Thursday, October 6, 2011


I have started writing a new longer poem, tentatively entitled Pandemonium--Pandaemonium being the capital of Hell in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Every man's home is his castle, the English proverb says. The castle, in this case, is based on the duplex carriage house I grew up in at 139 Bryant Street in North Tonawanda, New York. (For all you Google maps fanatics.)

Essentially, the story I plan to tell decribes the events of a single winter day and night in 1977, when I was 9: when my little world unaccountably fell apart, physically, spiritually and metaphorically. It centers around the evil question which arose from that calamity.

"How do I put it back together again?"


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

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 on. Two 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
All sides. The Devil leaps into a pot,
Tumbling across black ice, catching his

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

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

Lawn gouged with ugly shadows. And that light,
That speck of white, almost invisible.
The first of billions to arrive tonight.

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