from INSCRIPTIONS IN A BROKEN TIME


VII

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.



VIII

& 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   we
are caught: a new generation most torn   My stains are
such, and sinke so deep



X

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?



XII

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



XIII

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
again
. Outside an outsideness in which rain is something to
go through, another dimension beyond the glass.

         Jon Thompson 2005