Everything: Coda

Even city planning.

Yesterday, for example,
with its unexpected view of posterity
draped loosely between high-rises
 — unlike the composed street
raised to stoop level like a stroller. No moon
but clearly under some pressure to form one in quick stages,
while being careful to avoid what intervenes
with commas, speech tags, etc. Architraves pre-everything.

So that time, or what’s left of it,
prior to displaying its secret life (which wasn’t so secret to begin with)
waves everyone and everything away, including the burnished
sills and their plants lithographed with evening

plus the host of secondary qualities that rush in
on the least pretext, a new unit of space,
some jazz below, mouths to feed ... wrinkles alchemy
prints on studious foreheads. Or indeterminacy.
What did Rimbaud know about ageing anyway?

— More than you think.

Leaving (you might say) a colorful flag without a flagpole,
the parade route all but painted over like the history of unopposed takeovers

and the real wrinkle is that nothing is there for the taking
no matter how it appears. Shuffling off
to Buffalo or wherever they go to fill the intemperate, intermediate needs,
while the wisps of grass that inevitably push up between cracks look digital
and the buses squeeze their passengers to left and right
like shifts in basic economic priorities.

Have I mentioned noodling, as opposed to “raptures of attention”?
The effect without a cause — unless you’re one of those
who find that notion empty of meaning — 
not only in connection to instrumental music
(“I wasn’t playing anything I was just noodling”)
but phenomena in general, potential as well as kinetic,
from Y. Zowl singing “to a small guitar”
to our near-absorption in textures, weathers, (invasive) ellipses, sublimation, etc.?

To sum up: it’s not that the telegram to Elizabeth Bishop was 
undelivered
but that the dead — if not busy licking their wounds — 
are absorbed with themselves, as we must appear to the perceptive hawks.
Dark gray, dark green, beet red all over, but also
(hence the notion of collateral damage when it applies) thickness tout court.

More Poems by Charles North