Monday, September 26, 2005

common place blog

Hell
by Sarah Manguso

The second-hardest thing I have to do is not be longing's slave.

Hell is that. Hell is that, others, having a job, and not having a
job. Hell is thinking continually of those who were truly great.

The kind of music I want to continue hearing after I am dead is
the kind that makes me think I will be capable of hearing it then.

There is music in Hell. Wind of desolation! It blows past the egg-
eyed statues. The canopic jars are full of secrets.

The wind blows through me. I open my mouth to speak.

I recite the list of people I have copulated with. It does not take long.
I say the names of my imaginary children. I call out four-syllable
words beginning with B. This is how I stay alive.

Beelzebub. Brachiosaur. Bubble-headed. I don't know how I stay alive.
What I do know is that there is a light, far above us, that goes out
when we die,

and that in Hell there is a gray tulip that grows without any sun.
It reminds me of everything I failed at,

and I water it carefully. It is all I have to remind me of you.


published in Conduit and Best American Poetry 2005

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