Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hydriotaphia for a Cheerful Nihilist

Avoid him! He’s too happy
in the truth of what
he won’t quite say, it's too terrible
to say outright, in so many words, painful and exact.

But then, whose life
has not seemed, sometimes,
like a kind of practical joke
concocted by a random combination of atoms
crystallized from the swirling of a mutant universe
without hope for eternity, God, or point;
has seemed like a deadend in a metaphysical concentration camp
camouflaged to look like a gated community,
tree-lined, landscaped, guarded by expert security
who moonlight as double agents, terrorists, demons;
a place where the only reasonable expectation
is one’s own, and eventually universal, annihilation:
“creative destruction” (thank you so much for that phrase, Joseph!
What would we do without it?
It suggests so much I cannot go into here . . .),
though, unfortunately, without the creative part?

Oh, better a lie,
a kind, sweet-tongued deception –
better yet, whimper
or shout with rage –
but don’t disgust me
with your politeness:
gag on it, choke on it,
howl and lament to the rocks,
darkness and the stars.

Your smile,
your skillfully poetic melancholy
(the master of the non-sequitur
that is nevertheless always so poetically apt),
your cheerful, gentle despair
is lipstick on a skull.
Are you laughing at us? Don’t laugh at us.
Do you think that quiet pretense of gaiety
and calm, brave nonchalance
will save you? will save us?
At most it shifts the rock
to a less aching bone.
Deny everything.
Say nothing.
Betray no one.
Lie to us.

Lie to us,
if you love us.


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