Lorine Niedecker

Promise of a Brilliant Funeral

Travel, said he of the broken umbrella, enervates
the point of stop; once indoors, theology,
for want of a longer telescope, is made
of the moon-woman passing amid silk
nerve-thoughts in the blood.
(There’s trouble with the moon-maker’s union,
the blood-maker’s union, the thought-maker’s union;
but the play could be altered.)

A man strolls pale among zinnias,
life and satin sleeves renounced.
He is intent no longer on what direction herons fly
in hell, but on computing space in forty minutes,
and ascertains at the end of the path:
this going without tea holds a hope of tasting it.
(Chalk-faces going down in rows before a stage
have seen no action yet.)

Mr. Brown visits home.
His broker by telephone advises him it’s night
and a plum falls on a marshmallow
and sight comes to owls.
He risks three rooms noisily for the brightest sconce.
Rome was never like this.
(The playwright dies in the draft
when ghosts laugh.)

spoken = Shelley Lynn Johnson