31 March 2011

Nathaniel Mackey

[from Nathaniel Mackey's Splay Anthem, New Directions, 2006]

Eye on the Scarecrow

    — “mu” twentieth part —

      The way we lay
  we mimed a body
    of water. It was
this or that way
        the dead and we
      were them. No
    worried which . . .
      Millet beer made
our legs go weak,
  our tongues. “The dead,”
          said, “are drowning
      of thirst,” gruff
        summons we muttered
    out loud in our
                             sleep . . .
      It was a journey we
  were on, drawn-out
    scrawl we made a road
of, long huthered hajj
        were on. Raw strip
      of cloth we now rode,
          wishful, letterless
            the ride we thumbed . . .
        Harp-headed ghost whose
          head we plucked incessantly.
    Bartered star.        Tethered
                                                run . . .
      It was a ride we knew we’d
    wish to return to. Every-
        thing was everything.
  nothing no less. No less
      arrived or ancestral, of
        late having to do with
    the name of parts . . .
      Rolling hills rolled
  up like a rug, raw sprawl
                                          of a
        book within a book
      without a name known as
          Namless, not to be
  arrived at again . . .
                                  It was
    the Book of No Avail we
were in did we dare name
  it, momentary kings and
    fleet kingdon. Land fell
  away on all sides.

Lag we caught ourselves,
    run weft at last
  adequate, shadowless,
      left up Atet Street,
    legs tight, hill after
          hill after hill.
        Had it been a book Book
  of Opening the Book
      would have been called,
under lock and key . . .
      arrest. Ra was on the
    It was after the end of
  the world . . . To lie on
      our backs looking
    into the dark was all
        there was worth
  each the aroused eye
one another sought,
    swore he or she
    we lay where love’s
  pharaonic torso lay
      deepest, wide-eyed
night without sleep . . .
    our heads with straw,” we
  said, half-skulls tied with
      catgut, strummed . . .
    our strummed heads, memory
made us itch. Walked out
  weightless, air what eye
      left . . .

                Someone said Rome,
    someone said destroy it.
Atlantis, a third shouted
                                       out . . .
      Low ride among ruins
  notwithstanding we flew.
    Swam, it often seemed,
underwater, oddly immersed,
          long since bid goodbye,
    lay in wait, remote muses
        kept us afloat. Something
  called pursuit had us by
      the nose. Wafted ether
low, tilted floor, splintered
        feet. Throated bone . . .
    Rickety boat we rode . . .
      though what we wanted
  was to be everywhere at
an altered life lived on an
        coast we’d lay washed up
          on, instancy and elsewhere

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