Michelle Greenblatt & Sheila E. Murphy


In the flaring
eye of afternoon, still
objects stream
around the grey
barn: scrub
brush rooted in breccia, dry weeds
in chert, twigs scattered in the sinople
dirt all flow
past the solid given
upward, tingeing the vista
black before hemorrhaging
into air. Scalded
Merthiolate and planks exploding
let go
splinters charred,

as if hypothesized in nano-
the long-
ago voice
a concussive echo
in the convulsive
agitation of sere
wood as it purls
into turbid hematite
smoke: promettez-moi
que vous pourrez regarder jusqu'à la fin—

—et promettez
que vous n'oublierez

to the lesson (promesse à la hâte,
de se repentir
dans les loisirs
we agree.

Reeds meantime
cross the midline,
effloresce as though
once documented,
they will have
been defined
and then dismissed post

Metonymy replaces
with negation.

Take an epicentered
stand and witness trans-
mutation dressed
to dazzle
in its cruelest finery. Twisted within
the barn, a dense black
ball of smoke expands.
Metal sings.
Whirlwinding ash and
flames take
hold of this late
afternoon’s demise
another holocaust

to document, complete
with street-creds, bragging rights.
Meanwhile, heat turns
toxic: Merthiolate melts
into thimerosal. In
our selves, a deepening
of crimson

The walls are ravaged;
the roof, gone, one window
holds: beguiling, gleaming
multiple gelatinous
impressions of the brittled

afternoon: spooked
with soot, it sips tones limber
against arcadia; arciformed
in single file take
turns deflecting
as recompense
for chalking heat’s
irrefutable red
fumes slips

further away, distance doubling
and redoubling
in the grey. One strand at a time
the mean
feathery slip of
ash. A vector
of force borne
of carefully ensconced
caliginosity blotting out the stenciled

of quick-
sunlight; the long
weave of serpentine
road declinates
as it transmogrifies
into little

than curvilinear shimmer
in the gloaming.

The window reflects
none of the panorama
seen, nor yields a glimpse
of the penetralia containing
the polychromatic shades
of the blaze. Within, a mote-free
clarity. The window catches
light from fast-
approaching world of night. Not a clot
of flies mid-
air. But turn around and see
the barn has folded into
itself, its materials
obscuring the intentions
of the gathering
shadows. Now

dreams refute milquetoast ideas
never voted in,
yet there for the duration.
The soul coasts because the solo
yet to be performed awaits
the seizure of the notes upon
uneven numbered lines that form
a staff, then staves: panicked
asphyxiation obscures the dual
scimitar of its annihilation: the still-
famished fire fashions each
flame into a grasping hand; the collapsing
wood-beams shape themselves
into impalement’s perfect

What if clouds no longer covered,
and the litmus test of barn-burn
was the quiet cigarette that curls
its signal into places
now unwanted, nicknamed
anywhere but here.

Fire dictates the direction
the eye is looking: the line
of sight, there where
it grazes, flames

the surface
of surging presences:
in the absence of
ambiguity. The mind is torn

awake. Its
truth forms irreconcilable
tension, dispensed of via relegation
to negation. Summer
trees collapse
into roiling air,
cyclonic ash, measured exile
between reality and self, driven
transverse. Nonetheless, one knows
the threat

of dissolution. Dark
smoke: flames circumnavigate
the sky, create
cruel ambience
whose mean heat seals clouds’
eyes closed, then
extend its reach
past atmosphere,

Comets collide
in one
incision, carving
each glissando, welding smoke
and space

Nets craft
to form

Magnet synonymous
with truth reveals
real time about to
trend white
flittering normed formats
via powers of deduction.
This palace springs
to mind toward frolic as if
only chaperones invested
momentary heat
in the fomenting indulgence.

Each imaginable form has
shifted past
the flame, not one blade
of grass altered,
not one mosquito tested
by the smoke. But when we
turn to find our denouement,
we decipher

a landscape seen from
distance of
the soul,
the bodies
two small
piles of ash
an ashen barn.

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