He howled against the stupidity of paper walls.
Letters never swelled with lips or chest,
Like a mind wholly mind, perching
Its gooey wings; but still its shit
Hit hard ground, hardly a ground
That was mine to understand,
Although inhuman, always of the world.
The paper was no persona. No more was he.
The screams and texts were not woven of words
Even if what he penned was what he traced.
Since what he penned had touched face to face.
It may be that in all his lines he graced
The clinging pulp and cutting pen;
But it was him and not his sheets I chased.
For he was the actor of scripts he scrawled.
The ever-ruffled, blank-faced paper
Was merely the place in which he stood to speak.
Whose feather is this? I said, because I felt
It was the pen that he had used and felt
That I would sense it often as he spoke.
If only it was the feather of the bird
That wrote, or just alighted the aching hand;
If only it was the inner whisper of wings
And minds, of the charred branches paper-pressed
However light, it would not be black ink,
The big-sur curl of ink, a moon-tide mass
Awash with moonshine ever canted
Or mass alone. But it must always be more,
Never less than his voice, and mine, among
The pitiful danglings of paper and the pen,
Foliated distances, white palms dropped
On dumb desks, precarious litterings
Of throb and thrum.
It was his hand that pressed
The c keenest in its hollowing.
He sounded to the core its plenitude.
He was the sole believer in the objects
Of which he wrote. And when he wrote, the c,
Whatever character it had, became the character
That was his own, for he was its creator. Then I,
As I caught him howling there in quiet,
Knew that there would not have been new knowledge,
Save the ideas he cried and, deaf, composed.
Wallace Stevens, tell me, if you please,
Why, as your mind deceased and I flipped
The final page, tell why the realest things,
The things in the crude foyers of houses here,
As the walls unfolded, speaking of themselves,
Scaled the walls and sounded past the doors,
Mingling incarnate cantos and mending wings,
Resounding, quivering, vaulting walls.
Oh! Mad quest for echoes, old Wallace,
The poet’s quest to echo sounds of the real,
Sounds of the glued mouths, thickly-scarred,
And of myself and of my own hidings,
In roomier constellations, suppler words.
—Written in tribute to The Idea of Order at Key West