Epistemic Love Poem


If there were a verb meaning “to believe falsely,”
it would not have any significant first-person
present indicative.
                                                        —Ludwig Wittgenstein,
                                                        Philosophical Investigations


In Crimea now the larks might be muzzled by artillery
and crap weather, how should I know? In Haifa now
the guns must be running, I have no idea. In Kobani,
a boy is waxing a Kalashnikov. A boy is waning
in a blood puddle, I don’t know. I’m not in Missouri.
I’m not in Humboldt Park or Harlem. I’m here with you,
wrought simple and plain happy. The only city I know
is your city, is your city block, your boulevard between
the German bar and the orthodontist’s. The only city
I know is the square of sidewalk your shadow paints.
Everywhere else is switched off now, every current
stilled, the Gulf Stream is in sleep mode, its porpoises
unplugged, its seagulls powered down now dangling
from clouds that are stuck static in their full upright
and locked positions. No carbon is there baking
the human sky, no Ebola, no typhoon churning.
No Obama is there in his white office, no Mitch
McConnell in the garret of his own braincase, no pope
infallible, no lama enlightened, no ayatollah knows
what I know now I know you, and no, I don’t call you
darling. I don’t call you honey or sugar or babe,
those names made for other bodies, those noises made
lame by other people, and the other bodies are switched off
now slack mannequins on trolley cars, in Hondas, in jets
stopped over Crimea, over Kobani and Haifa, everyone
dumbstruck everywhere still as a book on a shelf.
If it isn’t written by you, I won’t read it. If it isn’t about you,
I won’t know it, and I won’t call you bunny or sweetheart
or pumpkin now I know you are my wild earthquake,
my ontological kazoo, my dizzy robin of ghost feathers,
your voice is a brontosaur. It’s bigger than everything.
Your mind is bigger than mine, it frightens me,
but I kiss your shins and shoulders now, I kiss your hips,
it’s like kissing rainwater though I know now no rain
exists if it isn’t kissing your face. I’m being ridiculous,
I know! But my chest is a rowboat rolled over and over.
My chest is a boulder, the boulder crashed through
the floodlight of my chest, and I believe falsely now
no horror exists. I believe falsely no other joy exists.
I believe now in every love song. Every love song
is wrong that doesn’t know you, my transcendental
tea cup, my butter knife in a light socket, you are my
space plane, my only space plane. I do dare to eat a peach.
I do dare disturb the universe, and if the universe turns out
to be a simulation, if the universe is a false front or a figment
of a dog’s eye in another universe, I don’t need to know now
I know you I don’t know and I don’t need know.