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P o e m s /

M a t u k though this is what might help us all escape. The proper application of irony is a bridge too far. And take that Chicago novelist who wants to know where we are from, because he thinks we are like him: we are not like either one of them. Not like the security guard who hates us, in all our mystery. Is our mystery, to the novelist, our wonder? Our affinity with these jars from Cathay? And is he prepared to like us if we answer his question and conform to his ideal – that is, himself? We’ll never know. We do not choose to be pinned like butterflies to boards. Do they want to know where we’re from in order to confirm our strangeness, our distant rumble of a bottled atmosphere, our state in nature, our enigma, a multivalent affect, a jewelry box crammed with costume brooches of flowers, poodles, and Easter baskets? In order to give themselves the discount of a given quantity in a thundering, dangerous location? They’re doomed to wander from vestibule to atrium wondering.


Tonight, they’re fashioning currency with filigree of rococo swans in green and plum, Polynesian plumage, carnelian, and hibiscus. Night and labour and limitless mimesis. Its license senses weakness. It will be used to kill. What was once public is now private; outside a hedged garden unseen under hidden lock and key, a dozen TVs flicker at the commons while winter continues like a mid-century miniseries. Whatever the ghostly last episode, the production affects the lives of millions, but never us, always them in their impressive bravery, their children sleeping by the squawk of the night radio, the bar crowd downstairs. As if everything was easily forgettable, coats are hung up for the night without consequence, a bourgeoisie of calling in dead. An army and bureaucracy for others, not us. The bank tower’s blank mirrors stare at the tea-rose dusk, romance unending worth. A revered river of light. There is no mandate for a god who stands outside the trade in illusion. Cars continue on that ring road outside town, an unceasing ocean, heard but not seen. Never seen.

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