Decline and Fall

Bus as home, mausoleum as toolshed.


  1. Matthew,

    Pittsville has a glorious cemetery which looks similar to the second shot on your posting.



    Pittsville Cemetery

    The geographic center of Wisconsin is located in Pittsville.

    At any given time, Pittsville is a becoming town
    Of two towns, each with its avenues well walked
    And each peopled by those who speak aloud
    To those who never hear. But now it better becomes
    The town to keep its own peace as streetlights
    And lawns glaze over, attentive. But for a while yet
    Night will be mistaken for morning; the stars
    Puzzle their own vigilance; a peace officer probes
    At the outskirts of town, cruising Pittsville
    With all the interior logic of a lurking supicion.
    The dry witherings have been swept up at last,
    But not by hand of man, eye of artist nor wish of gods.
    It’s only the wind doing what wind always will.
    And the cemetery in Pittsville seems to say just the same:
    “Let me fold up time and times; let’s tidy today’s
    Flowers on a grave; let the woods whisper immortality
    Falling clean and sure, remaining out nothing.” So,
    The wild deer will mount the fog at a pale hour near dawn
    In the pine woods. So, the cemetery’s cypresses
    Make their points there in pensive green shadows by day
    But stay mute, except for slight sighs, at night.
    And see the churchless churchyard hone its teeth
    In a slip of moonlight? It is then that fog moves,
    Like breath upon glass, above the Yellow River, pluming
    From its banks, dough mushrooming in a pan,
    Spilt into yards, cloaking the shiny yellow eyes of houses
    And hiding the small steps of children’s nightmares.
    The gravestones shine like a hoved-in smile, upright, log-
    Split by rain, or inched asunder by frost, some laying
    Flat to pay improved homage through simulacrum
    To their long-standing occupants. Then moon-
    Light makes a desperate chase through the shadows,
    Stumbling onto the markers, turning them into
    Baleen combs winnowing the fog into neat loaves
    Set aside for the sun. With the chalky pink of
    Dawn’s coils not far off, the stones grin-crack out of all measure.
    The Yellow River grinds the town down past
    The brown water; the hem-slip of its past shows in
    Rude bone shards and a casket hinge which sticks
    Out from eroding banks, counting residents on the wind
    And naming their gravamens in stony gravure:
    Widow Whithers who lived above the hardware store
    In burning moments of smoke-filled privacy.
    The Liperts who farmed along the choice river-bottom
    Practicing seasonal burial and restoration.
    Esquire Chasteen who invested lives with notary
    And inscribed their names on Law’s plumb line.
    Laura (last name lost) whose life was the little café (now
    Closed) at the bisection of dirt roads and dead-ends.
    Yes, dry witherings have been put in piles no less
    Than the fog that is a glimmer-shot of Pittsville;
    At the town pump, if there is one, the town gathers
    In a hermenuetical blend of fact and fiction;
    To some the message is for carrying homeward, forward,
    For some to give to those who have not heard,
    And with some it just falls back to earth, seeping past
    Sandy grass, retreating to the Pittsville which splits
    Its time and name between the lived-out and the dead.
    Where the buck beds down, the cemetery sees all;
    The fog resurrects reality in the doe’s slowed breath.
    And now Pittsville begins to wake just as the wind
    That always comes just before the dawn. Its great exhale
    Of what remained undreamt the night before
    Escapes down the main streets and out the alleyways
    Whispering up and down along the telephone wires,
    Crank calling garbage cans lids and slipping beneath
    The window blinds above Pittsville into a shut room
    Where Mrs. Whithers once lit up for the first time each day
    As she settled the kettle above a blue plume of flame,
    Looking at the dead air between the calendar and her eye.
    When she noticed the wind – shuddering the pilot light
    With a wince, a gasp, as it tried to right itself
    Before hissing out – the wind would speak as it spoke
    To her when she was a child playing down by the river.
    But now it speaks with a coolness across her mound,
    Across the sunken and the raised, the vaulted and
    The buried at the center of the center of everything –
    Down through her soil, mapping and surveying Pittsville
    On the crooked river of her disintegrating spine.
    The rest of Pittsville is at the center of what continues
    To hold – so the townsfolk think. The wind blows.
    “I’ll be back soon,” it says. “Even before you know it.”

  2. Cubeland Mystic says


    Have you published any of your works? I really like your writing.

  3. CM,

    Next time you visit Butterfly Street, hunt around for a somewhat hefty beige vanity volume of verse with my name on it when the host isn’t looking and pull an Abbie Hoffman…

    And thanks for the booster!


  4. cubeland Mystic says

    I like the one your wrote about Wisconsin a long time ago. I think you wrote one about your wife once maybe two years back. The themes stuck with me. It might have been the same poem. You got a gift. I like all of them really. The last one you wrote about Matt failing was brilliant. I read it 3 or 4 times maybe more. A lot meaning packed into a tight space. It was really good. It’s like good code, or a well formed mathematical sentence. Everything is in it’s place. Very elegant.

    Since you’re giving it away, if you ever assemble some, and the host feels like playing post man, email old mystic some verse. I’ll buy you a forty.

  5. CM,

    Again, too kind.

    I’ll take you up on that – although ’round these parts we call 40er a “silo” – fittingly enough.

    Mind if I get your email from Matthew? I’ll send direct, then.

    PBR or Old Style, please.


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