Maybe Not

by Walter Bargen

Walter Bargen

for Hayden Carruth

I had wanted for so long to read his book
that I’d shelved and forgotten, though the dust
didn’t, and then the author died.

Twenty years later, I read the book backwards
starting at page 101, hoping to work
toward some beginning but page 1 was not
far enough back to feel anything more
then a slow grinding down of a life?
these poems written five years before
there was no more.

It’s calming, the claim that Goethe’s
last words were, More light, more light,
that we might exert some control
over the inexplicable, the mist,
the shroud, the WWII blackout with bombs
falling all around, or maybe not.

George Harrison in bed
as the room glowed in his final rising
and falling breath, or maybe not,
or that my father squeezed my hand for yes
when asked whether to remove the tubes
draining his lungs for a third time
that day, and I turned to wave
at the ceiling at what I could not see.

Frank Rich, the film critic, quotes Mel Gibson’s
response to his movie review:
I want his intestines on a stick and kill his dog.
Frank didn’t have a dog. Maybe this was
as close to God as Mel could get in his Passion.
Hayden’s own ambiguity resolved when he wrote:
I’d sooner be
married by an apple tree
than by a priest.
Marriage a crisp bite and then
the accumulated sorrow of falling fruit.

Last updated November 07, 2022