Cantid

by dschapman

I am living here in the valley of the men without voices, my fist in my mouth and a family of rats in the ceiling. I am all alone here and I am dead. I sleep alone in an oversized bed and listen to the silent nothingness taking place in the hills. There is not a speck of dust anywhere, nor a chair misplaced. The blankets are folded away in their baskets and the dog is asleep in the manger. I talk to myself as I walk around during the day, sometimes in a haze, sometimes desperate, as an accuser and an accomplice both, but I rarely resolve anything and I tell myself, “Talking to yourself is a first sign of madness,” and I fall into an enduring silence. Make me famous, dear God, I prayed, but my struggle fell on unaided ears. There is no love in what I wrote, then. There was no love for me to give. I have no industry. No humility – well, some. So I am somewhat ashamed of my face. I keep to the shadows when I take to the town and pretend I am comfortable, even when I am feeling scared. I am not very welcome here, although I am always a gentleman. I keep a philosopher’s watch, walking every day at the same time past the same ancient houses, like clockwork, and I stop in at the shop with the same simple girl tending the counter and I fall in the same simple love every day, and it never comes to anything and then it is over, she is gone, I am incontinent, the burglars walk out with my television and instruments. I blow a whistle in his face and he takes that from me, too. No one mentioned the abuse at the hands of the hustlers, the robberies all through the night – the door was gone, they came and dismantled the brownstone – a sworn loser, a wild buffalo, the matrices all very complicated – and I am here standing beside it all, like a ghost, the color draining from my face, the smile receding into my skull – they will bury me smiling, the same worried smile… I dried up my face in the smoke and it stretched taut across my ancient bones…

At night, when I have no one to talk to but myself and I sing myself to sleep, in the eyes of the Lord from his stardom, through the glass and the chamelias, over the sleepy, blinking lights of the shops in the valley below me, where from my weighty ridge at the top I wander with my dreams through the night, I stand ensconced in shadow and conjure up miraculous secrets, I mix a cocktail of milk and arsenic, I lick the oil from her face and sigh; serenade, a mistaken identity, the theater opened up and the crowds came in droves; I dream about the strangest aquariums, sometimes small and shadowy, sometimes grand and eloquent, full of eels, or even whale sharks, like children in an oversized room, laughing and tumbling over the sheet-covered sofas, having sex on the old bear-skin rugs; in far-away cities the tanks are hidden away, and I have to find them, and they seem morbid when I do, rooms full of horrible dried-seadragons and dried-fish, the oversized eels and the cephalopods in crates, packed solid in a saltwater tank like sardines, but alive and still writhing; and the corpses always float to the top…

 4  1   1  4       3   4  1     4    1   2
 /  ×   ×  /       ×   /  ×     /    ×   /
Batter my heart three-personed God, for you
1   3   2    4      3        4   1    4    1  4
×   /   ×    /      ×        /   ×    /    ×  /
As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend.
  1  2  1   4   1     4   2      4   1(1)   4    
  ×  /  ×   /   ×     /   ×      /   ×(×)   /
That I may rise and stand o'erthrow me and bend
 1    4     1   4      3    4   1    4    1  4
 ×    /     ×   /      ×    /   ×    /    ×  /
Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
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