You were dreaming the end of the world again,
fluttering—the myriad blackbirds, a living smoke

spiraling through dark sun over Patmos,
and this time, waking, you were convinced

that art is the purest form of venery, a coupling
of cruelty with want, there, in those shambles, the crux

where meaning bleeds and is carved into its form, worlds
end, the word, trapped in the mouth, catches

a world already dead, the shutter, blind
to us now, captures only past, just as

in music the echo follows what it should precede, and how
lastly, even today this crowded street could end, its air

palpitant for the last time with all its gold and hectoring
flies, shit and meat, the intimate smells,

all the familiar barking of blood and trade,
and all you could say about it is that it was.

For days after, you could not pray, fearing God’s
name on your tongue would swallow him,

dead in the pit of your knowing,
the words in your skull arrows piercing

you in silence, dumb-show martyr,
and you wept, knowing yet not knowing

what to do, and that, you realized, was despair.
Then one day, when even the memory of hope had left, you stood

in the empty square, watching the broken fountains
drown in leaves, the ruined houses smoke,

and you did the only thing there was to do,
for you, for all of us: begin again, again,

gathering bravely in your fist the chaff,
the dry burnt words to measure absence.

Leon Weinmann is a poet and teacher who lives in Connecticut. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Antioch Review, Boston Review, Mimesis, Long Poem Magazine, and Blackbird. He has just finished his first ms of poems, The Engravings. (leonweinmann@yahoo.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761