Mark McMorris

Dear Michael (9)

If writing is the climbing of a hill
as swans climb the air at Coole Park
if hill is the hull of a spaceship
in a station gantry, and ready to go
then I have a packet of questions.
What spectacle of sentient Borealis
detains the voyager at his launch?
Was not the text of impeccable beauty
impossible to climb, the crown of firs
we sought a crown of thorns, and less
than sweaty labor with a jack-hammer
splintering the page in summer
sunlight and starlight and gaslight
cylinders of pencil and fuselage
writing contrails in an ashen heaven
overtures to oral? What tin cup goliard
can sing the hill to light, can cancel
the cathedral of monks eating bread
issuing edicts and modern apologias
for this war, that hell, some inquest
hunched over tea and baffled?
(Study these questions and write back.)
The losses accumulate dirty clothes
thrown in a corner of the earth-craft
the nightmare worst-case Columbus
sets sail with a sword and a notebook
sets fire to the boatman’s workshop
a tactic of no pursuit, dear Michael,
I find myself to be unequal to this
a scapegoat, cultural necessity man
still I am ready to launch, triage!
I am the cannibal Jumping Jack Flash
call for plasma, a practical dilemma
of how-to, not what-is, or when-will
the walls of Jericho tumble, the hill
become a hull and the ship the roaring
engine of a mid-course, mystical
mantra been down that road already
the fons communis talks to Clemenceau
walked down that road already
hell, ain’t no rainbow on that road


I say I been down that road already
met baby Jesus on that very road
been all over that trickster road
ain’t no comfort to my soul

I say I been down that rocky road
saw Gandhi he walked that road
been up and down that road already
too many crosses in my soul

mud on the shoelaces that knot
sentience to sentence and to song.