my favorite uncle had no children
of his own – he lavished his attention
on his nieces and nephews – my father
was one of those. Ernest Rankin. Iceman,
they called him – he sold ice in the summer,
coal in the winter. He drove a green cab
by the time I came along, his ice days
long gone. He kept a red fez in his house,
and a sparkling sword, polished, in the trunk
of his cab. 33rd degree. My Mom
would call him when Pop’s drinking got too much
for her to handle. He’d come over, talk
to Pop like a father would to a son –
it never did my father any good –
but for some reason it had an appeal
to me – I saw how two grown men who cared
should communicate with one another.
Uncle Ernest lived in town and moved in
his niece and nephew so they could attend
high school and college away from the needs
of the farm. He made a difference in their lives,
shifting their trajectories, opening pathways.
Old men in the Grove would ask me,
“Son, whose boy are you?” “Iceman’s my uncle,”
I’d tell them, and they would change their tune to
one of reverence and respect. That meant
a lot to me, that shared identity.
White-aproned men performed his final rites.
I learned to swim with the sharks at a place
called Hammerhead. The training lasted
twelve months. I graduated to the next level –
Neptune’s triple spear. I hid my dolphic identity
from my classmates. No one found me out
because I became carnivorous – even though
eating meat gave me headaches.
At the next training stage I met the Angel
of Light – who fell from grace and became
the Prince of Darkness. I followed orders
to murder him with Neptune’s spear
in my right hand and that’s how I know
Satan worshippers are all bullshit artists –
that dude is dead. But back to the story.
I transferred to the instruction manual factory.
My boss there tried to sell me a bill of goods.
I wasn’t in the market, but he wouldn’t take no
for an answer. The first wizard I met helped me
bury him by the sea. We dug his grave while
the tide was out. The wet sand was easy
and we buried him deep.
The second wizard taught me how to wage
a losing battle against a corrupt bureaucracy –
but how to always keep enough in reserve
to return with power for the next day’s fight.
He made me his chief of staff and wizard helper.
When the second wizard died, he gave me
all his powers, along with the books he wrote,
making me the next wizard. I plotted my escape
from the instruction manual factory and got out
by the skin of my teeth. I became the keeper
of secrets and the possessor of armed memories.
We buried a man by the sea. He was a bad man. We dug his grave on the beach while the tide was out. The wet sand was easy and we buried him deep. He would never take no for an answer. He tried to sell us a bill of goods. Me and the wizard.
You won’t find my favorite books
in bookstores. They only live
in unweeded libraries
on dusty shelves
and maybe in old,
long abandoned museums,
not the glitzy new ones
where the elite meet for lunch,
and the people stand in line
for a ticket and a random chance
to see celebrities.
The Deep State is dead. Long live
the Deep State. May she be forever free.
A system of machines interlocked,
with pipes and valves and pumps
and technologists, warchstanders
who check and wipe the lubrication
when it leaks and monitor differential
flow across redundant components.
There are no kings or queens aboard
this ship of state. No pathetic henchmen
running errands for brighter tomorrows.
Meanwhile, in the home of the brave
the machinery runs without a hiccup,
though hiccups are sometimes made
to appear, an entertainment for casual
observers and pedestrian audiences.
All the vampires have been executed
by patriots exercising their 2nd amendment
rights. Vampire blood soaks the ground
on which we stand, serving as fertilizer
in place of the cow manure we once used.
Spirit cooking and trafficking of children
are outlawed in the new IGY, clowns
splintered and boogeymen deflated.
No memorial monuments will be added
on the mall, no new wars to remember
when the sons and daughters of patriots
finally say no to the world’s money lenders
who were so certain she would win –
because only the Deep State wins.
Life goes on in the villages and towns
while mirrors in the cities crack and fall.
Diego Rivera DIA Mural. Detroit.
This morning I got up, put on a pot of coffee, and re-read Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts (Hank’s mention), followed by William Carlos Williams’ Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. The pumps all primed, I wrote this sonnet and posted it to my blog to commemorate our time together at the Beaux Arts Library of Congress.
Now I have all the fountain pens I need:
one stores empyrean blue – I save it
for ceremonies; two for writing poems
use my private mixture of navy blue
and forest green – I call it navy green;
and one to highlight when and where I read –
its name is firefly (but truth be told,
I add a drop of navy green for depth
and taste). There are complaints each time I mix
my inks or fill my pens – imagine if
I were a painter? But that logic
gets me no consolation. Horace wrote
about a link between the two. Again,
no sympathy inside this loving house.