Eddie Yugen always made me laugh. "Gentlemen,"
he would yell into the high-ceilinged library reading
room at college, "start your search engines!" Puns
were his signature, his ligature. Because I was always
busy with something, he called me Doctor DoMuch.
"My grammar teacher's in the hospital," he'd say. "He's got
a punctuated colon." Or, "A lot of people in the office
called in sick today. Staff infection." My favorite?
"What do you know of love's austere and lonely orifices?"
He's gone now. Cancer of the pancreas. When he
started chemo, his puns became paler, less malignant. Paler. In better days, he would've said "Impaler, you mean." Less malignant. I can hear him saying, "Les M'lignant—
that's a good name for a doc." He told me I should name
the hero of my novel "Failbedder." I considered it.
He wrote his own epitaph: "Beware the lubricious priest;
he wants to hold your tongue." If only we could revive the
tongues of the dead who now can only hold their tongues.
I am sitting in the shadow of fortuitous buildings,
the Bhagavad Gita on my mind, but I am part of
no such embroidered parable. So much so, adventure
seems hardly to exist.
Not far from me, people are
bleeding immoderately. Some may even die. Burials
with hundreds in attendance will occur. Trauma is,
even now, reshaping neighborhoods and firm futures,
even the blue-chip solidity of the past.
But not mine.
I am no longer permitted vicissitude. I am forbidden
the fluctuations of human feeling. Why? They've been
deemed dangerous, a health risk, a threat to existence.
So I remain ensnared in solitude, ensconced
in stereo curiosity, mired in stochastic observation.
leaf from a central trunk like ganglia from the spinal cord, like lines
of magnetic force from the Pole, like microwaves far above the clouds.
Emanations of me radiate from my physical self only to vaporize
in a vexed nexus absent a necessary web.
A flock of defrocked birds
attempts to perforate a pearl sky. I am a non-commissioned non-combatant
in a war of whorls.
Democrazy. Nothing recedes like success.
O, Frabjous day! O, Scabrous day! Callooh! Collusion! Callay!