Kings 1:19, 11-12
And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
The voice of god pixelates and dissolves
In money transfers
1s and 0s hum and howl
Figures from the ground compile
The mouth of god swallows a six year-old
The face of god stalks you from billboards
It peers through the eyes of models
It conspires during vacation
Reflecting windows reflect cockpit windows
Wrists, plasti-cuffed, half
Lidded by a leaf of copier paper
Is the eye of god
The judgements of god are written in chalk
Immanent as magma
With no memory of steel
The face of god duplicates in the branching cracks of mirrors
It was shattered in the accident
And in each cell-shaped fragment is another face
See how they observe each other: gliding, twirling, passing in and out of one another’s pieces
Without touching, just staring
Along wide, windy avenues of the capitol
We're swept, ushered past guards
And into the museum showroom
Behind glass the first flag is stretched
On tracks a conservator’s cart passes
Sector to sector, square to square, tweezing fibers up
Cleaning and repairing. But the spiral
Strands have disengaged, and the code of their structure
translated to dust. So a layer of tissue
Is draped on cloth. And soon it rests entirely
Under paper, a present wrapped, dispatched from view
To archives, retreating into history
It was a sweaty June and the cocktails
Had just taken effect and our damp
Faces, clustered, glowed in display glass
Like a dim constellation. We turned and a guard,
A single wire coiled in his collar, pressed
An earpiece with the pad of his finger and
Complied, pledging to check the disturbance
Captured on surveillance camera
In another part of the museum:
Vaseline-white florescent light
The smudge of a body shifting, flipbook-style
On screen and sounding no beep a red light glared and gave proof
The Secret City
The citizens speak only in recordings
The skyline is of cell phones
And stories of dazzling digits climb
To blinking messages for aircraft overhead….
In its libraries history ripples down workstation screens
You can read it reflected in the polished marble floors
The letters float over swirls and loops of caramel veins
For a moment near dawn time reverses
Families begin to touch each other in desktop photographs
Children wander from the frame
You see a gray field and a leg
But once the system has been backed up
Martial law resumes:
A dust cloud rolls through the streets
At the top of a flagpole a rope is clanging
Soon accounts are filling, shares change hands
And transaction logs archive on terminals
Left to right like an antic figure fleeing down a flight
Of stairs continually flattening then duplicating
So the bottom is never reached
And margins are achieved not by greed but by devotion
High up in its offices raindrops cling to the window like fingertips
Someone tugs a lever and the stairs he’s fleeing on with flamenco-style steps collapse.
The camera looks backs as he coils (they’re a spiral) arms a few inches too
Short to touch his toes, close the lines of right triangles as his legs spread, tip up, and he twists down
Into the scene; only when he’s landed can first does it become simultaneous
Pacing him as he sprints through a succession of scenes painted on a façade.
Number one is a bedroom and a girl with a polka dot dress is singing in a microphone,
Mesh-covered, the shape of a pill. She wears what appears to be a hankie pinned to her hair,
Though it’s really a hat. “I feeeeel sooo goood,” she squeaks, almost Betty Boop style and
Before we’ve had a chance to nail the time and place our hero’s in the next room, hurling himself
Into a cardboard crib, baby-bonnet like a halved daisy clamped to his head, thumb in mouth.
Clearly it’s his infancy and the woman leaning over him thrusts out her hands and howls
(inaudibly) at the misbegotten man-baby who’s replaced her darling. The swiftness of her viciousness
Surprises us: not only does she produce a dagger one instant but it only takes her one more
To thrust it air-ward and strike with maximum force the chest of the infant imposter. No sooner
Does she than he’s out and on his feet and scrambling into the next life in the world’s longest-ever railroad apartment.
From the nursery to surveillance: the mouthpiece of a headset curves around his cheek,
(the visual transition point from the thumb) and his eyebrows arch as they lob suspicion
to one another. There’s a door facing him and we see him creep up and lay a cheek on
As if it were a pillow and he’s one going off to sleep. His eyes flutter shut and he eases an ear
On with his fingertips touching lightly. He smiles. He’s eavesdropping on a pleasant (or stimulating) conversation.
But the scene’s turned. How he’s gotten here so quickly is a mystery, and disrobed to boot,
All but for a coarse loin cloth, standing with legs spread, arms out. We see no cuffs and chains
But the posture intimates them enough. This one is torch-lit and there’s a narrow river
Winding though the concrete floor separating the captive (him) from two women clearly grieving:
His mother? His wife? It’s already too late and there is no one to plead with; they simply weep.
Like a spring, the staircase has propelled him into what seems to be the heart of chance
With all of its shifting scenes: less a mechanism, more a collection of elements into which
One has introduced a powerful magnetic force that pulls some together while
dispersing others. Its funny, scary and impossible to learn from; just then the camera pulls ahead and
He’s in the implied past now, still suffering while from this vantage we see the rooms
Run out and the façade go blank. But not yet. There’s another to pass through and he enters this one with a dive,
Still wearing the loin cloth; brown buttocks raise to the camera, and over he goes.
There’s wreckage. And fire. Copper stems blossom from cables dangling like sliced vines.
Elevators aren’t working; so he makes for the stairs and can’t see for the smoke.
There’s fresh air rattling the slats of the blinds and he goes for it.
Now memories abandon him, like citizens from a blacked-out city filing through the streets,
He is cut off from futurity and we’re forced to watch his face as he comes running up the aisle
Toward the open window and, stopping short, arms pinwheeling him back in the other direction,
Realizes it. His voice, his words, the avatars of his mind, his being are available us now only as recordings.
For next is the beginning of free fall, air stripping clothes from his body, and the unintended comedy of his glasses still on.