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Fetishes of Passport

ISSUE:  Winter 1996

… and then woke—as I’d dwindled into it—with the pen
still in my hand.”Whatever getsya through the night … “
a sometime-cokehead friend would say, and shake
her snow-globe of a cranium, inside of which
her devils for the day were being erased by that increasing
pharmaceutical blizzard; ” … right?” she’d always add,
with an overkill wink of assumed complicity, and who
was I to say no?—just someone bumbling his way
through another poem, in this case one about the pharaohs
entombed with their royal fetishes of passport

through the night, the big night, the Ultimate Night,
and its simple threat of cessation. “A golden sceptre
of authority, in a dome-lid chest of ivory and ebony marquetry… .”
A living god-on-Earth or a Jew-dog slave: what are we,
really?—chips of particle board, of buttermilk biscuit,
traveling on the winds; and the space
between our own lives and the Infinite always
requires arcane negotiation. So, of the Marquise
de Saint Hérem, of the Court of Louis XIV:
“In thunderstorms she had a habit

Of going down on all fours under her bed, and
obliging her servants to pile on top, so that
the thunder might lose its effect before it reached her.”
Whatever. We burn—and we know it. We burn, we use it up,
meanwhile the night goes further than Jupiter—and we know it.
Whatever getsya. When I was six or seven, I couldn’t sleep
without clutching some talismanic object, a favorite book
or toy. I couldn’t make it through that distance,
to another day, myself—but this became my key, and with it
I entered. A drug across its threshold. Tut

like a thought borne into its synapse.


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