poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

Atlas Surfing


As passage cannot be avoided,
open the heavy volume
plop a finger and study terrain
having passed through many hands
trod beyond memory, a late tourist’s object
a beach not too distant

slide-stepping through dunes toward hard-surface beach
where hard winds keen as if for multitudes
passing into long-term forgetting in the latest Great Extinction
another near-conclusive write-off of fleshy life forms
into a long delay, into the informed intuition of an imaginary geologist
a few million years after this battered young century
perhaps a different species from another planet
who picks with a trowel at walls of a red-faced canyon
finds in a layer of debris the entire remnant of human endeavor
“about the thickness of a cigarette paper”

laying aside the tool, the educated alien
thinks of it as a collection of poems
as the near-speech of what cannot be said

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