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The Incognito Lounge

时间:2021-06-16|栏目:英语诗歌|点击:

The Incognito Lounge

Denis Johnson

 

The manager lady of this

apartment dwelling has a face

like a baseball with glasses and pathetically

repeats herself. The man next door

has a dog with a face that talks

of stupidity to the night, the swimming pool

has an empty, empty face.

My neighbor has his underwear on

tonight, standing among the parking spaces

advising his friend never to show

his face around here again.

I go everywhere with my eyes closed and two

eyeballs painted on my face. There is a woman

across the court with no face at all.

They’re perfectly visible this evening,

about as unobtrusive as a storm of meteors,

these questions of happiness

plaguing the world.

My neighbor has sent his child to Utah

to be raised by the relatives of friends.

He’s out on the generous lawn

again, looking like he’s made

out of phosphorus.

The manager lady has just returned

from the nearby graveyard, the last

ceremony for a crushed paramedic.

All day, news helicopters cruised aloft,

going whatwhatwhatwhatwhat.

She pours me some boiled

coffee that tastes like noise,

warning me, once and for all,

to pack up my troubles in an old kit bag

and weep until the stones float away.

How will I ever be able to turn

from the window and feel love for her?—

to see her and stop seeing

this neighborhood, the towns of earth,

these tables at which the saints

sit down to the meal of temptations?

And so on—nap, soup, window,

say a few words into the telephone,

smaller and smaller words.

Some TV or maybe, I don’t know, a brisk

rubber with cards nobody knows

how many there are of.

Couple of miserable gerbils

in a tiny white cage, hysterical

friends rodomontading about goals

as if having them liquefied death.

Maybe invite the lady with no face

over here to explain all these elections:

life. Liberty. Pursuit.

Maybe invite the lady with no face

over here to read my palm,

sit out on the porch here in Arizona

while she touches me.

Last night, some kind

of alarm went off up the street

that nobody responded to.

Small darling, it rang for you.

Everything suffers invisibly,

nothing is possible, in your face.

The center of the world is closed.

The Beehive, the 8-Ball, the Yo-Yo,

the Granite and the Lightning and the Melody.

Only the Incognito Lounge is open.

My neighbor arrives.

They have the television on.

It’s a show about

my neighbor in a loneliness, a light,

walking the hour when every bed is a mouth.

Alleys of dark trash, exhaustion

shaped into residences—and what are the dogs

so sure of that they shout like citizens

driven from their minds in a stadium?

In his fist he holds a note

in his own handwriting,

the same message everyone carries

from place to place in the secret night,

the one that nobody asks you for

when you finally arrive, and the faces

turn to you playing the national anthem

and go blank, that’s

what the show is about, that message.

I was raised up from tiny

childhood in those purple hills,

right slam on the brink of language,

and I claim it’s just as if

you can’t do anything to this moment,

that’s how inextinguishable

it all is. Sunset,

Arizona, everybody waiting

to get arrested, all very

much an honor, I assure you.

Maybe invite the lady with no face

to plead my cause, to get

me off the hook or name

me one good reason.

The air is full of megawatts

and the megawatts are full of silence.

She reaches to the radio like St. Theresa.

Here at the center of the world

each wonderful store cherishes

in its mind undeflowerable

mannequins in a pale, electric light.

The parking lot is full,

everyone having the same dream

of shopping and shopping

through an afternoon

that changes like a face.

But these shoppers of America—

carrying their hearts toward the bluffs

of the counters like thoughtless purchases,

walking home under the sea,

standing in a dark house at midnight

before the open refrigerator, completely

transformed in the light…

Every bus ride is like this one,

in the back the same two uniformed boy scouts

de-pantsing a little girl, up front

the woman whose mission is to tell the driver

over and over to shut up.

Maybe you permit yourself to find

it beautiful on this bus as it wafts

like a dirigible toward suburbia

over a continent of saloons,

over the robot desert that now turns

purple and comes slowly through the dust.

This is the moment you’ll seek

the words for over the imitation

and actual wood of successive

tabletops indefatigably,

when you watched a baby child

catch a bee against the tinted glass

and were married to a deep

comprehension and terror.

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