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Memoria in Aeternum
                                        Hans Hoffman

Laud last word, breath final and sudden—
Shale aperture of ocean—fracture and drop

Asunder or discerned, agile and perished
From amusement and craving, guarded in

Sunken arias, weathered arras, noon
Pyre of being alone with a bottle

Of beer on autumn porch, faint gale of apple
Leaves arbored through sparse shaft, then ash of light—

Smothered shadow, and a vague chill, like stars
Invisible in morning or trickle

Of drying brook. Earth admits neither startle
Nor stop, even in a span of all that

Goes unrecalled, boulevard to nothing,
High windows scalded shut with tears and music.

Venus drops over attics. Jet streams streak
Foam and silver over remaining blue.

Poseidon lifts plastic trident and glass
Of whiskey at the Halloween party,

Toasts the season and lights a cigarette.
Paper strings of seaweed drape down from his

Shoulders and a cheer goes out. Now fish, once
Caught, drop back into varnish of radiant

Oil and rusted streak of water, contorted
Bough leaning over current, bearing weight

Into sway, as sky leans down over all
Lost once and considerably away.


“I too will confess, since everyone else has.
I too have small portions of elegance

And simplicity in me. I admit
I love remembering childhood and summer,

Glint of water then drying on concrete
Listening to birds and radios, thinking

Briefly of whatever death is, not that
Dying mattered. At least it did not then.

I have no ancestors. I leap and whack
The cold surface, fin desperately away

From the light until a damp cloth is hung
On my head and iron grates sputter shut

For the evening. My head is matted
With sweat, even in October, and I

Dream of dreadnoughts lined up sticking their black
Smog onto the horizon, hulls cumbrous

With bins of coal and tonnage of hot shells
Over the icy chasm of mist-

Hooded Atlantic. I dream of a thermos
Filled with bees. I dream of running away

And imbibing my own body as an
Amber contour. Before dying I would

Do this, in the same rainy weather that
Brought my tremendous shadow into the

Meadow and wind of the world. I once had
A valorous art and a serious habit,

And yes a terrible lust and promise,
A convenient gift, a devotion, time.

I dream of storms rushing the shore and long
Grass flailing the gray. I dream of a zeppelin

Deflating with a hiss in snowy fields
As townspeople arrive with revolvers,

Breath building clouds as I snuggle in slush
Under the flattened air fortress, sniggering

At their mustaches. I dream. I am deranged
And crowned with glistening lawns, bulldozed under

With diamonds and salvaged glory of grain,
Composted into heaps of pulp, under

Crumbs and stubborn rubble, only to be
Unearthed like glitter and rain, married

To the world again in a lit cabinet
Of glances and coughs. I am afraid of being alone.

That is not so hard to say anymore.
I can admit that, even sober. I am beneath

Gardens. I am a difficult distance
Where birds quarrel and sunlight is dazzled

By the moon a million times every dusk.
I am partly drunk and I want to sing,

But I can’t get the first notes out, the bits
Of exquisite emptiness and quenching

That must voyage through from elsewhere to me.
Diana is already gone into the winter wind.

Everything is becoming impossible,
A slagheap, rapid cloud, a clear piss on

A wrecked truck in October, stubble
And dirt that seem to glow. I am afraid.”


Roots are gummed with dirt; they know nothing of air
And obey another light. Return to

The street, astonished by inlets of
Shade that huddle from lamp to lamp—trolley

Cars clank and rumble over cobblestone—
And feel December wind coming in low,

Breathing into mirrors to trace other
Bodies in glare and loosening vapor,

Dissolve to reflection or fall like all
That will end, shining but nowhere in sight,

Harbored in salt only to erode like sand,
Entrance to dim outline—no grace merely

For living, no pardon for mere kindness
Or love, all desired and begun will not

Be concluded. Sift through the heaviness
Of day, gradual and ancient, to find:

A miniature door, with an strange handle,
In the corner of a room where you have

Lived all these years, grown older, grown drab, far
From a warm night once in June near a river.

Where does it lead? Why such a small door here,
Hidden all this time behind the bed where

Sleep was shorn off to needlelike
Dawn and too many nights were also lost?

That tiny door, all these years and always
There, and your throat itches now, open it.

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