Though from a distance it looked like a prison
bastioned our high school with its grim facade & archer slits
for windows, what vivid mountains rose just west!
Notwithstanding lack of ventilation; classrooms stacked like cells
around a courtyard webbed with refuse; despite R— C—
who killed his parents on that county road; despite the globes so
dumbly pencil-scarred, our state a silver bruise; though
none can forget without effort catcalls (fag) in stairwells (slut); though I
I was only an echo, a whirlwind, a little white heifer, a swan;
despite crepe-paper pageants; ditto homeroom, ditto stillborn pigs
that we & suburbs' cruelest sons in eighty-six did grimly
flense, dissect & trim with pins; despite black-sharpied Fuck on brick;
the queens & freaks, the jocks & born-agains & requisite
vaginas scribed in Chaucer's grimy crease; while bus fumes bloomed
inskies alight with borealis & a burning shuttle; notwithstanding
the fields covered overnight in houses, the redolent lunchroom,
the band spittoon's brass crash; despite (& now cue
a single soaring sour trombone's note!) all that I confess
I thought to exorcise, when I bear my daughter to the same
steel doors I will say memory is a dark maze always—
what else to do but call with hope or forged affection
on the softness of bleachers, the ether of ceilings;
what else but paint in spirit green the reneged scene?
The Association for the Prevention of Premature Burial Thanks You
for your liberal contribution. It's pretty much what we expect
from you fickle Victorians—
spawning Darwinists but leasing children, reading
Byron in a poor light. You had certain fears.
Devolution, for example, à la Mr Hyde & live internment.
Nursery rhymes or prayers would liken death
to sleep— Sleep, pussy, die, shut your little eye
—so truly was it that absurd? Given current theories
about bad air & miasma, to fear revival
in a airless space, medals piercing your pre-tubercular chest?
(If I should die before ) Poe's true fear: entombed before
the spark has fled, the living taken with the dead: o you
infamously syphilitic men awaiting suffocation,
souls lost 'mong heaps of bone, you soiled & poxed:
wasn't it the grave robber most likely to espy
the patented device "permitting the awakened to pull
a velvet cord which will activate a flag & bells" ?
Here I am, O resurrection man! A knock on the head
& you're lifeless again: Pussy eats dirt from a sky-blue plate;
earth wins, a broken spade. Prophetic, you gentlemen:
a chapter between opium abuse & rampant prostitution.
Whole Cities Burn for Your Account Number
Your urgent assistance needed with absolute trust.
I swear I never touched those horses of my father
nevertheless without trial I was accused of plots
when Caucasus burned & Ossa burned, and Pindus−
So I must solicit your strictest confidence in this
matter. I think you can be of Greatest Help to me!
I am PHAETHON, son of the god HELIOS
who deposited for me the sum of $17.5 million
before Xanthus knew a second burning, though
I beg you would keep that information private
as well as leaves burnt crisp & crops made tinder
(because of my country's unending political crises)
& that my sisters turned to poplars in their grief.
Madame, I respectfully offer you 12 percent despite
the unsteered chariot spokes & wheels thus shattered.
What grace I did escape with God's help & UN soldiers
(my hair still smoking with the fire of that forked bolt)
to Amsterdam where security companies are reliable
though all other peopled kingdoms into ashes turn.
Please confirm receipt & quote the reference number,
all burning, burning and the wreckage scattered far.