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I hold to myths of freedom and dignity
by David Matthews

When I come to my desk to make a poem,
when ink spatters the page
in hieroglyphs and gothic curls,
I find I am talking to myself
or to no one.
What vanity or despair might call me to this place
of shaved bone, fantastic skulls,
bits of color clinging to the fog?
Yet as if lured by the wail
of some siren from the Italian Renaissance,
a girl on the prow of a wooden boat,
her wave-wet hair glimmering
in the brilliance of the sun,
here I stand, bewildered, befuddled,
on occasion ecstatic,
a mess of brain chemicals stewing madly.
I hold to myths of freedom and dignity
against all odds and evidence.
Perhaps these are only delusions
nourished by some strange calculus of metaphor,
a café totem oracled
in a divination of espresso grounds
and odd sofas.
The past races after me
like a fury or a typhoon,
disembodied typewriter keys
clacking against the inside of my eyelids
while I wander lost through the streets,
the cemeteries, the flower gardens, the museums,
the night a solitude, a storm mad with the spectre
of Isabelle Adjani as Adele H.
and a flurry of tambourines
hurtling through the air at my feet
ten meters above the ground.


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