Eighth Sky by Michael Palmer

It is scribbled along the body

Impossible even to say a word

An alphabet has been stored beneath the ground
It is a practice alphabet, work of the hand

Yet not, not marks inside a box
For example, this is a mirror box

Spinoza designed such a box
and called it the Eighth Sky

called it the Nevercadabra House
as a joke

Yet not, not so much a joke
not Notes for Electronic Harp

on a day free of sounds
(but I meant to write "clouds")

At night these same boulevards fill with snow
Lancers and dancers pass a poisoned syringe,

as you wrote, writing of death in the snow,
Patroclus and a Pharaoh on Rue Ravignan

It is scribbled across each body
Impossible even to name a word

Look, you would say, how the sky falls
at first gently, then not at all

Two chemicals within the firefly are the cause
Twin ships, twin nemeses

preparing to metamorphose
into an alphabet in stone


       
St.-Benoît-sur-Loire
               to Max Jacob
From "Untitled" in At Passages, published by New Directions, 1995. Copyright © 1995 by Michael Palmer. Reprinted with permission.

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