by Brian Heller '11
To write a masterpiece, I must first unhear what
is heard, put shells away on the shelf, no, not to
the ear, forget that alabaster cracks, sip the
steaming waters of Lethe;
listen once to my sentence, twice to the
neighbor's cat languidly dragging its tail across
plastic siding. A masterpiece is serendipity, not
wrought iron production:
a gestalt of the line, the cat tail, your voice for
me. What a voice it is, I'm certain. You may have
heard me recite my self at the cashier, chasing
lines of beards between the registers, nevermind
the avocados, the watermelons drying, stacked
like bent pyramids by the shelves of endless
aluminum snaking through the strip malls and
hallowed grocery aisles.
You look for America in my voice, to be lilted
among the ravels of farms knitted together, and to
find your own fibre among the knots, gossamer
child, green and bronze, dyed lapis grey for winter
just as the hills of late autumn grass.
You look for loose seams in quilt patches, with
eager enthusiasm to tear down to the sumptuous
peat therein. Feral things dwell in the cotton, wild
and insignificant markers, an erotic scent caught in
the trappings; I breathe from the lung of America,
offering breath for breath the weaving of voices from
Solomon to the quiet orchard. Mine is the smell of
worked clay, and the smell of salt spraying inland.
Observe the blight which moss does not cover; that
which nature does not heartily consume too finds
itself many years retired. Gardener and soldier may
temper their lawns, mowers alike, may spill grass
blood and tread the mauled shoots; soul and sole,
mulch and mesh which form the knots and rings in the
The war infantries wage is bound to life, as their
march melts the snow between them. The logistician is
ignorant as the mulch which forms him; the patterns of
his page are blind machinations, a curve of cuneiform.
He can create and create alike, and be among but the
permutations of hieroglyphics before him.
His paths, though fresh to him are repetition of stroke,
line, and cross. He is bound to the liquid arcs of circles,
as inspirations permuted across weather worn ley lines.
I do not worry to mow the squares allotted to me in my
time; I have slept in the curves of a prophet's heel,
pressed in like foothills.
Look at the cat as you breathe; had it wine before
pawing along the laggard cobble driveway? It holds a
fraction of the single, massive breath; is it unaware of its
gift of carbon to the tree, to the springing grass under
the tight-skinned deer? Does it know you are watching;
is it watching back, stumbling eying you through the
Where lilacs blossom, they release their scent into the
air; they too breathe and absorb, sprouting, unfurling their
dulcet, spinal flowers. They too need the spread of salt of
the day. Where you have taken yourself; what flags do
you keep raveled in your suitcase?
Add them to my line as well. What inured smells have you
nearly forgotten and yearn to reexhume? Add them to my line.
What fetching mad man's eyes fill you with the fleeting
spark of sanity? Read me through his eyes. They are tired
eyes, natural eyes. Busy, arable eyes.