Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Event Horizon

The long piece I mentioned in my last blog post seems to be taking a sort of shape. Instead of long columns of continuous terza rima, I seem to be settling into 30 line snapshots of the story as it develops. Maybe, later on, I will add some connective tissue to these bare bones, but I will have to see how things develop. In the meantime, my little skeleton will have to shamble along as best he can.

As things stand now, I have composed two poems. The first lays out something of the structure of the entire piece. I call it The Argument. It is modeled after Milton's summaries of what to expect in each book of Paradise Lost. It is narrated from an impersonal point of view.

The second poem, Pandemonium, continues the story from my own perspective, as an adult and as a boy, looking inward at a picture of my home from the perspective of a man and outward, at the family lawn, from the perspective of a child. Where I am looking out at the world as a child, I am seeing the landscape through a large cherry lozenge I once stuck to my window, to alert firemen (should the house catch fire) that a child might be in that room. Part of some civic safety campaign, distributed by the local Fire Department to elementary schools, I expect.

I am not sure what the title of the entire book will be. Something should occur to me before I am finished.

Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.

Paradise Lost, Book 1, 252-255

The Argument

Fix the architecture in your mind.
A house divided by a common wall.
A duplex structure. Old. Solid. No sign

Of instability. The only fall
On our horizon is a flake of snow—
The vanguard of a Heavenly host still

Hovering high in the clouds—an angel slow-
Ly fluttering his wings as he descends
Upon the asphalt shingles down below,

Landing gently. There. Lucifer sends
A shiver through the house. No plaster cracks,
Perhaps, no timbers bend. Let’s not pretend.

But something registers. A thermostat
Ticks over. Misty windows smile—serene,
Secure. Smug. An icy talon taps

Against these giant cataracts—seeing
How impregnable storm glass really is.
“You must be joking, folks.” The tv screen

Replies, “I love Lucy.” Laughter splits
Both sides. The Devil leaps into a pot,
Skating across black ice, catching his

Nails on a geranium too stiff to rot,
Or run, do anything except berate
The universe with palsied petals. Not

A sympathetic sky. Dispassionate.
Slate. Midnight. But softer than the bright
Steel breeze leaving the immaculate

Lawn gouged with long shadows. And that light,
That speck of white, almost invisible.
The little demon to arrive tonight.


The one photo of the place I possess
I stole from Google maps. A blurry shot.
Despite new paint and siding, this address

Sucks all I am into a tiny dot—
All light, all matter—as gravity warps
Stars into singularities. I ought

To find myself in there, behind closed doors,
Drinking a jar of pickle juice. Nope.
I could be out walking the dog, of course,

Peaches, pausing while she poops. I hope
That I’m not falling down the cellar stairs,
Killing Kyle, or cutting my own throat

In one of those ridiculous nightmares
I never have. I never dream. Really,
I never sleep. I’m too busy upstairs.

I will be busy for eternity,
Peeling the wax paper backing from
A red decal—a circle—carefully

Applying it to my window. How come?
To tempt the firemen. It screams, “A boy
Might still be up there—burning in his room!”

That’s me. Young Lucifer. When I deploy
That red transparency inside my head,
Flames engulf the world. “You must enjoy

Destroying things.” That’s what my father said,
Receiving a wrecked radio. I dis-
Agree. I can make fists. I make my bed.

I manufacture ice. And look at this
Crayon monstrosity: a pink igloo.
A home. I can build homes where none exist.

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