June 07, 2004

A Poet Dies

In an entry from about three weeks ago, I used a poem by Jim Carroll from his Fear of Dreaming book. That poem is on page 55. If you take that times two, on page 110, you find this piece.

A Poet Dies


Those who die in my dreams have taught me well of the modern world; I have taken from them an everlasting nobility. And they die always in the past, where the wooden frames of windows are too thick for my hands to grip. I hold on above the streets and watch them, unseen from within. A young poet has died overnight in his chained bed. His face is shaded blue with sweet asphixiation; his eyes have left their sockets and roll back and forth across the shivering floorboards, as if gravity were upset for the absurdity of his death. His lips are black and thick like a painted whore. The lymph stones are sinking beneath his throat. It is all too much for the bearded doctor, who wipes the condensation from his eyeglasses and draws a stunning white hood from his bag to cover the poet's head. He hands the certificate of death to the hotel owner and the chamber girl to sign. I hear the young girl, who alone is saddened by the beautiful dead man beside her, tell the doctor that she is able to write, but has no name. He takes the certificate from her trembling hand with impatience and marks it with an X beneath the hotel owner's signature. A sheet is raised over the hooded body and the three withdraw from the room. I can hear the doctor's laughter trailing down the hallway. I look down once more to the floor, where the poet's eyes have come to rest along a thin dull carpet. They are fixed on me, blue and clean.


Only for those who die am I naked in my dreams, and because he has died so young, my body outside his window is flawless and thin. Some men in finely cut suits in the streets below are upset by this. They scream up to me in German; they think it is important I know that they are lawyers. And they send some young boys at play, who thought me an angel, around the square to bring them the magistrate. I have no time for them, my eyes are riveted still to the floor. The dead poet's eyes are signaling me to a table directly beneath the window. I smash the glass with my jade rings and gather up his notebooks lying there. I place them secure on the sill beside me and look back. But the eyes have dissolved, there is nothing left but some shadows of heat rising from the carpet. Somehow the whole room has changed, and the knotted blood throbbing beneath the hood and sheet is stilled. But the lawyers beneath me are screaming louder, now they are flinging small stones and bits of jagged glass. I see blood across my bare ankles, but it does not sing. I'm driven beneath compassion for those of the past; these vile little fiends, with their stiff, perfect hair and their tattooed pricks, have let their poets die unknown in chained beds. Gravity knows the justice of my revenge, and comes to my aid. I dance on the ledge, with the notebooks of a dead poet between my legs. I wrap my naked body in some blinding foil, and the sun scatters off me in thin lines like wires whose heat slits the lawyers' eyes. Some grey fluid runs from the holes. They cup their ring-laden fingers to their faces and moan and stumble to the gutter to turn on their elbows in the scum pools. I balance like a dancer on the edge and piss on each of them eternal syphilis through the slits, before the cure has been given. I tighten the notebooks beneath my arms for my return, and look down. I will have no more from them ... I am of the future, and my power is great.

© Jim Carroll, 1993

I don't know that this poem references anything going on in my life. However, obviously a part of me must die for me to leave this place. I have been contemplating my "Leaving New Mexico..." essay. You'd think after 20 years I'd have a lot to say. But as of yet not much comes to mind. I've been listening to Pink Floyd a lot lately. Comfortably Numb [live version] is playing right now, and this describes my emotions regarding the move. I'm fine with it, and there is nothing to get freaky or sentimental about.

Posted by Wayne at June 7, 2004 11:57 AM
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