Something called The Throat screamed out from a database search today. I figured it was a random science title, but it was poem. By Charles Bernstein, from With Strings, University of Chicago, 2001.
About Veterans and voice, the bottom of the world which is the center, filling one’s pen while shining silver fog sifts blankness in to the body. Skull-rows, stone mansions, lamps. Melting, coalescence, void. Shadow selves, ghost pains. Childhood lived first time as farce, second time (upon reflection) as tragedy. Don't bother to read it without reading twice.
Behind every figure stands another
insisting to be seen; but this is just
a temporary lapse. I went toward the sign
and loaded up. It was so obvious
didn't see why I hadn't thought of it
before. Imaginary pain began to sing
in my right leg. I turned around and looked
back. The shining silver fog
seemed to coalesce and solidify, like a
roof. Soon we were drifting
past Goethe Avenue's sprawling
stone mansions. A row of skulls
stood as bookends. I went
three blocks and passed three lamps;
but the thing I wished to say
instantly fractured into incoherence.
That was the point: the world was gone
but he was interested. And there
was envy in his irritation, just as
the edges started to melt.
A dense gauze of grayish silver light
parted as we passed through
and into it, reforming itself
at a constant distance of four
or five feet. This is where I fill my pen.
If the bottom of the world is its center,
then intelligence is Imagination.
For all that can be seen
is made of Fire,
a circular yellow haze burning
through the dark.
—I walked blindly across the lawn;
then, without thinking, started
moving back through the bright vacancy.
I knew the way, I had written it.
Bones and bone fragments littered
the uncut grass. I took six slow steps
forward into a gently yielding silver
blankness that sifted through me
as I walked. She was still
wearing the blue dress in which she had
died. (Either childhood is more painful
the second time around or it's just
less bearable.) The empty bottle
and the empty glass, the dangling
gun, the words printed on pieces
of notebook paper. For all their differences,
each seemed crammed with possibilities,
with utterance. He had seen the other
side of the absolute darkness into
which Vietnam had drawn him. A meaning
seemed nearly close enough to touch.
There is another world and it's this one.
The fog made that impossible.