Joel Chace

from timocracy 

Trembling puddle:  he’s on that path though he’s made his cane
invisible.  Such terrain as is ours.
                                                                   At last, they’d
done it, arrived at city’s end, blackened façade rising,
curving above them.

                                                                              uneightable     unsi
                                                                              xable     un
                                                                              fourable     untw
                                                                              oable     unon

                                                        So they turned back, saying
they hadn’t wanted to leave, after all.
                                                                           To neglect 
music, exercise, and begin to gather wealth.
                                                                                         Unseen cane.


Letter makes a sidewalk curb; word, an alleyway; phrase, a block-long street; clause, a bridge; sentence, a six-lane avenue down this city of speech. His cre- do, next thought, best words; his speech, crook ed, duck- like, dull. He wants to hide his feebleness; hence, the cane. And, though, it’s immaterial, has become weapon, mutilating those who care to study him too closely, those whose scattered remains — one’s sinew here, another’s bone there — gather themselves up to make a whole witness, the one only who will escape and testify. Blood has a lexicon; spilled blood, its own.
A new Sphinx claws its way over the walls of the city of speech. This time the beast is male. Each day sickness spreads. Ramparts would weep if they understood. To un- riddle the riddling double-beast’s singing whose music is not music at all, dance that knows no music. This time it gives us the answer first: catastrophe; and, to extirpate the curse, we must say, in exact words, the riddle. But our sentences slur. The word of truth is singular in nature, and no flying dream.
In this lake — in — lies a corridor; watery, long container; narrow, floating stage: scene, a hallway; he stands at the far end. As he walks toward us, doors on each side open. From every doorway, an arm thrusts forth, with clipboard and document attached. Without even glancing, he signs sheet after sheet, un- til, blur- ry-close, fade, cut. He’ll never make a dive, back to that reenactment, that reprise of how he brought himself to now, when li- quid dark- ness over- whelms his, on- ly his, sight.
For the walled garden, he hired decorative hermits — then forgot he’d done so; then forgot them; then forgot the garden. They’ve sheltered in brambles, kept accounts with sticks on leaves, and made plans to show him. The divid- ed line. all that is mir- aculous, and he be- lieves in just him- self. With stings in their fingers and hell in their toes, they shall come at him with thorns from a rose.

Joel Chace has published work in print and electronic magazines such as The Tip of the Knife, Counterexample Poetics, OR, Country Music, Infinity's Kitchen, and Jacket. Most recent collections include Sharpsburg, from Cy Gist Press, Blake's Tree, from Blue & Yellow Dog Press, Whole Cloth, from Avantacular Press, Red Power, from Quarter After Press, Kansoz, from Knives, Forks, and Spoons Press, Web Too, from Tonerworks, War, and After, from BlazeVOX [books], and Scorpions, from Unlikely Books.
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