Homage to Emerson

Kenneth Irby

To inform bronze to breathe more gently, or marble to smile more quietly, or the erasure, or the book, self-published, with a dedication to whoever will steal it, a work of criticism meant in fact for that poetic spirit, a contentiousness as edgy as the author’s drunk, whoever’s just come in the room or he has, between one snort and pulling a knife after another, stabbing the desk to punctuate the periods of the discourse, or an old wooden lectern as long out of fashion as that same tradition of the cocktail party, that walks in and finds more places to sit in your apartment than you ever knew you had, sudden, unexpected, the bed not made up, but always the possibility, the tension of the night to have people walking on it, and they do, and the frames they bring along and carve again till those too invite theft and disappear, the sheer crossing of gauze in the air to talk and come back later and reinform invisibility

an instantaneousness of out of nowhere, can make a party happen any place just by being there, but always a party with a lot of trouble in it, and being able to see it all at once, like a set of simultaneous strobe light exposures of every movement of the whole night piled on top of one another, and not making a movie out of it, for in the darkness in between each move and flash is the party, the frames that doodle and disappear, the knife edge, the wedge between evangels, the reaching for itself is messenger

the night day the day room the night, and when the bars close invite everybody back to the apartment to keep partying on, you come in through the ear of it and set a beat to rotate, two longs two shorts, and speeded up with flipflops and bare feet, on out the window, onto the roof, on into the unfinished next door through the walls, one way of bringing an old lover back and through again, you heard once long ago and followed on out into that country, out there, that way, the day night the night room the day, else now how could you ever at all

what about the man just yearned after, the jumping koala pot, the cornhusk cigarettes that burn as fast as a match or faster, the silence in all the valleys and at the Western Gates, the autobiography of still so much to decide on, the history that’s there before any history, in us not as a depth in memory but as an immediate disorder in the mind, and grown darker

the man sitting two rows ahead on the bus earlier reading Borges, retrieved the copy just bought of After Borges where it slid off the seat and under his, but he didn’t know Labyrinths, he was the labyrinth, or unerringly encountered among cherry trees in bloom, very old, very sinuously trunked, or the flowering paths that do not yield or satisfy, though you think you’re there with people you know and love, and are, or how do you know they’re there and how do you know they aren’t, never easily amazed, and by yourself, who is in there with you, who do you keep true company with inside, not images but known, or who is known except outside, and those you do not know, and picked up and handed back the pencil and pens that had dropped out of the inside jacket pocket when the book fell, as quiet and completely compactly elegant as the fancy man outside the Music Menu Club in Greektown Detroit, silk-enclothed as with the fur of every kind of moth

he was a mathematician of shrink-wrapped packaging, he said, or at least a tactician of soft, tight polygonies, and was there with his girlfriend, a former bar waitress, who said they used to make their Negronis with rum, rum and, and all the rest, the surround of a life, the rocky barrennesses to run off into and hide in when they come after you, a friendly, edgy guy, who offered to make me a copy of it all, but then said no, better burn a CD, right, and be there in the car then, thunder, and the neither of us and the both of us and the power in the car, to listen, and a month later the “Sunday Styles” in the Times reported a Cuba Libre made with gin, gin and




in the alley at the side door behind the bakery he sits, a white sheet wrapped around him up to the bald of the head, looking off into the Presto and the gas pumps, circumfused in air, into the dark time to come, and if you crossed Alec Guinness and Claude Rains were Daddy Warbucks (who’s just died), but with no blunked-out eyes and not all bald, yet still Daddy him, come up to you on the street downtown and started crying he just couldn’t say it anymore, the blocking off of every kind of emotion, till it could no more speak out against and had to speak out against, on into the dark Autumn, cold Autumn, sitting in the alley, veering in the mind while motionless hopeless to survive but walking in the woods under the gas pumps, ricocheting trunk to trunk, leaf left to leaf to let go, you go find, you go find, you go find