POETRY: Tiny Scratching Noises


The train conductor pushes his hat back on his head and
holds a black bristle brush under his nose and proclaims
“I’m Karl Marx!”
Everyone laughs but the coal man who’s
never read a book or looked at a
photograph with full comprehension

Aunt Ethel puts a doily from the table around her neck and
holds her head extremely high and sibilates
“I’m Queen Elizabeth the First!”
Everyone laughs but poor eighty-year old
Cousin Dahlia who’s convinced
she’s Queen Elizabeth the First
without a doily

Snopes Tweedle puts his arms down stiffly at his sides and
waddles forward shouting
“I’m the first penguin Knut Rasmussen saw at the
Arctic Circle” and
no one disputes him because they all think they’re
penguins as well in the small and
docile coterie Snopes has gathered around him
in the institutional rotunda

as geese fly overhead slipping south from their summery personae
and identities glisten in early November sunlight
like cellophane behind whose vaguely shimmering surface
a deeper essence might be glimpsed emerging
into the sharper light of day

Although I am King Tut or Lucretia Borgia or
Alexander the Great dying on his shield after a
particularly debilitating debauch as historians say
or if he was actually a prophet
because of some virus sent his way by Gabriel or another potent
angel to fell him as his successes on earth became
too overwhelming for everyone
even for him

“I am” at all is a dodgy proposition
and as soon as we “find ourselves” which will most
probably take a lifetime
our lifetime’s measure of sand has nearly essentially
run out and the eye of light that pierces through masks and
masquerades may dawn with angelic comprehension

but if we just see now that transparency is the key and
being somebody was a pretty sorry project in the
first place since “being” and “somebody” don’t really even
belong to us just as “belong” itself also really doesn’t either

He Who Is alone is

He Who Is alone will be

He Who Is alone was

He who Is is enough for all

None are but He alone

Then the luminous pink conch shell on the beach holds the
entire ocean in its iridescent coil inward to

and the mouse family scurrying between walls
holds generic encyclopedias of future mouse generations
nearly simultaneous with the present one so
prolific are they

and the night hits its gong of darkness irradiated by the
full moon and then hits the gong of the
full moon with its own light to become
resonatingly silent

and the heart too becomes silent

and silence itself becomes silent at last
before blossoming out again into

tiny scratching noises