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Sandy Florian – Three from Cantos: A Recollection

Sandy Florian
Three from Cantos: A Recollection


Prison

Loss of life liberties.  And.  The locale in which locking is ensured. A system of separation.
A system of silence.  And.  The world arranged for the lawless and the wrong. As.  He may
not break from prison until the devil’s dead.  And.  The defendant was persistent in saving
his wife from life.  The word appears to have arisen from a person taken into captivity in
times of war.  Thus considered a successful capture.  A possession.  Or.  A prize.  Prismatic.
But.  If the punishment is supposed to fit the crime, I sit isolated in the cellblock of your
affection.  Listening to the clang and bang of your inattention.  For.  I am trying hard to
practice good behavior.  To parole myself from your all-seeing eye.  While you. Succeed in
all-regulating rule.  You are my world and my warden.  For.  In Roulette, the position on the
board where bets are held in abeyance.  As.  When the spinner lands on Zero, even stakes
aren’t scooped.  They are impounded.  I am imprisoned.  For.  This land is your land.  And.
Alcatraz is not an island.

Beantown.  Can.  Clink.  And cooler.  Cell and slammer.  Joint and jug.  Both lockup and
lockdown.  For.  A prisoner can be both jailer and the person jailed.  And.  The child is now
tried as an adult.  But.  If the punishment is supposed to fit the crime, you allow me no
chance of escape.  For.  Behind the fast bars of your incarcerating heart, I confess that I am
guilty.  Spare me the guillotine.  Of trying to make a paradise of your prison.

With hyphenation, of or pertaining to jails.  As.  Prison-cell.  Prison-clock.  Prison-dream.
Or.  Instrumental locative.  As.  Prison-born.  Prison-bound.  Prison-made.  A prison-bird is
a person who is often and at length imprisoned for felonies.  For.  You venture to ask me
who I am.  And.  I venture to reply.  Nothing but a prison-bird.  I watch the prison-clock
smite upon the shivering air.  For.  With sentence.  Time served.



Abacus

A board.  A slab.  A draught.  A frame strewn with sand for the delineation of figures.  A
sandbox.  And.  Geometrical diagrams.  Or.  A frame divided in two sections and in which
round wooden plums slide upon parallel rods.  For performing the functions of arithmetic.
Finding mechanical solutions to mathematical problems.  Addition and subtraction.
Multiplication and division.  Both square and cube root operations.  On numbers.  As.  A set
of positive integers unique in meaning and fixed in order.  But.  If the value of the plum
changes according to its position on the rod, you find that I am divisible.  Can be rendered
invisible.  That I can be reduced, diminished, and deducted from the larger quantities.  I am
trying to discover the value of me.  But.  I am dumb to the wonders of your great numbers.

A child puts a penny in a penny loafer.  A woman with two broken fingers carries three bags
up four stairs.  Five or six men stamp their feet in the snow.  And.  In the middle of a
rectangular room, half-way across the world, seven empty chairs form a circle.  For.  A nine
inch statue portrays a man on the back of an ox.  And.  I am trying to accrue.  I am trying to
accumulate.  But.  You have given me the gift of two glass eyes.  Or.  You’ve added eight and subtracted ten.

The word is derived from a Semitic word ibeq.  To wipe the dust.  And.  In architecture, a
slab on the top of the capital of a column.  In the Ionic orders, a square flat plate.  In the
Corinthian and Composite, variously cut and ornamented.  See.  You are bedazzled.  You
stand at the edge of a hundred horizons wearing a thousand crowns.  While I, in this world,
am slowly disappearing.  As is this image of you.  For.  Any number times zero.  Always
equals zero.



Gun

A cannon mounted on a carriage and from which missiles are cast by the force of powder.
Or.  A metal pipe from which shots are fired at high velocities.  Any portable firearm.  As.
A musket or a fowling piece.  A rifle or a revolver.  See the pistol lying in the periphery of
the prison.  For.  A long single barreled gun is called a goose-gun.  A piece of ordnance is
called a great gun.  One mechanically loaded and fired is called a machine gun.  As.  The
mechanical wonder of World War I.  Giving high flying men the power to fire ten shots per
second.  Through the spinning propellers of airplanes.  But.  If the a difference between the
morning and evening guns lies in the ticking of clocks, the word was used in England for an
Engine long before the powder was found out.  Black blend of nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur.
But.  If the difference between the morning and the evening guns lies in the ticking of
clocks, you sling your gun over your right shoulder.  Call yourself a winter hunter and
wander under the covered sun.  For.  You have as many guns as there are birds in the sky.
And.  I am fumbling toward these geese in tumble.  Or.  I am listening to the postman’s
steady rat-a-tat-tat.  For.  My damaged elbow prevents me from sleeping until the morning
ghosts and their guns.  Or.  I am now asleep in your machine gun dreams.

Because.  This is the season for hunting geese.  And.  It being represented that the evening
gun might discover us, you were prevailed upon to omit.  For.  To be sure as a gun is to be
dead certain.  To stick to one’s guns is to be rigidly fixed.  To carry the guns is to have
capacity for power.  And.  To be under the gun is to be hurried.  But.  To measure the
weight of guns and butter is to determine the need for military expansion.  At the expense of
socio-economic developments.  For.  The government cannot run from their guns.  And.
This is the start of another race.  Or.  Another world war.  For.  This is nothing but a six-
shooter suicide.  One of many instances of bestowing female names on the engines of war.
Thus.  A hypodermic needle used by heroin addicts.

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