Oct 182014
 
Another old poet, old friend, I conjure:
a second Daniel to write to, while I sit
at my pondering pints, pink with drinking--
my ruminative mind returns to me
a hundred hundred hours merrily heaped
with cocksure colloquy, pecking in the shade
of the lion's den, two aging pagans
hailing Pan.  How often we mocked 
the very teeth of death with foamy vows
outrageous as their sudsy birth. At midlife, 
our fortunes pile up silver dust to fill 
our untrimmed temples, a wealth of thoughts 
enriched by alpine crowns of time, as if 
wreathing clouds consented, trailing
harmless sparks, to be our thinking caps!  
Years are mounting as we mount the years:
our sacrifice is to live, and remain alienate
from pop culture, embracing what was great.

To linger on Olympus in our skivvies,
our discarded skis set beside the fire;
exchanging grapes with the gods, while midnight 
purrs plush, is triumph enough for us.
Sway-stacked and furred with congenial
dust, familiar books look out from under
ragged racks of antique antlers 
and bad gags at this seaside pub--
the creak of memory loud underfoot,
a tub of button daisies declaiming spring
beneath the wind-waved sign: Ron's West End.
At this cratered sea-cliff's visionary height,
summer nights, still softly unborn,
and windy winter's diminishing end both
blow round our glowing table talk, whispering 
wisdoms between the elbowed 
mellow beers and bossy Brunhildas
who rule the roost as if Chaucer never 
died, nor no clock ever tolled a verse
beyond Falstaff's everlasting thirst.

We'd talk until our literary prattle
mounted, instance by little instance,
to tallest universals: "Little Man's
imagination floats, lotus-like, seeming
unbound in the water blaze, and yet at its
root, mud and blossom are integral; even thus 
is our little man's imagination integral
with Nature's nurturing phenomena--"
 
Cheerly we keep the "Al-Ron-Quin's"
covenant of converse, alarming charm 
of riposte and counterpoint displayed 
around the flash and yellow leer of mugs.
Wordsworth's here emending mumbles, 
Hamlet hums and haws 'til the deed is done-- 
both dissed and up-ended by our roaring joy
in favor of old Coleridge and fierce Lear,
one divining lines of logic in the infinite,
one wrangling bare humanity on an empty heath,
barking heartfelt metaphysics with a fool. 
And so we argue high midnight through to closing,
and press each other's contention to a peak.

And so a heightened speech is piled, 
word on word, and green on green, 
in the natural admonition of an oak tower-
ing over lesser growths.  Just as in humid June
we'd climbed far Nether Stowey's stones
in scrambled haste, short-breathed, up
beneath the governing shade of woods
so old and dense all stirring sound was damped
until the hill's bare cap opened in a swirl 
of sky--blue and white and misted.
The mountain where we stood, and stand,
(the round high hill where Coleridge crowed
until a last disaster buried him beneath),
pours roundness down its sides, mossy coombs
unmoving as the sweating stones they covered:
green beyond the memory of green, everlasting 
as the grass where Coleridge strolled in glee.
How long our conversation that day unrolled,
laughing unmannerly as we hopped the brainy turf
above horizons where the sea sketched white
a limit to the vista, and to the sight--
and all the open dome of heaven was mute,
God's own silence by piety magnified.
 
What awful power moves unseen within us,
blowing potent gusts through us, until we're left
consigned unprepared to pinnacles unguessed?
As music crests and crests to its crescendo,
so poets' lives rise to one resounding note.
 
Outside Ron's, the sea scowls pewter, too,
an echo of those lonely Stowey views,
agile as a drunken dutchman's fermented brew.
Here, too, Dan, the decay of light and time
declare a limit to the sight;  here the sea
flashes crested in the softly silver eve, 
and our old talk billows hollow with the surf,
hazarding new splashes at night's darkest onset.
Above, the unmoored moon--which calls
heart and head and all to dream--repeats
impermanent feats in the expanding scale 
all dreams distort and no knowledge amends.
Our littleness is echoed like a fractal's edge
in the universal pattern--as yet unspoken!
And so the jazz of chatter happens, again
and again: sophisticated, false; brave, benighted--

The dissolute smoke that clouds the moon,
the dull confusion of stop-motion, photo-emulsion skies,
where memory and meme are meeting this eve,
is North-Star sharp by midnight, and we see
how monkeys fed on evolution's bread
row on the auroraed sea below, parting lights
with makeshift paddles, as if the whole Milky Way
could sit reflected in the pond out back!
And indeed it does sit there, when we remember
to look with Galileo's lens, or rheumy
Rousseau's ruminative glance.


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