Again with the tunnel.
It’s longer now.
I don’t know why. It’s been weeks since we cleared
The fence—but to get round that fucker with
The ugly mask, his gargoyle’s face still
Eluding doubt, escaping certainty…?
No way, my friend.
Imprison minds, as well as bodies, right?
And so today when our film begins, the
Action will start behind a barbed wire fence:
The tents, a tin roof, dirt, an opening
On creation that’s worthy of Monument
Valley, which is not where we are…
The camera pans across the road and gawks
At prisoners in prison uniforms—
You’d have to be stupid not to know about
…and how each night they shift their beds about
To skinny down a spider hole and dig—
Each handing each a handful of dirt back
Along the tunnel route, and up and out—
And here’s the clever part: especially sewn seams
Which line the legs, inside the pants, and lets
Us scatter the sandy dirt, like gods in golden
Slippers, like Cinderella going to
The ball, like the invisible foot soldiers
We think we are, the ants in service to
A higher power, a revolution…
But you’ve seen
This movie, haven’t you? You know how it
Plays out, again and tomorrow again:
A Saturday afternoon on the moon,
Perhaps, or a tour of the Tuesday lightning, or
How Plato’s allegory is found in
A painting Hopper called New York Movie:
Three thousand years in a bored woman who’s
Seen this movie before—like, a thousand times—
And wants a real escape: That’s another nice mess
You’ve gotten me into, she thinks, for it
Could be Laurel and Hardy, The Flying Deuces,
On the screen up there—simulacra, larger than life,
Of the comedy of life…
But it’s not, is it?
It’s 1939 and they’re showing
The Hunchback of Notre Dame—and look!
She can’t stand to look, that woman:
(Your golden hair Marguerite
Your ashen hair Shulamith)
Is Death a master from Germany? Think
It through. Quasimodo reigns as the King
Of Fools; petite Marguerite has a brother in Bonn,
Two sisters in Bavaria, grandparents,
Cousins, two of them doctors, right in Berlin,
And not a word. She is alone in this
Strange town, in a posh the-ate-ter, watching
A gypsy woman get ‘sanctuary’
Inside a church, which is about as real
As a trip to the moon, or our escape
From that Stalag whatever-it-was.
So go ahead, read Death Fugue now, it too
Is part of Plato’s cave, our escape from
The sun. You think it helped anyone?
We chant as we dig—O, softly—they’ll hear:
The ugliest face gets the crown, and wins
The gargoyles’ clothes: his tie, his hat, his mask,
And his stone teeth from the stone head, the clothes
With pigeon shit crapped on the jacket, like
A merit badge the Boy Scouts give out for
You’re being in the wrong place at the wrong
Time. We shovel a grave in the air there.
Remember how The Hunchback ends: true love
For Esmeralda. Quasimodo in
In tears, in the choirs of Notre Dame,
A crowd of gargoyles sing music that he
Can’t hear: Why—he asks and answers—was I
Not made of stone like these?
(Your ashen hair Shulamith)