In one of the filthy corners remaining in
a fast-gentrifying city, the mottled
wardrobe of the late one-time spokesman
for an era of chronic underground reputation
is put up for sale. If ever he had the ear
of anyone outside his immediate circles,
those who’d only just secured status on
the next level, on hearing his analysis of their
smudged daydreams of a too-far future, would
have broken down his door and throttled
him for his unrepentant insolence,
torn his clothes, kicked him in the ribs,
done all they could to ratchet down
his claim to be a bureaucratic clown.
Doctrines of honesty
Painstaking digital reproduction of the vein pattern of an elm leaf—
an attempt to handcuff what eludes the pounce of yearning.
The printed word of scripture falling away, page turning to dust
and offering no more blanching of cosmic mosaic.
The cicadas are also watching us, aware that we
like so many species’ll just one day be gone,
and just like all the others leave the earth to them.
If only they knew what’ll be waiting in the alley when we close up shop:
you can only get so much nourishment out of waste products,
particularly if it’s leftovers from the techniques of
sucking out the earth’s marrow. Sure, we can make
all the images we want of us and everything
in the world, detailed catalogues of every sector of experience,
but if there’s nothing left but the pictures there’ll be no one to see them,
no one who can live off what they show,
which is nothing to show off anyway.
All that horror, then, finally shooting out like sharpened crystals of fire,
and silhouettes of skyscrapers and cars, human forms mundanely erased.
Philosophers turn out to have been third-rate reporters, unable to get
past the ceremonial dazzle of burned and twisted bodies.
To top it off, no editors remain
to make corrections or add explanatory notes.
Hassan Melehy’s latest book is Kerouac: Language, Poetics, and Territory (Bloomsbury), which explores the Beat Generation author’s experiments with his native French as an integral part of his poetics. Prof. Melehy’s new research focuses on the relationship between political writing and literature in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France and England, in further development of his 2010 book, The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England (Ashgate), and the collection he recently co-edited with Catherine Gimelli Martin, French Connections in the English Renaissance (Ashgate). He has also written numerous articles on early modern literature and philosophy, recent and contemporary critical theory, and film studies. In addition to his critical writing, he also regularly publishes poetry. His collection titled A Modest Apocalypse recently came out from Eyewear (2017).