by Erik Amundsen

In prime and in chief I call you my siblings,
we who suckled together at the kindness of our mother,
we who sucked and grew fat on her bounty,
fat, and also strong. Hers are the tusks that rend,
hers is the mouth that trails the gut in red ropy streamers,
her claws are those wet with the lives of the foolish and vain.
Listen, in prime and in chief,
you who tasted of her milk, to the cry of our father.
His breath is the killing blast of the winter,
his heart is the rage of ten thousand furnaces,
his belly is full of the lightning of all storms. Know him,
know him, and listen.
I’ve seen an army of children formed,
I’ve seen an army of child hands forced to hold,
forced to give honor and praise, trained, not well,
given swords, given a vision of a heaven, a sky
they won’t ever see, nor any one who brings their given piece
their given piece of metal down.
I call, I cry, and hear me, in prime, listen, in chief,
and raise a voice with me, be it the howl of the pack
of the hungriest wolves or be it the hiss of the basket
that holds the serpents. I will take them.
I will take the number, from first to none, with open hand,
slap those weapons to the ground, and those children,
yes, they’ll know my hand, they’ll feel my palm,
but their leaders, the ones who made the metal
the ones who, like a father, bent those little fingers
around the hilt and pommel, those men, they will know
my venom, tooth and nail. In chief, they will learn,
In prime, they must be made to know,
A mother bore each child in that rout, a father should
have taught them how to hold themselves, as ours did.
Their leaders, in chief, create a hell, light its fire,
they must learn, in prime, should they seek
to send their children down to fire,
let it be them who come to know the fire.
They who send their children to the mouth of the glutton,
they know nothing of the belly of Moloch.
It is time that they came to understand.
It is time for them to learn.

This is your moment, balanced,
a stood-up jagged piece of glass,
and in a moment, a weapon.

In second and to my sight I call you, my adversaries;
I see you are in numbers and those numbers
I am bound, with left hand scalded by fires,
right hand run with chilblains; you I will sort
as though I sorted apples in two baskets.
To my sight I see you, adversaries, you men,
you women of other lands and times, and a war
that stands between us. War, but without hate,
I break the head off of that spear, I crush it out
and grind the head into the earth and leave it,
as a serpent to be taken by the scavenging bird.
You see me, in second, now, without my paint,
no plume, no armor, just my flesh, I come, as you,
came, to my sight, in second, I offer a hand
and you may strike it, but you must also take it up.
This has gone too long; in my sight,
I see the field piled with us, our coring,
our peels, and the vinegar stink of us.
If you say the dead tell us to fight,
I say you know nothing of the dead, and it’s time
for you to see them for yourself.
Look into my eye; this is not violence, this is truth.
In second, in my sight, I see the other,
my adversaries through failure, through betrayal,
those who were given to rule, but let the crown
slip over their eyes, those given to plenty,

who left my siblings in hunger and want,
those given to spirit and chose a spirit of hate,
those given to strength who picked up that spear,
the one now broken, the one now ground out
in second, as it should have been in prime,
as it never should have been at all.
You profit from this no more. I have spoken
to the bees, and they will deny you their sweet,
I have spoken to the hornets, and to the wasps,
I have spoken to the thorns and now, now
they are thirsty, and the stings will drive you there,
from my sight. Your war is broken,
your power, stolen in second, stolen, squandered
spent. You gave blood to Gods of War, and now
they are drunk and will not listen when you cry,
and in my sight, you will be as washing,
wind-torn from the line, scattered in the thorns,
pierced, and in the sun, in a second, will you dry.
The butcher birds will pierce their meals
on the thorns of your resting place.
No one else will know where you have gone.

Everything is relative in this dark land
this flattened plain, vastness ahead
fastness behind, and there are thorns
and voices caught, voices tattered.

Everything is relative in this dark land,
this is not smoke or cloud, it is black,
against a black sky, it has no smell,
but sound. I saw it turn and thunder
toward me in the shape of horses
with lightning for eyes, lightning
the color of salmon flesh. I saw,
this what remained the tower fell,
and the sky cleared.
Everything is relative in this dark land
these are stars that circle our sky,
but they are not our stars. This refrain,
this is the breath between two screams,
this is the rage when it comes in.
Everything is relative in this dark land,
to know your sins, name them, to name
your sins, you must own them,
the devil was weak and cold
lying in the desert, so I picked him up,
he was my devil, and now, now
he is still my devil, I might never be his
never again, but our sins, we share,
we share them all in common,
and everything is relative in this dark land.

This is the end, as the tower falls 
the smoke will clear,

lights in the skies we took as star

reveal themselves as Gods. 

In final and in closing I call you unnamed, you

invisible, voiceless, those lost in the sea,

lost in the echo that transmits in soundless space, 
you yet to be, children and dead, unbegotten. 
The wind will press down upon the fields 
and the grasses sway, and the things come down, 
we have no name, they are great, like clouds,

terrible like storms and their justice is terrible 
in closing. Calamity, catastrophe, the bad star, 
now fallen, will gather the evil that brought it up, 
gather as fish at the weirs, caught, gasping, 
in final. I call nothing to crash in where something 
had been wrong, the surgeon heals, 
in closing the wound made by the surgeon’s hand. 
All the things that have been taken and lost, 
all those in final places, those names not remembered, 
those faces never again seen, they gather 
and in closing, they witness. Witness this, 
I cry out, in final, the place where stones only listen. 
Before the final leaf falls to the ground, 
before the conflict grows so foolish that the world,

that the people die of shame, closing up the book 
of this world, these lives, with more than half 
of its pages blank. These stars are not our stars, 
this world is not our world to destroy,

and from suicide, in final, are we forbidden. 
This is my curse unto you: you who would be the last, 
you who would burn the world for a moment alone 
with a destruction you call God, I curse you to live,

live and regret. Live and feel shame, and be known,

be known by the unknown for the things you have done,

those who have no voice and no sight, I call you, 
use my eyes, use my mouth, speak with me. 
Life, then, it is for you all to live in the shapes

of the scorn of all of us, you fools, you conquerors, 
you would-be destroyers. You will bleed a river

bleed your own blood, enough to fill the ocean,

and never do your veins run dry, you are despicable, 
and you will live to be despised. Calamity.

Catastrophe. In final and in closing, I curse you 
with inconsequence. The world taken from you,

the world like a toy, that you spoiled child, made 
of it, in closing and in final, once and for all. 
We make a place for you among the friendless, 
and though I am filthy as well, you who profit, 
you will be known as filthier still. My hate dies 
as you live, as your dreams are yanked, 
like the reins of the cart from the driver, a fool,

and passed into the hands of those whose faces, 
you have forgotten, and condemned to invisibility, 
they will rule your fate for now, in final, in closing,

in this world, without an end.

So be it.

Taken broadly, Erik Amundsen has had an interesting life; he’s been a baker, an itinerant schoolteacher, worked for two governments and gotten in bar fights overseas.  He now lives at the foot of a cemetery in central Connecticut where he writes nasty little stories and poems that shuffle around in the night when he’s not looking. Or at least he hopes it’s them; something’s got to be making those noises and it’s not the furnace.

One Response to "Desfixion"

  • Magnificent.

    1 Asakiyume said this (April 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm)