From his deathbed, he conducts his mighty, phantom orchestra,
“waves crashing”, “cannons firing”, “nature sublime”,
all tutti and eroico and vivace.
Or, in evening dress, he pauses at his restaurant table,
to take spontaneous plaudits from the admiring crowd.
Around him, the glass artillery of Bollinger and Moet
are firing their salutes, and their grapeshot
explodes in a glittering shrapnel of clinking flutes,
he is a party to everything.
The world is intensely beautiful.
At least this part is true.

The lulling tilt and tangle of their heads,
pine blue shadows on the snow,
the lacy allez allez allez of the sleighbells:
his furs and astrakhan hat, silver pistols
inlaid with the chromatic circus of mother of pearl.
And love. As if the way to the world was open,
and they could cross that bridge when they wanted to, only
for a few humble moments, they waited, together,
before they crossed.
Acutely sensitive, and serene: in the stillness
the sense of stillness moving. Perfection. Apogee.
Delicate lectures from the chrysalis.
And seminars on the hours and roads!
Such was his, wasn’t his, fate.
And even now, in his pockets
he carries fragments from that exquisite bridge.

A peddler of illusions, they called him.
Pretentious! Oh, the drama of those years of strife!
Witch. Fakir. A charlatan, a conjuror:
a con- con- con- confectioner — baubles, bubbles, trifles,
these, apparently, were his stock-in-trade,
the ethereal sweets of a serial cheater,
his whole life’s work a mere sleight of hand.
He didn’t understand. Why were they so attached
to their charmless regimen of money and time,
so indulgent of that greatest of fantasies — “ordinary life”?
In any case, so began the days of wandering.
Ignominy, at first, for one so feted.
Waking, often in strange rooms;
often to the ringing of a strange town’s bells.
Loneliness for salt; for pepper, poverty.
Ignored out of existence, he began the journey
towards the essence of his own lost words:
he grew silent; he became invisible.

You know the rest — or will, one day.
She did all that anyone ever does do:
moved a few atoms around, then slept, then woke: repeat.
She didn’t stay anywhere long, was always on the move.
She was sussed, streetwise. She was light on her feet.
One evening, she leant on the rail of the good ship Novelty,
and listened to the elegant gibber of her companion,
heard how the froth and simmer of the crowd
melted into the curse and whisper of the sea,
how the bits of cherished difference crumbled and broke down
into an oceanic indifference,
the divine “so what?”
She flicked her cigarette over the side,
the filter faintly impressed with traces of her lipstick.
The orchestra began to play a polka.
$7,606.00 per tonne — price of copper at the close of trade.


Re-post | Original post, August 2012

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