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from Rhythmicon

Paul Foster Johnson

Imagine the melody is a landscape you roam through,
it says—this will help you to play it better. Run
through the passage backwards—you will find
it more elastic and never exhausting itself
in a style that asphyxiates the subject. The technique
of visualization produces in this case not one apple
but bins of them, and the rain does not stop
and its pounding historizes the long march
until a more delicate procedure yields statues
of workers and statues of fauns. Begin again—
this time from the middle. Voice doubt.
Through a lozenge in the ironwork
you see the crowd on the sidewalk—
there of its own accord—but why get physical
with what can conjure itself? Music is the most
successful sublimation—nothing to plumb,
to plunder, no transacting. To say this is naive
but it was as naifs we were blinded by the shimmer
of the word, seeing stars that persuaded us
to understand ourselves as granules of spirit.



But everybody’s ontological investigation
is guided by anticipated findings.
I wish I knew whether this one would be
a free-for-all or the testament of a metronome,
another machine that reifies, the pounding
of equipment being the pulse stemming
from a loss, a harness worn like a second
nature as two nearby work some PVC.
A heart could stop in the process, a business
could go under and we could mourn it. Temporality
temporalizes. In any case the lines are there
to bisect the image but flap like bandages
unable to stanch the wound time opens up.



This demise is a minor chord wafting
by suspension or anticipation—untimely
or bittersweet—imagine Marx in the British Library
concernfully concluding his business. I know
it is late. At the stroke of five trees draw
their leaves against the sun—at the stroke of nine
someone offers me generic cigarettes and I am
compelled to perform charades. The street too
is silent as I walk to the vanishing point.
Distance always interferes with our object:
a nova—an étude—the slick red teardrop
of Lukoil. At the stroke of midnight the hammer
strikes and a fireball shoots through a manhole.
It fails from its purpose; nevertheless
it is a literature, and whooping
I give it up for these unaffiliated selves.