One of the poems from my short series on Wallace Stevens. Here we have Wallace returning from the dead. In the category Mining the Library of Babel, if you scroll through, any post with this photo of Wallace accompanying the poem, is also from this series.
A student fist bumped Wallace & the media snapped away,
i cringed, another said: “it’s sick man, you’re like that bible-dude…”
“Lazarus you mean” said Wallace while being positioned for a selfie.
He took it on the chin, the focus seemed agreeable to him.
Wallace, indeed, had returned from whatever pastures of the dead he’d visited,
a librarian found him cross legged like a guru boy in the poetry aisle
of New York library; called security to haul the nude
confused poet out, whose existential re-run, turned him dumb as a spoon.
The great polar bear of poetry strode through New York, familiar,
except the advertising boards multiplied & phosphorous,
the neon made his eyes scrunch up like a cornered arachnid,
the roads whelmed with a film reel of traffic projected on the roads
& people staring into tiny things with cables in their ears.
As an anachronism, which quickly dawned on him, his legs went limp.
In an ambiguous window he massaged his cheeks,
pinched the skin of his arm to test the reality of himself,
just like the birds of Sunday Morning test the misty fields with questionings;
& he considered how he got here, considered & considered to a headache.
“How do you feel about the modern world, is it as you imagined it?”
“There are so many distracting sounds & ugly meta-things that matter not;
but I’m quite fond of them… it’ll take some adjustment, a newspaper
in the palm of your hand, encyclopaedia in your pocket, they’re fine things.
I could never have expected so much superfluous growth
: I imagined practicality would be a major focus— technology as necessity.”
“What were you doing while you were dead?”
“I was given the job of dreaming various events on earth.
I was told by something that it’s the job of the dead to plant the thoughts of men.
My personal endeavour was dreaming a man writing a poem
that was influenced by my own complete works. The reason…
I believe a literary body should be occupied by another imagination.”
“Do you have memories from your previous life return to you?”
“Yes, all the time, but it doesn’t seem as though I died,
but merely took a nap & woke up. It was as waking, yes… a U-turn.
My confusion came from being absent any attire in New York library.
My memories return staccato, that seems to me the mechanics of it
: they bounce from time to time beyond your will.”
“Will you continue to write poetry, you must have much
to speculate about?”
“I must adjust to the world as it is first.
I think a breather is in order, I’d like to visit Europe;
I never had the opportunity in my life, could brush up on my French.”
“On your death bed you confessed to a priest, accepting
Catholicism, which was unexpected considering the themes
in your poetry; what are your thoughts about religion now?”
I have no idea what has happened to me, to attribute
the Lazarusness to gods or a single God, would seem the obvious
conclusion to hop on, however, I have no evidence to give
to anyone that this was the work of divinity— I simply have no clue.”