Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE POET, by JANE MILLER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

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THE POET, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You would procure the oil of forgiveness from the angel
Last Line: With great humility, bathed in tears and barefoot.
Subject(s): Americanization; Cities; Decay; Modern Man; United States; Urban Life; Rot; Decadence; America

You would procure the oil of forgiveness from the angel
at the doors, and get a small branch for a tree
that finds no use until it becomes a bridge over a river.
You have a premonition, while crossing,

about the wood's fate, and rather than step farther,
cross on foot. The wood lies dormant for centuries
until it's dug up and three victims die on it,
scattering the Jews. Unable to discern The
cross from those of two thieves, you place them in the pit
of the city, in the early hours hold each above

your head, and with the third are brought to life
zipping between buildings at high speed, shifting
into fifth out a disembodied ramp.
The thrill in the air is sexual, the ballpark darkened
and the hologram of the shut airport glowing,
your headlamps trained on mall light in fog made
more intimate and infinite by the collapse
of time, cement bits swirling your sealed space
to the strains of violins. It's the dawn of an era.

Time does not improve it. You live in a sunny place
and work in a sealed building. IO MPH on Interstate 405
by 2000. The twentieth century, begun in Vienna, has ended in California.
..gas meters on your left and electric meters on your right.
Ahead, at the end of a passage, out in the light
a flight of concrete stairs. As you climb

you see the big towers of the financial district
fifty stories high a few blocks away...

The sense of entering a city nobly, walking the freeway at night
before it's torn down, hearing Portuguese, German, Japanese,
French, Chinese, seeing views of the bay, metallic, choppy,
and of the suspension bridge, and the ships, this is over.
About the demolition, a few warnings, like those about the earthquake.

The clack in the streets of Vienna, a carriage door slamming
and a continuous fountain, though far away, seem no farther
than the broken freeway. The bells of the tower, quiet.
The stones smooth and brilliant in moonlight.

You are in a car with music and air conditioning and a phone.
Softly, the classical station massages you.
You know in the back of your head
the best of your creative life has been siphoned away
by desire and money, desire in general and money in comparison
with others, but between one abstraction and another you yourself
quietly and fiercely participate in a disappearing place,
one you loved and were prepared to enter
with great humility, bathed in tears and barefoot.

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