(Flamenco music. RAND , played by Coleridge,atop a pedestal. BRENNAN, played by Wordsworth,is sweeping the stage with a broom.)
A Poem unrooted from its Book
Is a plant removed from native soil
And stuck down in the fantastic landscape
Of fable. The plant is a miniature
Ecosystem, the Poem a miniature Book.
Rand, tell me a story.
There was an oak tree on a lofty crag,
There was a broom below.
That was beautiful. Tell me another.
There were two men who wrote a Book
And called themselves one Man . . .
(Enter COLERIDGE, played by Rand,and WORDSWORTH, played by Brennan, dancing and handclapping. Following a great flourish of dance and handclap full of adolescent angst, COLERIDGE collapses, dead. WORDSWORTH continues to dance and handclap.)
Better dead than juvenile.
. . . and so it was. And the moral of the story?
Death? I can live with that.
A SUPERIOR GARDEN
( RAND and BRENNAN riding rocking horses. Women dressed as NUNS float across the rear of the stage, occasionally stopping to light or blow out one of the many candles present.)
A garden of the dead?
Consider two types of garden.
One: the common flower garden. Rose and lily.
Two: the cemetery.
A superior, more useful garden.
Graveyards are creepy.
True. But they are a good place to put flowers.
The flower a blossom of mourning, and mourning
Remembrance. The truth of afterlife, Heaven,
Is bull. The graveyard the body's best
Hope at immortality. At least, to live
In memory. Death is to be future and past.
I am a baby. I am pre-born. I am
A very old man. The dirt of my grave has been patted down.
So where's your grave?
The Book. The Book is grave, is graveyard,
The Book is death, decay, the Book is grave
And epitaph, remembrance and monument, erection
Of monument, ruin and poem and death
And monument of quiet, ruin, death, epitaph.
You said erection!
The Book is the well-tended garden
Of the dead. It is a superior garden.
It is a superior grave. A superior grave
Contains multiple bodies. Bodies intimately engaged
In death. Bodies in death classified
Under a single name. Flowers fade while the stone remains.
The sexton piles bones.
You said bone! What's a sexton?
( RAND ceases his rocking. BRENNAN rocks harder. The NUNS begin to sing a hymn, each holding a lighted candle beneath her face.)
(Dancers, in hard hats and overalls, perform a synchronized dance in hip-hop style. They exit to reveal the stage constructed to resemble a blasting site. WORDSWORTH is spray-painting the word Author on a giant rock, around which can be seen bundles of dynamite attached to a fuse which leads to an old-type blasting box, the T of the lever raised and ready to plunge, where RAND and BRENNAN stand.)
Is the dust-smoke ghost?
Blasting is a stranger
Art than constructing.
What is the remainder
Of the equation?
Diagrammatic graffiti on stone. Perverted
I blast away?
My body pocked with dark
Matter projectile. Stopgap emergency.
I've put on some distance
Mistaken breath of my chest
Heap of me unfinished
(As BRENNAN prepares to plunge the lever the dancers enter, again obscuring the scene. This time they perform a sort of ballet.)
WHERE IS THE CAPTAIN?
(The Santa Maria. MONA LISA, as played by Kate Winslet, stands at the prow, arms spread as if flying. BRENNAN stands on deck, with spyglass. He dictates to MONA LISA, who repeats after him. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS is nowhere to be seen.)
Apology for the book debacle.
Heat of mind a jalapeno seed.
Nature's hatchet double-bladed.
However happily epigrammatic in duration, still a blight when face-to-face.
Boy but is keen-felt.
If books remain erupted gladly I to their prior standing will return them.
Let it not be too-late.
I say let it not be while thinking let it be.
Let books find new order.
Spines in strange-to-the-eye arrangement.
Lines drawn between dots reveal unexpected objects and animals.
As if spirit-life.
Mine anger told me mine spirit I am escaping.
Said spirit, You.
Specific moment of wide unearthly feeling.
I pick through plotted particulars.
Understand if you want we to meet no more.
You say good riddance.
Thank you in advance for preceding past with future.
Wasn't it all along your intent, I believe.
Passed into face,
apocryphaltext Vol. 34 poems by david brennan
David Brennan's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pank, Beeswax, h_ngm_n and other journals. His ebook Whiskerhead Dreams the Dread Chicken (BlazeVOX Books) can be read at blazevox.org. He lives and teaches in western Virginia.