Ars Poetica: The Deaths at Sils-Maria

Norman Dubie

Vico eating a charred wing

of bird; the first trope meant, in Naples,

the mourners

stand in a hard rain hoping the old windbag

would repent into silence again…

A thousand year old vase floating

in the lake. The chinese

dead in an earthquake —

colossal, down and again ecclesiastic.

There’s no hour for death,

it’s all of a moment. And

only a king may kill a king. They just

permitted me to sing

this song of greyhounds

eating young blind moles

off the Empress Dowager’s lawn.

Vico once struggled to describe the candy lights of a circle

parallel to some horizon

but at the height of the sun,

all charms and motion — reddening

the sack-paper phantoms of noon

like so much gingerbread…

Let learning be simple chalk and slate, corrugate

flags of a late republic

terror of form,

in the line of a breast to bony hip:

again ecclesiastic,

self-elect like a cold porridge

for breakfast.

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