This entry is part 5 of 42 in the series Antiphony: Paul Zweig


I’m reading Paul Zweig. This is the fifth poem in the first section of his Selected and Last Poems, followed by my response. See here for details.

On Possessions
by Paul Zweig

Burning what I own,
Burning this fuel of nerves and money . . .

[Remainder of poem removed 8-25-05]

* * * *

On Possession

The Gothic cathedral at Burgos, in northern Spain,
was too much: all that colored light
flooding in around the apse
where the monstrous symbolic god was expected
to lay his thorn-pillowed head.
I couldn’t see it.

Cathedrals are best on days when wind & rain
beat their wings against the glass.
Outside, the stone shell darkens
& one longs to pull it tight against the skin
like a frogman’s wetsuit.
Inside: revelation. That a blue drop
should hide a molten core!

The lords of this world reach as far as they need to.
Their fingertips smell of oil & wet ashes
from the crematorium.
We are all possessed, say
the bells of wherever.
This very poem gutters in its wax, poor thing.

The university library commissioned a sculpture
to mark the dedication of a new wing:
in white marble, an open book
with a flame rising from the page, tall
& sinuous – a lap dancer
in the seat of what, we are solemnly
given to understand, represents knowledge.
The room vibrates with the hum of computers.
Sunlight slants through the high windows
above the milling crowd of students,
smooth faces glowing,
from the firing of each split-second synapse,
that light-drenched gap.

Series Navigation← Becoming grassThe fears and pleasures →

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