Chad Parmenter

from Vivienne's Recovery


6.19.44—The Fire Fly Sermon

I haven't written anything
Since I was nothing. But the bursts
Of—I name them fire-fly bombs—too near this wing
Bring ruin to our universe.

This four-line form he hid me in
Was plowed under, six years ago,
When they increased my medicine.
But its rune, you, verse, hold these firefly glows.

They pray for some depiction since
The Moderns worship their own nerves—
The patterns that they shatter in.
They make new, ruined verse that serves

Their war on fear and love of crowds
But guarantees that they'll be turned
To busts when dust. We'll hold their shrouds
And catch their ash in ruined urns.

It isn't poetry they write,
But poetry's body torn apart
By theory's Furies, by whose flight
They ruin union. That's their art.

Back to the air war. Hear the fire
In our real City. Windows blur
The tracer flares to one white lyre
That then dissolves to runes. Now murmurs surge

Outside my room. One siren cry
Makes choirs in the other wings.
Too many of our men will die
In ruins. In this verse I sing

My lack of arms, the lack of man
In me—I could not shoot or aid
The war if I were let out. Plans
Turn into ruing. Verses played

By someone when I was, not young,
I never felt I was, but small and soft
Come live with me. But being goes unsung.
I'm ruined by these fires—aloft

Then gone, just like my god, my dad.
Tomorrow, hearse by hearse by hearse
By hearse they'll take the dead and sad
Through the blue-lit, ruined universe

Of what was just trees, buildings, walls,
All full of people full of thirst
To live and minimize the squalls
That never ruined or unversed

The calm behind it all. A man
Falls past on fire. Our poets, nursed
On epic skepticism, stand
On ruins, unified against the burst

Of real grief. My husband climbs
There, nothing, numb-winged. I am cursed
To need him even at this time.
My ruin, I'm un-universed.