Even a Soul Submerged In Sleep is Hard at Work, And Helps Something of the World

The temple of Artemis hasn’t been stone
     warmed by a sun under the ubiquitous
staccato rattle of red-fronted serin
     so long not even Sinatra could sing it back. 
The past isn’t a stray dog we can whistle home
     or make stay by speaking the word it has
wanted us to say forever, the sound of it
     so other it could be a word in some tongue
so foreign & articulate it’s not human.
     There are whole vocabularies submerged
in what we think we know of the world. 
     So much is subliminal in our attempts
to define a single moment, alone in ruins,
     haunted, not by the voice of Sinatra, broken
& singing words others have written
     with enough passion the lyrics take on
his scorched voice even in memory, but
     by the secular psalms of serin & shrike,
plover & chat, buntings, & the unmistakable
     murmurs of a handful of ghosts who
don’t know the past is the past.  For them,
     Ephesus is still being built & there is music
in the streets, a faint humming everyone
     out walking in what they don’t know is the past
takes up, singing what lyrics they can remember
     when they remember them. The smoke makes
a stairway for you to descend, the dead rasp in
     their best Sinatra. In our sleep, the dead
push one another higher & higher in swings
     they finally fit again, now they have no flesh
Back to Top