The Throat • 15 November 2010

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.