Friday, August 14, 2020

So Where Are We? by Lawrence Joseph

So Where Are We?

So where were we? The fiery

avalanche headed right at us—falling,


flailing bodies in mid-air—

the neighborhood under thick gray powder—


on every screen. I don’t know

where you are, I don’t know what


I’m going to do, I heard a man say;

the man who had spoken was myself.


What year? Which Southwest Asian war?

Smoke from infants’ brains


on fire from the phosphorus hours

after they’re killed, killers


reveling in the horror. The more obscene

the better it works. The point


at which a hundred thousand massacred

is only a detail. Asset and credit bubbles


about to burst. Too much consciousness

of too much at once, a tangle of tenses


and parallel thoughts, a series of feelings

overlapping a sudden sensation


felt and known, those chains of small facts

repeated endlessly, in the depths


of silent time. So where are we?

My ear turns, like an animal’s. I listen.


Like it or not, a digital you is out there.

Half of that city’s buildings aren’t there.


Who was there when something was, and a witness

to it? The rich boy general conducts the Pakistani


heroin trade on a satellite phone from his cave.

On the top floor of the Federal Reserve


in an office looking out onto Liberty

at the South Tower’s onetime space,


the Secretary of the Treasury concedes

they got killed in terms of perceptions.


Ten blocks away is the Church of the Transfiguration,

in the back is a Byzantine Madonna—


there is a God, a God who fits the drama

in a very particular sense. What you said—


the memory of a memory of a remembered

memory, the color of a memory, violet and black.

The lunar eclipse on the winter solstice,

the moon a red and black and copper hue.


The streets, the harbor, the light, the sky.

The blue and cloudless intense and blue morning sky.

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