Lawrence Joseph - The Game Changed
Another poem suggestion from the comment stream:
The Game Changed
The phantasmic imperium is set in a chronic
state of hypnotic fixity. I have absolutely
no idea what the fuck you’re talking about
was his reply, and he wasn’t laughing,
either, one of the most repellent human beings
I’ve ever known, his presence a gross and slippery
lie, a piece of chemically pure evil. A lawyer—
although the type’s not exclusive to lawyers.
A lot of different minds touch, and have touched,
the blood money in the dummy account
in an offshore bank, washed clean, free to be
transferred into a hedge fund or a foreign
brokerage account, at least half a trillion
ending up in the United States, with more to come.
I believe I told you I’m a lawyer. Which has had
little or no effect on a certain respect
I have for occurrences that suggest laws
of necessity. I too am thinking of it
as a journey—the journey with conversations
otherwise known as the Divina Commedia
is how Osip Mandelstam characterized Dante’s poem.
Lebanon? I hear the Maronite Patriarch
dares the Syrians to kill him, no word
from my grandfather’s side of the family
in the Shouf. “There are circles here”—
to quote the professor of international
relations and anthropology—“Vietnam, Lebanon,
and Iraq . . . Hanoi, Beirut, and Baghdad.”
The beggar in Rome is the beggar in Istanbul,
the blind beggar is playing saxophone,
his legs covered with a zebra-striped blanket,
the woman beside him holding an aluminum cup,
beside them, out of a shopping bag, the eyes
of a small, sick dog. I’m no pseudoaesthete.
It’s a physical thing. An enthusiasm,
a transport. The melancholy is ancient.
The intent is to make a large, serious
portrait of my time. The sun on the market
near Bowling Green, something red, something
purple, bunches of roses and lilacs. A local
issue for those of us in the neighborhood.
Not to know what it is you’re breathing
in a week when Black Hawk helicopters resume
patrolling the harbor. Two young men
blow themselves up attaching explosives
on the back of a cat. An insurgency:
commandos are employed, capital is manipulated
to secure the oil of the Asian Republics.
I was walking in the Forties when I saw it—
a billboard with a background of brilliant
blue sky, with writing on it in soft-edged,
irregularly spaced, airy-white letters
already drifting off into the air, as if they’d
been sky-written—“The World Really Does
Revolve Around You.” The taxi driver rushes
to reach his family before the camp is closed—
“There is no way I will leave, there is no way—
they will have to kill us, and, even if
they kill every one of us, we won’t leave.” Sweat
dripping from her brow, she picks up the shattered,
charred bones. She works for the Commission
on Missing Persons. “First they kill them,”
she says, “then they burn them, then they cover them
with dead babies . . .” Neither impenetrable opacity
nor absolute transparency. I know what I’m after.
The entire poem is finished in my head. No,
I mean the entire poem. The color, the graphic
parts, the placement of solid bodies in space,
gradations of light and dark, the arrangements
of pictorial elements on a single plane
without a loss of depth . . . This habit of wishing—
as if one’s mother and father lay in one’s heart,
and wished as they had always wished—that voice,
one of the great voices, worth listening to.
A continuity in which everything is transition.
To repeat it because it’s worth repeating. Immanence—
an immanence and a happiness. Yes, exquisite—
an exquisite dream. The mind on fire
possessed by what is desired—the game changed.