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Amphitheaters

Awakened

              (seven American photographers plod across

                                                   the Cambodian border 1971,

pink fumes distending auditorium doors as G. C. Scott recites
   the death hymn of the polis,


--xeroxed FBI files shredded
                     to plump rice on sun-white sheets of aluminum)


no snow survives where vicious drunks repose beneath


                      the beautiful light & architects
                      whisper in brass hives, hunting overturned
                        Doric palisades
                      on a real precipice of centuries--

offering                                                 intelligence up--

          stumbling in darkness--           corridors like water or
                                                                      winter,


                            


untranslated before your God, jubilate jubilate jubilate irae--
awakened from a sleep--
flung to useless moonlight in your unequaled
                                                 lassitude, disjoined, seared--
chewing cigarettes like dandelion stems--
                    your unreadable editions of granular silica
     eroded in the homicidal brilliance of symmetries--scent of
               metal, disintegrator--
     apparition of Luxor’s summer palm leaves
& the breeze-blown hammocks of Athens--

                   clumsy human arms row
          the black waters of Hades--frightened swans, devastated
                   sunset floors
                                     brought to the insect shores of
                            deserts, scorches, aroused--
awakened from a desperate sleep--
pondering & babbling of cold meat & Chinese puzzles & Mo-
          roccan landscapes--

             snoring between ancient blurred
                   wheels
of two enormous suns seeping into blue
like bright yellow pastels or smeared chalk--
          cocaine & whiskey in Coney Island dusks,
wooden rollercoasters black with silhouettes like immense
    skeletons in starlight

deported & sedated & detained
                    in government rooms, WONDERING IF 15
    CAN BE ENOUGH ANYMORE,
but still you wait on the soda & disfigurement
they promised, expert witness, exile--
             recalling unmapped cities in August,
       spools of silk & sinking veins,
    heels sticking like the roots of coffee-black dunghills in
    Tunis--
awakened all from a diseased sleep of reason--

walls shrink on my sides--
                         once to have had the strength
                                        to press them away or to sob--

& bladed wings shriek off of my back in the coliseum--
     abandoned, pleading toward
     vacant benches, molten
coinages slipping from oiled fingers--


     even echoes detonating in foam--emptied & silent as
          Mayan stone--

                                              you will see amphitheaters


everywhere.

--E. A. Hilbert



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