Hero and Leander - Cy Twombly (1985)

I can’t help but think

Exploring the vicious cycles of revolution, including conclusions you may not like. An original poem written by J. Schafer.

I can’t help but think
of a grist mill
When men who don’t live on the brink
speak of “revolution” as a pure matter of will
a grist mill spins its lonely wheel
in “revolutions” around a central axis
grinding wheat onto the threshing floor
refuse hits the floor with a disconcerting chord
separated the shaft from the meat
in clear-swept form
refuse belongs on the floor
in sticky stuck sediments,
deltas in the corner, shadows and obtuse impediments
How many lie on America’s threshing floor?
Pantomiming a name for those who lie
for a lion’s share of wares and feel no shame
I would call it crime,
but it ebbs and flows in cold waves

separated from the shaft
bones that grind on
weary stones
we’ve all seen warmer days
icy rushes that cascade
over the most well trenched souls
trudge through snow
icicles form fitting palisades
For those who would rather have
An open road than the tender coals
and loam of a sentried hearth
of storied memory,
nothing, over a coagulated plenty
to find solace in the cyclical rains
danced in the creek, a piss-poor consolation for the pain
spurned by those who would rather sojourn than face the grave

and on that wheel turns
turning men into food
turn soft blood into hard bruise
piggish pontifications, no surprise in the lard’s ruse
cannibalism in this living tomb
Only the wicked have a name.
I prefer to keep mine written on my face
as a placeholder for those villains
known to you as “shareholders”
but what they hold in their clutched grip
(a grip that doesn’t form a fist, hardly more than a crutch)
Yet still subsists on wanton violence.

The wheel splashes in play
indifferent to “revolutions”
mistakenly attributed to fate
Do myself a favor and save
a morsel of my whole for later
No sense to it,
as though I’m waiting for a savior
I’ve never worked as a waiter and
that’s fine
because waiting has never worked for me,
instead I bent towards my own path
mind you, narcissistically

Braces tightened the
churlish grin of simpler times
they pulled on my teeth, so I spit up
expletives and hope they rhymed
They seldom do.
We’ve all seen warmer days.

In the model of the shareholders
Are those men who claim with blithe and lively breaths
that they can move boulders
with no regard for the worn stones torn asunder
in the holy thunder of industry

They don’t make pens that bleed anymore.
Instead, tidy ink lies in phrase the way
that fountains are gluttony in this American
land bored by hard bored boards
ink glazes over
as though they lively eyes
in the skull of those receiving orders
by those who wish to see that same skull crushed
I’m distracted so I retract the fountain like a ballpoint
in faux-Protestant modesty pronounced in strife
The ease of ballpoint dreams on the page
isn’t enough for me
I want to steal gazes and leave marble in decay as I
etched cuneiform
with a Gillette razor,
and use earwax as a glaze
put it in a kiln of peer-review
as salt is drawn into the skin of a slug
That’s my preferred pace.
Nascent vagrants who leave no trace
Bugged-out remoras
And vultures who fasten chains
That’s our national bird,
You know?
Feasting on flesh
For assorted change
Whether it jingles in the palm
Or around the wrists, it’s change regardless
I think it was 71 cents in total
Even good men
in this desert of bleached worth
parched identities and ravenous vultures
the ones who couldn’t help but save the nation
of used-car dealers
low hucksters and
dirty hustlers
Don’t get the satisfaction
of names to be scribbled into action instead
they are turned into food on that
human-ivory dusted threshing floor
the good ones get dead and then spent
as coinage or maybe even awarded the high prize
of reporters and lawyers (noted remoras)
reduce your life into flat statements
none more poignant than lauding those men who
“follow orders”
Portends to court the creation of
Kalends, so portly in self-congratulation they almost forgot
They did nothing
or at least that’s what they told themselves to fend off
the demons and doldrums of insomnia,
For when a “good man” sleeps, he’s locked in catatonia.

As for “revolution” the wheels spin on,
as much cause for grief as relief,
scarecrows harvest and sin on…
as the grist mill
makes meals of the bone meal
ground on a stone wheel
The noise is almost as wretched as the fate.
I’m not an optimist, suffice it to say
And yet I still lock horns with that wheel,
futility comes with practice
so one day
God-willing, millennia away
when my bones too are turned to dust
and heaped to take
off to the place where they dump waste
I am invited into some sort of heaven
not because I am virtuous
but because I was saved.
I can’t stop the wheel, but the world of desperation
is a world to be braved.

Will I be cast out on the threshing floor of “revolutions?”
only time will tell
but the clocks are mute now
in electronic stupor
Enjoy my youth while it lasts, as
the only burden I face
is the weight of my ass,
so I sit and wait patiently for my passport to come
to save another’s heart from the wicked machinations
of “revolution”
and if that day never comes,
then that same heavy ass is planted in the camp
of revolution.
I can’t help but think


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