from INSCRIPTIONS IN A BROKEN
By the simple plea drawn the pieta of our errors martyrs
memory. In the painting there's a river of whiteness
with embankments red & black & smudges of cobalt
blue -- faint hope -- daubed in as jetties & here and there a
touch of unrepentant purple Why do the Heathen rage? &
folk /A vain thing mediate? But in their ignorance they
rage & mourn and mistake the bent & make out of sorrow
shrill keenings waves of wailing to hurl against the walls
of the City, 'its thickness rendered the world mute.'
Silently, the diorama repeats the scene as tired prophecy.
& acres of light in a dream of air and sky.
Between an upthrustness of glass & steel, the billowing
down is annuciation. Past the accident of an updraft, they
flutter across the river, each piece the trace of a pattern lost
each piece the trace of a pattern made My Mannah
breedeth Worms: Thoughts fly blow'd are The paper falls
down upon the streets with the silence of a softly-muting snow
'the angel would like to stay, awaken the dead and make
whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in
from Paradise' Paradise paradise paradise caught
are caught: a new generation most torn My stains are
such, and sinke so deep
How will it end? Secrets dark & dim state-crafted to be
in a state beyond craft or ken. They cry out in a darkness of
occlusion & velvety forgetfulness from papers lost in a
world without din. They list in a darkness of light,
sight-suffering, unable to see the blinkered sun.
Sovereign without sovereignty, ink'd in black, the
signatures fade over findings that will not be found. Bent
back, the bound are made one with the word the sentence
incised upon the skin or extracted in ragged iambs. My
Lord is there no help for this with thee? Thou art distant &
so locked in decree my hand trembleth at the judgment to
come Guilty my Lord, What can I more declare?
Mistook it for the call but that was premature.
Day vision worse than night vision, fervid & small.
To wake into a day strained untrained & dark but brutal
in its means & ends, is common fate, 'for Beauty's
nothing but the beginning of Terror' and never undone.
Archives whisper fables of freedom, fervent-faint.
Under a rose streaked sky, rivers of light flow, are made to
flow, toward a strict numbering of days. Straight lines,
funereal, processional, perform the daily drama of parts.
Higher than aquaducts, highways swoop & descend
Wonder, my Soule, at this great Wonder bright height
bringing a lowering, a return to the surveyor's rule,
harsh light, the very act of being something to defend
A going of days & days & nothing unfamiliar we have
encircled ourselves & cannot get back. Highways pitch-black
or concrete white, rain-stained, rise & fall to reach the same
conclusion. Speed outruns landscape, a glassed-in image &
reflection. Endless repetition of signs--the sadness of
wilderness without wildness. Though we recite the land as
pastoral idyll, it is a mocking all the way down. From the
beginning has it been so: the foot first stepping into
wilderness has been a going without seeing. Sins that shall
be inscribed upon the forehead of every nation. Ours: the
manumission of desire. Yet pardon, Lord, give me this word
Outside an outsideness in which rain is something to
go through, another dimension beyond the glass.
© Jon Thompson