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David Vest


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BECOMING ONE OF THE DEAD


We have nowhere to go but to what is less.
Look up and see the past. Or sing a hymn
To moonlight glazing someone's wilderness.

Kind pity churns my spleen. Can I condemn
Spaces of hunger I do not want filled,
Take the trail this wood will not become?

In the cabin by the path you might have smelled
The Blood raised to the cracked lips of a cup.
What the world needs now is dope, stranger; skilled

In compassion, soak the sponge, lift up
Your solution, touch pain's tree, get down
Off your knees. I walking in their sleep.

The future repeats itself. Most of the moon,
Caught like a kite, tangles in a tree.
It's only the reflection of the sun.

Astronomy's a branch of history.
Am I the son of death? (Are you my father?)
We're all alone here, one big family;

The mother of the man without a mother
Stands between us, 'till in her embrace
Beyond each other's reach we come together.

Plato's grotesque philosopher, whose choice
Was not to stay enduring light alone,
Went back to darkness where he lost his voice

To con the shadows dancing on the stone.
He kissed the chains that held him on the bench,
Confessed he lacked imagination.

Try to see the cabin, where the stench
Of patience still is fleshing out the breath
That fails to cloud our mirrors in the clutch.

The television set broadcasts a thin
Nictitating film across the bed--
Cold eyes to flicker on a drying mouth.

The program's parenthetical aside
Reports late news and weather, makes a pitch
For Bufferin, but doesn't sell the dead;

Salutes the flag, signs off without a hitch.
Unbodied light remains to light the body
Uncourteously wearing not a stitch.

Eye, balking in your sleep, make this your study.
The while a winding fly tests new terrain
See something useful. Gather prosody

Stressing all that makes your faint concern
Seem not less than his. Echo the strain.
Under heaven let this vision burn.