Sunday, July 28, 2013


Why the desire to caress the walls
Of stalls and tombstones
And signs sufficient to themselves
With--what the hell best to call it?

Think about it. The enormous effort,
Never accomplished by any genius
Anywhere for hundreds of millennia,
The collective accomplishment

Of an agreed-upon system of signs
For transcribing aspects of speech
Sound for sound, word for word,
So scratched bones, clay, stones,

Could be interpreted as sayable
Things someone once had said,
And then the rarity of it, the magic
Of mastering the difficult trick,

The art of carving time into items
That could convey the illusion
Of eluding time altogether to talk
To other generations entirely,

Who is the imp within the scribe,
The scribe within the ordinary
Child battered into years of practice
Who wants to gouge godawful rhymes

Of little or no charm or hopefulness
And even less originality as stains,
As furious, impotent, heartbreaking
Attempts meant at mockery,

Obscenity, identity, omnipotence
On the bare face of public space?
Why spit in the eye? Why rhyme?
Once in a while among the runes

There's something wise or kind,
A bit of unique autobiography,
A sobbing, scritched out cri-de-couer,
But usually, for centuries, mad stupidity--

Banging body jokes in broken lines,
Boasts about what would shame
The boaster, were he to be caught
Fulfilling his crooked rhymes,

An amazing expense of spirit
And culture hard come-by in a waste
Of outrageous effort, mostly tame,
To set down dreams in doggerel

That appears to want to defile
The emptiness of the world, to layer
The venting of anger, disrespecting
Even worthless mysteries of others,

As Viking crudities chiseled inside
The Neolithic tombs of Scotland,
As cowboys' bullet signatures
Pocking apart old Utah rock art--

I stopped in a forest in Canada
Where the waterfalls fell in a rage
That felt the mountains were prisons
To break, gravity a joy, trees a cage,

And I stepped in a tidy, whitewashed
Outhouse picturesque as a cottage
And found five lines, plus a drawing,
In bad ballpoint, describing--what?

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