Sunday, January 15, 2012

poem || Peter Sherburn-Zimmer

The Man Who Erased His Own Memory


After walking
never to see anyone I have ever known again

I have done that
I did that for nine years

and then in prison

now: first night’s sleep of the new year

I pour my bath.
Listen to the quiet room.
today, the day after Friday the thirteenth.
No bad luck for me. No luck at all,
as the song says. Waiting for the water to rise.
and then it is almost all allusion

four of eleven
books on the shelf
read end to end
forty eight years ago:
what do I remember?

An organ master in the jungle
how to oppose
or how to
navigate with-
to come years later
in the numerology of consent

to: a total rejection
of all those qualities
typical of academic verse

as a preface to a ride
on the subway
ogling the girls

yet the sign is on her
preface to: I pump him full of lost watches
Rimbaud is in the alley, mssrs. et madams

Mister is a commonly- used English honorific for men under the rank of knighthood. The title derived from Master, as the equivalent...

... Mistah Kurtz—he dead.
save it for another time.

to: Who has ever stopped to think of the divinity of Lamont Cranston?
(Only Jack Kerouac, that I know of; & me.


or Bertie on 1576 pure : we never know
what we are talking about
or if it is true

incomplete or inconsistent
a kind of Heisenberg’s principle
from a man who never achieved

pennies on the dollar for his genius

all genuinely creative writings
are the product of more than a single motive
and more than a single impulse
in the poet’s mind, and
are open to more than
a single interpretation

with large tracts of undigested suet betwixt dream
and awakening
to find I’ve visited my childhood
and the day before sleep again

and a year between Culture and Loneliness,
that is, between Krober & Kluckhohn and Moustakas
hocking in the back of the sociology class
while Kappy expounded his five paragraph questions
from the front row
and the professor asked me:
Is The Waste Land a sociological document?

Meanwhile, Thucydides made up
Pericles’ oration
surrounded by glory
because it was what should have been
said at the time even if it wasn’t

and Bertie wrote
the Readers’ Digest version
of the history of western philosophy

‘I carried the bones
of a man 5000 years old
in Egypt...can you imagine
how that felt?’

But me, I find The Airplane
in Being and Nothingness
after almost fifty years

...and talk to him
about the weather
and cheap Bostonhoods

and my sojourn ends
with a text on Ideas
so dense
I could not read more than the first paragraph
without giving up for twenty years

I do not wish
to live
in a world
where we
only think
about ourselves
all the time

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