Aug 272015

“When I was a child, I spake as a child….”

Gregg G Brown

Copyright © 1986

The Parent Tree

It was in singing that he first 
Knew that worsening was not worst.
His father's large disappointed face 
Tickled him inarticulate with terror 
Until he forged, 
Below sharp time, 
Monster suns of images. 

Invented heaven has a charm: litter
Of apostles, magenta trees that dissolve 
As vapor, where golden sparrows sing 
And do not sink. He thought 
One wanted seeming, 
An altered 
Strangled attitude of bird. 

A harsh man's countenance wavered 
In ocean distortions of the moon. 
The kneeling son felt a burning prayer 
At his back, and ran, and ran 
In stark fright 
On broken bones 
Beneath a salt-dead tree. 

For Tenor Semblance, Who’s Dead

"What things real are there but imponderable thoughts?"
There was Tenor in his party grave, sharing 
All of the same old sick jokes with himself. 
He says, "What is there besides imagining?
These four occasional walls will not bring 
Spring or sorrow to any unsuffering thing. 
It is the will that wanes, in summer dark, 
After clogged stars have scraped the sky and left 
A newer dark for some cold singer's questioning. 
Rusted apples gathered, honey melons dusky gold, 
Cherries rosing in the tinted sun, what was invented
If not these things? Shall my hand remain 
Unfloured by its own effort? A pointed oar 
Plunges and plunges in a white war and remains 
An oar. The mind is not so meager; it becomes,
Once its rent raiment roars, in polychromes 
Above chalk waters that it held and gave, 
That of which it sang and did not hear, because 
Too busy singing in undivided, tensile mystery." 
If. on the wings of sparrows, men's feet shall flesh 
Who shall fly, in contrapuntal destiny,
In waltz time, alone, beneath 
The unceasing testament of the waves?
Tenor Semblance in his water-wings, bulbing 
At his back, held his breath and dived, at 4, 
Into the tossing terror of a tame sea. 
Once caught among the coral's shadowing, he saw 
The flash and error of dying fish in that dim maze.
Their antlered looks and opalescent eyes 
Placed a holy horror in his slalom breast 
Racing, among more mobile lights, out of death's 
Abrupt shade. He knew of earth by this buried paradise. 
He told his parents of the sharking waves and sea. Alone, 
His executed gestures in scarred sunset seemed 
The switch-back hesitancy of leaves. 
It was his mother's going, her poignant death,
Like still water, that made him hear 
Curlicues of God's named trumpet, world. 
A French horn paddles in his ear; 
Finches mocked the minister at her wake, his frown 
Emitted solo labyrinths, corona icicles of sound.
Tenor Semblance, leaving, knew his feet 
were tambourines, clashing in the grass.
And when he whispered, it was with sorrow 
That he could not sing himself a barrow. 
In her twinking time upon this mortal orb,
In laundered air, tender sequences 
Of love and love, flashed from her bright center 
Like perpetual suns that sang and knew their tune. 
It was because of her he sought 
A personal, vocal dew. 
Semblance swelled in his soft decor.
Like an awkward Alice, he used his vital eye 
To distill a separate scenery in the dwindled grass. 
Little thunder smoked the mountaintops. 
Gnats as vultures bulked silence on their prey. 
But a swung censor, sacred scenting, never lends 
Its incense to these more airy tendencies. 
Neither garland of flowers, in a stiff ring, 
Nor any distincter bloom was worn.
Victim in winter, he tried to say 
The measureless landscape he became: 
Desolate branches, details of packed snow,
Paired tracks of deer, or south-seeking geese 
Dispassionate as the sky. There comes
A crowd of moths, an abrupt lamp flapping 
In discontinuous circles as he speaks. 
But should we sacrifice infinite finesse for that 
Snowblind and last, fatal profundity? 
Sonless Semblance once, with gagging glands,
Turned abrogated Pa; the wincing world 
Trickled from his groin. He clawed out an eye
And dived, lost in a reef, resulting in a sky 
Made blue, by harshest imagination, by 
Exclusionary rules. Was it a mincing butcher's 
Cleaver thumb, his abusement of a One, 
Chopping up the single digit we pretend?
False finesse? The sky was blue; he claimed 
To be the author, and his grave 
Was dug in blue clay; bluets brushed the edge. 
His mineral bones are scavenged by worms that die. 
Thus we see, beyond cut division or misty ending, 
Death is daughter to imagination's venting. 
A man is image and is sound, 
Imagining sounds; a blare of being
Scribbled like a cloud, pinched nothingness 
Palely resembling himself, in a mirror;
Unalterable shadow, that falls 
As seasons fall, in whitest trumpeting. 
Thus was Tenor in his dirty grave, 
In severest evening, uttering 
A few, essential words. In his halter,
Dawdling day undid the staunching fist 
Of night, and materbirds like mandolins 
Twanged his very song. They were his toys, who,
Hautboy accountant, made of his breast 
Final register. A second heaven, set
Beside the first, is best, when we forget 
Ourselves in what our wish of death becomes. 


A dead cork moon erases, shams
The swift subscription pediments of light--- 
Blanche magician's hand before a card, 
Eternal current voyager of sight, 
Endlessly inscribed. 

You, who section out the broken 
Window's fragmentary glaze 
In gold, auroraborealis ruins that shake 
The scattered genet weedlings here of late, 
Untranslatable deathcard of all hate,
Who full-sail mocks the sun, know 
I come to dance beneath your fake 
Hepatitis curve of being, welcome skater 
Who deals with a slick grace the last 
Mother-admonishment to poker hands. 
Lilies launder moonlight in the lot. 
A moving silhouette will break their dust: 

Imagination is its own remorse
Recalling ancient beauties, one by one, until 
The reinvented dead ladies emerge 
From the trapped torrents of a late laboring mind
And coo and call and sveltly wend their way 
To demand in time imagination's final lie:
Its death; at last, to make 
One monumental animate corpse of fate. 

The Cabana at the Equator

Dutch decorations groom the hours. 
The parted dark resumes its essential black, 
Its pasteboard panache, dressed blues of indifference,
A more vital seem. Still the old men dicker 
In deeper dusk, realer hues, from
Below the perch of being in parrot patricides 
That consume the expert, whistled throatings
Of loftier loons, whose red retina shift 
To scan a level heaven, unplummeted. 
They were like the colors of these things.
Old men of the river rocks, disparaging 
Old men of the river rocks in pairs.
A portion of the evening looked down 
Among palm fronds and purple sand, and glared
A nimbus of new stars that pierced 
A rarer dark than thought or action formed,
Whitely condemning with unalterable blare 
The blandest barb of neutral fact. 
The oceans stars were reflected in the men themselves, 
Their trudging bucket hearts and bleary souls. Chrome, 
The streaked adjustment of the light, apt intrusion 
Of subjective singe and burn, shook step by step, until 
The stars were lost because the total sea was stars. 
Their stony heads moved in unison, great grey rocks,  
And tumbled towards the momentous moment of a cliff 
To invent a waterfall. Their old hearts poured 
Whiter than before, among dashed rocks that babbled 
As they poured. 
But who can carry empty starlight in his purse, 
Or sew together toes for fins, hands for wings? 
The ancient bretherns' hearts must fail.
They flop as they reflect, endlessly; a soul 
Must take a darkness from its carbon work, 
A scattered semblance tinctured of its grain. 
etched pine swamped in black ink retains 
The arbitrary suaveness of its growth, carved above 
The image of twelve men like trees. 
Wrong boys threw up spectrum dust at sunset. 
they beat the rocky heads of elders viciously,
Like drums, like drums, like drums, in time 
To the whirred sensation of white wings. 
Their dewy hands hardened with a thought.
Imagining, they made their pockets weighty  
With caught stones. They leapt, leapt, leapt, 
Without their blue bodies diminishing. Imagining, 
They braided their loose fingers into beards. 
Twelve boys danced in violet night, in a communal 
Hymn that offered nothing brutal. It was their game. 
This they knew, their short spaghetti beards and uncut 
Minds like bangs, in diamond time forever ripening, 
Took the minor light the unspent stars had saved 
And poured it on the orchard's hair, and fissured earth
Like wine. Their sweet limbs were never heavy 
In that sleepy paradise. They chant aloud their names: 
Impatient to insistent hands, moving as they mend. 
I descant upon a dusky theme 
Illegibly. What there is is this: 
The men are trees. The men are rocks. 
They mar and mark upon each other ceaselessly. 
There is no outside agent agitating. They invent 
Themselves. The clock is riveting their veins.
They have never seen a star. They fly 
On fins. And all of this I saw in some 
Mirror-making, mirror-resembling dream. 

Ein Parable

Up from the coral came, loud and lost, disguised, 
The boiled apparition of a one-time man; 
His pockets bristled brine; an oyster clipped his nose,
Pearless. The ocean offered him, we 
Could not deny the gift, without endangerment; without 
He had the outer aspect of a tardy sacrifice. 

The closed committee of our welfare 
Immediately convened. They sought, they said, 
The last abolishment of will for justice's sake. 
The man hobbled off, in winsome chains, 
To the hanging place, 
Dragging upright flippers of glinting gold. 

Transmutations of the Solid State

Amber uncertainties of day decrease. Cinema skyscrapers, 
Ice-strong in August's simmering, by custom,  
Strain, vertical ambassadors of a raindown faith, 
Unbuttoned pageantry of striptease 

In mineral prayers by crystal seconds click
Skyward where the welter minutes works 
Oblong in loss, incomplete, reversed 
By hasty tobacco minutes of falsity 

Puffing from a face; casual, displaced--- 
Break the blue nerve-strings from olive eyes, 
And amber eyes, that we may see you once unclothed; 
O beauty with a mind to terrorize! 
O ghost that haunts and leaves the self undone,
An abandoned shoe of spirit amid--- 
Radiant presentment of headlights, streets 
Too seeming-perfect to harbor scars, 

Rivers of the face, deep windings 
Of the conestoga's strut, Manhattan accolades,
Segregated tenements of hilarity, lets 
The lost sea rage alone its winner-take-all 
And spaded waves. Those with taper memories, burn
In silent aquatic lives, cinched tendencies 
Of gain, condensed and closed 
Soliloquies of the inward gaze. 
Recall, love, the angled awnings that louvered 
In the street and rescind their makeshift wanton
Gathers and their stays that stripe 
Jazz consistencies of dreams, locked arms of thought. 

And freedom of the broken mind spends night 
Like fragment glints of pennies, dimes,
In an uncertain, subway sallow tenement 
Linking past and time and sanest beauty immutably. 
How many hands have lent their grace and power, 
Past strict steerage of the sky, agile abandoners, 
To build with conscious thought of staying these 
Sandstone monuments of dreams? 

O lordly city, living sepulchre! Never unwind 
The beaking strangulations of your light,
Clipped and clipped, astute on broken boxes 
And bandaged lives. 
                                  Twenty hundred thousand move out
In convict kicks, coral syllables of mouths 
Uttering lovely convolutions in sharpest salt 
that brims some vast veins' vented tension flow. 

O river city, sapient of light, there is more
In the level skeletons of your praise 
And mazy words than you or I, leaning above 
Any silver quay, may guess in any 

Sun-silk scattering of days. 

Music in the mind is water 
Spelling white mansions in manacle light 
By sloppy oceans, by Atlantic blue. 
The boats became a syncopation of the art,
Swift cutters paddling up to start--- 
Jutting in some over-occasional spray.... 

Splay, the tragic motorblades that mix 
Bones of rubies, your lost and salted eyes, resolute 
Of oceans, seamed into one white salt. 

Who can take the tiger-chime of arced spray 
Away, deep among the dimensionless swoon of day, 
As diamond-dusted angle-trees cure a blue? 
Loops of light on clear glass circulate endlessly
As the shadow of some unbent beauty 
Blends an anchorage with graphite spillage of its heart 

In one still spot. Tranquil water takes 
The unaltered burn of day and rainbows it abroad: 
Exact bright bands of unconquerable split light. 
She stood in her summer arsonage, complete; 
Her arms shoved beauty to the brink. 
In the rapt child-sway of her body blessed, 
She liked to watch it totter. 
Allocate of praise, alone in lividness,
Her Cleopatra charms derange a face 
Made numberless, the legion losses 
Summer and moonlight conspire to take 
In the shrill seconds preceding birth, 
Blazing awkward apt adjectives of light, 
Explosions of burnt rose, blasphemies of sight: 
Her embarrassed breasts consoled a sigh. 

With bicycle moods of syllables, wise
Soft sofa ministries of age displayed,--- 
The scrubbed violation of too many hands 
Already resting after 
The aching dilation of too many years.
Opinionless as steam in vapor rage  
The undiluted, vast minions of grey age 
Remain and inculcated the glass world's verdure. 

O mirror-girl who swam with me! 
Your otter plash alarms, quelled seemings, balms
No untethered slash of wind will solve 
With treasured fingers, knives of burnt cellophane, 
Remain to dissipate 

The slight indignations under fiber lies that
Display and disingenuate 
The twenty mobile armistices of face 
In alcohol alacrities of soul. You blinked 
There, in antechamber emptiness of air,
By a blank slant sea 
Shelving its green shoals in coral fashion 
Against the petticoat interiors of railroad stations: 
The lazy, shoved accoutrements of waiting. 
We were everywhere at once, one summer.
Her working woman's apple-soul 
Daunts momentously the unworked opinions of stars
---Daunts in a moment's unmaking 
The slipped and gradual symmetry of stars. 
white velvet siftings of the filter moon 
Slept in lonely pages of the leaves; 
Sister swelter of the sapphire sun forgot, they became 
The downward shaft and symbol of desire. 

Perception at the Center

Chaos is eccentric else, among the green 
Habiliments of this disease, 
This earth, this atmosphere 

We sicken of and breathe. The arrant mind 
Ticks like a cockvane in a white sky. 
Blackly circles the tragic thought of death 

Around an empty farm: the false, shadow-sharp
Concern that it invented. Past tipped buckets 
And abandoned calves, lonely for their mothers, 
Sick-eyed mermaids maunder in their scales, 
Electric after 
A crumpled pail 
Of the pure, chiaroscuro myth.