NABOKV-L post 0002421, Mon, 6 Oct 1997 10:28:43 -0700

Subject
*Dark Ice* V (fwd)
Date
Body
V
*[Behind the mirror, once upon a time,*
110 *Grim revolution: fountains topple, drip.*
*Marksmen gather. Old lecture hall.*
*A bristling, wet-jawed wolf stands up to speak,*
*A steely pince-nez glinting from his snout:*
*Clears throat. Shuffles papers. Looks ahead.]*
"Comrades! We shall will our lungs to breathe,
Trusting no instinct: our beating hearts
Must move or fall still upon command
As we in earnest now take up the Task
120 *[Several in the audience led away]*
Of reconstructing artificially
The sluggish species homo sapiens!
*[Gunshots from the forest.]* Forward, through
Collective dynamic subordination to Will!"
The botched trail of bloodsplats through the woods
Clotted, was picked away by vultures. Bare
Verbs (to have been taken--shoved--to have been killed)
Crunch passively beneath my treading feet.
Each breath of air, exhaled, is history
(A bad dream, Jim, no one awakens from
130 Without a hangover); each history
Forgives the last, desiring the next.
No state grows, green and dripping, wild law;
But falsified, imposed without consent
(No choice, no change, all dismal waste and cold
Impacted thought, thwarted need, rote pain),
Synthetic order is unbearable.
Fit bone to iron? Skin to steel clamps?
Mouth to marble, crotch to rubber knobs?
A dream within a dream within a dream,
140 Those old machines, heavily collapsed
In thesis, synthesis, antithesis,
Sprawl on the ground in parts and sink among
Hairthin intricate nets of living root,
Pebbles, chunks of bottleglass, old bone.
(Through white, eyeclustered trunks, a lookingglass
Of puddle shimmered up, rewriting trees
In mercury; bright brittle glitterpatch.)
The damp wind turns away, then turns to where
(Crowbars on bronze; a hollow hammering
150 Over a diamond-dusted city square)
Some workers with a crane make cables fast.
Blank banners, silk silver, flutter, mirrory,
Canceling scythe and hammer: only air,
A crowd of people and their mixing breaths.
The statue, winched up from its pedestal,
Continues its dumb salute in comedy
As, turning, *rifle ape* becomes *reap life*.
My expertise is not mirology
*(Science of mirrors and mirages used*
160 *By politicians to achieve their ends)*,
But big bronze hands, enormous concrete caps
Held humbly on great trousers of cement,
Huge metal mustaches, mummified men,
Gigantic ikons of iconoclasts,
Seem to be out. The statue's dragged away
Down dangerously raw and sloppy paths
By a grinding, rust-picked tractor: chain taut: go.
I set my thermos on a patch of snow;
Enormous boulders, plastered with fallen leaves
170 The color of old clippings, loomed ahead,
Each gripped exactly by a coat of ice.
A snail-pearl track led back into the weeds,
The barren wood. I groped along the shore's
Picket of unfamiliar winter limbs,
Hoping I hadn't missed a turn. The bank
Was steep and brambly but there was a path,
Old and overgrown. A verst away
Through rustic superessives, unparsed limbs,
I stopped to rest, astride a downed tree.
180 Beneath my boots, trapped in transparent ice,
The flattened scraps of yellowing old leaves
Read *Homer Pushkin's African great-grand...*
LINCOLN FREES SLAVS. *In books today,*
*E. A. Gogol'sMasque of the Red Death*
*and Twice-Told Tales...* ENERGY CZAR DEPOSED.
*Peter Michailoff visits New York,*
*Noted incognito* -- SPUTNIK LAUNCHED;
MEN WALK ON MOON. *Weehawken, Novgorod--*
Some duel. Patent advertisements!*The*
190 *Government of the USSA moved*
*To Petersburg, District of Columbia...*
FOUR BROTHERS STEAL DR. BOTKIN'S TEETH.
*...Planned capitol, with cast-iron onion dome...*
GREENSBOROGRAD-REFUSENIKS "SITTING IN"
AT WOOLWORTH'S LUNCHEONETTE. A
backwards *R?*
*Chernobyl, Pennsylvania--Spokesmen for*
*All-Union Edison disavow...*
STATESMAN ASSASSINATED. PAIR FLEE.
I must be reading wrong. This awful glare,
200 The veins of one leaf bulging through the next,
Impossible to tell if what you read
(PLESSY VS. THE IMPERIAL TSAR
OF MUSCOVY AND IF ALL RUSSIA, FALLS
MORTALLY WOUNDED: DUEL WITH BARON D.;
PUSHKIN MUST RIDE IN BACK OF BUS, JUDGE SAYS;
BROWN V. BOYARS; WHITE HOUSE:
*BEZGLASNOST';*
COLD WAR CRUMBLES: BERLIN WALL COMES
DOWN;
BORIS GODUNOV IS PRESIDENT)
Is not another subject showing through,
210 With old stories wrinkling through the news
In a slop of contexts-sodden history
Sticking to a contemporary--Wait:
*What is this, Russia, or America?*
I shivered, stood, resumed. After a mile
Of Arctic solitude, I heard a rush
Of distant traffic: glimmering ahead
Beyond a screen of trees, the Interstate's
Dark asphalt, glare ice. *Whoosh!* A Peterbilt
Eighteen-wheeler--black, glossy cab
220 With **Hom. S. Talbot** on the door in script,
Hauling a Wabash trailer (marked PODVIG,
*St. Petersburg, Florida*, in crimson paint)--
Flashed through birches; at the wheel, a lean
Georgian man (white teeshirt, faded red
Plaid jacket, and a stiff new pair
Of dungarees) lets blue eyes peruse
Long passages of highway from beneath
His sunbleached gimmie-cap (*AMERICAN*
*By Birth, SOUTHERN by the Grace of God,*
230 With bronze pistol pin); Las Vegas bound
With a load of Bibles. Liking silences
Of long roads, he shuns the radio,
Preferring interstation static, space
Between congested towns; black coffee slops
Cold and steamless from his thermos cup--
--A blanked, bright siding flashes off,
Leaving only vaporous exhaust.
*America. It couldn't happen here.*
So sharpen your wits--(file! pare!)--life moves ahead
240 By work, by luck, by getting out of bed.
"Advice is easy! Difficult is bread,"
Ice whisks and whispers. Elsewhere, as we walk
(Musing on systems, testing hasp and hinge
Of failing puddles), down some grimy steps
A clerk emerges from her token-booth
To empty a turnstile: tokens showering.
Reenters the public cubicle, and lifts
The weighty, dented bucket up, and dumps
(Fare pile) the tokens out (free pail).
250 A shaken pinelimb rattles off its hail--
--A disappearing blur of squirrel tail.
The wood is gone. I'm sitting at my desk:
A sentence skates across an empty page.