Fall 2009, #16
       "Woodchuck vs. the Hank Williams Zombie"

Two Poems

     by Michael Gessner


All performances today have been cancelled.

Make no mistake. There must be nothing
out of the ordinary, it’s been posted,
no marching, we must stand fast.
The myth of the exploding star
and the next extinction have been
put on hold wherever you are
it too has been, innocence and the isolation
of the justice gene, the paper cut—out
on Valentine’s Day underscoring
the shadowy lattice and blue thatch
that came with the biothermal work,
day labor grinding away again
without the special knowledge of anyone
not even the curators of armies
like the pencil sketches they made
of dark figures hiding in cellars,
no one in particular, going where they are
going, and the part—time return, agitated
about the revisions, the supreme biological
auction and the disagreeing classes of thought,
the grumbling forces, but they’ve been
shut down, as we speak, even the factories
across the street have closed for the day
until we get it straight, which cannot occur
because of all the new business coming to the valley
and all the others who remain uninformed.



It is not about the classic rivers
of mythology, not about Acheron,
river of woe with its lines of unemployed
holding their migraines in their hands.

Or Cocytus, river of lamentation
where the elderly have gone
to grieve their condition.

It cannot be this.

Not the river of fire,
the lava flowing from another volcanic shudder
into the homes of the living & the dead,
& into the stories of new generations.

For these are byproducts,

shining as they are—

It is not about the river of forgetfulness,
inviting as the night visits the tortured mind.
No, not this, or the waters of hate
& the butchered bodies stacked along shorelines
& the lost women trying to find their sons,

or the river of return,

not the red river of consolation
wound about the heart
& through the vineyards,
or how our loves came to be,
then left us again to ourselves.

It is not about the oldest & saddest river,
the river of time, with flashes of metallic film
sliding by gathering momentum,
& the surfaces of faces,
the faces of phantoms,
(I have seen myself among them.)

It cannot be about classical dramaturgy,
or if it is, it is the dramaturgy of celestial mechanics,
the giant narrative of everything,
the source of energy (& its forms)
crunching itself out through the heavens.