Feigning a Fine Fettle

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On the Cusp

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1558

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus – Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1558

This is the smoky dark of fervid alms and seedy recitations: hats are low

slung frames that shade the barley, that shake the quivering jowls

of stubbed shadows [cigarettes dance in bouncing constellations


that flash moons in the tobacco haze] – and pastoral earth

hugs the ocean against a grey sky and shepherds keep watch

from the hills [they look to the light of the sun frozen in its ascent,


stretching out rays that never quite touch the faces of those gathered

on the shore, and the smoke curling from the cottage in the background

dissipates into the clouds] – but here, none of this matters [not everything in


life goes the way we forget to plan]. Hear: this matters more

than some things, but less than most so listen only if you’ve time

to spare [you’d do better to pick up and leave]: we all must wait


under skies and next to oceans and through a haze and in a fog

of black and white and soundless time of fathomless

meaning: we could slide mountains across the plains:


we could shuffle headstones into decks and deal them all again:

we could chew and swallow each lesson instead of edging it from the plate:

we could tread the achromatic waters, swim before we drown,


if only we knew all of this before we had given up the effort,

we might have fallen to [failed to form up, shape up, but not give up]

formation in marching courts. Cusp the cup: it will burn,


[as it always has and always will at the point where the curves

of hands meet]: [the same where the constellations pierce between

houses]: [especially where the crescent moon horns the heavens]


spilling its universe into the ground-out sky before burning some

more until it’s there again: who is to say that it will be?

[there again] there now: here now [here then]


wait some more in the dark, gumming blindly:

sit some more in the haze, bleary eyed and starving:

gone now [the distant din of clanging echoes]: did you hear?


Give it to me straight.

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