Pagan Necessities / Stephen Ellis


    for Aija Uzulena

Erasure, illegibility
are partnered in

transparent epiphany
as whatever comes

into the disappearing
act that all act

immediately becomes.
There is no other

means to be present
but to become

the penultimate
"step behind" all that

through which the first
piff of magic

steals your flesh
by giving its name

a place in syntax
no longer your own.

Why do we love this
"feeling of belonging"

to the still center of
drama gone awry,

its orgasmic shimmer
that takes us forever

away with it?
The pagan way is

still our way, we
children who line up

alphabet blocks
over and over until

we come to the sequence
that finally allows us

to disappear into
our love of attempting

such arrangements,
ecstatic and toxified

by the terror of
selflessness finally felt.

We enter the semiotic
stream, attached to

all that to which the signs
refer, the inevitable

tragedy of being led
down the garden path,

not because there is
either path or garden,

but for the presence of
these as analogs

for the confusion
and heat that rise

in the heart as
a form of bewilderment.

We go beyond ourselves
not by will, but

that we are simply
taken there, as amechanos

as Hamlet, for it is
not for us to decide,

but only to push against
all that seems to

determine how wrongly
we perceive the changing

positions we each occupy,
around the sip of

each expurgated midnight
cup or petal of some

stranger's rose, all
to the end of neither

knowing nor not-knowing
throughout the means

of every aching occasion.
To erase is to mark.

There is no inversion,
no rabbit-out-of-hat

switcheroo difference
between night

and day that is
telling enough to do

more than pray
that much more to be

present to the cloud
of pink diffusion

whose center we
mistakenly believe is

as black as Celine
or the kerosene smoke

that makes damp
stink in the January

streets of Damascus.
Erasure is the step back

that is nothing more than
stunning. That we can

"see it all" remarks on
how mere, how plain, how

lovely is our incomplete
sense of our own

illegible occasion. See
me. Show me

the spots on the dice.
And in so doing,

mark the distance
through which to spell

the nameless rush of
all that you can love.

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