It Presented as Paradise

It presented as paradise, but was really just California.
Hollywood, it turned out, was especially galling.
They had no desire to live a Wonderful Life.
Yet under the circumstances there was no going back to the old country.
Besides, the sunlight was pleasant, and they could get
Slip-on shoes and off-the-peg clothes.
It never occurred to them to go to the Soviet Union.
They would just have to build their own domes of gloom.
Coherent constructs, however, were becoming more elusive.
Things weren’t going as had been theorized,
And B’s suicide was particularly destabilizing.
Still, there was the pleasure of enduring unhappiness.
A would have preferred to be a librettist
In the tradition of Lulu and Wozzeck
Only starring Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.
That would have been his revenge on the Americans.
By the time they returned to Frankfurt
They were already an anachronism
Living in a kind of afterlife.
Forgetfulness was in the air.
In spite of their erudite and convoluted predictions,
Some began to bestir themselves.
When the students took over the Institute
They panicked, and quickly summoned the police.

A Kind of Burial

Now she was free both to triumph and to mock.
Some of his books were advertised as collections.
He didn’t feel that he actually had to write a book.
For the moment, she hung suspended.
Its frame-breaking psychodrama challenged the convention,
But his cri de coeur wasn’t really meant to be heard.
She sent it to the committee for approval, as usual.
But he was not deterred. It was a kind of burial.
He felt the sudden pulsing of an odd circuitry in her shoulders.
Everywhere there were placards and inscriptions.
Sometimes it devolved into street fighting.
Then there was the problem of the autonomous regions.
She led him to the confines of the third floor,
Even though it could easily be misconstrued.
He gestured toward a slender scapula and asked her opinion.
There was the analysis and then there were the analysts.
It was a little thicker than water, but not much.
They drank, as the protests outside grew.
He disliked the notion of fulfilling one’s potential.
His accomplished and good-looking companion
Did pretty much any damned thing she pleased.


Brilliantly Debilitated

They had promised this to themselves.
Bereft of choices, they felt empowered,
Only to be stopped short by plenitude.
Eventually, they gave up their nostalgia.
They entered an analytical landscape,
But there were significant omissions.
They tried art, only the frame confused them.
It always seemed too large or too small.
On the periphery, small creatures or birds
Flitted without revealing themselves.
They suspected an unseen reality
Like a bicycle hung from a rafter.
Symmetry, they knew, was one source,
But they gravitated toward disorder,
And it made them incredulous.
All these deaths became unreadable.
Ideology was a lyrical technology,
Leaving the text unsaid, unthought,
But present anyway, a sequence
Brilliantly debilitated. 


One unblessed being

One unblessed being
Came forward to make an offering.
There were even subtler,
Almost unguessable fractures.
Everything went up in flames.

Nothing, however, emerged.
Eventually, everyone became
Acclimated to the dim light.
Of the many attempts
Few examples survive.

The attribution was controversial,
But we were fascinated by the coincidences.
The method of construction
Was well-suited to the impairment,
But sought a convincing explanation.

Finally the shrine was dismantled,
Reluctantly, but without regret.
Some thought it was a failure
Of the imagination; others
Turned out to be free.

Funny you ask

Funny you ask.
I am through
With penances.
The face in the lens
Is sea salt dark.
From France?

Figments from the
Fragile precedent
You are here if
Not entirely with me
At least

Entirely yourself
Needy, defiant, undone.
There is so
Little needed
To make it so.
Instead of losing

We’re encapsulated,
Reported to be
Fast approaching
Petulant endings,
Blown across
Streets, fields.

Civilization and its discontents

It was a case of something happening that everybody expected to happen.
This battle of the giants is what our nurse-maids seek to mitigate with their lullaby about heaven.
Of course the real gravity of the situation has passed, but we are still under the spell of this idea.
Future research and reflection will undoubtedly bring the decisive clarification.
We sought to break down those units and restore them to their primordial inorganic state.
We want a simple answer that neither neglects nor does violence to the facts.
Even today this does not sound like a long-discarded error.
For all the effort invested in it, this cultural endeavor has so far not achieved very much.
The rift seems unavoidable, but its cause is not at once discernible.
This may have disturbed the structure of the study, but accords entirely with its intention.
It is nevertheless given to a few human beings to produce the most profound insights from the maelstrom of their feelings.

Whether one has killed one’s father or refrained from doing so is not really decisive.