Only The Moon Answers

This is from my copy of LeRoi Jones’s “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note”. All apparent spelling errors and unmatched parenthesis are deliberate. This is a perfect transliteration, and is meant to be exactly as you see it.

~

(For Kellie Jones, born 16 May 1959)

Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus…

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night I tiptoed up
To my daughter’s room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there…
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands

~

THE DEATH OF NICK CHARLES

… And how much of this
do you understand? I hide
my face, my voice twisted
in the heavy winter fog. If I
came to you, left this wet island
& came to you; now, when I am young,
& have strength in my fingers. To say,
I love you, & cannot even recognize
you. How much of me
could you understand? (Only
that I love colour, motion, thin high air
at night? The recognizable parts
of yourself?

We love only heroes. Glorious
death in battle. Scaling walls,
burning bridges behind us, destroying
all ways back. All retreat. As if
some things were fixed. As if the moon
would come to us each night (&
we could watch
from the battlements). As if
there were anything certain
or lovely
in our lives.

Sad
long
motion of air
pushing in my face. Lies,
weakness, hatred
of myself. Of you
for not understanding
this. Or not
despising me
for the right causes. I am
sick as, OH,
the night is. As
cold days are,
when we must watch them
grow old
& dark.

2

I am thinking
of a dance. One I could
invent, if there
were music. If you
would play for me, some
light music. Couperin
with yellow hillsides. Ravel
as I kiss your hair. Lotions
of Debussy.
I am moved by what? Angered at its whine;
the quiet delicacy of my sadness. The elements.
My face torn by wind, faces, desire, lovely chinese ladies
sweeping the sidewalks. (And this is not
what I mean. Not the thing I wanted for you. Not, finally.
Music, only terror at this lightly scribbled day.

Emotion. Words.
Waste. No clear delight.
No light under my fingers. The room, The
walls, silent & deadly. Not
Music.

If there were
a dance. For us
to make; your fingers
on my face, your face wet
with tears (or silence. For us
to form upon this heavy air. Tearing
the silence, hurting the darkness
with the colour of our movement! Nakedness?
Great leaps
into the air? Huge pirouette; the moon blurred
on ancient lakes. Thin horns
and laughter.

3

Can you hear this? Do you know
who speaks to you? Do you
know me? (Not even
your lover. Afraid of you, your sudden
disorder. Your ringless
hands. Your hair
disguised. Your voice
not even real. Or
beautiful.

(What we had
I cannot even say. Something
like loathing
covers your words.

4

It grows dark
around you. And these words
are not music. They make no motions
for a dance. (Standing awkwardly
before the window, watching
the moon. The ragged smoke
lifting against
grey sheaths
of night.
You shimmer like words
I barely hear. Your face
twisted into words. “Love, Oh,
Love me.” The window facing night, & always
when we cannot speak.

What shapes stream through the glass?
Only shadows
on the wall. Under
my fingers, trailing me
with a sound like
glass on slate. You cry out
in the night,
& only the moon
answers.

5

The house sits
between red buildings. And a bell
rocks against the night air. The moon
sits over the North river, underneath
a blue bridge. Boats & old men
move through the darkness. Needing
no eyes. Moving slowly
towards the long black line
of horizon. Footfalls, the
twisting dirty surf. Sea birds
scalding the blackness.

I sit inside alone, without
thoughts. I cannot lie
& say I think of you. I merely sit
& grow weary, not even watching
the sky lighten with morning.

& now
I am sleeping
& you will not be able
to wake me.

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