One sought an utter purging of emotions, which led him in
To a voodoo church in a Los Angeles canyon
Where there's a clothes-line in the long room with many and various
The line or rope stretched between two poles is operated by a pulley
And the apparatuswith its hanging shoes, clocks, underwear,
Seashells, matchbooks, staplers, feathers, towels, hammers
Is the only thing in the room, no chairs or podiums or statues, just the
With its paper clips, photos, oranges, cigarettes, bananas, needles,
Flashlights, sandwiches (which have to be changed every week),
Glasses, keyboards, stuffed toy bears (two, side-by-side),
And more objects dangling unidentifiable at first sight without time to
As he sought an utter purging of emotions
Not for himself alone but for others too
He thought no not here I need a maturity in the people which
Is not here, a magnitude in the theme, which is not here,
Plus their fate may not be accidental nor may mine. No, not here.
There was room on the rope for more stuff, and another empty rope
Strung waiting on the pulley.
He felt he had hit bottom. The previous
Day he had been searching in the great libraries at UCLA and USC
And had come up empty-handed, and then driving away along
Made a wrong turn into a ghetto street with several gang members
It parked in two cars and the ghost of Anna Akhmatova
The Russian poet (1888-1966) walking straight toward him on the
And signaling him to roll down his window.
The ghost was untouchable even by the gang because you could see
Through her and it told our hero you are searching
For someone to whom it is impossible to give anything
And from whom it is impossible to take anything away.
He did not follow her implied advice and give up seeking. He backed
up back out
Onto Jefferson, and determined to try one more day. Had
Dinner with friends, breakfast in his room,
And then (against the ghost's advicehe had asked her
About the place) unfortunately found the voodoo church and stepped
Bitter and disappointed he stood, a dessicated mannequin of a
Now he, our hero, is not me.
Every year or so I go and pull the pulley back and forth,
Sometimes twice, sometimes three times.
There is a little senseless energy in it,
There is a little disequilibrium and then a little equilibrium.