Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Dark Ages

I like men best once ruined
It's their little vanities move me most
Like the unquenchable optimism of bill collectors
Though as remnant or reason I wonder
For their position or situation
Of that which advanced them or that which held them back
At the approach to that shadowline where hope becomes folly,
                            and vice versa
Where the future turns to history, possibility to memory,
       choices to regrets, avenues to dead ends
An explanation for where they are, or
A float that holds them up in deepening water
Did he think too much of himself
Once upon a time in his day
Or is this all that remains of things taken from him, or
      lost along the way
As in a box in storage somewhere there exists the fragment
      of an abandoned manuscript
Some longhand pages in a blue spiral notebook the same
      this one
That perhaps might even withstand contemporary scrutiny
At least not be so embarrassing as memory would make them
And in a wallet an overhandled photograph
And in a bureau drawer a religious medallion and some letters
    behind the undershirts
And memories of hockey games kept even closer

"I don't care, that Dan Burke has to be the ugliest guy I've ever seen"
Says my friend to me of some vice-president
Whose existence oppresses us with the unworthiness of
      heights never attained
He speaks without irony or blindness
His shirtsleeves torn from cuff to collar, nearly
And fastened together with paperclips
His face pocked and wenned (where I have scars)
Wild hairs sprouting from the bridge of his nose
His fly even unzipped, often, and I am dressed for yardwork
Some others, too, have noticed the way he is starting to smell,
      and even commented on it
Which makes me all that much more determined to love him
We know that modernity always hurtles toward the primitive
That society is a spectacle, and that we like to watch
Baudrillard's URL, the value of a bhat, Dylan's lyrics, and
      the prospect of robot armageddon, increasingly imminent
And that our vehicles are too battered for the information superhighway
Where the crashes will be that much more spectacular, this time
Which allows us the latitude of fools in the time of the Black Death
The contempt of wolves for dogs, and of maroons for slaves
The singlemindedness of gargoyles

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