The Existence of the World is a Controversy

After the photograph, the class wandered
off and I wondered why so often I found myself
the last man. Because I’d read Emerson
all summer long, I took my lack
of discomfort to be a sign of heroic standing.

So I determined to set for myself a new relation
to the universe, to write poems.
As if one could settle, once and for all, the question
whether or not vocation is all.

Solitude can become a rotten habit.
I remember how acute the contentment,
Friday nights especially, my reflection in the television.

What passes for turning inward, for study and for art,
can slip unnoticed into a well-practiced jeopardy,
a narrative fortress projecting the story
of separation into a post-quotidian significant life.
A myth is a lie breathed through silver.

Peace, not necessarily the doing of peaceful spirits,
can lead to believing that being a person is easy.

On my honeymoon, I thought to myself
You’ll never be alone again. Inside
the wigwam suite, clothes scattered
around the bearskin rug, an Indian-warrior
gelatin print—his feathers new, his face
deep-lined and droughted—as my eyewitness,
I wondered what might happen
if I surrendered, with a few conditions,
to this bright casualty.


from Kingdom Come

First published in Caesura (2008)