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The Bedbug Variations

*
What definite means to the dying mind,
for instance: the finite. The end. The means:
spent street whose loose grammar cajoles, redeems
each tourettic tic, each idea of wind
      
invented for us in stainless steel, each wing
folding quietly its map. Achingly,
neither here nor there, the taken body
arcs/wends. The wan light (a pulse, a wave) can't find
      
us beneath the grey gun of November.
The minute tucked inside the minute trapped
like a city under smog, a doll-in-box.

Remember? Who'd want to. All disinterred
& all abandoned & all beneath the thunderclap
& there we were. Dehisce. Rehab. Detox.

*
From the empty cup a greater leisure.
From the whip a body made newly whole.
Brushstroke. Canvas. From the Nile: fetid Crow.
From above: the meadow's green caesura.
         
After the thaw but before the welter.
After the climax & awash in denouement.
Sheets exploded. White. Vespered. Noumenal.
After pain a fallow feeling settles.
      
And then? And then we smoke a cigarette.
M: I left here a child & I returned
child; I returned a canopy of debt.

And when Crow flew west the whole sky reset.
And when I was the whip's slow wake I burned
& burned. I was vesper & testament.

*
Corporeality aside, finally.
Random discharge & inessential whatnot,
Our bright idea to write our way in, or out...
What? Each day a coin buying passage: truly
      
Now a grey thread pulls from our grey factory,
Old factory, I mean really, the smell; how
For the sweet sound of the blade in the wood I
Swing the axe & for the pain in my chest the
      
Opiates, Ben, & then I "Lethe-wards slink" &c.
Nowhere more obvious than Here, the body
Now like the sea ruffles its white sleeves. Would I
Eschew the moral for a burning letter? or
         
Turn the world into my own private lucre?
Split the difference between sucker & succor?

*
It would be cruel & yet it would be kind.
It dresses itself in a string of light.
It dresses itself in string. Of "the light"
It could be said we failed to love each kind
      
Equally though our failures be a form
Of love & law & each a new lesson.
O love, the law (& each anew) lessens
Us & like a bell rung it finds its form
      
& spreads from the center of the city
Through dense fog. Like language it is empty
Though dense. Fog-like, language (is it empty?)
Spreads from what center?/Rises like a city,

Its origins long-razed, buried, & sleeping.
Fog dusts the empty bell-tower. Housekeeping.   

*   
Solipsis/as in Breakfast Tuesday/as in
Three dark birds unlocking the elm, the sound of;
Eglantine tones of radiant rose & mauve
Narrow morning's margins & one imagines

Not, my reader, mein Freund, that this version,
Our version, large with largess, writ from above,
Sine & sign, is, anyway, definitive;
Farrago & faraway (like history's

Own history/like narrative's cursory
Narrative) three birds unlock the elm & leave
Without a goodbye. O cipher & the sieve
Our Version, our story opens on story,
         
Radiates endlessly like a gyroscope;
Calls us like a Rorschach, dangles like a rope.

*   
Arduous. Night atop its grey grey horse.
Night-bees gathering in the tremolo.
And shadow-branches. Black gum. Tupelo.
The globe of light. The grafted course

& sleep unseated like a satellite.
Inching in. Our dire luna hung aloft
(via lamphook & wire) & cast adrift
haloes the TV tower & alights
      
briefly spectral: thus concludes this broadcast.
Hence anthem. Hence: wind-in-flag. We leave you
now with The World of Dew is the World of

Do Unto: unforeseen crises: ersatz
fruit: waxy light flooding the vestibule.
I saw a majesty unfurl: above.

*
And there we were: dehisced. Rehab-ed. Detoxed
& all abandoned & all beneath the thunderclap.
Remember? Who wants to lie disinterred
like a city under smog? Doll-in-box,
      
the minute tucked inside the minute trapped
us beneath the grey gun of November.
Arc & wend, the wan light (pulse? wave?) can't find
either here or there, the token body

folding quietly its map, achingly
invented for us in stainless steel: each wing,
each tourettic tic, each idea of wind-

spent street whose loose grammar cajoles, redeems
for instance, the "finite": how the end demeans
what the definite means: is a dying mind.

—Spencer Short



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