Issue 9

The Song of the Terrible Fire

 · Poetry

This is not the song of the terrible fire
at the house of the disembodied laureate
whose desk a year ago was lost
and all that was on it. Item: a bed of sand and mud
shoved into a closet in a van
in the basement with the excellent speakers.
The song you’ll recall of the terrible fire
made clear that I have only been once
to Chicago in all of the 26 years
of my life. A bird or a proletariat
freezes overnight and goes to heaven,
right back where they started from.
Item: fame cannot be preserved
the way it used to
among the trees where I address myself
to space and time in accordance with the song
of the origins of the house
in the country the nuns used to live in
and of which they now sing. It has fallen
to me to take up all the rest.
The method for recovering incredible masterpieces
from the terrible fire
a suit made of tissue for instance
as palpable as the bottom of a lake from which
once you pulled it for 26 years. Scholars agree
that the process of fire is natural but can be reversed.
The song of the backwash
in bottles of water I’ve drunk
and left sitting
in a van in a basement
encrusted with lead.
The song of the rent being paid
by those who can pay it
wears its hat on a walk in the garden to talk to the moon.
The grounds of the house
named for me
where once stood
a nunnery whose tenants
sang the beginning of the country-house
where I once heard
a history of drab foxes
unconsciously dressing for ballroom dancing
if that’s what you’re into.
Everyone goes to heaven and acts surprised
like it wasn’t a foregone conclusion made possible
by the song of the terrible fire
if that’s what you’re into.

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