Flagrant casuistries By Gregg Glory [Gregg G. Brown] Beware of a spying gaze in the blind wall: The Word is bound to matter… Do not set it to profane usage! --Gerard de Nerval
Crains, dans le mur aveugle, un regard qui t'epie: A la matiere meme un verbe est attaché!... Na la fais pas server a quelque usage impie! --Gerard de Nerval
Last Tuesday, for kicks, the cachinnate sea-crew Downed an albatross, a vast sea-bird, The indolent companion of our wake, who lazily traced Our ship's slippage through bitter breakers. Once deposed to the common planks, This king of the wild blue stumbled in shame, Piteously dragging his white infinite wings Like chalky oars unmoored beside him. Winged voyager! Now dementedly frail! O royal one! Now splay and exposed! One sailor crams His Highness' beak with a burning pipe; The next limps and mimics this cripple who soared! The Poet is one with this swift prince of the clouds Who haunts the tempest and mocks swart archers: Exiled to earth's low hoots and threats, His giant wings hobble each inch of his step. --Charles Baudelaire
Let me elaborate (without belaboring) my point in print. Let’s say one questions the status quo: Hey Quo, what’s up with that, yo? The question, by its very nature, throws doubt upon the validity and durance of the status quo, or things as they are. Maybe things should be arranged otherwise, maybe other arrangements or interpretations would be more penetrating and correct, or would open avenues of action that would be grander or more satisfying. Questions, in this respect, are like headlights that can help us sketch out the dimensions and “give” in the fog that surrounds us.
What questions, in and of themselves, cannot do in these circumstances is prove anything about the validity of the status quo one way or another. Because one can formulate a question about the status quo does not, in itself, undermine things as they are in any way. Hey Quo, are you sure that the ground is under my feet? This question does nothing to remove the ground from under your feet–it is simply a question–a question that can start a process of discovery that itself should be questioned and not simply assented to because it undermines current understanding. This is what I meant about “questioning the questions.”
A question is simply the first step on a path that may eventually lead to the heady heights, and vast new perspectives, of disproof of the status quo; but the question is not the map, the donkey, the traveler, the sweat and the path all in one. The ground under your feet is solid until physics comes to eventually prove–through assertions and demonstrations (the sweat and donkey, etc.)–that in fact the ground is mostly made up of empty space between those tiny head-spinners, atoms.
Questions start the discovery, but the doubts are only worth paying attention to when evidence begins to solidify their guesswork with a bridge to a new reality, a new solidity. This goes on forever and ever, and even our views of bridges past begin to be swallowed up in the present fog and our next new journey can be to re-tread the paths of discoveries “past.”
But then, what is Time, really?
2004 matured me in "one fell swoop" from deranged nerd to poised politico. The Public Library lions lean meekly on their paws, the spirit's menace, but not a doit against the grinding real-politick of Kerry's crash. "Let the repugnicans run things from here on in. The people'll be fed up by 2040 or so." So much for plots and plans. The streets were picked clean as a district attorney's grin. Sniggering drunk on cheap gin, I watch the awkward, waddling, ludicrous, heart-felt and foible-filled ANSWER's parade float down 5th avenue, the partisans a pastiche of president-haters and cranks.
A low, scornful comedy, Politics forgets man's nobility and grace; Each actor on the scene is given A monkey's scornful face. Politics is misprision, Goals the only good; An opposite to ethics' missions Where the Way is weighted All. Who knows themselves knows this well, Nor loves the news' intrigues; Stark farce and frighted faces, Dumb noise without a bell.
No "Grand Design" marrs my mouthings with a dictator's mania for perfection. Let what clues there are assemble themselves into some workaday conclusionary attitude or not. Man's a pattern-recognition device scanning horizons alert on his hind legs for threat or profit ever since we left the high cradle of the trees. "Rock-a-bye baaay-bee…." We call on God like a waiter when our intuition sours. The least we expect is that He'll take away the mess we've made of our plates; slashed lobster tails, cold soup, napkin blazed in butter or blood. How many settings must we sully in our time? Small fry sizzle in the stream, bearing the emptiness of air to eat gnats; so we leap and gulp off-balance, out of our element, full of longing, blind mouths open with prayer or gossip. Job managed both, but suffered unduly because he gave a damn. I see you there; my horizon's a page edge, these words my birder's net. The best eating never flocks, but steps singly to the trap.
State of Emergency
I've seen scrawled by the chapel door "All's fair in love and war." Now that every heart is fed on hate The worst hunt down the great And ambush keeps the score. Sweet chimes ring the schoolyard home, No tattle of Chechnyan children comes; To keep their captive guests at peace Brave tales are told in a darkened space Of the rock and the dome. Nor love nor war are at our door But assassins at the window sash; A knife that flits in the flesh Troubles the unhealed gash Forevermore.
Pomp and Present Circumstance
Bad poets write the cowardly words. Bolshevik importunings crowd the square: "Hitler, fascisti, retrograde!" Crow the opiated opinion-makers, Loudly lulling "the masses." Children doodle decapitated presidents Under the mildly smiling instructress Stitched drip by drip To the federal nipple. Witticisms stripped to shitticisms. "The world is not as once it was!" Cry the fanged bunglers Sullenly sipping tomato puree Where once the blood had come fast and rich and fauceted. Fighting a ragtag rearguard action for culture, No fine-spun sensibilities appear Delicate as Charlotte's web, As human as rumor That clotted democracy yet, Matted and mottled with muds, might yet, Yet might be, might still be "Some Pig."
The Niggard Heralds
The inverted bodies hang themselves, Interpenetrated, peeled For us to write riven songs upon their skins! Sullied sufferers hang themselves from a glass cross 200 floors toward heaven. Bitter Christs! Loudly you fly from flames to the asphalt, Absent-minded of your mission: Your religion has not yet arisen. We may yet decide to be extinguished. The gossipy mendacity of the Left Aligning with bin Ladens To win the miniaturized Bickerfest with the neighbor; neighbor Same as them, hung from the cross the same. Orange flares Line the flyway to infinity Or incineration. Coda Here's a brave man, indifferent to kicks, Somber under DC's browning ferns, Ready to kill the willful killers And treat his countrymen, confused As the winter-wind infused weathervane Like a drunken beloved.
Alertly lifts the martyr's rifle-- Agonized prayer awaiting divinity's hit. God never talks to the dogs, the dogs never stop barking. "I remember her blue burka; Rough cotton; wife. The trigger invites me.... And I see you, mad and scrambling, insipid in your freedoms. When God God God crushes you I shall rise."
The sails unsettle in the wind Finding their invisible origins-- Small fear goes out along the lines Tremulous to the masthead, The masthead bound with iron And set into the leaning keel Translates each impulse into action: To one action, always the same: forward!
Snaffled cuffs link our hearts in chorus-- On baffled dream-seraglio of houris-- Oh never to awake from this bout of sleep Though shadows squander themselves and sunlight creeps. These eves are deep that shelter lonely eyes Turned inward, bitter till self-horrified-- The odalisque tamed by dusky charms Untongues the timid with her beckoning arms.
Daniel J. Weeks and Gregg Glory
The Smithsonian's dusty trumped-up American Bald Glares glass-eyed from its cement stem Flightless adherent to its typeset caption "This specimen typifies..." White-cloth greatness fitted to a character-trait-- Gestures grand enough for "something" Parodied into "plausibility." Daring airs Are glass-encased, and grounded goes the mobile soul Once limber and viscous as a spiky rose. All's choral, Collegial lean-togethers, mediocre ochers Detailing a dulling sunset-- Not the hazardous edge of new dawn, Clouds, clouds "by the skyful," The wee eye a-glitter, an observatory dome open to the cosmos And more. The great green agate door of Oz Stands pried wide, stoppered open. Shall we fall into the verdant velvets, Eat the wheats sizzling in their millions? Come, here's my hand, toad-wet, willing-- Here's the heart-mouth pledge-- and the plunge, the plunge that mimes the promise mum. Down we float careening reagents ripped to splinters and sailing anyhow onwards.
Congress sick with second guessing Jessies
Congress sick with second guessing Jessies No firm hand on the tiller No mettle in the men left at home Only an orgy of angst Belittlement of betters Twist turn and angling for advantage Small speech of exiting No largesse of existing No reasoning among the sissies Just the vile knifefight for the voter. The troubled insincerity of these actors in the round, The corpulent self-indulgence of the American Left. "The president proposes, the congress disposes." Say the vivid idiots believing themselves Meaty deities in monkeysuits.
Carloads of laughing fatsoes Follow Rockerfellers to the rallying grounds Laughing falsetto Apropos of nothing. Contumelious Carter, crass gasbag, Pats the padded DNC box-seat for Lordly Moore Smarming his way to fame On lies and mallomars.
Saddam's boys, fed lion's hearts And bad philosophy, were sent into the rape room Under P.S. 106, Baghdad, Same ground that saw a Ninevah arise Same wide-eyed folks that made A few of civilization's unending things, Set golden bird upon a ruby bough to sing. "Not in my name" shall we set, we The people of Hamilton and Adams Not for such names, nor for our own, Forgotten since our civics' texts Have gone to rot as assuredly as Rome's poems Burned by Visigoths to watch "Vandal Idols" on a commandeered TV in the fumbled coliseum. "Not in my name" shall these be set free. Not by us, the people of Lincoln and Paine, Not with our bullets of inalienable rights, Nor our hatred of tyrants, Not by our strength, our success, Not by our sure hand in a selfish world, Not by our open palm shall these be set free. These same who crouched in a shit pit Or were shot for sheer sport. Power plus a few roaring lies And arabist France is your firm friend, Scoring oil off of marsh arabs' misery, Breathing grievance and flattering tyrants alone in their ego-lovely palaces of misapplied plaster, walls caulked with exquisite fear, real memories of friends, father or sister suddenly dragged out at 1 AM and shoved into the State's Mercedes and returned in ribbons, eyeless, legless, earless, hymenless, or not at all…. The fear of faces too used to fear, Same faces Stalin made in Russian clay Holding his neighbors' feet to the fire Or cinching raw hands in unforgiving wire. "Not in my name" shall these be made free. Same Saddam, god-damn, Who put a hit out on a retired president And called Kuwait his "13th Province," Shattering desert quietude with lies, Living detached as a NYT op-ed writer From the eternal verities. Same Saddam, god-damn, Who paid suicide bombers' families to live on quince And retire to palm-shaded villas After sending Sonny on to see Allah; Same suiciders who put a two-fer hole In New York's presumptuous skyline: Front teeth fell out square with 3,000 lives As jerks in Jersey City cheered And Palestinians rah-rahed in parade, Making Gaza glamorous once again, full of light, full of hope, full of song, As know-nothing Americans knew, just knew It was all our fault anyway; Not even giving gashed Jihadis credit for their kill, not really. Same Saddam, god-damn, …. I can't go on without respite, without tonic, A cool cloth for my lips, hot cotton Laid on my ears, much abused, Carbon darkness for my eyes, my eyes That see in seemless verity One nation, under God, Riddled with raconteurs of the Apocalypse Who never missed a payment on their Saab. Allah, Allah, Allah, Forgive these few, these free, These blind men holding diamonds Who think they're weighted with bricks; Forgive these few their compassionate disaster Who see sorrow in a tyrant's swat, How sad his up-bringing must have been; Forgive these few their huddled asses Who buy the pap and propaganda of the feckless press. Allah, Allah, Allah, Sear me with second-sight enough to see What comes of free people with no will to be free; Who shrinky-dink and containerize the globe After pacifying panzered fascists, Who set the Technicolor sights of Hollywood in every human eye And take air-conditioned flights To the winds' four corners And hear half-good English spoken there From some kid wearing Adidas And yet do not believe Fallujah's on their subway stop or Kabul is come to Washington. Forgive these few, O Allah. Allah, Allah, Allah, Walla walla walla Washington
Red State Prayer
Dear Lord, help the heathens to keep their federal mandates off of my state. Please, Lord, let them become aware that just because the federal penny flows from the blue states to the red states that that does not give them the power to make us join their progressive coalition of the bribed and the coerced. Please, Lord, let them blue staters realize that before that federal penny flows from the blue states to the red states via Washington D.C. that penny first flows from our backs to their banks. Please, Lord, I am tired of doing the bidding of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy, and unelected judges who pick up the legislative pen that able but lazy legislators have cast aside in favor of windsurfing. Let not the least accountable branch of government hold sway over the most accountable. Oh, please, Lord, I beseech ye.
How God Hates a Freeman
How God hates a freeman. How suffering is his every rainbow --Even when we poor ants Find some infinitesimal way of being free He sends a scourge, an insanity amongst us --Sudsy heads in turbans hard hands anxious to cruxify ready hammers and shiny nails suicide bombers in clean veils no dirt under their fingernails ready to make love to God The God who, ironically enough, Is killing us in black batches, By blood-mouthfuls, killing And shaming us with his sharp scourge --so clean, so new--
To the Red Gates
A bold bolt of rose lightning Bids me sizzling its chosen bowman be, A filial Philoctetes Despite of our history. So few know the maiming game Half so well as swollen love can tell; Knotted lots of condemned confederates Go rolling down the slay-yard line, Conveyered to red hell and devastation, Again. What redeems the fugitive from his red pen? (Funny, nes pas?) How escape the mirrored Mall to slow roast in the hopeless Wilderness Again? Monet's mash of fabulous figments hand-ground to red renown.... Cezanne's carnival of pink icebergs sailing house-high intra-Ardennes.... Beethoven's beaten TAA-DUMP, or Baudelaire's lurid la-lahrrr.... All are the agony of gangsters Throttled or thrilled by moment's one consciousness, Exhorted from the dumpy swamp That beats and retreats in the fetid chest-- O soully broken brothers! Taken in angina and angst, past mists To see pantsless God Our Father And never again live well as worms. His love has hoovered your harrowed bowels, His meaning's memes flay mincemeat from your lives, Embattled brethren of the happy pit, Giggling piglets skinned in velvets Wanton wannabes Voltaged with vim, Summed nothings who see The glory of Him. Alpha and Omega, faith precedes Phantom efficiencies of famine and feast, Trust in the somethings our nothings provide, Vomiting vacuums for lebensraums, Aching for spaces no spaceman divines, Only oh aum ah oh our holy um Can freight the frigate We sail to red gates That frame the lonely bowman Asleep in zero's nonman's land triggerfinger itched by lightning
Blind Homer in his handicapped parking plot, Driving eye-dog at the steel wheel, Steel will in the passenger's seat-- Homer who haunted the agora Shilling for shekels his white whale tale. Superman in his icy citadel Pacing the slatted blanks that mirrored, then hid His moroser meditations. Soulful foreign exchange student Putting on parsed phrases of a play: hanging a mirror-frame in stage-space, Audience made the mercury backing To a soul in self-discovery.
The Joy of Bastard’s Desiring
for Ken Bastard An artist, that vast patchwork of fictive facts made irremediably human Lies swacked to the black mat Lies swacked by bilious bastards-- Hearing only the thin singing of virile virtuosos. Crucified, rechristened, He takes blamelessly the name "Bastard," Owing no allegiance to parents, prophets, persons, or miserly precedent. Alone as only in that thinnest singing He rears and raves Swinging pennants of pigments Fashioning each fitful color with fidgets To one indelible enamel Alive in our mammalian minds. Rip of fittest tethers in tattered weather and off--oof!--go hallooing balloons by blistered brain's lightest excitements shaped-- sheer veerings and vanishments into empty Empyrean blues.... Brushwork unbowed and bronzed, Blast after melodious blast Blessing bastardly the seeming serene Until all the thumping nothing Is singing--singing unremittingly the "Joy of Bastard's Desiring."
A suppose is a suppose is a... Limber lasso of Tea Leonis, looping and limpid. Here I float ... forgotten and talentless Among numb unknowns of words, spermy words Fishing for finishes.... Each word a weight to sink the bait Wriggling its links of heartbeats. No knowing comes to caustically swallow The proffered oblations of ignorance --Stiff wicks awaiting enlightenment. Ignorant divots flay my driving field, Each divot devoutly a prayer To drive true To some teleological terminus. O Tea Leoni Know my unknowingness, Parse my pickled presumptions And inscribe a prescription under each eyelid, Some fluff of a fluttering antidote. Stop these filaments of questionmarks Swelling my throat like a feather boa, Fashioning incertain alternatives In my make-believe brain, Aggrieved and giveless. O salvé salvé Moisten and close, clock and lock, The click-if-click of my soiled supposery Churning mud-dumb propellers In bayous gone by O salvé!
Picasso’s Crooked Eye
Picasso's crooked eye, David's damned obscurities, Sartre the industrious communist bee, Bug-eyed with his private hoard of existential agonistes, Riviera's raucous mural, florid With steel trains and a lemon Lenin as glossy as a saint, The same a rigid Rockerfeller Ripped down and paid for. . . . Each artist riffed rich in angst and happiness, Loving their foamy social dream Where each man's crowned a kinky king And none are ugly laborers for greed Or any vice but the "people's need." If in their Hilterianly lonely, limpid dream All others would but see as they had come to see, each in his private dignity Grinding his eyes to the one measure, Then all the world's woes might be frozen fragrantly In one sole mosaic triumphantly. But none submitted their prim, their vetted Vision to the communal tribunal, None tum to the others' ta-ta Despite the goal's profound, golden nobility, Despite the day-laborer ferrying gigantic acres of canvas, His kid sick in the back of the hurried truck, Despite the crazy fees for "inspiration" That denied the doorman his cataract surgery, Despite the weak, the infirm, the shirtless and shoeless Who would never enter this centrally air-conditioned Palace of art to peruse this exact masterpiece of "solidarity." Never would the mooing millions, unwooed wards Of "the true light that puts Italy's afternoons to shame," See this feted aesthete's tribute to their "viral virility," Despite, despite, despite, Despite the pie-eyed ache for Paradise that moved the pointillist-precise camel-hair brush over the worker's sable-shiny eyebrow in the union pantheon.
Slaves of Glory
The very astonishing hour has come. The very astonishing hour indeed! Green Heinekins, jade brain and rose-coral vodkas ---Exhausted! In one final, fantastic evening. Hosannahs invade the empty windows, spurs of blacks, mysterious As the tender invitation of the body. Bright, alcoholic after-haloes sift Timid ash upon stale, upraised lips. Sobriety has entered us As mourners enter a white church. Enough of this pathetic quietness! This simpering, dog-like wish for 'temperament' The madness of faces full of 'sound judgement.' I forgive all disasters, all accomplishments, Every disguise that announces 'I am finished!' Choking its inhabitant as a mirror chokes beauty. Songs of sporadic intensity, wicked verses, The poem of flayed skin, blind eyesight Mutes imagining laughter, I forgive you! Pathetic quiet! Bring tympans, wild sibilants, Drunken elephants of sound, mists, the harsh clangour of brass. New eyes, new hearts, new senses! Bring a speech of bloods, the invention of Angels! Why was one ever afraid of waking? Eh! a little daydream I had in the haypile. But now the new era has arrived --this moment! Let us revenge the sky for an hour! Let us run out muds of new births upon us, And seize in hands of ice the very flowing waters-- --Dreams of incorporeal perfection! Dawn leaves splinter in my eye Enacting the death of Satan. Vertiginousness in the closet! Very astonishing!
Shouts of Blankness
When nothing is left but divinity And each man shouts to the next: "Look! We are become the human angels!" Wings made fabulous-- disasters surpassing imagination! Abominable, the bricks of this image. All will be re-constructed, in Paradise. At the discretion of no God Do I spin and unfurl; What is the hypothesis of passion? The inextricable answer in the diamond. "I am the unnamable silver, past continuation, I march beyond continent and clime. I sing without vocable glitter." A death that was reasonable shimmers Shining ignored in a dirty jade pool. Men will that day become? Men will that day become? Tales and fables melt to insignificance; Palaces disappear in a maze of flames. Men will that day become what? I woke up in an ecstatic ditch; I don't know very much about it. The disingenuous suffer overmuch. The rhetoric of Democracies! Very commendable! And after the Sousas and oompahs.... And after the senses to emphasize what blankness?
Against the West Long Branch Redistribution
Golden houses gather at the sea's demesne, Crowded to dare the weather and the wave, To raise childish laughter in the rocky spray Despite what moneyed worldlings crave: Sunrise caught in the gilt of nouvaux riche fences, Exiled faces shut from the sea that shaped their clay. These sea-battered, sea-stung houses, strong, Rooted long years on a battened coast, Creak, and crack, in the wind's stir shaken, broken Till hurricane pane and slatted roof rise in song, Hurling hung cries above the developer's boast: "God grants great strength to the hand that takes."
"The rat I wrangled from my womb has wronged me! Bit me! Bled me! Hear a mother's cry to kill her kid! Choke the sopping monster who goes glued to Fate By my very blood! Sucked from my very teat, milk and blood both-- bitter, bitter! O Aegiesthus' ghost-- where are you? Hold my breasts and fuck me! These same breasts that came with my pubescent blood, Oresetes nuzzled-- his skull-top as soft as his pea of a nose. Unfinished he flooded into a turgid world, Torn by troubling dreams; I built him from boy to man, I And I alone touched him wonderingly, wantingly: That this star should fall from my fuckhole…. Damn him! Damn him! What is it to be a mom If men may treat their mothers thus? Curse him! My identity's stripped to ifs without him; without him Numbered and known as my son, my son. Hard the travail, hard the happiness, and now hard the death-time Of mothers and their motherhood. Sleepless across the groined earth I groan, Loneliness airless and endless. Not mother, but murderer My son--that damned man--proclaims me to finally be. His insistence on Justice is a sinkhole of sorrows Burying his Mommy for God. Ah, God-- No; no refuge there; no clouds, no angels, no respite For a woman torn and scorned. I'm jammed into my gender: First, pollution of the menstrual punch, then sex Wished-for in waiting, not sought in warm arousal But closeted and kept close, moldy with hoping-- Thin mystery of the singing clit mixed with sorrow-oh! Known then as Agamemnon's woman, addendum to majesty, That which cleaves and is cloven--flickeringly split in loving-- His arms the margins of my seacoast--no more, no less. And no woman knows another; slakers and takers of the defining phallus-- Competitive finessers of the clamping circumstance. Came Helen, and away went our hairy thousands, All the wood echoing like a troubled drum. Men marching into the sea! Seaborne, sea-torn, So many with no fluff on their chins, little wrigglers. War-widow I was then, alone as a lion, Stalking the beaches at dawn, clubbed and stunned By the night menaces; the sins of the dreamless hours, My mind a shifty shuttle on no holy loom. What was I in this absence of passions? Unkicked, unlicked. No nobility rolled, lucid and lovely, from my hurt hollows. I was uncoiled and void; knowingless, dirty, and numb."
Daniel J. Danielson
An old-time, small-town hardcore "con" polite enough to jigger mint juleps in tinking silver cups rubbed smooth by lips ribbed smooth with talking. Politics, aesthetics, jeremiads, history's candid tangle of catastrophes --any subject that nights ripen and split enough to show the sense of meaning at the snapping seams; thought stretched taut until articulation sang. O the million nights chattered ruefully through to human truth! Rhythm's doubled thrubs send the heart-beacon out beneath the boards, like your troubled and beloved Poe moaning lonely for his Annabelle Lee, lovely ideal resurrected from the dead real. Your life-plot's coiled as Rosencrantz', a labyrinthine mind of steel and twine following each God-doled bread-crumb clue to God's appointed apotheosis; intent as a atheist pimping out a principle. You loiter with stories forever unfinished, once started, not knowing "how way leads on to way." Each enunciated principle's broadened with tributary amendments, altering precursor and course upon reconsideration; Rabelaisian babble nipped and tucked tidy by a laser-guided philosophy. Long ago in your yeoman youth you started dreaming past the dragon's hiss, the dragon's tooth, to inner virtue's unvarying, vibrant truth. Now an earnest father gone haggard at the world's lies-- you sit a spastic Little Hamnu down to talk-- and finish grinning and whistling in the dark, stuck, like Coleridge with his quaint Constancy, or an aim-awry Orion facing West, stark as a marker in the stars' fixed rigging.
Neither remembers the stark start when heart first advised the eyes to see a friend a foe. Meals at the table turned scattershot, casual.... Face leaned to books, lipping the small print, you gazed aglow at your torn, beloved golden "Dragon" magazine: chatty advice about how to kill with stealth or sail the astral plane on a budget. Every confab folded at a call from your Philly hottie, Maria; seminal points left forever unpinned among the live haywires of hasty love. Once you grumped home straight to your pigsty content to yodel D & D cusses at a screen filled with terror and fidgety limbs; midnight found you miserably hunched, a vulture clawing a mouse. You click your friends together with a lassoed gesture, circles of a single color under each pair of feet; you hunt the haunted woods together, crouch bunched at each blind sound and die in the fine faith of the necromancer's talent for resurrection. There you were hunched under the overhead lamp, slaying evil to exhaustion but unwilling to do the simple, sullied work that keeps us good. The sounds of all the world came crashing down, pounded from the tinny PC speakers, an aria of Orc-growls that crescendoed in a hash of static. Were you Ulysses, a grey bureaucrat lost at sea and anxious to survive into the profit zone of his misfortunes. Every crashing zag ends in an ascending zig. Unhappy over your sogged bowl of Cheerios, you wept to make the minutes glisten, praying that the twin tracks of amnesia would cure your ruin. O the world herself was bleak as ashes that day. That day you had swallowed the plot that plumed with your departure a blue peacock's outburst fan waving and waving. It was months before I knew you'd said goodbye.
No more can I turn aside with sunny face When the shocks of life upbraid me; No longer can I see in the casual stranger's face Opportunities new unknown for causal love. Whatever has brought me to this pass Must heave me onward! Nothing without Bears my trust as had our friendship bourne --How easily!--as on a giant's back lighlty rides A sparrow! heedless strength to carry all And to tar all things with easy hope. Far into the night with weariless footpad We had pressed, uncaring where the journey led So long as sojourn had no ending. Suggestive shadows of rock and claustric wood Held no terrors for we two; we two Who knew our honest talk could shrink Dark's impostures down to shadow's sham. Gone are those trusts, that happiness. Now rock and dark (ay, and rust and rot) Penetrate my nimble being like a pin Whose first sharpness opens slowly into wound Raw and unmendable, flinching if an ash Although cold as the bearing wind Should light upon its open redness. Now every face in my kind circle Comes to nothingness or less; For ain't it worse than all the loss Of miser-miserable death to lose What has no reason to be lost, Imposed division, needless cost? Who'll now give heart to my restless quest, Remain for dinner and depart a guest As closely allied in the heart As one who never did, or would, depart.
"Brother, I've a shiv for your spotless side. Authority's glory. You glow in God's eyes, The only free thing who's immediately obedient. Unpausing panegyric to the Creator's cabal! Only the brainless, the recklessly loyal, Fly fired in ire or sit titivating introiblios At the unheard word of the Lord Our God-- Out-thrust from grace you go--a holy turd." Abel's Cain "Co-created creature inhabiting God's grace, How like two ears of grain we thrive from a single stalk, Listening to the mystery that lights, at dawn, At dusk, in sourceless fog or stippled night, Our heavenly way. . . .Oh, Cain, our cable's snapped That had our frailer lights attached, and now Into God's welcoming grace we each must go By nether paths neither tended nor knows."
No Intercessor Angel
No intercessor angel tends On steps no other did commend; No vagrant God adjourns Heaven for what makes us mourn. No pebble, despite eons going by, Disincarnates a sigh; Ocean humps in its gelid sack Only forth and over, there and back. Sins commissioned ere our time Get writ as History, not as crime; No insistless salve is spread To comfort calumnies of the dead. Ancient bitterness and vibrant strife Impose no twinge on man and wife; Remorseless immortals looking down Neither laugh nor frown.
By Another Name
First the clouds were in a heap Till even sheep could not sleep; Then the palace of platinum bullion Lost a shingle and was down a million; St Peter loitering at the gate Had no new angels to berate; Gabriel tossed his trumpet aside, Sad it tootled unamplified; An angel's anger at a broken harp Is more melancholy than sharp; Sunshine seemed insult above the rain; The gowns, though clean, were plainly plain; The heavenly host and lordly train Were just a parade by another name.
Vivid division of night and day's erased. If only light were a little less wanted, The pang that brings us to our knees, Praying and palavering among stone pews.... We murmur rumors of ill-lit hope In illegible littleness, Have easy breathing in a blunted cove, Voluptuous sighs swiftly wrapped In midnight velvets And cool contentment at the core. Our disdainful backs Turned to the emergent sun In reticulated whispers Vibrant and magnificent.
Fervid Superfluities of the Sun
What's done? What's done? Day advances day under the clock's gun. . . . So little's left to do but die and rot, Whistling operatic lieder on my solitary cot. Romans knew the days but trooped to zero Teaching kindergarteners mortuary rhymes, Heroes paused at their redeeming crimes Defined by something, something against erasing Time. We aim at one overweening abstract: Truth: A volcano that we forge to raise the roof, And miss the little deity Pity Saucering stale milk to a crippled kitty. When once we've sighed ourselves asleep: "‘Tis done, ‘Tis done," there'll be no dream that needs "Te Deum."
When I was well
When I was well the world did seem Alive with myriad tempting mysteries-- Wireless winds that moved each trembling tree Moved what spirit moved in me; The light that lifted flowers from the seed Bade me bloom and brighten in my new need. But when I was ill the world did grow Older and dimmer each diminishing hour; Weaker, darklier waned the woodland powers And crumpled came even the softest flower To this cheek that felt it not, This tear-dead eye that saw all ill become one sizeless blot. Now recovered and alienate in my taut boat, I measure the world from within my moat, A magic circle of moveless seas Unfrozen and supple, but leadenly still; Wind and light move, but move not me; For I, I am well, but the world is ill.
Reading Rilke red-eyed, hoping some one knows something about the afterlife, the invisible, invincible gods who hobble us to here. There's no solace in Rilke's self-swallowing fountain, sword and gorge become one unprintable fuck-fest. Not even the old Caesars had a clue. Righteousness the economic health of the expanding Empire-- all else sighed and died. What final detail sums us up the way a bow expresses the ribbon's thinness, its graceful twist manifest supremely in darling, daring anti-utilitarian curls?
Parting at Mid-Height
Far from meaningless at the seams A good poetic conceit Sounds off each tailored inch of its dapper dreams, The too-neat neatness of its pinched pleats. Here, at the folded edge, a possible prow, Self-reflexive style and raw wave hiss, Touching without changing their inner hows In extended chemic kiss. Part and part with sigh depart To unpoliced provinces of woe and wait; Crawling dawn defines two solitary hearts Alone as egos, as isolate. Their bawdy bodies switch embarrassments Ere noon has come to pin their shadows Under them; each witched wight Sauces lunch "to-go" with appetite.
Solemnly luminous, digital sticks on a "dial" (I don't know what else to call a clock's face) keep pipping the milliseconds… serenely… no, it's too quick for serenity, too assured for doubt. Is resolution any part of Time's onslaught? Precise as the quills on a hawk or a lark: millisec, millisec, millisec. --Too trim for a lugubrious drumbeat, the boom of doom or closed coffin tapping: trapped! The numbers change, adding up exhaustions, half-fulfilled love-affairs, the spark and shock of conflict. In there, quartz heart tribulates, never a blur of murders or smear of defeats, always a consequent, nice accounting: millisec, millisec, millisec.
Disengage the Sapphic eye, Unhand the hoary, knuckled clasp Of sensate effect upon the spine; Be stripped of skin, and of mere sense Be shriven, till no feeling falls from flesh At all--and in this zero zone When bare and bathed in naked light alone, Let some jolt of jibeless spirit pique And have its flash in nothingness; Let shape arise from faith for once And remake these mere mirrorings That offend the everything eternal in a man As a bilge of dung become a monument Makes the nose weep for grief That it had ever lived to smell a rose. Instead stand deaf, stand blind, And in inner dark but grope toward wonderment, And when again some flood of folly Rolls along the living skin, some ache Or burn of fullness at the lips, as a kiss Aches and burns at once, Let some new, green skeleton Underpin and resist. Let darkness dazzle.
Shadows of the Moon
To survey the contested scene Serene from heights Olympian And know you had ascended there Not by what you did or dared But by snipping short the wings Of one, among eagles, king Drives home a blinding nail Through the landscape you surveil. The sumptuous fete, the feast Attended by man and beast To celebrate your sip From Nike's very lips Augurs a sudden hunger When your dear competitor His cup to his winning host Lifts up in noble toast. How empty are such high scenes To one whose victory's a dream Granted only by slight and slant-- A gardener who but supplants And cannot raise from seed the grace That blossoms in the face-- One who never shall know noon Unshadowed by the moon.
“Flowers in the Dustbin”
The old trollop comes ga-lal-lopp-ing along REPEAT Loves unfiltered // varnish the knotted heart; Loves laved with gravesores; Loves by the score: love-love; Love unadorned. Shall the body bear its burning beacon Unseeing Into another darkness Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow The body on fire And the mind gone on holiday Mind mindless mind Flopped on a rocketing toboggan in windy Switzerland The old trollop comes ga-lal-opping along REPEAT Why, in such a desert, this simmering wetness? Why this, why this? Paradise by the inch. Click and sigh of fricatives, force and odor of opening a stawberry door into endless fields All the skyline's a thin guise of fire, My face a gauze over echoes. A farther fierceness cinches my mystery ribbon. Tireless vine binds my inches, A glug of bloods cured to fine rawhide: From tip of finger to tip of toe, Cocktip to nosetip, cinching the inches Finer and tighter, cinched in and in-- Raw zones and moldy wounds. A zero surgeon could not configure it. A tightest kite fit for any breeze. And I am aloft-- Coughless and visionless, seeing all. No need to imagine your spectacular sighs, Your ruinous cues, your fucked dugs. Twin cinders for eyes and a stovepipe hat, Body pure body, longing and troubled-- But starchest snow for all that, Breast and belly pure cold, pure pure. Thighs stark as icicles pinning my insistence. Two old trollops disordering the I.V.s, Tripping past the bedpans, two toiling turnips Unable to ever verily bloom Save as tumors. "Flowers in the dustbin" ... and all that ...
A one-way waltz is all we've got, and-a One-way waltz is not love enough to live; For friendship leads and friendship follows, But always whatevers with our fellows. A memory marks its time upon a shelf, A dwindled nothing, a stationary elf, Frosted with dust, in dust diminished, Until the affection that placed it there is finished. If hand reach out to hand in timely dance, In all the whirled hazard of our circumstance, And palm meets no palm but passes touchless, Such hand's unfit but to carry torches. Then let torches burn what they cannot find, And find parade-rest for the whirring mind.
"Supposing Roses" is finally done-- each blossom hacked and thorn shellacked. What had grown lovely in my release from loneliness is now packed back into perfected sonnets --raw squares that define and defile. Artifice filled out the feeling a kiss first insisted. I gussied up the ghost with dresses, rhetoric's high fashions, and, after, stripped the pickings at my sex's insistence. Naked and dated she lay there like a final draft. None of her winsome tussle was left in her. Inert and silent, she awaits a reader, the dazzling sequins of approbation, the instructor's star or apt remark, tender repeat of touch and tongue. Her backside's bare and brazen as an existentialist. What words she uses are more music than meaning. I lay beside her loosely--mute, inutile.
The Bitter Tonics
Milk scalds and hisses in the brisk pan-- Bread, spiced with vomit, rises as a gorge, Hurling health out of heated darks; Down the whole loaf, don't nibble! It's the slack shape of a corrupted heart, Clouded to black rye by my bituminous bloods! Tear each end off like an ear! Eat the sour words my soul has abandoned And kicked into the scabrous vat! Ringed with wormy eyes like a stowed potato, Each eye splendid with pins as a voodoo doll. What I was is cooked in this object, What I am has sifted to the gutter; So eat it, eat it! Bite and claw with damaged nails-- Swallow a tooth as you swallow my soul. Choke on it, fuck, and rub the crumbs into your pants-- Drool a glum stain on your silken shirt; Something icky and indelible should be my memorial.
Here my pieces make their spluttering way To infamy, not fame; perspectiveless, yet not Picasso. What the heart tells itself cannot be trusted. "There's too much juice in this goose to be flavorless-- Even the flamboyant great paced out their days In mendicant obscurity. . ." Lies lacquered on lies Blurring the clarity of the true grain. And yet, What we tell ourselves becomes what we are, Dissing the chance disasters that really happened. I sought a balance and sought for it in vain, Finding my stride in a downhill whirl at windmills. . . . Whatever favors fools favors me; My Panama hat made motley by sweat, Waking frozen by nightmare and bathed with regrets. I check myself in the flatness of a passing glass: One enlarged eye, the other dull, bald, In flat retreat like a touched tentacle, The fluted mouth aghast for air as it almost surfaces.