83: coma, canto 28

canto 28

we are geographic beings,
I told Henry and Imelda,
as I pressed keys
for this or that stock,
read for this or that news
on this or that market,
the red lines and the blue lines
and the green lines and the orange lines
going up and going down and across
and the columns of numbers
and the bundles of paragraphs
segmented in numeric regions
illuminated, numerological, geographic.

with a left and a right,
an up and down,
a distance to and between,
an uprightness, a yaw on axis,
with grievances rising
to countable dimension: big,
small, imagined as movements
to apex or nadir, yes?

it means nothing, Henry said,
this imagined shape.
Sometimes, I said, ignoring, I forget
my left or right hand and pause,
briefly endeavoring if that handle
belongs in the right or left,
and then the memory
returns and I remember,
but in this strange
case what does it mean to know
right, to know left,
to know up,
to know down,
red and green,
and with what foot
I should begin
on that initiation
into the day?
Which way in traffic
to confirm for sidecomings,
and which way really is China,
as no matter left or right
from here and now,
I will eventually land there?

it doesn’t really matter, Imelda said,
who, I knew, was thinking of white
houses, and Henry, who, I knew,
thought of Lucy and unthinkables,
unutterables, sinscapes,
you, Henry, with your pleasantries
and excuses, Henry of the Red
Dots transfiguring,
who believe
the millions dying,
the millions unemployed,
the hundred storms coming,
the hundred floods
are of some god’s long division,
some god’s algebra,
some god’s abacus clicking,
your god at his computer
zamining the green lines and the blue lines,
who can believe whatever you wish
without physical consequence,
zamining his impossible infographs,
and is he right or left handed, which would matter
to everything with hands groping,
who believe in the shaping of nothing
without consequence?

east and west, I said, on circles
is a contrivance gleaned from axis
and, yes, even angle,
and beautiful words such as bearing,
orientation, and navigation,
what direction, I asked
these two is the Green Dragon
or the Yellow Dragon or the
Bird Vemillion, and which, I asked,
is your season to correspond with up,
down, assbackwardness,
and bullshits?

and the dullards at their pulpits
who have little better than a child’s picture
drawn with crayon or purple-tasting pens
of causings, who think an eclipse
or a groundhog
will bring us fortune or doom?

even now, I said, in this Twenty First Century
you bring your ghosts to bed,
imaging an afterlife stolen from your parents
and their preacher, who thieved
it from their own memories of the wayback
and Fathers of the Church or buried monks
when already fossils
had formed to their greatest hardness and detail
in their anteceding eons unknown,
but unlike fossils
your ghosts, your memories,
your elegant dismineralized suppositions,
your ready excuses,
puddle safe and unassailable
on the streets you walk.

but I refrained from this,
from unrolling my tongue
like a tapemeasure
where the notes of these words
stood at the edge, little sharp bits
of crockery I’d gnashed
for spitting, looked out,
retreated, scrambling back
into the blackness
behind my tonsil scars
not because they feared cutting
Henry’s skin, Imelda’s skin,
no, rather,
my aim was for Henry,
Imelda to keep their images,
at least for now on our momentary arc,
as Lucy with her butter hands
stirred the soup in the kitchen,
humming in her low tones,
safe momentarily,
my father, my mother safe
as safety’s best terminal companion
is an adverb.

I’m just saying we’re geographies,
I said, and sometimes we forget
which way is up and which of our hands
is best suited for spoons.

and I’m saying, no matter,
hell’s waiting for you, Henry said.
I wish I could do something
about that but no matter
your reasoning
hell is
–and he pointed to the floor.

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