Not clutch of groceries smuggled way late
to the park where we conspired to rendezvous
as if spies or French. Not rivulets of smoke
wafting into the pavilion's rafters, as we
gathered disbelieving, but not in disbelief,
a father could do that
to a son, to Burke,
who seemed too good to be condemned.
Not spoked lights of cops patrolling, the way
they half-forgave us before circling back.
Not the pasty, shifty face of a kid about to run--
No, Blessed Comrades of Perpetual Yearning,
I, Carny of Delinquent and Mustered Earnestness,
present: Burke's Perfect Gainers at the Town Pool.
How we cloyed in the gutters watching him
pound the spring board, tuck tumble turn
inside out toward away held aloft,
and the most ridiculous thing--the way
he entered the water, as if the water knew him.
And the strangeness--not the perfection,
but that he'd rise through the turbulent cloud,
breach our mirrored faces, steady himself,
and be perfect again, beyond work and luck,
beyond our scope, like he was born for it,
and the sharp lamp of this moment being fixed,
that this, if nothing else, would never leave.
In time, like time, we move wayward,
one inconceivable world into another,
forward backward all at once. Sweet. Wasted.
I want to yell at the video of kids taking pleasure
injuring themselves--leaping off a neighbor's roof,
landing imperfectly in slapdash pools.
Then say Don't.
Don't confuse this for another,
that the nature of beauty is not whim,
and deliver the definitive lecture on the shape
of Walter Benjamin's dreams and the parataxis
of recycle and infinity and Crow Crow Crow ...
Attention: Punk Minstrels and Vagrant Youth:
Please, please, stop wearing Burke's face
as if this is a cast party of the dead,
as if this is all one thing, as if you knew him.
Claims are the least thing we make
fleeing this life, if that is what we do,
the way Burke flipped off his parents,
and we torqued our tongues, lied our faces off,
a story practiced, so well-versed
we became the understudies of our bodies.