The Long Now
Dissolution deadens the senses
to that impetus, that twinge
in the gut which gives us legs
then takes our legs from under us.
Context is the first to go, then
logic becomes a weapon
and illogic a shield
upon which, maybe, is engraved
one side of the story.
In 10,000 years, a clock still runs.
Will it mean the same thing then?
When I am dead but for this
remainder, this letter to whomever
persists in whatever now might be.
I too live within a question
the pale blue crook of the sky.
Why do the voices ugly the room
when its already emptied
but not yet cleansed? It is felt.
The accent elongates a broken word
it leaves the trapezoid opening
it is dissonant, it defamiliarizes.
Everything, in its time, goes out
of fashion, falters, simply fails.
Psychology only describes
the conditions, is conditional
if you read it or read it this way.
Stay open to adventure, the book
says, so I escape into it and away
from other papers; they take half.
Half a life, a gimbal’s yaw, a chime
for every infraction. I’m just a set
of eyes, like you. I can see the sun
comprehend the transference
of its energy; happiness is photo-
voltaic too. You’ve got to warm it
up like these legs before the century.
Give it fire, give it light, give it time
to grow out of its undoing.
O traveler, fellow brokenhearted
archetype, everything about the world
frays into tassels we then re-thread.
We are reminded about opposites
being lashed together, we are told
the rope is a trick. Draped across
two pair of wrists, spun around fingers
as gold, its bright lure is a yoke.
The air, too thin for even a bird aloft
crushes us, its elements’ tonnage
phosphorescent pattern repeated.
I am repeating my psychic wounds.
The millennium gear hasn’t moved.
From this perspective I am eternal
or I don’t even factor into the bite
of tooth in cog. What anger in your eyes
how green your leaves, gray the sky
this vermilion jacket day.
I am sorry and I am half a problem
not the entirety of what fractures
but where the overpass simply ends.
This machine, it’s the end of the line
the joy he bound, the winged life unwound.
In a wavelength of time, the slopes
and arcs perpetuate small deaths
in all of us, then some resurrection
like sleep and Psyche, were she caught.
Like her, we are infected with love
we are tricked, are green, are left
or leave, we fall upon a corpus of arrows.
Rend the heart until I am nothing
I’ve given you all and less.
Who cast a stone carved this face into me.
Its lines unwill a smile, a simile dis-
like the object’s dull impact
as if all birds fell from the sky at once.
The patter of their sylphlike bodies
come rain or tears or the sound of rage
suppressed, a thousand drums.
The ticker on the toaster oven may
be a more sinister clock than this.
In time, every man unbuilds
the armature which supports him.
This is my terror, a rhythm collapsed
upon itself, control released ecstatic
anger, the unknown future’s crash.
I know the appointed end the earth
unfolds, the leaves, the wind, the clear
shape of faith and how it fails us all.
What laughing chains I can not loose.
My fury’s dark animal would break
free but fury and darkness restrain it.
It cannot be acted out, I act from it.
I rest and look at this god-damned clock
its planetary gears unwind each day’s
singular musicality in deafness.
I look at all our assets’ worth
our time in context, whatever
events surround it, sustained indefinitely.
In the second scene the heroine dies
in the mind of her lover, leaves a wake
makes waves for each physical shore.
Even each stone turned makes song
against its neighbors, but no one
listens to reasonable arguments, to logic.
A voice screams through its accent
it is not Boston Brahmin or La Belle Epóque.
It is not contained in a puzzle-box.
Its bluster dis-serves the outcome
desired, the tone denies itself service.
One can’t always get what she wants.
I take this as a gift, as wakefulness
within a culture’s long slumber
a lucid desire for things held in dreams.
As if a concept were a stone, could be
held, could be thrown, could liquefy
every glass castle’s menagerie.
Here is a bridge and a school and a spiral
to bring us closer to the god of our undoing
also the god of joy.
James Meetze is the author of Dayglo, which was selected by Terrance Hayes for the 2010 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, and I Have Designed This for You, and editor, with Simon Pettet, of Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems by James Schuyler. He is poetry editor of Manor House Quarterlyand lives in San Diego, where he is a professor of English at Ashford University.