Or a great while gone the world was over and done.
What you have to keep down in the hold of that thought
Are the differences, facing away from the sun,
In infinitely divisible: only one.
Everything you are is something that you were taught
Had to be, couldn't possibly be as it ought.
The atoms, sands, gems on the miraculous shore
Shining with story's cruel weapons, cunningly wrought,
Are trivial, repetitive, and gods' whole plot.
It's all transmutable, incorruptible ore,
This shifting, reducing, incompletely sieved store
Of entropy's golden granary, forever
Finer equilibria, ever less is more
Or less ever distant from the shadowless door.
You would like, I know, plainer language, but never
Was the jargon of your slang-slung present ever
Anything any tongue could spit clear of the past
Entanglements descended from other clever
Entanglements descended from myths, whatever
Brains have to do to a brain to make the mind last.
Cursing's archaic as euphemistic hold fasts.
It's only to embellish my language, said John.
Generations of thieves stealing from thieves, outclassed
By the weird endurance of what's stolen: contrast.
A great while ago the world was already gone,
Our best ideas stolen by ancestors. Gods yawned
And stretched their frames on Newton's particles of light,
Then slept in tents and dreamed of rosy-fingered dawn,
Battles prophesied, monsters slain by monstrous brawn.
There was not is not will not ever be delight.
Kaikias, nor'easter, attracts the clouds tonight.
A monkey, all it does is beshit and ruin.
Life is a pet to give black-holed galaxies fright,
A peculiar appurtenance for what's not right.
That was random, said the student, long gone, who, in
An effort to shame the professor and loosen
The ligatures binding her, attempted escape
Via the time-honored madness of those truant
Souls who long to be departed, flown, winds' true win.
She didn't succeed. It's never successful. Rape
Is the strategm, inherited from the Cape
Of Good Hope, around which ancestors assembled,
Hungry, wherever were the most convenient caves
And spoke, as speak we all yet must. Gods have a shape
That we gave them as we gave them, as we trembled
With fearful, terrible dreams that we resembled
The features of the divine, nothing we hated
More, everything we knew we had to let crumble
With age and time and neglect, the final temples.
A great while ago, all the world's hopes conflated.
The pointless poet, soul of nothing, orated
Before an angry crowd of gentlemen. The dark
Rain, sweet as it was in evening air, abated.
Time for gods to own up to what's been created.
Here is what Atra-hasis took on board his ark:
Every last word that could be encoded as marks,
So that the myth of life--maintenance, waste, and lies--
Could be preserved to reinfect the world. A lark,
Not a raven, not a dove, came back with the spark
Of green in beak, song in throat, of the world outside
The little madness that is how the truth survives.
A great while ago, the world converged on the back
Of a hapless thing, rudely great and darkly wise.
Black, torqued lines, concentrating: what is is what tries.
Somewhere where you won't exist, you're under attack.
What was all of your life, bone, for others's a snack.
You would gather your skirts and squat down in the gloom,
But you've been gone so long now, the world's bric-a-brac
Barely ashes your detritus. What's left is lack,
And you've not been invited to comment. Your womb
Was between your ears and bore gods and monsters, doom
In every narrative that didn't pretend loss
Was a kind of pause or exchange rate. The warped loom
Of ideas on which you racked worlds has no more room.
What thou lovest well sinks with the rest of the dross.
Nothing will not be reft from thee. That is the cost
Of over-stuffing memory in the first place,
Encoded, packed small, notes on foxgloved pages lost
In the fire that comes from compression, from dried moss
Like those delicate examples you used to space
Out as decorations to dress up the disgrace
Of a gone world going down long unwinding roads
On the dashboard of your truth, your engine of grace
Chugging along, for now, fed, oiled, and then replaced.
The rule of do what you will you'll never follow
No matter how many overruled failures goad
A departure from what will happen every time.
After the night's mare, the moon in the morning showed
Silver universes of reflection that glowed.
How comes the devil then to be so loath to climb
Down the ladders of cavern chimneys cloaked in grime?
Funny old thing, the pattern of surprise, the joy
Of an ever renewable innocence, time,
The advanced leglessness coiled in the common slime.
It takes narrative expenditure, this quick toy,
This arrival at a mingled shape, an alloy
Like the riddle poems Gargantua could compose
And recite or pretend to ignore. Topless Troy
Was a cute companion of any stable boy.
Slowly, slowly all hidden things will be exposed,
Emerge into the light and appear to be close,
Bright, here, and now before disappearing for good.
How to tell the hidden from the lost? No one knows,
Despite unscrolling caricatures that propose
Spackling black gaps with bland pretend facts. No one could.
Small conceals and terrifies smaller. The dark wood
In which monsters content themselves with hunting dreams
Is itself a tattered, moth-eaten rug that should
Slip off the stones and sink into the sea and would
Do so. Nothing's speechless. Everything's as it seems.
Our degringoladia in excelcis gleams
From the illuminated manuscripts that drain
Out of every eclipse's reflections on beams
From every simultaneous gloaming, the streams
Of every coronal dawn and sunset all at once, the world, ringed brain,
Pando, the colony organism, the rain
Feeding and darkening the over-entangled
Plot of dirt from which the over-determined pain
Of being a thing feeding on its own refrain,
Which is, I am that I am, however mangled
I might seem, however bedraggled, dark-spangled,
Innumerable legion of disparate things,
However my offshoots can't count, my fire-fangled
Autumn glories dangle down. The truth has strangled
Every more honest lie. Summer's what autumn brings.
The moon and the sun hang from invisible strings
That wrap around their insidious me and you.
Every divinity's a pendulum that swings
In the grooves between human shoulders, human wings.
The combatants walked barefoot in the morning dew,
Holding hands and keeping absurdity in view.
You would never conceive the morning dew was not
Left behind by the violence of being true
To the violent notion that some things are true.
There was a possibility languages caught
That nothing could have grasped, but it's left us distraught.
We talk and talk and gesture and scribble and shun
The thin but unwavering evidence we've bought
A devil's bargain from every demon we've sought.
We crumble, having lost the race we'd thought we'd won,
An island of toppled statues, silent and stunned,
Faint, arrogant smiles still luscious under the sun.
A great while ago our world was over and done.
A great while ago, the world had not yet begun.