(author's note, this is my first attempt at a longpoem. It was the basis for my later work Fear of Butterflies)
To have humanism we must be convinced of our humanity. As we move further into decadence this becomes more difficult. --Thomas Pynchon
Tradition is only the history of failure.
As things happen world is and we are not
the rapid color or unfinished stanza. We swing
around loose trees as they swing
in earth's cadences. Here it is, I said,
here are the dancers naked around the trees
and us. They could dance with pieces of world
and we could cross the living room.
In transparent time it snows everywhere, I said,
as it was snowing when we held
watch to our children's faces.
She reaches for an apple in winter.
She cannot be disturbed. I recall snow
and it returns for this occasion, but it
does not fall, it cannot
retrace the steps of our descent.
I think of you in her place;
I think of you in my place
with vines purely wrapped around our nervous
systems. She jumps away. She is
standing now smaller with the streetlight
and sleeps in counterpoint to our divinations.
Hanson the Clown is sleeping
in a world whose earth
is only a passing fancy. He stumbles
through our lives finding his heart
under the bleachers. He is spotlight
and is buried along with our illuminations.
We, you and I, see him not
as a tornshirt mannequin of our generation;
lime burning behind us, we are only to him
a regiment of tightrope walkers, changing little
while they move from ring to ring.
I hold my watch to a child's face.
I hold your eyesight with the watch between.
A wheel too familiar turns through
a blue line of sky. You are gone.
Now the world outside loads language on the wheel
and it turns to a poem no one had written.
Like an arrogant ballroom with music,
no one's poem is white to the air
as it is rewritten. There you are, I said,
and you stand behind the last hedge
to copy what everyone would copy.
She wakes and walks aloud
to the first window as light
disappears into light. She is trusting
the passionate fading of stars
and is alone as the sun is alone
with night behind. She is thinking
morning as it opens
under the street's blunted light.
She is seeing weather start around her.
We are moving from ring to ring.
he is moving through us, lives
within his red circles around his sight
of us. He sees through a series of wires
patches and randoms
of greasepaints we would imagine
and cannot. Hanson thinks
and those thoughts become the accusations
we could live with. He is thinking
as it rains through the parking lot.
I copy what you might copy.
You tell me of a quiet accident,
an accenting of words found at best
near the bookstore. I said
Why is there a foreign world. Why
is there earth and air, water and fire,
and a distinction of relationships?
Why do they sleep under automobiles? You said
Look at us in this angle of candlelight
through the large window.
Look at us looking at the others.
Arrogance of a neutral color
weather of various origin and she
stands on the sidewalk
to hold them together. She is imagining
us, thinking that we would think
not of her and her incarnations of light
and dark around our primal world.
She is dreaming and we dream for her
a world without cacophony
on an earth without geography. Here it is,
here is the setting for your current life.
Winter comes to Hanson to find him
with the family. He is drinking again,
they would say and not
like a family but like a group of
fish, swimming away from the dead
mackerel. He is drinking. The circus closed
down years ago and he
cannot dress for the occasion. He cannot
think and not think of their limitations
and his here, under the angels
of Weinachten. he is drinking.
Why are you afraid of the window
you said. Why are you not looking
at others whose lives are certainly
interesting. Look at the way she decorates
the tree, not like a tree, but a winter
away from her, a winter without evening
but night. Here it is, I said,
here we live and not live
in various living rooms. Here.
Tradition is only the history of failure
we'd say, and look to the outside.