Kevin Stein - “Sufficiency of the Actual”

Had I freed the one-legged cricket twitching in the roses’
spider-webbed twilight,
I’d become Patron Saint of One-Legged Crickets Twitching
in Spider-Webbed Twilight.
I’d be Saint of Cracked Song, Patron of the Incomplete
and Longing.
But then, saintly though I might be, the spider goes hungry.

Anyway, there’s already a multitude, patrons of the broken web,
unrisen bread,
lost keys – so many, this book says, their duties overlap, say,
Patron Saint of Fractions.
(See Incomplete and Longing.) That’s who The Who prayed to,
trashing instruments
as “Pop Art Auto Destruction,” this, Pete Townsend’s phrase,

his name a line and demarcation. The young like to break things,
even themselves.
The young like a summer drum you put your foot through:
thump worship.
Jon Entwistle, The Who’s bassist, stored all his parts
in a wooden
coffin box, until middle-age donned its knee-high socks.

Then he undid the undoing, cobbling five guitars into one
he dubbed “Frankenstein,”
whose name my friend Frank and I shared with it and, well,
with Wollstonecraft’s
romantic sci-fi tragic victim hero. Together, we made a creature
the smarty pants party drunks
called “Frank-and-Stein” from the keg-drenched kitchen.

Aren’t we all cobbled of pieces, glued and screwed and strung
together,
ready to snap? Are we instruments some huge hand plucks?
Are we the roses
or a cricket’s cracked song? And redemption? – in the end
Entwistle’s estate
auctioned “Frankenstein” for a cool $100,000.

Frank did ten years in the county orphanage. (See Incomplete
and Longing).
His mother remarried a furnace whose pilot wouldn’t stay lit.
You’ve heard about
the stutterer who falling from a ladder is cured of his affliction
but made suddenly
blind. What he no longer sees he sings about instead.


“Sufficiency of the Actual” originally appeared in Poetry.  Copyright © 2005 by Kevin Stein.