by Paul Muldoon

copyright © Paul Muldoon, 2002

Absalom was riding his mule and the mule passed under the thick branches of a great oak. Absalom’s head got caught in the oak and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went on.

– II SAMUEL 18:9

I make my way alone through the hand-to-hand fighting
to A3 and A5. Red velvet. Brass and oak.
The special effects will include strobe lighting
and artificial smoke.

A glance to A5. Patrons are reminded, mar bheadh,
that the management accepts no responsibility in the case of theft.
Even as the twenty-five-piece orchestra
that’s masked offstage left

strikes up, there’s still a chance, I suppose, that the gainsayers
might themselves be gainsaid
as you rush, breathless, into my field of vision.

Understudies and standbys never substitute for listed players,
however, unless a specific announcement is made.
There will be no intermission.