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Published: Sun Oct 15 2006
Art by Jin Suk
Consciousness

An obsessive compulsion, a ring of keys,
a sequence of numerals to roll the tumblers
and open the golden vault, a web, a blizzard,
a stochastic equation to generate song.
It goes on. There is no satiety mechanism
in the market system, in the agora of thought.
We cannot bloom, cannot flower,
cannot crystallize into coal or diamond
or disassemble ourselves into pure melody.
Alone in the ruined observatory we stand
surrounded by astral bodies, glittering
milk-folds of star creation we stutter to name
but still we cannot burn our fingerprints
into the void. Into. The. Saints of it, myths of it,
cloister, waterwheel, winged lion, myrrh.
Knots of olive wood in a beached rowboat
over which to roast the tiny silver fish
delicious with salt and lemon. Marooned, then,
but well fed on the substance of this world.
And still forsaken. And still hungry.

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Campbell McGrath is the author of six full-length books of poetry, his most recent being Seven Notebooks (Ecco, 2009). He has received awards such as the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and a MacArthur Fellowship. (updated 6/2010)

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