Distribution Automatique

Monday, August 16

when we are not on famiiar terms
the names seem distant
some of the greatest ones
even places I have been:
Rome, Banja Luka, Woodstock, San Luis Obispo
I have lost them or they have been taken away
in the scrap-heap of names that don't belong to me,
the belong to the map:
Jasper, Nurnberg, Aix-en-Provence

History is memory
The future recedes as we overtake it
Experience becomes more important
At the top of a hillside
Events collapse, terms are dissolved
And a ribbon of visions
Winds itself around the names,
ein, one, un.

What would return words to me,
what promise, what attitude, what endearment?
A platitude disguises intent,
A room reels out of place,
Music becomes static, utterances collide
With meaning, significance steps outside
Or breaks, like Humpty-Dumpty
On a schematic of differences.

This is silence: the years, bridges,
Notifications, regrets. Persistence
Oozes out of its hiding place, the chromatic
Measurement of the narrative is interrupted
By an explosion of pain so loud and specific
It is not necessary to refer to it again for decades.
A backdrop is finally removed, a leaf falls pathetically
From a tree already meager, replaced by a wall of blur,
Our smiles and laughter frozen audible

"A picture held us captive," we moved away,
A voice grew suddenly sombre, we inched closer to it.
The alphabet is first, then the near and far,
Then the infinitesimal spiralling inwards,
The limits of thought, the boundary of seeing.

notebook (untitled poem): 7/20/86