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Dear Michael (12)
I could say more about the victory
so much more, so very much more, until
saying the word sun is to speak of it
the shining victory is the face of day
that is the nature of semantics, I mean
that is the profit from excess, to see
one throw of dice co-author a page
you learned by heart, in a no-man's-land
the barbed-wire compound called a city
on the eve of combat. The scribe liked
icon dragons and golden leafy capitals.
He was the last scribe, the last page
was his to complete, on the final day
of the last city that was left to him.
You see the logic of his position?
Euclid's theses of imaginary surfaces
point without size, line and area
obedient to pure reason, and perfect cubes
reflecting peerless hyperbolas–
it pleased him to recite such marvels
writing the last law on the last quarto
the last pen moving in the last hand.
The final scribe in the last library
the last river roaring in the last forest
are equivalent, so that one can say that
the last cricket at the last harvest
describes the same pathos, the last
become the first, the first to be last
the only sun gleaming in the only weather
the only scribe to sit alone in a city
to write the only cursive, primordial
characters of the sole intelligence.
Others agree that it was always thus
the victor eliminates the victim
this is the world that thought built
thinking the last idea, the eager hand.
* * *
Dear Michael (13)
There is a way of thinking, of being
involved across the counter of a
Chinese shop, with the smell of cod fish
watering the eyes, and burlap sacks.
They belong to an exchange of senses
eye for touch, and ear for ear-of-corn
fractal thought as in a net of nouns
finding a near mis(take) chicken backs
cow tongue and a dish heaped with fudge–
recall a subject inside the shop
buying and looking at tins of sardines.
Involved with shillings when young.
Involved with value, or as some deduce
the cartouche with Hannibal's face
with elephant on the obverse, crossing
the steep ravines among the objects.
(Making do with is the point. Migrant
throngs pour through the difference.)
I could say more about the old mill
sluicing water and flagstones and moss
on three-sides of the courtyard wall.
I could bark an order to the housemaid:
tell the tinker to fetch in the pots.
And if the milk-man comes on his wagon
the broom-man on his bicycle, then fetch in
broom and milk and also give an ear to
the peanut-man's whistle, the post-man's
bell, the icicle-man's shout, the gas-
company man, the electric inspector
come to inspect the meter and the switch.
I could say more about the birds-of-paradise.
Look, here they bloom in a photo from 1912.
The distance you feel is the ground
of understanding grown thin and weathered
a ligature blown dry, and shedding cells.
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