Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Concerning Pan
Of higher developments he has none.
Oxford Classical Dictionary

No known charm or talisman against you. Not even yellow Xanax
atremble in my palm, its hue unknown
in nature, though it might be found in glittering rows at Home Depot
or Benjamin Moore: a paint chip
christened Goldfinch, Corn Maze, Limoncello, California-something.
Wash it down with water, which roils

& heebie-jeebies out the tap, synced to my own hands’ tremor & quaver.
Ten years of the wrong
little death. Spontaneous always, but never a quickie. Stroke approaching
at the big box store.
Aneurism in the National Gallery. Massive coronary, grocery aisle—
Northern Spy or Red Delicious

as a last conscious thought, knees giving out, Ziploc of deli Swiss
falling to linoleum
as a Whole Foods clerk with beard-net reaches out to steady me.
Or summer noonday,
sleep mask & the windows shuttered, in cold sweat waiting for the rumors
of my death to be exaggerated,

hearing through it all the faucet drip, the ceiling fan deafen the room.
& once, in a classroom—no joke—
aphasia while teaching Gertrude Stein. Feral, crafty, stinking son of Hermes,
must I invoke you again?
O goat-footed patron of shepherd & alarm, of grotto & ink-dark cavern,
you lord your Arcadia like

the corpulent licentious Kims of North Korea. Always mad to couple
or confound. From the Villa of the Papyri
in Herculaneum, they dug you up in marble, copulating with a she-goat,
improbable missionary-style,
the creature’s eyes as fearful & stunned as Leda’s. & woe to those
who disrupt your afternoon naps,

the unwitting herds of sheep or cattle who wake you as they munch
the clover on the rooftop of your den:
thus you curse them with panic. Stampede, a cliff to plummet from, a river current
to bear them down to Hades.
No charm or talisman. The yellow pills’ reprieve is slow to come. My hands
around the water glass

are shaking as I practice deep slow breaths. God of stench & musk,
how well you know our recent century
where art & terror have so freely & relentlessly conjoined:
the torturer’s tools, the artist’s palette
& even your defeats are blessed with serendipity. Spurned by Syrinx—
Virgin nymph, disciple of fleet

& chaste Diana—you gave chase to her through all Arcadia’s
crevasses & vales, wearing
your pine needle barbed wire crown, of cloven hoof, impeccably swift.
& when she prayed to the river nymphs
to save her from your jisim-y embrace, they changed her in pity
to a hollow reed, one among seven,

which you grasped, confused—though each reed when blown upon
produced its own long mournful note,
a wail like a yearning & tremulous chord struck by Clapton or Albert King.
Stubborn nymph, which note is your cry?
For I will make you weep unendingly. Now, each day, you shall be my captive audience.
& thus with wax you bundled the reeds within

your hands, thereby fashioning the Pan’s Pipe, its whistle thundering out
across Arcadia. Clever you. Clever you.
& fuck your smug virtuosity. I stare from the porch to a summer night ablaze
with fireflies, heartbeat slowing in the pills’
benumbed release. Dumbfuck Goat God, which hollow reed, singing ever shrilly,
is David Wojahn? Odds are you’ll guess wrong.  

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