EDWARD MAYES


UNTIL TODAY I HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT ANTHONY HECHT

Until today I hadn’t thought about Anthony Hecht
Arriving at Flossenbürg two weeks too late
To save Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his neck as

Stretched as the carpenter’s in the photo
The carabinieri showed us, a suicide with
A cigarette still stuck to his lower lip,

As if I could have just slipped past guards,
Disguised as a poet, as if the empty could
Be guillotined from the full, as if these stanzas

Could be the rooms to where we would
Then go to be free, that that couldn’t happen,
But that when we weigh ourselves again, will we

Find our tare, the true weight of a soul,
A shard, to throw the mattress on the ground
And us on it, dreaming of Appomattox or

What we will never become, the stalwart
Among us reciting Attic poetry in the basements,
Or what are meant to be only words,

A great purge of words, whether we find a word
To save us from other words, or whether—
Just like that—amid the ligature, amid the snap.
 
 
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American poet Anthony Hecht’s division helped liberate Flossenbürg
concentration camp; tare and mattress; materasso; dare to put these words
together; tick: cloth case for a mattress or pillow; boutique: bibliotheca, from
Greek, receptacle; Attic poetry/drama; ostracize: pottery shard; Leon Battista
Alberti; anxiety attack; Appomattox; Matthew Arnold
 
 
 
 
UNTIL LAST THURSDAY I HADN’T KNOWN ABOUT THE BATHTUB

Until last Thursday I hadn’t known about the bathtub
James Earl Ray, age 40, stood in with his Remington 760
“Gamemaster,” about to kill Martin Luther King, age 39,

Who was standing on the balcony outside Room 306
Of the Lorraine Motel, named after owner Walter Bailey’s
Wife Loree and the now jazz classic “Sweet Lorraine,”

(And in Buffalo, Timothy McVeigh is born two weeks
Later,) and Robert Kennedy on April 4 quotes from Aeschylus,
(Quotes from Aeschylus!), and if we are a weapon,

Whether of mass destruction or not, and if our
Formula is a trade secret, like WD-40, Norman
Larsen’s famous invention—Water Displacement

40th Attempt—repelling water and preventing
Corrosion, the lubrication of the voice of MLK,
Age 10, singing in his church’s choir on December 15,

1939, Atlanta, for the premiere of Gone with the
Wind
(from Ernest Dowson’s “Non Sum Qualis eram . . .”
Written for Adelaide Foltinowicz, age 11—note that

Cynar is an amaro), and we know that 1968 was
A leap year, and that porcelain can be slippery
When wet—the firing of pure clay and then glazing it.
 
 
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Memphis; James Earl Ray, 3/10/28-4/23/98; Martin Luther King, 1/15/29-4/4/68; white bathtub, porcelain, bought by the Golden Palace online casino in 2006 for $7,600; philos-aphilos: Greek for love-in-hate, murder committed against a part of one’s self (one’s family); 1968, Tet Offensive (Tet: first day of Vietnamese New Year)
 
 
 
 



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