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Variation of Themes By the Doors

ISSUE:  Winter 1996
The kind of gray I mean involved an envelope
of cloud cover: there were boyhood enthusiasms and blue
enthusiasms, and others; but mostly there was a war whose fire
burned like some Kentucky mining tragedy,
& found an afterlife in a deep seam in the earth & just
kept burning, and did not stop—and fueled by no wind

but a certain dark bitumen, burns still, beyond the wind’s
scope—and no sealed shaft, no crucible or envelope
of black-marbled descent will heal or justify
any of it. And thus the living face the blue
entente the living make, and shrug off tragedy.
On the turnpike, the tunes turned up, Light My Fire

arrives on its knuckles, an embarrassment—not my fire,
man, but hey, they cooked in their time—
and the wind
blows over Babylon, accommodates a late style of tragedy,
with its blur, its gray, grand envelopment,
unpinpointable agency, harum-scarum & boo-hoo blue,
nothing new, really, just a bit harder to tell what’s just,

just a bit harder to care what’s just
when you’re strange, young & wasted—the Fire
and Brimstone gods of Empire in blue
serge suits scoot beneath a make-shift wind,
copter in grim-jawed to survey some scene’s sorry, enveloping
aftermath, unforeseen for some gray reason, tragic,

yeah, yeah, we say in bars, well-knowing tragedy,
without form, without style, soon rots, becomes just
another version of the kind of gray I mean, an easy envelope,
my only friend, the end, etc. And the world lies down in fire,
and the world rises up again, my friend—look out the window—
the kids are coming, and they aren’t singing the blues.

The kids are coming—black-booted, blue-eyed,
baby-faced & beer-fisted, they wouldn’t know a tragedy
from a truck stop, though they’ve come tonight like the wind
between storms (take my yoke upon you) the way the just
have always come, in fear, in phoenix fire,
(learn of me) in search of something to envelop

—but I digress. The night’s blue lights envelop
the day’s below-the-fold tragedy, and the fire
the wind whips then sweeps away is final, and just.


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