Novel To Be Read With Closed Eyes
Hamilton thrust his way through the hotel lobby.
Walker stood waiting with a sealed bag.
Thorpe rolled the martini olive
hard between her lip and gum.
Whittaker took a job as a lifeguard
in the small seaside town
in which his father killed himself.
Evans and Chase analyzed the news from Hong Kongó
might there be a pattern in the recurring zeroes
to match the roses
in the seamless wallpaper?
Johnson lay naked on a floral quilt
persuading me by hand signals
that the Age of Storms had just begun.
It is hard to decipher these middle chapters.
The aís look like bís,
the cís like bent bows,
and the paper feels cut-rate,
in Crisco or Crisco substitute.
I long for an ending
yet I must continue.
The lovers waved good-bye
at the top of the marble steps.
The war had never been declared.
It was almost twilight.
If there is a sequel
let the small birds speak it
who have no name in any language.
Letter From Pico
We are the first couple to waive eternal life.
We refused to submit to the Reconciler,
the program that will duplicate
the twined ladder of the genes.
Late spring and the winds are circular,
fences buckle inwards
in this suburb of Thera,
leaves rub together like dry hands.
We are the first to have chosen
to let time consume us.
At twilight we stroll in the park
by the slow dappled river
and the low windowless buildings
of the Reconcilerónaturally
we are forbidden to enter
or talk with the lovers
who congregate there.
We stare at each other
stunned, mouths dry with desire:
with luck we have fifteen years,
or perhaps five, a day,
a split second, a fraction...
But the immortals have copied themselves
into the great looping code
which continually adjusts
the criteria for redemption
according to fluctuations
in temperature, atmospheric pressure,
magnetism, and the laws
the numbers set up between them.
They have found a way to tap
the power we give to symbols,
while we hope for another night
in which to stumble,
to adore each other
then pick an argument
as if tugging at a thread
which leads to the soul.
It is dusk and the black limousines
pass constantly, full throttle,
engines almost silent.
Ever since the spindled leaves
frittered to a fine red dust,
death has become visible:
small animal like a lemur
or miniature lynx, shy,
rustling under the bed,
some nights absurdly affectionate.
We are afraid for it.
In secret we feed it crumbs
or let it lick the ration wrappers.
Sometimes an immortal will enter
to check the polarity
or the image resonance
and look straight at those dazzled eyes
and see nothing...
When the great armed statue
leaves at last, helmet
scraping the ceiling,
we realize how hard
our hearts were racing,
how alone we are in this city
where we wince each morning
at the compressors and searing light.
The immortals are welding a ship
that will take them to Andromeda
and beyond, to the safety
of a hole worn in the map itself.
Everything here is victory, victory,
and we can barely remember
how once when we were children
and could still imagine dying,
we walked hand in hand under trees
riddled with hearts and dates.