Eighth Sky

It is scribbled along the body

Impossible even to say a word

 

An alphabet has been stored beneath the ground

It is a practice alphabet, work of the hand

 

Yet not, not marks inside a box

For example, this is a mirror box

 

Spinoza designed such a box

and called it the Eighth Sky

 

called it the Nevercadabra House

as a joke

 

Yet not, not so much a joke

not Notes for Electronic Harp

 

on a day free of sounds

(but I meant to write “clouds”)

 

At night these same boulevards fill with snow

Lancers and dancers pass a poisoned syringe,

 

as you wrote, writing of death in the snow,

Patroclus and a Pharoah on Rue Ravignan

 

It is scribbled across each body

Impossible even to name a word

 

Look, you would say, how the sky falls

at first gently, then not at all

 

Two chemicals within the firefly are the cause,

twin ships, twin nemeses

 

preparing to metamorphose

into an alphabet in stone

 

 

                                                         St.-Benoit-sur-Loire

                                                         to Max Jacob


Michael Palmer, "Eighth Sky" from At Passages. Copyright © 1995 by Michael Palmer.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: At Passages (New Directions, 1995)
More Poems by Michael Palmer