.
As if the morning sun could give a shit.
Each subsequential generation feels
uniquely favored by Apollo’s wheels;
outside of any science, we permit
our poetry to make it animate;
a sky-borne notary, official seal,
approves America, or the New Deal,
or Obama’s elevation over Mitt.
But when we’re gone, its hydrogen will still
continue fusing, irrespective of
the politics of our successor race,
whatever species next decides to fill
its nearest star with qualities like love,
intentionality, goodwill, and grace.
We thought the world would end, and so we made
a quiche, potato salad, lemonade,
and went down to the Point to watch the earth
open like a Titan giving birth
to a god, the rivers torn toward empty space
as if the edge of a medieval map, grace-
enshrouded, monster-guarded, void and deep
as an old mind entering death from sleep.
Well, shortly after noon it clouded up.
There was a little snow. A single boat
moved slowly toward the West End Bridge. I drank
some decent wine out of a plastic cup.
A distant siren sang a quavering note.
Someone tossed a stone, which skipped, then sank.
Don Quixote accidentally killed
the only extant wild giant left
in the world; we called the proximate cause of death
acute misapprehension, then we chilled
some DNA for future generations
who with gods-offending hubris will
regrow the race for gate receipts, though still
remain afraid of their immense creations.
But the clonal giants will not breed,
and will not eat, nor lift the sagging sky,
nor much at all but mope and slowly die,
allergic to the atmosphere, badly in need
of supplementary dietary myth
and oceans of fresh water to take it with.