About 600 miles south of the North Pole stands the world's northernmost statue of Lenin. The face is like a mask, with a guarded but threatening expression. More than a few people have admitted to feeling uneasy in its presence. The old Bolshevik seems to be measuring them for uniforms – or coffins – through narrowed eyes. On the pedestal is a quotation from his writings: “We’re the rifles our ancestors didn’t have.” But, as is generally the case, irony has had the last word. The pigeons that roost and worse on the statue have the harp-shaped wings of angels.
Touched by Fire
I drank from the fur cup. It tasted like you – orange blossom honey infused with fire. If our forebears had remained in the Pale of Settlement, herding cows, exhorting God, they would have been destroyed with the rest, and we would never have happened. History is riddled with obscure coincidences. The poète maudit Stéphane Mallarme died from the same disease I have. There is no cure, no absolution, no escape. I am not only a prisoner, but also the prison. Please spare me visits from the sort of people who refer to poetry as “verse.” I just want to stand chest-deep in your flames.
Although I haven’t asked, the repairman tells me while returning his tools to the toolbox that he has a titanium plate in his head. The language we rely on for communication is always jumping its banks and carving its own twisty path. It’s why Rimbaud sighed in his lover Paul Verlaine’s ear that sometimes he just wanted to be a beggar in Africa. What jobs society inflicts on its poets! Mail carrier, drug dealer, hack journalist. And yet creative if doomed acts of rebellion occur daily. The red juice of roses, for instance, runs down my chin.
Edgar Allan Poe Sculpts His Own Tomb
I live within walking distance of a cemetery. Poe was obliged to sculpt his own tomb from the grandiose ambitions of words and phrases. Death, like a poem, isn’t about something, it is something. I used to be French on a cellular level. Somehow a Debussy symphony that was barely 17 minutes long would last well into the evening. I have since liquidated my past. Now wherever I go, the sky is splintered like a mirror, and there are grannies speculating in cryptocurrencies and plague rats driving cars. If Poe were still alive, he would be riding in the back.
The (Mis)Fortune of Having Been There
The shadows that lurk in the background carry the suggestion of prison stripes. Cary Grant picks a flake of cigarette tobacco off his tongue. This whole time the Ferris wheel has been spinning in the traveling carnival of his mind. He doesn’t try to reason with the gods but mocks their Greek robes. Then, as night burns to the ground, he discovers the perfect partner in Rosalind Russell, who spits words the way a machine gun spits bullets. She knows without having to be told that movies are just life enlarged. There’s no one to feed, nothing to feed anyone.