Ephemerality

Writing and poetry
From the 1990's

by Richard Van Ingram

The stainless steel machinery of doom

Lurks in the sub-basement of my moldy reality,

Behind the old canned green beans

Rusting toward eternity.

The priest cries ashes to ashes

And the party commences

The kids pairing off and tasting one another

Like living candy apples

Glistening wetly in the half-light,

Sugary death love sticky melting

In their candystore minds.

The weathergirl watches

The screen's information signaling

Which clothes she should wear

As she stands before the camera's lustful eye,

Naked. Iron maiden, silent lover,

Pistol fist, coaxial cable, tornado tongue.

Compression. The streets of my hometown
Know my footfalls as well as a battlefield

Does its tanktread. Orange fire, mercury vapor

Lamps, arcane blazing, night hating, nature eaters.

The zombies swing at the end of ragged ropes

And tell the tale of winds passing in the carwake,

Call the names of the courthouse occupants,

Fattened on the blood of the slain,

Cooked on fires fed with wood of the forest.

Who will avenge us? Who will exact vengeance

On those who abuse our flesh, for we suffered

For the sake of ignorance and were ground down

Without our own knowledge.

Looking to the television I saw a barroom

And in that barroom they served nothing but

Hot chocolate because no one drank hooch anymore

Due to the implantation of certain microchips

In the cerebral cortex and other centers to regulate

The experience of pain and pleasure.

Imagine a whole planet gone on the wagon

And sober as a judge while supertechnology

Relieves everyone of responsibility and will,

Replaced by perfection.

Is evolution a mistake, the mother of errors,

The last gasping giggle of mad, blind reality?

Imagine the future as an assembly plant

Where you are spare parts in a larger process

Of activity that has nothing to do with choice.

Worse, you like it.

It is your raison d'Ítre to receive microprocessors

And to make love to lithium batteries

And to mix together with the reality of the video

Until there is no distinction between what is and what seems.

ON RECEIVING A GRAD SCHOOL CATALOGUE

I. This morning awaiting me
Was a catalogue of all the things
I can never be.

II. Standing on the porch at work
While the warm wind dances
I remember the stars at night
And cigarettes,
And how I could shrug off the loss
Of this or that girl
As they twirled off with other boys
By the bonfire's light;
But that was before I knew
What I could never be.

III. The sky is bluer than postcard blue
And farther away than Heaven or Hell;
In between are a thousand possibilities
Each being or seeming fit for hope or prayer –
But back on the desk
That black book has forbidden entire acts
From my vast dream's play –
The work of the Censor Deputatis
With its black pages lying open spells out
For all to see
Just what it is I can never be.



IV. My hair used to run wild on the breeze,
Poverty was my freedom.
With spit and curses I wove my spells
Into paint and ink and words.
I did it all, unmindful that I was being judged
Unfit for the task,
That I was again last
And least, the unwanted beast
At the delicate Garden Party.
I worked on because, ignorant, I did not know
The loathsome nature of my own pedigree.

V. The hair is shorn,
I am finding gray,
And each day relieves my eyes
Of one more scab of fantasy.
For while I still stand out on the porch
And dream blue dreams of might-have-been,
Saturn's messengers eternally descend,
Each bearing for me some new reminder
Of what I can yet never be


Reply to Marcella

Biology, there lies the fault,
And we, bugs in its amber caught.
So say all the smug modern moralists
Forgetting life's a duelist,
Moving free within a framework
Expressed through saber and dirk.
Saber and dirk are forms of strife,
Technology's a form of life.
Life appears through its moving tools
And the tools make saints and make fools:
Prayer made saints of Anselm, Tom,
Whilst modern minds just love The Bomb.
For human nature must be made
No matter what biology laid
As foundation. Human life's
No machine, but existence's rife
With life-shaping machinery
Despite Luddite chicanery.
Human nature is like a play,
A thing to be written each day
With whatever sort of pen
We've made: goodness, concretized sin.
Forget our mere biology;
Our tools locate morality.


The Churchyard

The tower is broken and the bells
Are silent on winter's dark eve.
Her neck is all twisted where it fell
On the ground all covered in leaves.

The low bells will never again ring
Out into the bright morning air.
Her sad voice will never again sing
From that sleepless bed of hers there.

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