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Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine

Steve Langan

Notes on Exile

They are wiping clean the fixtures with talcum.

Is it true what we say about the ‘healing virtues’?

You should not believe in all the properties of sunset.

The fine dance of opposites, a gossamer lunacy.

There’s a hole in his heart about the size of her fear of death.

The fixed stare’s upon us. . .can’t you see it, arisen?

He is frightened he might enjoy the palliative.

‘I don’t mean to sound doomed and dreamy,’ he said,
‘it’s just the way the sun bends to her cotton nightdress.’

What about the widow’s unending declarations of innocence?

The mightiest fortress couldn’t keep her home tonight.

There’s a voodoo that registers in his mind I’ll explain
next week at the annual function.

Recollections made whole, he stood still for plenitude.

This is my ‘art.’ These are my ‘patrons.’

It makes perfect sense to him how the wind stole
the brush from beside the palette.

At a certain time in the morning day evening.

The clock sits atop the whistling sawgrass.

The time between now and harem.

Tinctures of dust, rusting ventriloquists.

Lateral desires, music straight from another galaxy near ‘Heaven.’

The worn and noxious husbands and soldiers.

Supremely moving disasters round the corner.

How could you blame him for trying to die?

It’s a shame, redress makes the future finally dry-eyed.

Don’t you remember: he was the one ‘trekking’?

Or was it cobwebs or was it silver coils of hairlength?

You talk with people at parties. You know
what to say.

And rattle some pans to wake the status quo.

And while you’re at it, rattle some faith in the ‘Lord.’

Wait, I didn’t think we’d have to sing hymns all night.

Maybe we’ll be redeemers again after the blinds are drawn.

I don’t know why we confuse kindness, oddness and science.

Do you have a plan, a tune, like iron and sunshine?

It is troubling to think of him lying in the basement.

It is frightening to think of him living underground.

Errant butterflies; winged tales of the sublime.

He keeps asking the matador to make sense of his cape.

All she ordered when I met her was the Denver Omelet.

The other overwrought survivors might ‘smile’ occasionally.

Other than for his playing, Orpheus is known for suffering.

Wisdom: enchanter: tired of roadways, eventually.

Then it was late morning, at the other edge of the cavern.

Succulence: unending: tired posters on a room that once held joy.

Pray for the relief from capitulation.

The beggars loved the misfits who loved
the silvery patterns and the shadows.

‘To borrow a line from a friend who understood
the teachings,’ the manual started.

I simply can’t commit to disaster, even in these rooms full of treasure.

Filthy barricades; persuasive ranting.

If clarity were all they were after, why would they come
to this ivystreaked palace of light?

Another singer would be wailing by  now.

‘A veteran of song and screen.’

Trysts of moonlight: failures of hearing: our excuses.

Love is finally an act of the mind, we learned,
in coercion with the timid hopes of the haunted.

I want to get my shoes back solid on the deck
then we can talk while we sail.

Cowls of sin; treaties of forgiveness.

The blankvoiced reasoner from the hemisphere of desire.


Enlightened pilgrims at the shore made it simple: gifts.

Partly the rations, partly the filth, partly the lack of love.

Troubadors, bamboozlers, cowhands.

Troublemakers, vagabonds, the warped.

Incensed doubters in the corner booth.

Next to a pack of gesturers.

Order off the right side of the menu and you’ll be safe.

Say once again ‘he is smiling’ and I’ll break this pan
over your melon.

On the beach, the same old promises,
lust and tomorrow, a baggie of barbiturates.

Empires of sound, the history of flight, roosting meadows.

A tricky symptom.

Like the ‘meaning’ of the ‘broken glass.’

In hallways, or into the fourth generation, or because of glee.

Suddenly, I had become a reshaper of stones, fabrics and whispers.

My art: decades of silence.

Over yonder.

Wait: the trays of salmon and springtime dips will make their way
round the room soon.

Generations of rust; declarations of fear.

She found an alter ego in the dust.

Squeezed and tugged till it was ‘love.’

Siphon the gas so we have something to warm
our hands over in the morning.

Strip the flakes from the flagpole and repaint but first prime it.

Acolytes and disastrous rumormongers huddled
next to the painting of ‘August.’

Hold on to some of those ideas, like the one about disaster
and reconciliation and promise.

Tatters, tidbits, trucks that haul the grand logs of the Pacific Northwest.

Down the crooked wet highway.

We ‘made love’ within the hollow trunk of the sequoia I remember.

At Redwood National Forest on the tour I remember.

A long way from home I remember.

Jacket 19 — October 2002  Contents page
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