“… as though all life were death.”
“If all you have is a hammer, everything
looks like a nail.” Say it: Implements speak.
Thus guns whisper to ruptured psyches: Touch
me all over. Feel how I quiver with the fire
damped in us both. Hold me, breathes the gun.
Trigger our one desire—and I will raise you up.
A street punk fucked my friend’s son up
for his wallet and a thrill. Pop-pop. Everything
bled out: past, future, Furies, gods. The gun
barked, and the stars forgot how to speak,
and silence poured down on my friend like fire
as he reached out for what he could not touch.
Have bloody entertainments murdered touch?
Facebook bullying? Torture by proxy? Look up:
the sky that seems so empty is, in fact, on fire
with being. We imagine emptiness in everything
to break the shackles of desire, the longing to speak,
to be. Emptiness absolves as it thunders from the gun.
Mailman, mailman, where’s my gun? My gun,
my flex-tip ammo, my 30-round mags. (A touch
of manic cunning’s trained him not to speak
such litanies out loud.) Who can say what’s up?
Even the scheming shooter can’t grasp everything
he aims to do; but he’ll at last feel real when he fires.
As a kid I watched Davy Crockett by the campfire:
coonskin cap, possum stew, his muzzle-load long gun
propped against a Hollywood pine. How everything
glowed! How fondly the frontier king would touch
Old Betsy, slowly swab her barrel, then snatch her up
to kill some red marauder with nary a line to speak.
They bleed in theaters, temples, schools; they speak
no more, love and dream no more. The same fire
kills them in cubicles, parking lots, alleys, up
in the boardroom, down in the lobby. Only the gun
doesn’t bleed, exists to penetrate what it won’t touch,
what the shooter won’t touch—which is everything.
Touch matters. Say it! Tears well up in everything.
Touch them. Stroke skin, not steel. In the mirror, touch
the Other’s face—a fire that will never speak from a gun.
ODE TO SOMETHING
“Zero does not exist.”
—Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Why is there something
rather than nothing?
never was, was ever
just a trick of math
like a ball-peen
a crack across
the smooth windshield
the mind’s eye see
But nothing is nothing
with its amber
lips, hips, hands,
pain and rage,
ten thousand joys
so many dread
the sheer abundance
its “flow of
forms and essences.
How can reason hope
to hang its dream
of knowing all
on such a flood?
its fantasy of mapping
every last height,
every depth, making
both beginning and end
that gives something
direction, an arc
the way deities
used to do.
Truth is, though, we
swim in mystery
reason can’t (can
no beyond, only
being and somethingness:
our lives like sparks
in a vast
on a breakneck river,
swirling in the world as is.