If it is consistent, it is incomplete; if complete, inconsistent.
For it will come to pass
that they live in Bakersfield
and the gardens of Coalinga,
where they enter the rock
and live in the rock
and remain in the rock when they die.
For their high-definition eyes
are more than nature and art,
and the dust of their seeing
paints them from within.
For they please themselves with images
and images of images,
Their lips are stung by bees;
their breasts yield no milk.
The miser lies down with the master,
the skinny clerk with the fat.
For the land of plenty
is the land of barristas.
For their sisters work at Walmart,
and their unions are non-existent.
They prepare the table with Popeye’s;
fuel desire with lottery tickets;
and live forever
downwind from the disaster.
Signs of trees but no trees;
images of water but nothing clear to drink.
They burn at the sight of beauty;
are reckless without cause,
rational without understanding.
Among the owls and bats,
they hang from buildings and bridges,
for nothing has been saved for the winter
and summer is but half constructed.
The opossum dances with his mistress,
as the priest with his god;
the rabbit with its mechanic,
as the needle with its habit.
For a suckling child shall lead them
through the streets of Mexico City.
Though the amusements are shuttered,
and the wind burns cold,
the sands of Coney Island
shall be flames of amazement.
For when their forests are bare,
a child will write them back into existence,
one branch at a time,
until the wilderness fills with words
and Gödel’s theorem is enacted.
Gödel is consistent:
how shall we incomplete him?
Gödel, Gödel, teakettle,
what was the future today?
How can we be one,
now that mastery’s gone?
What rights must we wrong?
What songs have we unsung?
Paul Hoover‘s poetry books include Desolation: Souvenir (2012), Sonnet 56 (2009), and Edge and Fold(2006). He is editor of the literary magazine New American Writing and Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology. He teaches at San Francisco State University.