Unfortunately, I never dated any of my poems. Which is not to say I never thought about it just that, at the end of the day, out of laziness or a romantic sense of timelessness, I have hundreds of poems divvied alphabetically with no real time stamp. So, the trick is to remember the circumstances surrounding a given poem and try to conjure a memory, howsoever whispery, and breathe it in, try to sniff out its vintage. It can be fun. It can be frustrating. But it's always enlightening. Sometimes to read old stuff is to cringe at what used to pass for good poetry. On the other hand, sometimes it is to wince at what now passes for creativity. So it can be lose/ lose, but most times I find something worth the resurrection. Maybe in the idea, maybe in the language, maybe in the very act of exhumation.
I brushed the dust of this one a little while ago. It's a little bulkier than I presently prefer and easily too talkative; but I found myself thinking specifically of you, Ether. You and the Nothingworld and your cousin Amorphilacious-Antaginons. This particular poem was written when you were just a baby and that ubiquitous cousin of yours wasn't even a sparkle in the Philosterous-Nonesucherol's eye. And I, prophet and erstwhile grillcook, descried your coming and decried its value.
We are friends now, I know. Cautious friends. But I have been keeping other friends a secret. Friends you may know and may dislike. I hope we can all get along. Meet this old friend, new friend. He could really use your help.
Interview with a Speechless Library
How, in modern clangor of cells, synthetic bells,
Furor of digitalization, electronic condensation
Of words not written with aching wrists but pounded
On keyboards ergonomic and software intuitive,
Are you still here, relic, museum of dead trees, yellowing
Testament of the gospel according to effort?
When layer by layer the odorous flavor of pages
Stained by coffee mishaps and evidence of trespass,
Whorls of Cheetos fingertips, after years of fallowing
Finally disappears with pandas and seals and Kantian
Ideals, what fashionable meteor, what Wellesian wrecking
Ball will make a dinosaur or a remnant rubble of your halls?
Where, in the surfeit of halogen and neon, will I go
To watch the stuttering flicker of dying fluorescents
Like candles fighting wind and wax, sputtering on fumes,
Or to run a finger along the spines, full spectrum of faded
Color, and hear the putter as I lose count of title and volume,
Lost in the hearkening of my child-self hiding in other aisles?
Who, amid backtracking primates relearning the robotic
Forces of primal nature disguised as a furtherance of man
In his ascendancy to the barcalounger throne, dark scepter
Keeping satellite channels enthralled while myriad dragons belch
Microwaves across his
And movie-going serfs, will stand and fight for your silence?
What, of all the words enseamed in your hoary, creaking tomes,
Or the pictures valued at a thousand more, in the oceanic store
Of knowledge and poetry, every alphabet that ever withstood
The tinkering hands of imagination or the meddlesome erasers
Of censorial clergy in loose robes hiding their private arousal,
Say, what, from all this, should we chisel as permanent epitaph?