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THE SHRINE AND THE BURNING WHEEL / Mark forman On the way to the evening reading, Stopped at a Quick Stop for cigarettes, I saw, as did everyone else parked there Or passing, a gang of boys Local boys probably, Burning the front wheel of a ten-speed. The bicycle, turned upside-down, Stood on the dumpster-side of the store, And one boy glanced from the corner Through the front window. Transcendence, that's what It means to want to be gone As, turning the eye's corner To the sudden glare of fire, The local terror stares in your face. I got the hell out of there, And kept the spidery intaglio Of the one, their lookout, peeping Into the store window at—it must have been— the boy who owned the bicycle In his clerk-smock Making change from the safe. At the evening reading, as the poet was Introduced at length, she rested her head On the heel of her left hand, Full hair falling to the propped elbow, And, as the prologue ran on, Shook a little dandruff from her hair. And what I saw was no longer her gesture But the memory of Nora and Bo Dee Foster And the crowd at the Shrine Auditorium In Los Angeles, long ago, listening To "Renascence" and "A Few Figs from Thistles" And one that rhymed "striped pants" and "Paris, France." Bo Dee remembers how As Huxley went on 66 · The Missouri Review And on introducing her, Edna Millay shook the dandruff from her hair. Transcendence is not Going back To feel the texture of the past Like the velvet nap of the loges In the Shrine. It is wanting to be Anywhere else. Clearly, I don't understand. The wheel spins. It is not hard to ignite The hard lean tire with lighter fluid. It flashes and a round of smiles Breaks in the dismal circle Of the boy pack From the apartment complexes. In their striped pants they open doors Of sedans to men in maroon fezzes. But they are men themselves, Nobles, And wear ruby rings set with diamonds And symbols. Searchlights mortar the clear night. "Thank you, Noble," says one man Helping his wife to the curb. She, white as a fez's tassel, And the grandchildren Will see a Chinese girl-prodigy at the piano, Jugglers on the unicycles, And, the reason they've come, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Aging and never to age. Here at the Shrine, with its swag tent ceiling And Arabic signs, hands of the crowd Grip in ways That cannot be revealed. But now the amps are on. Big Brother and the Holding company are on. The rapid fire of the strobes cuts, cuts. But that's too much. Instead, It's the Boy Scout Expo. Let it be calm for awhile As it would be at a state fair Mark Jarman THE MISSOURI REVIEW · 67 Inside a great pavilion. Here are the Scouts displaying Their skill at fly casting. The arc ends in a splash. Fly-blue or fly-green, it hits the pool Among the crowd, under the roof Of the Shrine Hall. There is quiet. Then a cheer. Now the speakers start up. Janis Joplin, shapeless and small In the loose Madras fabric of her dress, Flares and thrashes in the wind Her body makes to the music, Cut and cut and cut By the strobe lights across her hair. Transcendence is what she wants Or not what she wants, to live In the world or out of it, To be anywhere else Or here, as a studied voice Says its poetry of heaven and earth, And meshed with it, hidden, A wheel of history turns, And the boys burn the wheel. 68 · The Missouri Review Mark Jarman ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 66-68
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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