Exile accepted as a destiny, in the way we accept an incurable illness, should help us see through our self-delusions.
– Czesław Miłosz
Leave, explore [expatriate] the grey grown
In another country, research the peasant
Rump genealogy of your particular
Surname mutation, cut through the din
To read aloud how we are surrounded with
This message: for some time you will
Survive, in some kind of horror perhaps,
But who hasn’t been destroyed before
And made a media-worthy comeback?
Bisected in movement, even if that
Movement is repetition, repetition fate,
Listen: there are those who drink international coffee
And think they are somewhere, even in the city
Which is named after the airport. Then
There are those upon whom a veil falls
While dialing the opposite city operator, who
Tells you: seekers of happiness are in danger
Of deluding themselves [exiles] that
At the proton level there is authority
In memory and at the neutron
It is in forgetting. And he continues: these
Are not levels but patterns of boredom. Fear
Of boredom is the first pattern, and there’s
A second pattern and it looks like this:
A field in Idaho, pink yellow grass
And behind are some rock bluffs, a few
Horses looking straight at you. Snap
A photo and they will look away.
We should read the diary of the splintering
Cross propped up against a beige Polonez:
It turns out those who voted in favor
Will not be excommunicated. We should
All read the diary of the huge respectable
Face: basically, they want the cigarettes.
Next up’s the diary of the imperialist ass: teach
The master language, try to find a way back
To the birth country. This series of diaries
Is called Sightseer, because he’s hers
And she deserves the best. Only then
Will you note how the people respected
Him [expatriate], because America
And cause he kept nothing for himself.
It was out by the Gaffney Day School he
[Immigrant] developed a taste for pecan pie
On cloudy afternoons: the Reverend drove
A white El Camino and did the Detroit Lean
While the kudzu crept over the billboard
Of a crying baby mumbling this speech
Bubble: “Pay attention to whom your energy
Increases or decreases around.” And yet
Another dream of the railway trestle
In a Tennessee marshland: the alarm
Wakes you to rain and a Central European
Heat wave. If you were home you’d be driving
Round Ridgewood dreaming of Highgate,
Middling in 1986: and that night yet
Another dream of a horse cart escaping you,
Of the co-worker’s gaunt prairie dog looks,
Of bashing your teeth out on the sidewalk.
Was it because you were pulled or pushed
Yourself into the woods of the foreign
That few started looking for you [refugee],
That you know not about having any of your own?
As the Incan rope bridge is rebuilt every year
From the community of grass, you are
Again branded fugitive beneath those
Coptering drum patterns of Meguro and Ebisu.
From the Carolina Piedmont to Lake Cable
To the Vistula, cross the Appalachians,
The Carpathians, battling the vapors
Of unbelonging: this has meant planning
Forays into other tongues while remaining
Unable to escape the American orbit.
Some say wrong paths right us: others say
Stay here till you can stand it no longer.
On the pleasure of wearing a wristwatch,
This separation of ebony statuettes: how many
Times this week were you almost hit by a bus?
The clear, hard light shone either on
The garden of delete or of peace. So much
You [migrant] don’t know: atomic or molecular,
The furloughs between Norway and Sweden, Civil
War border states, classical Indian literature,
Death drive, Baltic dolphins, Antifa, gold trains
Hidden in the mountains of Silesia. You [exile]
Wait out the latter days with forests, fields,
Rocks and weeds: your true companions
At the start of this fading frontier.
To start considering the cabins, mountains
More: to see a donkey in the Pyrenees
And wonder at her red sweater. These
Indulgences of summer have forced
You to wonder how to get there, how
To stay financed, keep it together: this
Is the story of that memory of a memory.
Where is the eighth continent? What [expatriate]
Is it to belong to this country?