Brian Swann

October 24, 2018 Swann Brian

And I follow the hand copying what it had written years ago,
never knowing it would survive and mean something other,
perhaps even more, than it had intended, from history as
record to history re-conceived, re-purposed, not as knowledge
but a divining of underpinnings, the person-in-process becoming
never-was or to be what-became-of-him looking back
from the place where he’d looked toward but which was
no longer there or still uncreated and in the creation absorbing
what had gone before and turning in on itself, the writing
coming unstuck, its nails loosening, pulling with it part
of the wall, syntax spilling all over the place, a ghost dance
hoping to scrub the present clear, bring back the never there,
desired all the more for that. And now all this is lying in wait,
in ambush at the tips of my fingers, in the fingers themselves,
from a child’s join-up letters to cursive to the scrawl and callus
time makes, hastening, abbreviating, cutting corners
till what you see is a virtual unintelligible you that grew out of itself,
though something unveils you, writes you the way God thought
the world in letters of the word which, we found out, can mean
just about anything and we had to supply our own thought,
the way the riddler Daniel supplied his own Aramaic vowels
to make what he needed for the writing on the wall, or the way
I found decades-old pages I thought were in my father’s hand
but were in mine, I’d absorbed him, he was the source, wrong
as it turned out, the way Pliny held the waters of the Mediterranean
derived not from the Straits of Gibraltar but from the Black Sea
since the tide always flowing out of there never ebbs, pages
I later found when they was barely legible having been dropped
overboard on the Galata ferry, run over by Taurian bandits,
ransomed from a Trastevere urchin who found it in the river’s mud
after everything I had was stolen and, nothing worth, dumped,
then again lost and found in the malarial swamp that had once been
the inland lake and harbor of Rhegura, and which I saved to be able
to write this up from words I can not or barely make out,
some in languages I didn’t or no longer know, which can
mean a number of things, or nothing, in a story without words.

Brian Swann’s most recent poetry collection is SUNDAY OUT OF NOWHERE: NEW AND SELECT POEMS (Sheep Meadow Press,2018). Other recent books include Companions, Analogies (poetry, Sheep Meadow Press, 2016) and Not the Real Marilyn Monroe (fiction, MadHat Press, 2017) and HUSKANAW, (novel) from MadHat Press, 2022.