Michael Palmer

1943 / Manhattan, New York City, New York

Dream of a Language that Speaks

Hello Gozo, here we are,
the spinning world, has

it come this far?
Hammering things, speeching them

nailing the anthrax
to its copper plate,

matching the object to its name,
the star to its chart.

(The sirens, the howling machines,
are part of the music it seems

just now, and helices of smoke
engulf the astonished eye;

and then our keening selves, Gozo,
whirled between voice and echo.)

So few and so many,
have we come this far?

Sluicing ink onto snow?
I'm tired, Gozo,

tired of us / not us,
of the factories of blood,

tired of the multiplying suns
and tired of colliding with

the words as they appear
without so much as a "by your leave,"

without so much as a greeting.
The more suns the more dark-

is it not always so-
and in the gathering dark

Ghostly Tall and Ghostly Small
making their small talk

as they pause and they walk
on a path of stones,

as they walk and walk,
skeining their tales,

testing the dust,
higher up they walk-

there's a city below
pinpoints of light-

high up they walk,
flicking dianthus, mountain berries,

turk's-caps with their sticks.
Can you hear me? asks Tall.

Do you hear me? asks Small.
Question pursuing question.

And they set out their lamp
amid the stones.

for Yoshimasu Gozo
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