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The End of the Twentieth Century

Debris in space and perennial philosophy
Seem to me but asterisked footnotes
Orbiting in the dark disease of knowledge.
Professors of the law and nomadic billiard balls
Go bumping down dim corridors, cracking codes
And caroming into elevators of truth.
Sea gulls outside circle far from the sea.
The man in the tower shines his beacon
Over repetitious rocks on the repetitious sea.
Shadows fall but the sun rages at edge of day,
Day after dark day, crouching in its cage,
Numb claws grasping at skin and blood.
The scientific method measures height and width
And height and width again, but the scientist
Grows weary at his post and postulates his way
To the dark side of the moon to sleep
Among masked hordes of bestial initiates
In a cosmic dream-dance of unrequited love.
A woman sits rocking, stitching and unstitching
The hem of the wedding gown of the ages,
The longer and shorter, the abacus of infinity,
The swinging sickle, the prolonged postponement.
The sky is a terrible pavement where brakes fail,
Where any moment you might begin to slide.
The treadmill turns and the scroll of wisdom
Unravels into the night on self-recoiling springs
Until the wreckage is scattered in your sleep
And you wake drowning in dreams of circular arguments
Swirling in the nightmare of morning of another day.
In perpetual gradation of light and dark you pause
And try to put your finger on the shifting sore
Where time takes a breath to gather its wrath.
Driftwood corpses pile up on the shore.
You crawl there, smelling the salt air,
Asking alms for the poor, asking the dead
For a nickel, for a dime, for the end of time.

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