A Poem by Allen Edwin Butt


You would think the churchbells had
an ending, but the contract law
was only a reminder that the fistfight
brought to light what we already knew, that,
namely, ding dong ding (& other phonemes
along those lines) drift, drift across
the valley, I do not know many users
of heavy drugs, but if I did, you can
imagine that I might or mightn’t
share the details with the kind detective,
he has two glass eyes & only one is false,
reminds me at the same time
of a method by which a novelist could interpose
a pair or longer series of temporal strata
treated as simultaneous in at least
the self-congratulating phenomenological sense
of the word (cf. Revolutionary Road) so that
temporality itself resolves, or, let’s be
honest, is resolved by someone
to design, its elements, the kind of vapid
aestheticism that we go to wars over
(not that I don’t also like paintings,
science fiction, Shakespeare’s sonnets, things like that)
& I try my hardest, really, to explain that
but he’s got that trust-me-if-you’re-stupid
look beneath his trifocals (there
to throw you off the scent) let’s just
go over all of this, kid, one more time,
the heroin was in the backpack
though police reports at times forego
the article, young man (6’1”, age 23) seen
lurkin’ stealthily beneath the sound
of churchbells, we will question him about it,
at the very least there’s nothing
to be lost, hard cut to lightly fisheyed
racing motorcycles, & the kind of social
interaction the director understands
that it can be a shorthand for, just like
uncertainty means taxes, taxes mean
the money of the highly-paid executives
gets redirected into public services, thus
benefiting slightly more the ones with fewer
benefits, for example, pay the wages of
detectives, he has well-trimmed fingernails
as though to prove a point, this whole town
situated in a valley dominated by
church architecture, the Protestant kind
that strips away ornament, a different concept
of eternity, I guess, defined by sameness
rather than infinite variety, but text
negates the chance of internal homogeneity,
I chipped a little in for Henrik’s birthday present
but I didn’t keep a careful record, that’s
the classic mistake, you have to trust me,
you can tell me where the goods are, I have no
intention of using it myself, & yes
I can see, I can prove it, put this
apple on your head (it’s all just echoes)
get exhausted at the prospect
of the gold-mine, & you buy it just to hedge
your bets against a promised new
uncertainty, the television has explained it
well enough for your discrimination, which we also
frown on, so much so that some words
aren’t to be introduced into the context, that’s
not so unreasonable, better probably than trying
to get to the bottom of what happened, where
did you leave the backpack, the director
understands that, even if he doesn’t start the scene
with Michelob in mind, he can still sell contexts
ready to benefit the product (you pay into
the process, hoping it rewards you) like they say,
the first high’s free, I am perfecting
my business model, I am building
a wonderful treehouse, menthol cigarettes
are very very bad for you, like cheesecake
but appreciably worse, something like the
admittedly fuzzy distinction between
a bullet in the head & shrapnel-summer,
though the news would purport to explain this
with the same skill for explication, sharp
cohesion as the churchbells + the hillside,
& in the same way they make it
look effortless (to borrow from the readymade
vocabulary of the album review), it’s not
that I don’t trust you, just that bread
gets stale before it molds, you’ll have
to taste it first, I don’t get paid
enough to stoop so low (the payscale paradox)
& you might get the chance to publish
your dissertation, which would be a major
step toward future security, but first you have
to look this detective in the eye (don’t worry
if it or its antecedent happens to be real)
& say, No officer, I don’t know what happened
to his backpack, why, do you need to see it,
but wait, is that a photon accelerator
in his hand, it is if I want it to be,
step closer, listen to the churchbells
while they unify this field in one
dimension, writing as quickly as I can,
but hopefully not disingenuous (can never
spell that), I could never stand that shit,
at least the science fiction starts out by proposing
a fundamental falsehood, opens the door
for play, & then fast-forward (there really are
an infinite number of orientations, the interior design
could come unraveled), I have never
really understood how magnetic tape works,
luckily it’s obsolete & everything I tell
the kind detective, he has well-trimmed hair
between his knuckles, it’s all straight
to digital, like credit cards are useless
when you need to slip a bribe, but maybe that
point’s “moot” as well, since like I said,
I don’t know many hard drug users
& the likelihood of any particular situation
is pretty slim, that’s why we have movies, well,
that & the fact that all our wars have been
confined to the third world, which is pretty
tiresome when you get right down to it, because
a young man needs a whole host of diverse
experiences, that’s the Grand Tour theory
of education, & if you try to tell me there are
“diverging schools of thought” you might consider
thinking twice, or I might get that Woyzeck-with-the-kinfe
glint going in my eye, hey, when was the last time
you shot up the Bahnhof officer, or took
a hammer to the churchbell just to see how
it would chime?—but keep in touch
& tell me if you solve the case in time
or in the very nick thereof.


Allen Butt Allen Edwin Butt

Allen Edwin Butt is from South Carolina. Publications include West Wind Review, Poetry, and Peaches & Bats. He co-edits O'clock Press and its magazine CLOCK.

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