“Hell talkt my brain awake.”
Among secondhand furniture we take our seat,
legs crossed or oblique to the carpet,
limbs angular and bandied.
Here is an end of the house of Argives
with every medallion of whisky.
I am my father’s son, immaculate.
Me says we’re all quite mistaken,
says — lowball swinging in the seat
of two fingers — we all behave
according to almighty thought,
higher-order predicate calculus.
After the dose falls below the stucco
this is what is said, this is what is.
We and I trade a look lukewarm and coy.
There are no sets, only subsets.
It’s turtles all the way down.
So too are ionized limbs of gases, called
by the politic type “leaders,” not unlike
the neighborhoods of xylem and phloem,
the beadwork of pi, infinite arrangement
delivered so simple, as a letter is handed over,
in the utterance of the letter π,
silver lattice of conjunction and clause.
The mind works like this, me glass extends,
because the world is filamentous.
I glimpse our smirk, a curl extinguished.
Also, the whole universe, I mean all matter,
that fragrant webbing dark energy.
And, also, and single-celled mold
that looks like the Tokyo Railway.
And the snowflake, the snowflake too —
That’s been done to death, we laugh. Dull.
How? me asks.
Going on like that.
You’re not writing the gospel.
Me navigating humor like a swell.
I answer, What’s the order of order?
At the other end of the bluedark room
a plastic vodka bottle spills.
They lay down paper towels, and continue.
No reason a snowflake should have six
or eight sides, or why fish smell like fish.
Fish skin has trimethylamine oxide
that breaks down into ammonias
when it comes in contact with air.
Snowflakes are always six-sided.
When two hydrogen atoms bond
to oxygen, they’re always 104.5 degrees
of each other. The molecules tessellate
hexagonally when they freeze.
Is that right? We pull our knees
into our chest. Look it up.
We scrutinize with glowing
white faces against our noses.
Is it order all the way down?
I say I need another drink.
You see his glass is empty.
What do you expect to happen?
Streets like a tedious argument
lead you to that question.
The tongue scornfully clicks.
Methinks he’s misheard. What’s that?
Tsk tsk. You’re not supposed to ask.
Air of the kitchen tastes of anisette
and immolated weed.
I have to get past this kind of thinking.
Now I needs to use the bathroom!
Cupping a pond of faucet water,
a familiar sermon submerges
like the weak embering of a coal,
distant and tenderly, coldly rational,
either argument so fluid, borderless,
all river and no stone.
Beard hangs wetly to a point.
There is only coincidence and silence.
the mind can only make meaning,
and cannot make it true.
Something like this turned Dad to Christ —
yes I can drink but he was always drinking —
Told I one night he’d finished off a fifth
and like a starfish on the apartment floor
his stomach calcified, skin so porous.
Then there was only one way of seeing,
nothing Hamlet about it,
all the thinking that was objectless
given form, ecclesial and full of regret.
Did he suffer, like I, from such imagination?
Some endless curve’s horizon
escaping my thoughts, the end of knowing.
The room has lost its balance,
the smell of soap and damp towels —
everything gives the impression of having lost its center.
Of course it makes sense his god would suggest
“What is the end of death?”
I have a soul weak as water, weak
as papery lotus leaves on water.
Pressing my face in the hand towel
there’s a sense all objects have this too,
the end of ignorance.
Now saddling the couch and dipping
into the frayed cushions, we cannot help
but regard, But nobody thinks like that.
Ideas unnerving as a hospital visit.
But nobody thinks like that
is not an argument.
Argumentum ad populum.
We angle back like a swan whose
featherless shoulder blades protrude
through a white and whaletoothed tank.
Me props an elbow on the coffee table,
amulet of gold drink before his chest.
Descend in this chariot without fear
being beyond synthesis, being a charioteer.
All around you that luminance bends, converges.
Hand me the glowing patera, O love.
Send down the gods, sing all the dirges.
This is another revision I recently did that showed a lot of improvements over the original, which you can read here. It helped that I was reading John Berryman, whose style this draft is certainly indebted to.