In the Capital of a Small Republic

Tonight I am walking backwards
If I were blind I would know better than to do this
I would use my toes to grip what I walk on
I would sweep my path with a thin white stick
I would dare the crossing but not court misfortune
But tonight it is true I am walking backwards
Bending my right knee so my heel disappears in my trousers
Bending my left knee so my heel disappears in my trousers
If I were sleepwalking I might wander in the aura of God’s protection
But I refuse the illusion of God’s protection
I put my cap on my head my head in my pocket
And set out over the cat’s-head cobbles
Tonight I am walking backwards

How steep the stairs are to this attic

The stone is crumbling my steps are faltering
I climb up extending my right heel backwards
I climb up extending my left heel backwards
I enter backwards so as not to see God
Here in a room where His ghosts are milling
Waiting their turn to sleep in the forest
But tonight as ever they can never leave here
And we keep walking backwards in circles
Passing each other without touching
Weighing each other without glancing
Maybe I’ll take my head from my pocket
Maybe I’ll use it for a flashlight

The dead poet is walking the street again

I am listening for him through my window
The orphans are sleeping the poet is singing
Under your white stars hold out your hand to me
I place my white hand on the railing
And work my way backwards down the broken staircase
Lowering my right foot cautiously
Lowering my left foot cautiously
All the streetlamps have been extinguished
The poet is a chimera a shimmering lion’s face
With angel wings that drag on the cobbles
The stones are what knowledge I have to go on
Down the seven stinking streets of this plague

The street is crawling with cats bone-thin and skittish

But when I walk backwards they prowl forward
The poet has melted the alphabet for bullets
On every balcony he waits a weapon in his hand
In the courtyard children have chalked their names
In an alphabet that is not the poet’s
They are playing a game that is oddly familiar
Jumping in and out of a loop of cord
Hooking it over their footsteps
I am walking backwards through a swarm of bees
Thinking honey is no amulet fury no solace
The poet is flying over the brick wall whispering
Hush live it backwards recall

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