And underneath the myths and the masks,
(One’s) soul, always alone.
– Jorge Luis Borges, “Susana Bombal” 1976
you. Hacking away with axe and hammer,
with shovel and ice-scraper,
fork and chop-sticks, spatula and glove;
I hear you, up there, telling yourself
“It is good, it is good to be alone,”
with stair-case and stomach ache,
lip service hangover,
when you know it is perverse,
“Alone is good.”
you. Untying the dead bull, the lobotomy scar,
a battle-ship curve of failed marriages,
your luke-warm friends
⎯the Argentine ant, the faithful elephant;
I see you loosen your sudden birth,
total holocaust of childhood’s end,
long-rusted Caudillo spurs of manhood
⎯all but lace on the grave of St. Simone;
thus nothing moves in you
to slacken dead-even shackles, Plutarch’s jaws,
whose renovations made recent such violent laws
⎯it was you.
your grandmother’s perfume hypnotized,
her distant music, lost volume of time before
⎯distilled, decanted, dried away.
“It is good to be alone.”
you. Refusing dinner invitations, “an immaculate deception,”
yet approving the Jefes, their new camps of internment,
praising hosannah! to your dictator’s postage stamp,
receiving the surgeon’s possibly quite necessary clamp,
retracing Hemingway’s Herculean tramps,
yet torching Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran:
amassing genocide on wing, on wave, tank, horseback;
the black wheat combed forth and back, forth, back
⎯may the new gods be merciful for you shall not.
“It is good: such work takes up all my time.”
you. Cutting your soul in half with a lusted blade,
boasting the huge nothing through your blue-blooded veins,
shit-talking the labour what raised high your suburban guillotine;
our new Stalin, whose coarse hands will drown entire families,
you, spiteful to the very center, black mandrake root, poisoned glade.
“I shall, at last, have some peace.”
I name you, there, henceforth in your present.
Was this really the only destiny of your life?
or are you exactly where lazy, fearful men tread?
you: in monstrous wreckage stand, composing bleak mythopoeia.
you: shearing all future onto the oily fires of the past.
you are no monk but an inmate—it behooves you to learn the difference.
you are a construction, somehow, back here, of my tumid, needy soul.
But! I hereby break your curse (go free!) and I touch your birth, our birth
⎯peace, love, tenderness, communitas.
I forgive you your trespasses.
I beg you forgive mine.
Let me live some,
for all my days, hidden, dense forests;
running from the one deed which ruined me,
the other with which I killed me.
Only you, dear $Hitler-self, can absolve.
Let me live, at least one day without remorse,
shame, terror, sorrow, loss.
Let me see the sun without the whiskey in my eyes.
Was it not I that, having bound another to me,
tore myself away, leaving her in starvation?
Perhaps not I, but an even former self,
all but wild in the invisible past.
From that time I send this note
to my future bad-ass self:
go now, you are forgiven,
You cannot imagine the scudding clouds here,
the constancy in the river now, the valley river passing by;
You cannot see this far back,
down the lane,
to where the cedars are only slightly stirring in the cooling winds;
You have long forgotten this little world,
before father left for the last time,
camomile down the middle of the lane,
plumed dust clouds of a car disappearing up the gravel road,
the dogs shaking with excitement,
the monster in the garden, the unknowable beast
up on his hindmost at the rattling pots.
The eyes of your grand old aunt,
not swaying senselessly in her amber wines,
but fighting the father of her own, drunken ghost.
You rootless weed,
You unborn child, dead these many years
⎯but not yet, not yet for me.
I set You free, lay down that horrible fetter of dread,
the pincing bonds of shame.
Think, You, of Your dear sister, Your long-ago brother.
Now, in Your wastes, see them driven before You, broken, starved.
These are imaginings.
It is You who have been hounded to the very precipice.
You. Who dare not look back to the living past, not once,
for fear of an old husband’s tale.
You, who dwelt all his remaining days in the frozen future,
throwing pearls into pillars, anyway.
“It is good to be alone.”
Who could be such more
than a lame chiaroscuro,
more than pitiless,
more than a dog to Power,
more than your little movie could hope to achieve by act three.
no literary hero⎯none will remember thee;
where You are, they come with ambulance, stretcher to your home,
they come and lift you away, infirmed, alone.
Is it good? Is it good to go alone?
Realize my legacy!
Where You are, the whirlwind is, also.
A lone fury, torn.
Regardless: of light,
o! universe, be filled by morn’.