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Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
{krook combusts}
  jeff winter



O Horror, he IS here! and this, from which we run away,
striking out the light and overturning one another into the street,
is all that represents him.
Bleak House

One less drop of gin,
one less document lying about,
one less sack of hair
cluttering up the place
and things might have ended differently.

This is what happens
to the illiterate
who spend all their time reading.
This is what comes of
cultivating expertise by
memorizing symbols
and hoarding the effluvia,
the questions, the keys.

Better to keep to your station
and bathe the brain in dirty water
when it begins to blaze.
The brain that blazes
will scorch the magazine that stores it,
leaving others to poke at the ashes
and put together the pieces
you spent your whole life collecting
but could not, in the end, make fit.

Better to follow the example
of the cat, to scrape and claw
when commanded,
and otherwise to be watchful but impassive,
mindful of the movement surrounding you
but mindful above all
of your long legacy
of exclusion and eavesdropping.