Richard Deming
The Exterminating Angel and a Prayer against Closure


Streetlight chokes the night with magnesium figures and the angel forgets why he's left
      the Lyceum, anyway.
On the stairs, a chair-shaped man offers a comic apologia, apologia.

                 		                   	Distrust endings. Listen for  
beetles munching at finality's delicate lattice work. Feel your body crack and disappear
	              into the delicate curve of ear, until you become

		             					the listening, the ache,
	              the longing to hear.
	                              What's soul, anyhow, but a turning out of pockets?


Where is it that you said we find now?  Ah, in the timesomeness of things:
	             Wine soaked fingers tug at the edges of a beard, each fugitive hair gone an oily 
red                         and gray.

Worth its weight in hair-shirted ablutions, loss counts for something.
With everything buckety and leaking from rusted seams,
there's no way to hold
what goes.  What stays?  Gulls

	            mutter an empty parking lot.
Okay, the "I" as anthology of what's been
					 seen--.  Experiences crowd
		                     like puckered carp peering through
		                                             a frozen sheath of river.

The moon, adjectival, slides across the unconscionable curvature of space,
	            and as night falls always through each thing we'll ever love, could you expect a fabulist's bottom-
line to sum it all up? Give us this day
								  our daily nuance
		               to which we are delivered.  And in the plain meaning of things, empty
hands project shadow tricks against a proscenium arch.

Desire's cheap  says the angel, reaching for the last cigarette in his pack.


 Mise en scene


			It isn't all about desire, about needing what lies
		at the edge of the eye's horizon.

Say
it is winter, and through the snow
a dark figure-a man--crosses
a bridge between you and there.  Say
he stumbles back,
his pink tongue uncurls like a comma as he calls your name,
					         any name as he falls, that is if                       
he does, over
the side, his scarf spread
above him like an upper lip, narrowing
against	      the winter	        sky.

How would you begin to describe it with words hollowed out by sound?

And how does this occur to you later, recur as syllables

and each vowel offers seemingly
the place where you'd want to invent a new beginning
but there is no new place that lies fallow, unburdened by appearance.

Instead you repeat to yourself: The paddock door
 is unlatched or
	the burner
of the gas stove
		is wide open
and anxiety sets the world in motion:
					an incantation for
			the universe stretched taut like the brim of a bowler hat into which
Houdini pours
a pitcher of bourbon.

Or maybe it'll come back the way it did for Mary Rowlandson, as a series of removes: "But now I must turn my 
back and travel with them into the vast and desolate Wilderness, I knew not whither.  I can remember the time 
when I used to sleep quietly without workings in my thoughts."

But memory is pixallated,
flickers horizontally and
		(did you try
the vertical
		hold?) the screen grows hazy
like the cigarette smoke darkening Rod Serling's
Botany 500 suit on a plastic black and white TV set .
.

Indirection as a means of accounting--the scarf was red, his boots untied,  
but yes you see still he did fall--and his fingers
splayed apart--as if the right details could quarry
	the moment before our eyes
but the truth
	is you can't really say
what belongs, can you?

So invent a plot by which he is brought
	to the edge of the bridge,  which gives the authority
						              for the figure to slip.

				Wait, did you make the whole thing up?
						          (It'd be so much easier if it made sense)

Telling is how we gather, whatever its worth, the ordinary
and how we are fashioned--bewildered (and it is, as Rowlandson said,
						           a wilderness)--
by a language in which nothing appears or
	               disappears, but draws
closer in--as the hushed crowd
	               circles Houdini and his empty sleeves.

Think of a mirror would you as a shoring up of trust
as a place to start, a place to agree

sequins
spin and wobble across the bedroom floor

yessing this moment into the next--
(sequence)

What happened next? The reflection does not hold.
The facts interrogate the space of a moment

while you
woke and fell over woke and fell over
		the terror of partial knowledge

only to begin
	to begin again.

Now a quarter whirls and clatters along
	a tabletop collage of broken glass and coral.

But don't forget too the snow
		              and the bridge
	                 and the man
			              who fell, not falls, and that
					    never
					 changed.