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On the Other Side of the Poem

ISSUE:  Spring 2000

The April rain has a smell
that lingers among grass and earth

and the diffusing gray of the city sky
makes the car lights more luminous

this might be a fantasy but it is rather the other side of the poem

on the other side of the poem
I see a form in the shadows:
legs, a breast, an obscured face

and some who no longer walk Earth

on the other side of the poem
I am writing the poem
in their immense silence

of grief without reference

each dawn on the other side of the poem
comets streak the sky

permission is asked to enter the abstractions
infecting speech

when we cannot find the counters
to clarify the emotion that engulfs us

I am often speaking of this
with someone in my head
who is never absent

on the other side of the poem


Now the stunning sun shines
on the other side of the poem

objects of an age: condom, cigarette, microchip

ten or a hundred or a thousand years ago
it was said saints walked among the people

on the other side of the poem
is the blank world past which there is nothing

and the other world
of endless possibility

which are the same worlds
in so far as memory and imagination converge in the actual

though sometimes
I forget who walks the rooms

if I am the son or the father
with a woman or with Mother

while the mausoleums of the clouds
disperse and gather
while the vaults of the oceans are rebuilt and leveled

the thunder of the armies and of the engines
that Alexander brought to Phoenicia to raze Tyre

we are born to the Earth
and made its rulers

until each is the alien
stranded without choice on the Earth

in whose gravity
the mourner kneels

on the other side of the poem


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