High Lit Lonesome
Robert Vivian

for Osip Mandelstam

Poet is a lover is a thoroughbred racing down the home stretch wild mane flying and poet is a flower is a bird is a flame and windmill spinning clockwise in headlong berserking and poet is a tool shaped like a scalpel is a song of world-drenched words is a decal stuck on yon battered suitcase from Zimbabwe, Rhodesia, Lithuania or the arctic circle and poet is a sigh is a whisper is a shaft of sunlight shining from a partially opened door deep in the night fathoms past sleep where a man moans in a chair rocking back and forth in ecstatic sobs and poet is a wastrel is a thief and crying little girl holding her broken hand like the fey lily of ever after and poet is an earthen pot and cracked windshield in planetary seams of unbearable vision and pennant flicking its tinsel above an almost empty used car lot and poet is a voice is a grave is a speaker of signs and reader of signs poet is a star is a star is a star all by its high lit lonesome out in deepest space, door knob center of blackest nil, and poet is a firmament a galaxy a cigarette smoldering in an ashtray and poet is a fool is a gardener and tender of small animals with a walking stick studded with thorns and poet is a drunk whose apocryphal last words were “I just had my eighteenth martini” and poet is a school desk and hidden notebook whose scrawling have nothing to do with the lesson at hand, nothing to do with A, B, or C or failing grade, nada, no door prize or standardized test or best seller list or any statistical measure and poet is a beggar is a bootlegger is a flyweight boxer who punches like he just wants to dance and poet is a grave on a hill and canted at an angle some might call almost levitational and poet is a look a touch a longing and scent of jasmine on the back of a woman’s neck and poet is a free-fall plunge into great electricity and chemical feeling and incalculable innocence and outlandish presumptions that what he sings of what she sings of is true past all legislation at the crossroads of the first breath and the last and all eternity speaking in you, in me until the deep inner voice cracks and gives way to thunder and lightning and waft of ionized air down a mine shaft where the canary is still singing in the darkness and the flame still flickers, oh, my sweet crushed Osip, may your voice live on forever.


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