Is this poem useless?


In the chore of reading – each unread page that spills before me
Is part of heaven’s impossible body of knowledge, by sheaf and ream
Full of language’s drifting constellations (the intrigue of texture)

A galaxy of tongues, all the revolving systems of story, the moons of Epos,
Vast supernovas of inflection, elusive comets of connotation,
Unmoved sounds of words pushing back and forth against the universe.

Tongue in ear to ground and tongue in cheek to jowl, tongues of fire and ice,
These and an infinite shelf of Caesars, Chief Seattles, scarecrows, saints –
Luminous nights above open fields of science and art; arcana and minutiae

Providing the workbook of life’s scintilla I will never count enough.
Let each volume come down written, plummet to earth by its own accord,
Fall in my lap and flash open in a sudden breeze to my own name

And let each page be read thoroughly of its life, to its end, a burnt leaf,
A platted palm of ash waiting for wind to take it in a gentle winged hand
Waiting for memory’s fire to extinguish itself in gutters and marginalia –

Glosses blaze each page’s strict squared edge in searing amber lines,
A sunset smoldering gold through an angry storm front, a fuse spelling out
The bristling tinsel of sound, spitting sparks toward its final syllabic blow…

In the silence and the loss of chronicle, in the long chapters of sleep,
In the silence and the loss of eclectic gods to apocalypse and colophon
In the wind turning pages of a book forgotten in the grass,

In the pages turning in the wind like leaves of grass.

Wiped Out

“… a horrible black smudge, as though a Hand had come down and rubbed the place smooth. I know now what being wiped out means.”

The ruddy Kipling in a boat
Was touring Puget Sound the day
Seattle burned. He wrote a note
About the sight of soot that lay
Across the landscape like a smudge
Some Hand (divine? infernal?) left
Where once a city stood. The grudge
That Being held — to leave bereft
A town, wiped out, crossed out, erased —
Raised questions of the shape of Love;
And yet no souls were lost, the waste
A miracle uncertain of
Interpretation till the light
That failed
became reborn in sight.