Report from Beyond

After Herbert
 
In paradise the work week is fixed at thirty hours
and manual labor is only pleasantly more tiring than typing
so that a morning chopping wood is barely enough
to make the ham sandwich and the cold bottle of beer
a bit more delicious at the rough wooden table afterward
 
Punctuation is underused because words flow one into
the other like branching streams of snowmelt wrinkling
over rough granite into alpine meadows where tiny stars
pass themselves off as flowers and the children weave
green stems into crowns which are the only trappings worn
by the rulers who are wise and listen intently to their subjects
without merely thinking of what words they will offer in response
 
The parks are clean the social system stable and the new
eight day week has created a gentle hammock of time
in what used to be Sunday evening where the bells toll
and streets are closed so families might stroll the avenues
 
Old men still wear their pants too high public fountains
are still fish-scaled with coins the authorities have yet to
solve how the smell of frying food hangs in the air for hours
 
At first the great beyond was to have been quite different
each life was to have comprised one note in the harmonious
thrum of a cosmic chord but they found it too difficult
to reduce even simple lives to a single sound and a gluey
paste kept getting caught at the back of the angels’ throats
 
God has yet to make an appearance but this absence is
common fodder for the rumors which suggest he wanders
among them as a breeze so they see not him but his evidence
 
###

Michael Bazzett’s poems have appeared in West Branch, Beloit Poetry Journal, Best New Poets, Green Mountains Review, DIAGRAM, and Guernica, among others, and his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. New poems are published by or forthcoming in Carolina Quarterly, Pleiades, Smartish Pace, and The Windsor Review. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.

“Report from Beyond” was originally published in Encyclopedia Britannica (TLR Spring 2012).