Saturday, July 2, 2016

Aubade: Annus Mirabilis

For I have chosen the most heroic
Subject which any poet could desire,
How the hopeless discipline of stoics
Consumes itself in this prodigious fire

That divides and subdivides and destroys
Every shimmering dream of dawn it makes.
What? You don't like the old prosodic toys?
You think these cracked originals are fakes?

My foolishness or yours doesn't matter.
Time will generate more of it, daily,
Momentarily, nor worse nor better.
And every year some idiot gaily

Names the beginning of the end, the end
Of the beginning, the miracle year
When heaven failed to completely descend
To destroy us or the horrible year

Worse than all the golden times before us,
The best of times, the hearse of time, the true
Reckoning, true revolution for us
To celebrate, giving good Death its due.

We're always so goddamned full of ourselves
That the only heroic position
Left that I can think of is to scour self
From the shelves, elevate superstition

Into a tottering superstructure
Of phrases mocking everything phrases
Were coined to command. You cannot lecture
Words for failing to follow your phases

Of triumph, exhortation, and despair
As if a terminus or origin
Of anything were possible. You care
Too much for meaningful punctuation

In the context of this Great Fire which can
Neither end nor end anything. Full stop.
And then you concede you've begun again,
Each end of history another crop

Of beginnings you forgot, another
Banquet of lies that this time it's for real,
That this time, this time we mustn't bother
With pretending it's one more unreal,

Pretended marker just like all the rest,
All our borders, all our pronouns, our facts.
This time is different. This time was blessed.
No it isn't, wasn't. The sky grows black

Or lightens up and, yes, each little change
Is not the same as each other minor
Transformation, but none of them proclaim,
As we like to claim, anything major.

After Dryden's fire and navies, Defoe's
Storm, Mather's witches and King Phillip's War,
On and on the omens and portents go,
Terrors, awakenings, signs, more and more.

When this I was a boy the planets
Were predicted to align, the righteous
To ascend. I preached it like I meant it,
But all my raptures couldn't fight just

One unaccountably returning dawn,
Days on days, with or without me the same.
There was a year the impossible Wall
Got picked to the ground, the boxer became

The elder statesman, thronged and walking free,
Proving almost anything possible,
A rare happy ending for history.
A miracle is always plausible

For a species thrilled by catastrophe.
Every waking, open your eyes and say,
"As I am, this is not the last of me.
As I was not, I have vanished away."

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