Marvin Bell

The Dead Man's Roulette (spin here)

In Part One the dead man is out of order.
His grid and his mandate waver like screen wire in sunshine.
Adrift on the back porch, with a show of fireflies and the humid
        tree leaves massaging the air.
If it was called for, if it was truly desired, if one couldn't live without it.
It would come to you invisibly, without the sound of a hasp closing
        to tell you it had been placed in your purse.
It would come as a sow's ear, a capillary left from the bypass,
        a pulled tooth, clippings and shavings, the sediment of one's DNA.
The information is awful when looked back at.
Now the information has become the inklings of evolution—
        in that sense, random life.
Lachrymose whispers of a satiated revolution.
The kit and caboodle have been taken down by a holy elephant.
The parade described a circle because of the tent, blustery when lifted.
So this was the ratchet-wheel on which the world turned.
So these were the saw teeth which held, and the braking arm thrown
        forward just in time.
Thoreau resisted an interactive Walden, now the dead man refuses
        to get in line.
One of us is here, and another is over there, and the dead man will not tell.
Just when chaos was taking the shape of a butterfly.
Just when hard times were clicking into place, the hammer fell.

Part two will have the character of succession.
Part two will embody the inevitability of random choice, seated.
And a matrix across which the philosopher's feet will pick up dirt.
If it were the weight of the boots, if it were the lateness of the hour.
O look at the beauty into which the horrific can be molded.
Compare thee to a summer rose at thorn's edge, and the blood
        thereof to the hundred ways thou mayst be loved.
For it is our nature to be immobilized by wanting, by having,
        by a hairshirt in a display case.
Who is it that I was that could have become the one I no longer know?
One sees, does one not, the rage to hang up one's clothes for what it is.
He shall not escape time who maintains an appreciable order.
Thus did the dead man take a bite of reality and make it muscle.
He knew that Part Two could exist only in relation to a beginning
        that had never occurred.
So this was the circus where they rode and they ran in circles.
So this is the Big Top where the tickets were punched.
"I'll be right there," one says, lacking a sense of place.
And the school bell, peeling, scours each young brain in waves.
Spin the bottle or circle the wagons, heedless you're still on the way.


Home |  EPR #1 | About EPR


© 2001 Electronic Poetry Review