Lytton Smith

Annuls the Space/Time Experience

And Kate is gone—some climate tension—flown
the kind of coop we thought we’d built hereto
and how the world’s less blond than once, and no,
no key’s been left for locking the lean-to
so vagrant’s grown the inners, kind of nest
we called a bird’s hereto, with moss ado
about the walls, their lichen grey, then next
the barn then next the miniature hamlet
so what’s to do but build our balsa wrecks
of ships from kits (no point in paint, forget
ideas of paint, of colour), let the rest
unravel Jacob’s ladder-like and let
achromatic roses, coals, red-lettrist
days be the days we think of Trevor, where
we left him teaching plastic soldiers whist
and gin in suits of cards too similar, war
of spade on spade. That’s where this leaves more than
us. Science has machines for finding lairs
behind the mazes of fancy French jardins’
obscure designs, though the -ometer’s cracked gauge
or would-we-call-it face reveals less than
predicted once, since Prudence sailed the Cape
of Charm. Is this the dream of language,
a trap with rusted hasp (suggests escape
but offers teeth) the way we shear the hedge,
hedge our bets and better yet the tethered way
we set our teeth to task? The string that led
toward the centre became knotted, frayed
hindrance of minotaurs, where Ben has left
a written note as if to say the lair
is love of lair, the lyre a stringed bereft
of am, the lure just that, another dream
of language heard as fluid as adrift
within this sea of goings from the scene
we thought we’d held to, here. But isn’t to hold
the thing, and not the thing that’s held? The feel
of having found ourselves paused in the field
of water caught in the fountain, and slipped
to patterns? Logic won’t let us withhold,
we’d take up welding could we, learn the ship
of draughtsmen or the work of thieves, we’d have
ourselves the skills of craftsmen widely, flinch
the candlesticks but end the same way, trapped
in the mantrap and left to think from sense
to sound, to loiter out the time and grab
what’s tragic, goat: we’ve fallen for our absents
and this is then the dream of language,
of those who’ve left, and left us with their absence.

Lytton Smith
“Annuls the Space/Time Experience” first appeared in Tarpaulin Sky #13; in Monster Theory (Poetry Society of America, 2008); and is from The All-Purpose Magical Tent (Nightboat Books, 2009).