The crowd looks up. It seems so rude. Spotlights
Search through the audience. He looks okay,
This ‘professor’, as he comes to the mike.
The tux looks new. Think James Mason here, not
Brando. Oleaginous, perhaps, but not
The first ‘overly sophisticated’
Curriculum Vitae to dance for us.
A-one, a-two, a-one, two three—
Got that? Go…
I’m running. Like the god is darkness and
The lights go out. A kind of stunned silence,
As one and all whisper: that’s it? That end,
It sounded like poetry. But way too short
And minimalist, minimalist in
Extremis, we all think. In the worst way:
‘Borges, Pessoa, Kierkegaard,’ he’d said.
‘All of them giants and all of them dead.’
And then the lights went out. And running feet.
Of course, his name is not ‘Cadaver’. No,
He shakes his head. Nor is it ‘Caveat’.
And not ‘Caviar’ either. Such silliness.
More than once, he’s been a ‘Catastrophe’,
‘Contingency’, a ‘Caliphate’, and a
‘Calliope’. He smiles. A worthy name
For poetry, Calliope. It has
Distinct pronunciations for both its meanings,
The steam and sadness, the muse and music.
Calliope and calliope. It’s good.
The crowd gathers. Two women squeeze past us
To get to the bar. Charles, one says. This is
A surprise. Introductions to follow…but
That band…talk about a calliope…
I’m sorry, I can’t hear a thing…
We pause, protest, for we all live a life
Committed to music that poetry achieves.
Serious dudes, listening to the beat
The foster-child of silence and slow time
Can produce and surely poetry has
A special subject matter, something it
Does best? Calliope grieves. So we stand,
Angry now, a dangerous mob clothed in
That very grief; a confusion, perhaps,
Between accounting for the mind, and our
Problematic use of it, but it’s
A righteous confusion assembled by
The mind, bereft of the pain in the mind.
And so… Wrong? I don’t think so.
Let the hunting begin.
Writes: Charles Chalmers Codicil, the Third.
In Charge of Additions, if possible.
Writes: Calliope Grieves. Get It? A strange
Succession. For. My breath is my breath.
Iambic pentameter is death, breath,
A soldier of the skin. The other side of silence.
One hand clapping. A terrible beauty…
He writes: it is a mistake to accept
What Shakespeare called the real and not accept
The skeptical problematic. Walk in…
The classroom has filled with students. We wait.
The board is pretty full. He flips to the
Clean side, our silent professor, and writes:
A rule: Only one thing is ever true.
Thus: The shouting, the circle, the circus, the
Long empty seasons, the cycle of the
Seasons, shut down, circulating the sound—
Astounding at last, this thought, thief, self, ping,
And finally pause…and finally conclusion.
These words do not name. Our passage here
Leaves fractured glass, the identity thief,
And leaves a prism of light—but pooled
On the ground and useless—and Calliope’s grief
Remains for Orpheus, torn at the stalk
For singing to a dark horizon, her son.
And in this, the very grief of substance,
Somehow we form a hypothesis of rest.
Of rest, not of understanding—not of
The night, the stars, not of the folds of earth
We form for home, for these words do not name….
But rest. Somehow we rest, the least and last
Of Calliope’s grief. Somehow we do get it.