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September 12, 1993|Richard Kenney | From "The Invention of the Zero" by Richard Kenney. (Knopf: $20.) This is a book of four narrative poems, four stories: an atomic explosion, war in the Galapagos Islands, a typhoon in the western Pacific, and a frogman in midair. 1993 Reprinted by permission

O last. Hist: its diorama,

REM sleep's smoke and mirrors,

memory: here, black-lit, still,

the dark Cretaceous under-

story: tree ferns' slow fans;

clubmoss; mosquito-bogs mizzling;

dragonflies a foot across;

carrion-belch of the monitor,

dragging its cold belly over

the slither of its own young;

yawn and purr, earth's

faroff pyroclastic quakes

and phlegms and soup seas, hiss--

* And now the first flowering plant

plumes new perfume and flush color up

into that as-yet-unfletched blue

above the forest canopy,

where now the tarsier stirs, turns

into something else, his great

saucer eyes awash with stars,

and now--

* But you know the rest, Reader,

O, sorcerer's apprentice:

print it now, as once for all

time: Altamira, Font-de-Gaume,

gone: ocherose, cartooned

cavewalls of the first world

willed black in a blink:

ink-veined eyelids' slack drape

rippling a little with the cool draft

in the dream's collapse;

Lascaux, too, like a red yawn,

wonderland's own endocast,

its lost skull's gone

colloquy of ghosts and angels,

echoing

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