Interlitq publishes sections XXXIV, XXXV and XXXVI of the poem “The King” by US writer Ben Mazer
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from The King
Branches grow in all directions at once.
Their black silhouettes enclose
the opposite of the city that surrounds them—
even then the white air of orphanic pilgrimages.
They dine on spaghetti! The instruments measure gold!
And when in the longing that descends in darkness
they take their cue to motion
(all things are there!) what never happened slows
into familiar memory, and the winds whip
their thousand frames and borders (enticing as lace),
in cross purposes, symphonies of erasure,
expansions of dimension and perspective
extending outwards down every road and lane,
groaning and growing inward, cross hatched by the rain
(whose sudden abundance even now overflows).
Spring nights in high school—some legend revealed
as far as all the laundry lines could take you
through a universe of backyards, to a distant and returning star.
Like a cock’s crow plunging beneath the planets
to the mythic origins of what we are.
Revealed! So in celebration we circled
the little town, for all lines are a circle,
coming and going the same, till you grow tall
and strong, worthy of bearing a name:
like shrouds of darkness the points we pierced
with our individual lights, passing and hailing like stars,
until all was uncovered, each one knew each one,
the circle completed, a simultaneity
of all points from A to F to Z.
for Isabel Biderman
Finally to see with eyes of onyx and jade—
what’s always there. Cleopatra with her crown
gives O’s for X’s, gives X’s for O’s
perpetually working towards the city’s center
by katty-corner, wishes too grand to grant
—for who can both live in the rarest palace
and be its guest? Passing again and again
brings nothing closer—a few feet in the end
and all is different. Different and the same!
A better life, taller and rising to heaven
(the dog escapes, returns according to plan).
Fabulous laughter lives in the hereafter.
The cat withdraws into its impregnable dream.
The actor leaving the palace is just a man.
About Ben Mazer: Ben Mazer’s recent collections of poems are Poems (The Pen & Anvil Press) and January 2008 (Dark Sky Books), both published in 2010. His new collection of poems in India is Tales of the Buckman Tavern (Poetrywala, April 2012). Mazer studied under Christopher Ricks and Archie Burnett at the Editorial Institute, and is the editor of a forthcoming edition of the complete poems of John Crowe Ransom. He has also edited collections of poems by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman and Landis Savage Everson. He is a contributing editor to Fulcrum: An Annual of Poetry and Aesthetics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.