we have ways of making you talk,
and I am tired of your illustrious distractions,
the sunlight, the hortatory sex, the Marcel Proust
and all those pulsing vegetables
you've hidden in the garden, and when I hear a certain piece of music,
the kind invented by your better children
to replace the load-bearing voices
we misplaced so long ago—that professional and winged chorus
once strong, now trembling and withdrawn
to a drizzling echo in barrels of sludge
buried behind the supermarket,
the angelic orders individually wrapped
in garbage bags and vibrating out of whack
in watery ditches on the sides of highways—
your sad and higher class of road-kill—
and when I hear that certain piece of music
built to replace them, and, for an instant,
can hear fingers brushing across strings,
slender fingers, or hear that sharp,
vulnerable intake of breath before singing,
the breath which gathers up the shapeless air
and drags it down the throat and back,
different now, beautiful, a clean sound
like a clear piece of tile which perfectly fits
the space the lungs pulled it from,
then fades back into nothing, and the same air
can be breathed over and over
and sung again, different voices or the same,
your dirty wedding song or hateful lullaby,
and when I hear this certain piece of music,
what is the stroke of faltering light
that flashes across the hearer's closing eye?
There's a word for it, just as there's a word
for this tree I crouch behind, waiting
for someone to pass, the white bark like cigarette-paper
and these pallid roots, whose each subtle declension I am studying.
I'm afraid it is you, hiding or seeking,
pulsing in the down-beats, riding with us
through the rests, glowing white
like phosphorescent algae on the singer's tongue,
you gathering up a responsible speed in the human lung
and coming out a scream which combs the moon,
like a knot of hair, bleeding from the trees.
Lastly, I thank you for this morning's latest headache,
which is a good one, as you know,
a piece of work you must be proud of,
this ugly siren toward which all cares
are drawn and annihilated, as once a sudden violin
I heard coming from a basement radio
a million years ago, stood up through the coda
then engulfed it, like a golem waking in a forest
to breakfast on the throbbing trees.
Send me more cudgelings, more suppurations,
the very awful kind that tamed your seething martyrs
into glory, the masterful flourishes
and gristled fret-works which caused the chosen few
to take it, and when they took it, like it.
But this is your kind of speech, now, isn't it,
you with the spirits in moraine about your boat-like feet?
I'm tired of the several wonders, the bland musics,
the universal weeping, the human songs
made of lost words that twitch and ache like phantom limbs.
You should have left me to my own devices,
which are legendary, spider-like, and fashioned
from rusted fence-wire, then thrown mine body unto kites.
How do you it? How should we resist?
Let me never plead to imp my tongue
to the likes of yours, which speaks planets into orbit,
for have I not been afflicted with the Earth, barely spinning as it is?
And won't your words come limping back
from the former void to help us fall apart,
in the arranged directions, piece by piece,
like any good orchestra, some words now,
please, even with their several meanings spattered
by the gone machinery of others I have lost?