“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.

R. Charboneau


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.

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