The Mathematics of Sin the time I did not turn the other cheek the time I fought an unjust war against a herd of vampire bats in suits and ties the time I said, “The Devil is an ass” the time I lied like the Egyptian midwives lied the time I stole to study poetry the rainy night I rested in your arms Nightshade Rounds Nightshade belayed its poison vines, dormant beneath ice polished by rain and wind. Summer saw the fair where the pale Amish girls in striped blue dresses stared at my ear-ring and we bought Georgia peanuts and blue glass. I still can see the tables underneath beach trees, the piles of kitsch and junk for sale—the patient antique monk might find a treasure somewhere in that jumbled trash, but you and I were reticent to vow to that or anything. Our vows would wash away like waves on Erie’s shore where nightshade grew, and die like mayflies in one summer hour. Our distant rendezvous came to an end. Rain fell like in the raw old days. What can I hear but abstract music now? I listen to Bruce MacCombie’s Nightshade Rounds— meandering guitar, no melody, no resolution, notes—logical, yes, their ostinatos hard, improvisations and a theme, entwining, pale like nightshade breaking through the thawing ground, under the moonlight, under wandering mist, vine-fingers reaching up, poisonous prayers. Hallway No more entrances, and the exits, their reverse sides, all closed up. Dreams had gone live-wire, unapproachable. Out on the street, hope had had its corpse removed. The yellow do not cross tape sanctified its spray-paint form. No exit. Sartre’s hell, but so quotidian. A thousand years of rigmarole would be my sentence— purgatorial bath to lave me smooth and keep me mewling outside locked-up room. This kind of darkness, finger-breaking; silence too; silence’s threat— what lurks and does not use its voice. A gallery with no pictures; empty museum; bookless library; a sterile cave. A zone of fellowship with nothingness where nothingness might take a form or take my soul. How did the metamorphose settle so that I tilted the building? How did I end up standing in the sun? Über Alles rough surfaces the Aryan art above the doors pale marble Vikings at each end the Hungry I hashish shotguns blown the ten-cent pieces and the German girls in earth-tone miniskirts small piles of hog-root near the ripening manure that ten-mile run by desolation row down past the viaduct huge spider-webs over Rhineland vineyard hills mountain monasteries and the old lady collecting two pfennig to let you in the pisser Naming Babylon went from stone to symbol where we hung our harps the place of every hateful bird metropolis that fell in one hour and all the merchants of the world wept tears for her so can a place become ghost-haunted by more than goat-demons cavorting through its ruins or persons phantom like quisling the man erased even before a firing squad blew him apart how many people know he was a man his first name was Vidkun and that he had a wife a woman can become a jezebel the semiology of things Adam would call a something what it was and elephant and fennec fox emerge already you are codified a ruin of memory what once was flesh, your flesh and mine
David Landrum’s poetry has appeared in such journals as Gloom Cupboard, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Small Brushes, Web Sol Review, and many others. He edits the online poetry journal, Lucid Rhythms.