POEM: COUNTDOWN

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Tue Feb 28 21:50:40 MST 1995


              COUNTDOWN

          by Ralph Dumain

There is no time left for explanation.
If you can't see it at a glance,
I'll draw you a picture that makes waves
out of resonating syllables.
I'm moving too fast, so here's the picture:
On the table lie grapefruits of purpose,
oranges of extermination, and hidden objects

for poor lost souls and the soulless rich.
Always take your landscape with you to bounce
your words against.  Don't forget the tongue-tied;
they'll condemn you.  Leave spaces in your words
for real things.  Don't be a footnote whore.
I refute it thusly, my foot up your ass.

The final hours fall upon us.  Consolidate
what you know.  Waste no more words.  Prepare
for exile.  Your fellow inmates may speak
a different language.  You'll soon find out
what you're made of, how deep you'll dive

to communicate, how deep you'll have to dive,
how long you'll have to hold your breath to stay alive.
If what you know matters, it won't matter
if you don't tell your story like you mean it.

The knife sits in judgment on the table
next to the citrus, the rinds are enigmatic,
all objects poised for an eruption.  The molecules

in the air are breathless.  Take this moment
to reconsider.  The beggar who smiled

today will cut your throat tomorrow.

                         [11-12 February 1995]



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