This poem was published online by BOMB magazine as part of the OnandOnScreen project, curated by Thomas Devaney. It was intended to be heard along with a specific recording of Sir Georg Solti conducting Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” at St.Stephen’s Cathedral.
Click on “Play” below to hear Ernest Hilbert reading the poem.
My summer boat is filling with snow.
I’ve sewn boyish stars in my pocket,
My heart a corroded green anchor
That swims to a tranquil seafloor and trusts it.
Love stuns with its song and tilts with fear.
We wake and wake, and what for?
Will we find soliloquy or song in the chatter?
I’ve learned to hear currents hum low
Around my pillow and know it’s a matter
Of moments until one connects
And singes me quietly to a small curl.
Ah, Gargantua, come, steal onto my lap.
Agh, Rabelais, you know me, you nap
Warmly with my fly-encircled felines.
We are pinned down by a spring moon.
We still battle toward the black Rhine,
Collect photo albums along the side
Of rain-thawed roads. Soil squelches. The Reich
Is always at war. Our sad stories stretch upstream.
Another brain cell slides from its liquor
Like a Wellfleet from its pearled lagoon.
Painted sockets celebrate their long-lost plugs.
Somewhere a piano always plays.
Just assure me of that, and maybe
I can stay and not be sick with dread
Or worry about the choices we lose.
Must I pretend there is nothing left to hide?
Was I born like this, a stormed bruise
Of river, lightning stuck like a shard in my chest?
Shining airliners lurk in, rumble low.
We know someone at a screen corrects
Powerful courses before they hurl
Onto our backyards, where we pour
Beer till it foams over in bee-hunted sunshine.
I’m primed like a new match to strike
And lob flame for a late-night gleam
On faces deprived, as always, of rest,
The neglected and eternal giver
Of my tiny, time-besieged whip of light.
Next day, steam goes up from our mugs
Of shimmered black oil. Our digital displays
Deliver, all day, luxuries of the purebred,
And, with a click, choked engines, debris.
I am in the unfinished novel of a suicide.
In each suburban room I catch the blur
Of his corpse hung in a corner, on the slurred
Side of my sight, but others can’t decide,
Don’t see it, or, more likely, don’t care.
A rhythm unlocks across the idle air,
Picks like a tick bird on a rhino’s white
Stony hump in the watery heat, far away.
The pink urinal puck gargles in its cold falls like a mint.
The alligator remains agape. Grievances are voiced.
I’ll keep to my book-laden bed today.
The slats bleed too little rainy light
For me to ask for more.
What’s it all really for?
What is the point? Why hoist
So much weight only to let it down?