Monday, August 26, 2019

THE ABSENCE OF THE IMAGINATION

          The absence of the imagination had
          itself to be imagined.
                —Wallace Stevens, "The Plain
                     Sense of Things"

Make it new,
make it plain,
make it sing, no ideas

but in things—now
who am I?
And how is it right to talk

in a future
where I'm
seeing digital pictures

of those things
instead of originals?

Like, just this morning—
the towering
figure of a guy

so prim in his black
and white suit and tie,

so shy—so 1945 New-
England-buttoned-down, he'd likely
never have said fuck at all

the way I do so
casually today,
whether out in public

or mired like this,
in a much plainer poem
(sketched, by the way,

in pajamas on a smartphone)
about far less plain things—
such as my own disillusionment

with images. Or else, the way
I've taken all these
pictures for granted.

I've never really known
the full weight
of physical media,

felt the fineness of excess
or correctness of old
catastrophes—

let alone
straightened my dour tie and
proceeded to imagine, somehow

much more wildly
impossible things:

the bronzed edges of space
where golden birds sing
their wordless songs

of thought, perched firmly
on a palm

of a hand
which might be mine,
or might be

the frond of a tree
still growing, even now—
still blowing

in the same slow wind
at the end of the mind.

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