In the hall of mirrors, nobody speaks.
An ember smolders before hollowed cheeks.
Someone empties pockets, loose change and keys,
into a locker. My god forgives me.
Some say love, disclosed, repels what it sees,
yet if I touch the darkness, it touches me.
In the steam room, inconsolable tears
fall against us, In the whirlpool, my arms,
rowing through little green crests, help to steer
the body, riding against death. Yet what harm
is there in us? I swear to you, my friend,
cross-armed in a bright beach towel, turning round
to see my face in the lamplight, that eye, ear,
and tongue, good things, make something sweet of fear.
In the juxtaposition our Parties intend
for us this year, our people have never
experienced such fear, with such unani-
mity, since 1932 - or revulsion, at our
Parties' symbiotic failure, since 1968.
Two Parties portend a combat between the
dishonorable and the dead, where a ques-
tionable distinction of life must define
the alternative. This suggests an inter-
regnum, possibly in favor of life at any
cost, but of such ferment as to show our
present government justified as sunlight.
The storm to come, in four short years,
will gather to seek a decisive, cleans-
ing blow. Two Parties would rather pre-
tend, this were that election, but they
always grasp that way. They still cry,
Choose, within their caustic whirlpool.
This poem, this extraordinary painting,
frame the prospect rather compellingly.
Shall it be for the dark, to wrestle it
now at its weakest, or for the dank, to
stifle good things that make the sweet?
There are two rational choices, but one
objective: to crush the binomial beast.
Shall we give it its head, or ourself a
wound on which it only craves to fatten.
It would be remiss not to confront anxi-
ety that debate wounds resistance to the
dark. Nothing of the kind could be true,
if resistance were competent to withstand
it. If it is not, now is the time to know.
An open convention can ease serious doubt,
eye, ear and tongue making something sweet.
It could ventilate an acrid pall, hovering
over the nomination, of indolent, heedless
contempt; revive moribund distinction, and
rally the partisans of playing fair. Noth-
ing less can draw the necessary contrast
with the dark, or suspend disbelief anew.
The Roman Baths
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010©
Untitled (from the Black on Gray series)
Sea Wall in Algarve
in GQ Italia