April 2, 2004

Roll This Night

Roll this night into a hot smoking cigarette
and have it with your rum.
Have it while you're young
and time still seems a thing of promises to come.
'Cause in the midst of this pit,
this humid backwash of a midsummer's night,
there drifts an instant to grab, to hold,
to launch oneself upon,
and slip with it
through the brown corrugated, genitaled couplings
of the inevitable getting on.
Have it in that pause,
rest there on that moment of before....
There time seems -- now --
to make an instant
to learn how to stretch it,
to try now,
in practice for the promised one,
the time
drifting through
that one might catch
and shape into a lifetime.
Take this moment and remember,
in the rush of getting there,
in the midst of dodging traffic, remember.
For who would need to go, to know,
should this instant come and, taken, take you away?
Remember, for how many have passed
without the grasping hand reaching up,
how many a deliverance lost
for want of strength,
for failure to cast aside,
to cut the cable anchoring the self
to the streets and towers of New Haven?

So many fantasies of salvation:
Once we learned our catechism,
but we never reached confession.
The effort broke off because we wanted
the way shown through to the end,
and there was pain standing in the way,
square in the path,
one thing
no other can turn
toward knowing for the self.
And I failed,
sunk into another pain
and it became the only thing,
not a knowledge,
not, yet another,
but the only.
But somewhere, could I remember,
there lurks ahead a lost cause,
a lost endeavor,
the traces abandoned of a self half-made....
Where are they?

Certainly not rolled up into that cigarette,
not in its breath of forgetfulness,
not in the filled morning lungs of pain,
the nausea before the first cup of coffee.
Not the voyage,
but the first anchor to be weighed....
cigarettes, and their insular cloud,
a screen for confusion.
Roll up this night and stick it up your ass....