. . . heard himself muttering in the dark.
Unaccountable black cone of jagged war
– like a spiralling ashen djinn – wore
through the skin, leaving an acid blood-mark.
The White House sketched a venereal river
of chattering teeth squirming in a mask
through immaterial Mardi Gras. Ask
not what your country can, Sergeant. Shiver.
Until the vernal Jordan overflows.
White foam, tumbling over golden shoeblack
into the microphones; a floating shack
out of Arkansas, to the gulf of hexagons, she goes,
a strong brown goo. And the dust began to blow,
the fertilizer. Dried bowls by the Mississippi,
iron harvesters plowing down the slippery
red Indian mounds – slow, slow.
Throw all the acorns into the black account,
cried Henry Clay, last of the statesmen.
Time flowed through the blurred windowpane.
Irreversible. It seemed a blissful river, heaven
sent. Or just a po wayfarin stranger.
Depends on your outlook.
Hmmmmm. . . Hmmmmm.. . . rook
to queen's knight's eagle's castle. Danger.
Shrubbery on the move there, Ahab;
question for you, iron man.
Shadow for sundown.
Take these samples to the lab,
cried Henry. The black lab.
And he glanced off through the trees
into surrounding dusk. A breeze crawled. . .
scrawled across gray beech bark. Like a scab.
In the darkroom, the old black-and-white
plays out in spools across a bloody field.
Something missing. . . the last leg on the shield
of Malcolm's hurtling emancipation. . . not quite
there yet. In mordant clay
the old man seals his will and covenant–
Ahab's slave-ship now (a raving cormorant)
dives after the white inscrutable. Say,
Bluejay, Queequeg, if you can – since
Henry's finally lost his power of speech
where Pushkin gone? The fatal touch
of earthy lips – sealed up his coffin?
Or is there someone waltzing into view
kings' concupiscence cannot comprehend?
And missiles miss? And Henry's hand
skip over – like a monkey at the zoo?
2.16.98 (President's Day)