A miscellany by Gregg Glory [Gregg G. Brown] Published by BLAST PRESS
Life exists to pay attention to other people. I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again. ~~P. B. Shelley This is a race to beauty, and I am an engine quick with fire. ~~Daniel Weeks I pursue the vireo's theme. ~~Lord Dermond Pitiless verse? A few words tuned And tuned and tuned and tuned. ~~Wallace Stevens
The summer sun Knows when its bright business With buds is done
Summer comes warmly into our lives, a promise of autumn’s plenty. A surfeit of all our globe can give of daily joys expands in a benign inflation of lighted hours. Night herself calls us forth to wander under soothing breezes, zophtic zephyrs–and we walk into our dreams with ease. Constellations keep us company, just as, during the day, fleets of trees in full sail share their leafy magnificence with us–the fresh shade of dark branch and leaf, their chipper chatter following us as we wend our way.
Gregg Glory August 2013
SECTION: VALE OF DESPOND
THROUGH NIGHTS ENDLESSLY VAGUE
Through nights endlessly vague A voice arrives Embalmed In embellishing smokes. Speak vividly, My blind Friend in chartless darks; Speak bleedingly To me As I bleeding lay, Enslaved, raving.
TO FORGET ABOUT THE SELF
This spirit of mine is something unstudied, Inexorable and white, alive in solemn permanence. ~~Lord Dermond To forget about the self at the self's Uttermost extent; it is the self Made a self at last. To survive in vigor The confinement of the eye, The glistering pinhole through which The self is summoned As by a bronze gong Until all the air is peacock feathers Is one way--in wild trial-- That the self, and its amiable Particulars may be forgotten. Cheered onward in a doubtful dark By numerous rumoring murmurs And silken sibilances, as if Drawn on by a forceful river Tumbling a blind man downstream To the sound of thickening confusion Is another way for the self to go, On and on, on and on, In dark discovery. To feel our broadening sexual silks Pulled and pulled, as through A pinhole, through the self And out of the self and into Another, and that self flowing And pulling as if a river until Our colors lay piled and swollen Before our adoring, a silken sail Full-bellied with desiring-- A wind that moves through the self The self had left behind and abandoned On the shore of no more. Dead or dreaming, the self Disappears, and in its place, In the place of the self spilled out Of itself, displaced and streaming, (The self that had left its eye behind Like an abandoned portal, The self that had had an ear And has an ear no more, bereft, as it was, Among night voices in a dark place, The self that had had a sex Torn away in a shimmering wind Until the self has a self no more)-- There is only this, this fathomless Wildness without a where Without a how, without a why, Only this this,--in the place of that, Nearby, nearly here, In the place of the place and in place of it.
WHEN DARK KNOCKS
Evening is here, and the house is cold With a coldness darkened beyond what eyes behold, A peculiar, unusual dark I neither name nor know, A dark inside the darkness of the cold, A dark beneath the dark of space, A below-dark or beyond-dark or before-dark Out of which the dark of space Begins its becoming nothingness, Its peculiar, unusual dark Wherein pleasantest monstrosities adhere, Adhere and grow gigantic-- Heavy drapes blown-in in the storm's besetting onset, Knocking one candle dark in the swooning room, Or swinging darkly out to outer space In the wind of stars, Through which the universal edifice slowly swoons In its own peculiar, unusual dark--as if The shadow of a shadow thrown against The shadow of that from which it had come.
Only when wisp and whim Bellies the shakily belied Sail's starch-white brim Do we live unburied-- Alive to time, to time's Intemperate, inveterate ticks-- The icy sublime Of life's penultimate lick. So, take of this cake With me, mon ami: birth-day Or death-day, take; take The risen wheat, say A voluble salutation For your, for my, salvation!
Abolished blues Leave as craven night Crowds the nude Sky'slight-- Remain cerulean, Memories, brilliant tints, Flashed shy-eyes' Loitering emoluments. Look at me, listener, Flash tightened whites, Blanks unstained, unstirred, Awaiting pupils' coalblack night To draw in raked nakedness ¬Our bleak meeting.
AT THE ‘MYSTIC CAPTURE’ TAPESTRY
Almost perfect there, Her finger tracing The fainted maid Unavailing, This palest miss Blonder than sunshine-- Unicorn twists Of braids trail fire Down her blood-velveteen Flat dress-back-- Her hand the maiden's, Raised to bring back Life to the trapped beast-- No longer Death's.
TWO MIMES REMOVE EACH OTHER’S GREASE-PAINT
Her sourceless smile arrives In intimate glitters, Her lips suavely parting In intenser shine. Above, eve's lone lamp, the moon Removes a mood. His hand upon her shoulder Intends a sense Between them, attar of essences Sincerely sieved, Intends a sense more intense, Interior and profound.
The orchid sits in its mat of moss its laddered neck click-clipped by small claws to slim rigid wire upholding a purple triple knot of blossoms velvet open as the mouths of Chinese lions sculpted so loud
A RETIREE REGARDS THE FAIR FIRE FAILING
Soul's a moment's melody (As Mallarme reported). Each breath is every sigh recorded, One tear is all the sea. Lucid glycerins distill, intend, All God may mean by being: Loving nearly to the pain of seeing, Forgiving even the end. Less than Time attempts is this "I"-- Burnt between the matchstick's start And pumiced embers morosely blown-- Condensed intense in each spark of eye. It is a malady a moment, This soul--and then, neant.
SUPERFLUITIES OF THE SUPERHUMAN
A butterfly pinned to a windmill. Blasé laserings of watery light. The adze of an angry word. A cannibal dining on a sainted eye. A man battling his inner hatchets, Himself a hollow cello.
A guttering wind going round Beats the windowed walls Of the Brooklyn Aquarium Where swart, flared fish going round Flourish Like flowery candy in a dish. Crowds of slackmouthed onlookers watch Eight slack-legged octopi watch Crowds of onlookers going round There In Brooklyn's dainty air. In a world of choices, Such variorum of voices, To continually choose To choose not to choose-- To neigh nay to no And sneeze nyet to yes While the crowd confines Our going round and around, Mutes the vocus of our natures. So many colors Going round and around, Within others, and ourselves within, While frenzied fish bash The circular glass Unhelped by any wind.
CONVERGENCE BEFORE AND AFTER
Life may be magnanimous, The sleek making way of water reeds Before a smooth canoe. It may be. Or life perchance is tragic, A limitless march, march, march To the restriction of a pinnacle. It may be. These two modes of life Are one, in sum. The tragic will navigating North, The lazy wanderer wading South. What happens to the one, Happens exactly to the other. Death, or some other bother. It may be. When, in this light, we look At ourselves, we disappear Into the necessitous intimate Staring there in the mirror. It may be.
SECTION: BUTTERY MUFFINS
QUIETUS AT DAYBREAK
Snow loiters coyly in scraps, And winter lies Unremembered. The edges of shadows at dawn, Tinged blue, Recall a greater darkness Of which they are the moiety. When summer arrives at last, When green spring is in the grave, When summer comes out From under heavy covers, Quilts over-laden with imagery, When summer leaves, and snow Feels bright in autumn air-- Will you remember the summer days, Days we burned through together?
Strolling in a random mood, random clouds Disclose a sky unpatterned, whereon I brood "How life behaves, how the world is made!" Striding hills disclose apportioned woods Brushed bare of bush--a dell within the wood Discloses its roughened tongue of telling green; Kneeling in the roughened grass, politely parted, Discloses dandruffed jimson, butterweed and chives; And one long flower's uttering bud, mussed and tussled, Discloses saffron tassels, with brilliant pollens laid; And pollen's golden wand, waved and handled, Discloses slyly a tensile spine where florid saps Flow slow along the intruding thumb, and stop.
I Is there, in all this trash Of destinations, of places seen and places repeated Like last year's film, last year's roses, last year's weather Anything for the spirit to extract, Extract and raise high and chant about? Any glitter to be picked from the waste of days, Any gold cloud built, any monument of twigs? Is there anything to whistle up from the repeated place, An eon's verdure or stone bouquet? II In the repeated place, in a repeated time Must cold bouquets like fountains still renew And renew again their spilling blooms-- As in a height of speech in a vented space, As if death itself were only heightened speech In a vented space, or an old horn abandoned in a field, The hunt decayed, and the trumpet rusted That had brightened speech, and not quite out of sight? Is there any bower to be had? Or only Repeated scenes stuffed with repeated speech Crisp adjectives must keep forever fresh-- Perpetual ecstasy, and still unfinished rooms, Rotted flowers racing back to bloom? III The pile of days like a pile of cards Tips one more card blankly onto a pile of blanks. Where is the change of hue or lilted modulation, The mutability in the rose that turns Ripely from rose-red to rose, to a few Green, wrecked leaves laying spattered in the path, Sparse litterings, wretched shrinkage Of a grander theme that pushed, and with the push Of birth had pushed, teasing lustrous harmonies Out of rocks that tinkled for a time, spritzed fresh, Lisping a damaged planet's name to space?
THE CHANGE TO SUMMER
Listen, mes amis, For the change to summer. Dry pines are bristling. Christmas is forgotten. April's incipient blossom Lays rotted. The canvas hammock smiles, Pinned up and greatly weighted. One by one, The summer stars, pink and rayed, Enter eventide elated. And the frisson that one feels Barefoot under the stars (one by one Left uncounted) Is not exactly unrelated. Winter's interiors and castles, Warmer rooms and whiter views, Pile up discarded In the summer mind And so summer returns to life Between extremes-- Neither dewy Spring Nor stiff December-- Rotund orator of repeated suns, Halcyon mind increased and crested, Profoundest player of cards, Purveyor of flippant fun. Summer comes, itself Extreme in sunshine, Raconteur of revels, afternoon pomps Of tea, sloe gin fizzes Piling up and up-- As neglected dusts infect Minutest corners Of a sleepy eye. But listen, too, mes amis, At how, afar off, Beyond acutest blues, The apt ear hears, inherently hears, Autumn's tom-tom.
To know himself was to know the world. So Axl thought, and his central sin condoned. The reflected world was omnipotent mirror, And not importunate guest. So Axl surmised, And found himself amenable to a thought so wise-- A tuxedoed waltzer whirled, red carnation at-the-ready. Who else was welcome to this solo cotillion? With each yawn, Axl awoke to his own wedding day, Most blessed of days in a world that blessed him best. No undue strain arced across his crystal-ball brow, Things had worked out for him before, as now: Where Axl's hand shot out, blind, golden knobs appeared. For any emergency disguise, he grew sufficient beard. Axl lived and died in ornately mirrored rooms. No awkward prisms arched each mirror's edge. No stranger bird of paradise got in, panicked, And beat blue wings about his heart, or threw Confusing wings of angels in his face. He spun, at cordial intervals, the mottled globe In his room, and saw only his own pale head revolve. Thus was Axl in his castle, amid the central fix of facts. In a world that is mirror only, pool only, lambency only, To what whirligig apotheosis might spinning Axl jump? Fingertip to tip, he pressed against the giving surface Of all he knew and willed. Liquidly in to elbow He sank without a thought--now shoulder to shoulder Pressed, and, now, nearly cheek to cheek he sank.
MEANWHILE IN TEANECK
Summer hunched in the muddy rucks Of Teaneck. Wilson strayed, sluggishly, Into the weedy garden beside his home. Wilson was not a part Of the windy morning beckoning, Nor of the warty gourds he watered-- Tiger-orange and dirty brown. There was no mystery In the knotweed where Wilson kneeled To which he alone possessed The clearest key. Red-purple vines crouched close. Scalloped curtains blew. And the cabin at his back, sluggishly, Blazed ethereally whiter.
DUNE-BUGGYING IN PANAMA CITY
The moon understood From where she shone, Demure, removed, How sun's assertions Tantalize and amaze. Sandy intonations Sift with the drifting beach, Intrude, without intention, All the hazy forenoon And twilight after. Striding into the eye, A man stands half lit Where time washes shore, Covering, uncovering, Ruddy wish and silvery fish. He stands tonelessly, Whistling nothing Among the shifting grains, Alert servant of the Reverberant surf.
PAINTING AFTER DARK
The stars above were eld creations, crabbed Comma-marks in a grammar God abandoned, No longer the shining indices of fate Nuns on reddened knees named holy-- Flayed things set burning for their shameful part In the faded pattern, medieval masque. Yet still they hung mistily aloft past the barbecue grill, Marking dark coordinates by their nuclear light-- A graph-paper for physicists and their fancy pens, Smartly charting tricky diktats of their will. Daub by daub, the stars, as magic charms, Had been painted on revolving spheres. And, daub by daub, my ox-hair filbert brush Transfers their fire from globbered palette To the steadily-easelled blank that I had brought. I painted blind, unpained by too much sight or light (As I noted had been the Great Dauber's habit, Granting accidental freedom by parsec and mile). From the quibble of a quark to quasar buoy-bells The cosmic scale was sound, tanging only When the chromic pestle bongs the mixer's brim, Aping Tuvan semi-tones while my placid page Fills insensibly with stars, and, daub by daub, I strike what strokes of charcoal nothingness Heaven presents. I work without lamp or limit, Toiling toward each outward edge from whichever Central locus my accidental tent has pitched. I squint into the rolling dim, and begin. The vault Is splattered with patterned blanks itself: Intrusive bougainvillea disarm Orion. Looming Oak leash Cygnus' feathered neck with leafy loops. Every starry fable is fractured by a fault. And there, in the middle of all light, all shadow, Climbed the cragging outline of a midnight ziggurat. Shadow by shadow, tall stars gone dark Left the saw-tooth chop-out. I painted as I perceived, True to tempera and temperament. Yes, there It was, inking out wholesale swales of stars, Rich galaxies gone dark, the zig-zag ziggurat! No punched-out pyramidal obelisk had ever arisen More straightly-rayed--granite sample of stark AEgyptian sunbeams. The ziggurat sprang Chainsawed from the sky, a stepped rainbow Against Cosmos, and of the cosmos part, blackly blent. What was interposed between high stars and yard That drew me there to draw? Had daub And desire torn new knowledge from the skies? What would show still standing when the great star Came at adequate dawn, and illuminated enlarged My brune page? Would the giant ziggurat Be risen above Poughkeepsie like a circus tent Dense with ecstatic dancers, as at a feast?
Whispers of solar sojourns Trouble my sleep-- The resplendent bitter brights, Bare ferryings from dawn to dusk. Night's doughtier recriminations, Also, trouble my sleep: Dark matter and matted pillows, Downy throws torqued tight After the squeaked release Of magnificent dreams. Those celestial rodeos Lassoing old Cygnus there-- Or others, darker-hued, Leaving me abandoned, bundled, sweated out Amid spotty silks And disastered caftans flayed. Too much dark or too much light! I do not know which trouble to choose. I say, "Let the cyan dawn ascend And shatter me." Or, softer, sleepier, "Let the navy night Arrive." Anything, anything other Than this continual, nocturnal-diurnal Rumination. I say, "Come sun, come light! Bring intensely The prickly press of piercing fact, Resplendent sheets of divulging day...." Ach, they trouble my sleep.
PEASBLOSSOM, COBWEB, AND MUSTARDSEED MOB THE MOON-PICNIC
They light no starry candles beneath the torpid moon, Hovering, haloed lamp to their late feast-- The hot moon loads ladles, tops tippler's cups With variable silvers 'til dull water burns. Twittering sprites pursue the moon's endless agenda, Finger-cymbals tittering, scarves awhirl. Mincing laughter, or something remotely more, Blends with bluing bush and shadow. Do dusty moth and pearly cricket attend The midnight manner of their tucking in? Shhh, shhh, whispers little mouse to downy owl, Yellow-eyed. The moon is becoming clouds now.
A ROMAN RUMINATION
Voters wear a mask Fierce tangerine, outrageous orange. They say: I am Sam. I am Theodore. They have no names for sure Beyond manqué monikers. They swear they would not dare Undo the true of who is who. Swears Sam. Swears Theodore. Behind masks outrageous orange. History is a feathered mask As light as that.
BACCHUS SURVEYS SEACAUCUS FROM HIS SUMMERY HAMMOCK
He prodded the planet for fun and profit, Rattled fusty vines for mustiest grapes To break like bubbles on his rouge tongue, Purplest Bacchus of the Garden State. The straw he sipped at dripped divinest dews. Around him argent clouds convened, Attending wetly at the cordial where he nipped, Cottony pulps of his wine-violet ideas. A maker of the weather, he prepared Hurricanos in his heart, tornadoes torqued From regretful tears, while he adroitly ducked Beneath streaked skies split with epic lightning His own imagination dreamed and drew down. Of creation and of creation's pang He was the singer, and of that terror sang. This he did swinging amid his champagne dregs, And from those dregs distilled the magic beans-- Grew tall, until all the rolling world below Was his red rubber ball, gripped and peeled. The sun between his rosy forefinger and sore thumb He spun, and smiled as it twirled. Here leaned a mountain, not a man. Great birds wheeled beneath his brambled brows. Waterfalls leapt from his chin in frisking drool. To sense a transparence within the clouds Like thunder swallowed, his big teeth illumined-- That was what he practiced; his feet Fell away below to forest elf-boots, olive moccasins Softly clomping crimps of the shell-pink Palisades. Beyond the boisterous baying of day, he made, Mad with laughter, the very game he played: "Imagine reality," he cried to the crisp Atlantic Sweeping to his side, the she-sea upswelling frothily To fetch 'tween trident teeth the fatal bone, the poem, Her impassive master had tossed to the Azores. Promethean lips imparted surpassing pearls In hiccups, bubbing toward the clouds they blew In monotonic dream-bubbles of cartoons; His electric hair was flying fire, unreeling auroras From here to Delaware. The poet is his world: The vatic voice, his song assigned to wood or cliff Indifferently, whole planets popped like gumdrops Into his manic maw and ruminated raw Like so much milky cud.
IMPATIENCE WITH THE OYSTER
Look here, oyster, there is only The oily thisness of confabulation, The thin verities of antique fabliaux. All that wintriest widows conceive Comes, at clattering last, to pass. The ugliest dog bites himself in sleep. The surpassing pain of paradise, pique Of profoundest pierrots and philosophes, Pricks Parsifal and his weeping grail. Come, come, my oily ocean rock, Split wide, lug up from your limpid guts, One tear-bitter pill of pearl.
THE CHANGING OF HATS
The changing of habits, old hats or sprung spats, Occurs first within the orbit of brims. There's more passion than fashion In the changing of hats; less wink of red ribbons, Than exultation, elation. The changing of hats, or birch soda for gin, Claims animus assuaged, old habits dismissed. But what we are is wicked, and kicks. Among tatty racks of offended tiaras, Old habits, old hats, stay only playfully away-- Awaiting inner haloes, hidden horns To reassert their sway.
THE CAP OF CONSTANT LOVE
Wear again, and gaily wear, O Unchaperoned, the cap of constant love; Fish it out with dirty fingers-- The dusty cap That flaps in your back pocket. Dear duffer, drabbling In Tuesday's mauve-mangled dusk, Fatly fit upon your itchy bean, your patchy pate, The forgotten cap Young nights extruded in memorable grass. Be it papier-mâché or toilet tissue, Beribboned bonnet, or low sombrero, Let its ostrich feathers fan the fickle Naysayers' intrusive noses. Fa-la. Wear such lapsed cap, such crumpled crown Gaily atilt, Or straighten its ancient injured bill-- But let, oh let, your mauve brain be haloed Constantly, constantly by love.
Late, late to the untame game, I come Reviving live instances of you: You unrefined, bare singer in an eve Vividest at its disappearance-- A quintessence of quiet dusk Fringe-draped upon a ball of moss, Inept referent for what Has left us, for what is left us. Sunset's golden orts depart; Mere mud, mere earth remain. Sing jingling on your rock of dark, Sing and let the jagging chandelier of stars Fall ringing round your ears--Let fall The full curve of universe surrounding: Cinctured circle of your sight, Outward round of an inward eye.
SUMMER AMONG LEMONS
Fleshly fruits fatten unpicked In the rattling trees, a little Dusty in a stumbling summer day Too dryly severe and savage To dance naked at naked noon. Noon had come upon us, an oppressor Pressing our red feet into the creek, Ankles crossed under crossing waters, Eyes lampblack squibs beneath a brim Of straw--slugs beneath a wet, lifted rock. Night rouses us, streaming out together Barefoot over the uncut ragweed, Loving only barren moon and cool orchard In the unrehearsed dark. Nothing To think about there as we stand Together, ripening.
AN ACHY MEDITATION
Love lives in the blooded mouth, Uncouth cougar of lamented dreams, Eater of hearts, tearer of eyelids. Love wears no mink tippet, sips no tea; Love tattoos sailors' tongues with rum. Love doesn't shuffle off a tomb, shoved, But gathers what light stone angels there Discard--disregarded ambers of the grave. Love eats and dies in any light, Unappeasable pursuer of piquancy. Love is blunt, and shuns the wispy stars' Mincing finesse--flying witchwise At midnight, where horn-dark trees Stick-up like brooms in the battered moon And crick and crack with lover's static, Cackling fantastic tropes of utter sun.
WHAT THE MOUNTAIN SAW
The gasp for affirmation that afflicts The antlike likes of Sir Edmund Hillary Going "Hoy!" and "Ho!" uphill To victory or nothing--crisp crack of pike And piton hiking the unbearable beard Of my mountain frown. Songs of many men, Undauntable purveyors of a universal "Yo!," Roar orange as their hasty campfire fades From red to fulvous daffodil to insipid mist In the diluted atmosphere, chant cheerily With diminished tongue and dessicates breath, Chant "Hoy!" and "Ho!" in their cleated clogs To victory or nothing. If I am lofty Olympus or arid Everest, What matter? So long as my jagged sides Are slatted with ambition--Not for the sole self alone, Measly participle of the universal panache, But ambition of the self's evincing hope, glad glide Of muddy spirit toward the unfeigned ephemeral, That lance of sunlight that caps the highest hill. Philosophy's inadequate to tragedy. Its ordered sighs and yipping "Yeps" Make no address of solace to the crimped heart, Heed no note of despair's cold "Nope," Corral no harmonies from a criminal hurt, Stir no elegance of elegies in Charlie's charcoal husk-- Flashed to ashes whilst stretched relaxing With a pocket book of dusty sermons Or bien pesant bon mots. One man, at his merely human height, Ambitionless as purple aster in a tub, Saying neither yea nor nay as he creeps up My rocky garments, my rippled gear-- One man who creeps without belief or wit, Who yet creeps up and up to see what's what Where winds tear pious pinetrees oblate, that One man enthroned among my bald hairs, Casts thrown shadows ably as a cape, Casts, from his little dithering if, An individual dark of vast magnificence.
DEFEAT IN THE AFTERNOON
You, timid discourser of despair: Say torn clouds like ragged lambs Miserably impinge upon A ramping sun of yellow summer, Lion-wild, his great Gold mane a-shake! Sniff-snaffer of etiquette, thou: Snub the afternoon's warm doings, Laugh at the passing riff-raff of light, Guffaw at the twinkling mica flakes That flicker upon Hopatcong, Lake of icicle licks! Wait silent beside my shoulder awhile: Follow my finger where clay hills rise, Lifting a gem-green foam of trees-- Irreverent altar, wave of purest dirt, Offering scent of earth-sacrifice To noses, in bowls of reddest clay! OK, OK. Go be defeated, Ricardo, Hater of this habitable weather, Despiser of our venerable sphere That rolls on from chaos to chaos,-- A huge dog's toy cussedly tossed For what outsized jaws to fetch?
THE PINTA PINES FOR CORDOBA’S SHORES
It was altogether a land of summer, untroubled, Mild in the mystery of distances unassailed-- Bristling with pines, ferocious badgers, fiercer minks, Cougars, claws, jays of harshest tongue. Too much each new sound pursued... a hollowness, A blank at their back like an unsigned check, Wordless cries marking each new-discovered bay And pinkening, unascended peak, X and X. Did adventure hoard a meaning of its own Beyond the fatal diagrams of Cordoba's maps, Those candles intensely gathered, that pointed beard and hand? In the blanco moonlight, drained of meaning, Stoats in dampened bushes paused, and then stirred.
HEIGHT OF SUMMER
Here is the day, the bridal day undaunted; Here noon, at highest noon... hesitates... The height of summer, at its crest arrested, Held between warm hands to kiss-- The levitated real at pause in sun's perfection; Paused because we cannot see, cannot imagine Beyond such ripeness--as a tear unspilled, Brimmed to the rich roundness of a world, A whole world held in little in its little globe: Le soliel triumphant, hesitant, yet not beyond The hale wholeness and circumference of our sphere. Here Wally waited for a change that surpassed Surrender, that grew grander than honeycomb tombs Of profoundest vested men in their nacre gloom, Writ in the minty script of ceaseless leaves Arisen without thought of autumn in their sap, Without a death hissing in their desire, nor any Belated "maybes" in their numberless noise of "yes," Noise of summer unceasing, green forest To green seas unceasing, zones of summer Arranging rays of summer sun outright-- Out, out, beyond star-strung dews of night.
A PROSE DAY IN AUGUST
The dry flute of winter increased from timid drip-drip to the welcome rivulet of spring’s quickening quartet, spring waters roughening to thunder, the voluble thunder, of summer. A summer stuffed beyond the pinched anemone prinks of spring, the quacks and pranks of compact ducks merely returning with downy chicks to the muddied mill pond. Summer starts with lime-dust on the leaves, a cauterized neck in the garden, rabbits, hunched as rabbis, attacking a rutabaga patch, nibbling naughtily the taut squash blossoms with impolitic tooth. Fulvid summer now in row on row of mowing is moving, loudened gusts assert, oboes blow by to join the tempered strings of violins sizzling busily as sheeted rain, the rage of fallen dots obliterating the composer’s roughened lines limping beyond the old swirled treble clef. Now, even at night, the mood of drums is more than the mind resists, the mind alive in a realm of overwhelm, beauty besetting its dripping boat, the thunder-sheet shaken, bronze, the strong trees, oak, hazel, hawthorn, maple, large, at last laugh awake in an ecstasy of daytime fry and nighttime bake that pulls them, note by note, up from the roots until all the wood-doves coo in a shade as deep as Mahler’s moods. And still the sounds of summer pour on, roar on, irritant transients of piccolos settled down to balmy roundelays blissful as beer, calm cellos, the fat notes of gubbinal horns returned from their silver soaring to soft-tinted rest, a-nuzzle in the underbrush, being to be, and be in the domestic dimness of satisfaction fulfilled–or, if not fulfilled, held anyhow in the mercy of afternoon light after a nap, alarmed only by august disgorgings of gorgeous gongs, the winter ruts deepened by summer’s goings-on, the long byways mossy now, rife, rife every step of the way, with life.
LAMENTABLY THE SPRING
Beyond the boisterous good of lemongrass And past timid wrongs of sassafras, Her frigid footings go. Her trails their silver scarves let down Among autumn's bearded boughs; Her laughter's in the berries now.
EVENING OVERCAST AND NO MOON
It has been too long since I began again To seek speech or light for all within me-- The venting evening overcast and no moon Divvying the heavens between dark and dark; Too long has silence like a deadened seed Bred desolation within my hollow ear. Speech after long silence begins where first The loudened wave may be vivisect, yet live. To see as new, nude Prometheus might, A lesser dark must split a dreaming seam In the all-encompassing all-too-solid night; A lemon shim of dawn must crack and come Before any fuller day of sun. The halo of some first syllable, first sight, Resistlessly spread in black enclosures of the night, Revives the angelic exemplar of all that may be Seen or said, all sight or sound may carry By its enlarging, thinning rings of self: self Ever-expanding, a blue balloon enlarged beyond The sky, whose crimsoning confides all that dawn Implies, more than keenest noon intends. And so, the evening overcast and no moon, In place of giving speech or searing sight, We have our mid-night quiet time together, The absent moon another listener at the table Between us, the table invisible under our elbows. Together we eat the moonlight of remembrance In a silence we cannot parse or chant apart, Intensely unified by our clodden ears-- A poverty of null-maddened imagination Covering over our duskier selves with clouds.
THE STARS AFFIXED IN ABERDEEN
The way summer nights round down to a hue, A single color of final manifestation, fixed, Where imagination and reality are one-- Stars drawn, line by line, into the story, into tale and fable. Horses or men, or half-horses reared, become Arrowy men shooting stars through the astral spheres.... How sky's dulcet dark permits our dovish conjurations To be true! How, for a moment, the imagined you Lowers herself before me on her hands, how I Rear, half-horse, half-star, beyond swept horizons Of soapstone shoulders no daylight adorns; How, for once, dark selves and dark desires occupy The same perceived place, apparent time. How night and we, in the romp of summer, Round down from trio to duo to one Transparency of liquid chalk, one outline of love.
BITS OF LINT
1. Looking Up He looked up at constellations constantly, Seeking in heightened happenings above The redolent love of family: faces squarely there, Somehow related, frank with curiosity. Not burning metal raining out of solar air, Hulking harried fates at his scarred carcass-- But love, as in the dawning sorrow of a mate Spooning her sugars across the breakfast plate While our local sun above the blazing table Plays theater-manager for their private fable. And also acts, more minorly, as one of the suns In some far-off creature's caging constellation, Telling alien tales sagely in strange tongues For other lovers revolving around other suns. 2. The Constellations They were the silver-wire basket in which His whole fruited world had fit and rattled, Orbiting one sun augustly, feeling less enclosed Than cared for by star-scriven stories there, Etched in old-timey deeps of time and space, Trouping spacetime's operatic litterings-- A child's good-night tale densely stenciled With Italianate-intaglioed colored lettering. 3. Himself When, looking down, stars saw him as he was What did they see? A bunny in his hole Squinting at yellow-white pebbles in the sky? Or, as he was, magic rabbit popped from an old tophat, Did they see, with wan eyes, only those things He himself had imagined for them to see: A blue world; himself; himself as marble-master, With so many mortal mootings left unsaid, So many starry yarns left unwoven, A man of gasping laughter, his bare belly furred, Licking wisps of frosting from a bowl Tickled constellations rolled around in merrily. 4. What Crows, What Specters What heavenly crows, what peering specters Poked and ogled the oblivious baby? A giant in his cradle rocking rapidly, happily Himself, watching what ribald repetitions chanced-- Noting slyly, as stars' spidery mobile spun above, How tapping "time" and tripping "rhyme" dance Round earth's blue ballroom constantly, the way Paired mirrors emulate infinity on facing walls.... 5. Tinily Enough At tin summer's midnight edge Of his small wood's blue empire, man stood: A minx of meaning in a world awry.
Opaque campadre, come gaze with me. At sky's highest hardest blank, look-- Look where August's ochre moon's gone down Beneath apportioned heaven as to a tomb, Dead to all the world. And dead, too, To you and to me--unless in finicky paraphrase One's voice might arouse, might resurrect... Untuck the lunar ogre from her starry bed-- Revived by no cold cloth of dawn, gelid gem, Revived instead by what one voice intends: By a few words in an ear, as, silverful shavings, Or, more moody, less morose, pregnantest glow. If imagination may amend what summer's Final evening hour--too warm, too insistent-- For all its buttery largesse let fade to stars, Then you and I may look, and look again With longest look, at the moon gone down.
Again the page propounds its blandest blank, Habitual, blasé--void original of habitation-- Zoo's cage without a zebra, mind's tundra. Its ski-slope, a-tilt, unlined, emptied of warm cabins Slipped downslope like a glittery negligee, Like nipples slipped from the foamy cone Of a breast, emerges with virginal candor: Bare, focal force of having never really been kissed. So notes, so words, fall dismissed from the endless page-- Unzipped from history, from all the too long Tomps of pomp, pharaonic phrase by phrase, Illimitable lists of inimitable insistences, Veritable plagues of earnest meaning--too much, Too resolutely, too earnestly meaning meaning-- The diminishment of demarcated thought, nailed down, Defined, the house a house by penned precept And never really home, the page Typed and doodled, an ape of aptest palimpsest, Catastrophes of happenstance made the measure Of the possible, enforcing form on fantasy, Draining the dearests dreams dram by dram, Dimming the mystery. Scrape the language Back to scrap, until every inward ululation Best pursues its own iota of annihilation; Syllable by syllable, strip each baying bell Of its ding an sich of ding-dong-ding, Subtraction returning inordinate thought To grandest mayhapses and greenest might-bes-- Bone's cold potency re-fleshed to a baby's smile, The bitter ribbon of sky refreshed, without its Wild graffiti of constellations, scribble of stars-- The sea once more deep with unnamed animals, The forest vert with infinite variety, Each furred eye a planet, each tongue dumb.
A CLOUDY DAY AND NO RAIN
How long had one waited for revelation? For a lash to whip the spirit to its utmost, To enfroth chaos as a whale's fluke flaunts the sea? How long had one awaited revelation, Awaited and been found wanting, waited beyond Known answer or any wish for knowledge? The hour of revealing love, reviling hate Is at hand--the enviable hour, veritable prick Of second sweep and minute barb and hour Hand tripled. Louring clouds unfold foil, Tarnished light over the childhood house. Ecstatic revelation pours out, bare and poised. How long one has stood pounding erasers And considering the abyss, pondering improbables, Mysteries and their majesties, the glassy scales Of wind-chimes rearranged, made major, Promoted through September air as rainbows-- Enlarging pirouetted splits and pliés of spectrums Until all sky is filled with dance, with a single dance, A dancer who dares and darts, lurid purple-blacks to blues, From blue to honey-yellowings to lucent chalks At one with wispy trailings of the clouds.
EYE FOR AN EYE
Between our two oceans, what isthmus intrudes? What canal, like a liquid ladder, lets dark confluences Touch and merge, and more than merely merge, Become one in identity, one in intent? What prayer Vaults the dewy devotee among cloudy towers At the edge of the ocean, at the edge of the sky? Between burn and backburn, eyes' fire is leaping. Through fields of grainy difference, keen eyes are reaping-- We stand ablaze in the hay our eyes have harvested. In our nearness, my eye and your eye attempt to touch.... But only in our idea of an eye--a primitive pupil, A principle black tack centering Irritable iridae and their multitudinous hues-- Only in imagination may we meet, And, eye to eye, give the pleasure that we seek.
IN LOCO PARENTIS
To sit in the absent father's solemn chair, Grey with flowers, that he left behind Is to sit again in the absent father's lap. So, too, to take up his tapping pipe And to puff long thoughts all the purple afternoon Is to rekindle the father's mind amid his ashen grave. Notice, the pollarded oaks grow more nobly For their nicks. So, too, like velvet antlers wetted, Green thoughts effloresce from your pained brow. Your brow which is "so like your father's At your age." Or would be, were comparison possible In the August evening's lingering light, eons on From father's final step through the cool foyer door Where, in a corner, his ratty umbrella leans unmolested-- Abstract blacks cordially folded like a spider, Cobwebbed in the shadowless light of stars.
MORNING WITHOUT MEDICATION
I arise from bed without any book And look out, And turn the silvered pages of my world. August's gilding's almost gone, garçon. The milk stales; The after-breakfast plates rattle abstractly. Our blue sky whitens toward September incrementally. Incrementally, Mardée, Our bones remember winter's shrunken edge. Today the sun's bald pat of butter's blancher Than yesterday, And yesterday's is blancher than the day before's. Summertime unravels toward autumn's disorder Leaf by leaf. Tattered sounds louden in the morning chill. When summer's robe lies crumpled, what remains? Pray, Mardée, of all Those citron hours, what bright rind abides? I am like one whose misty death, inevitable, arrives As vapor pours, As a footnote arrives after revelation. Is not this orange globe, this sun, here and now, More to me Than the inoperant orb of distant November?
“…man is insular and cannot be touched. Every man is an infinitely repellent orb, and holds his individuality on that condition.” ~~ Emerson
Summer fumbles brown within me. Unignited bloods merely flow as Summer batters the repellent orb of me, Slow-floods the basement of my being bright. Fulminate furors of sun and power now To extremities stretch: fingertips itch, Tempted to catch, to cage the charring star Flaming blameless in his mercurial circuit. His shine is in me divinely, or so it seems, My bloods tumbling from brown to sheen As summer decants its blazed extremes. I am made mighty, a Dionysus supreme Lapped in sultry skins of beaten bronze, Unrepentant for my daylit minute As gorgeous summer cartwheels blue above And my lucid orbs, engaged, engorge.
Arms-at-hips, I stand upon this cresive hill Surveying June as a nameless river spills And the empty field rolls on, intensely bright, Speckled by no spitter-spat of night. In this brightest space of land, in this Empty field grown emptier with light, Vile tidings shiver in the shadows of the grass, Grass green as glass, as translucent-- At the heart of each blade, at heart, A shadow, thin as an eyelash, starts, Starts and grows long as the light that makes it, A doubling of light by light's black absence. The field is full of shadings half-perceived, Small caresses of a brush loaded with ebon, Defining, crying out, night, night, As the sun bristles past the cresive hill.
SAYINGS OF THE END
Who was it who first was saying The sayings of the end? Who first knew that luminous summer Wasn't forever, wasn't irrevocable recovery? That the child running home from the wood's verge Arrives at an empty house? Who was it who first saw Our true inheritance is of light? Light skitters over the malleable rill, Or in metallic edges of the snow. Later, a sharp wind clears the hill, Saying in shrill grasses there, autumn.
In dry September air, a redefinition begins At the difficult edges of summer leaves Brightening from irradiant green To red, as in the crevice of a new wound. At the edges of the difficult leaves before us, At the edges of our sense of the leaves, At the edges of our senses, Leaf and leaf begin a new clarification, Sharply red, in the dry September air.
A DECEMBER MIDNIGHT
Winter's friendly hand, Cold and sure, an aged friend. Surely, surely an aged friend. One come to bring bad news, (Rattling the plaintive windowpane politely) With a little tea and wry laughter-- How we're caught up by the heels By disaster. Surely the cold, clear Panes that frame the empty bright (Letting in the brassy stars And chimes of crippled icicles), Show winter's friendly hand In the solid steam that lifts From the little tea, the window's minor Frost occluding night.
Sleep is forgotten, and emptiness presses. About the abandoned house, a bitter trim Of snow-become-ice stiffens the gutters, Shines an outline of once-human habitation In steel, sterile light--a still trace Of that which had flowed with human warmth All summer, and all through rueful fall endured.... It shines beyond winter's feeblest branch Far into the chill annihilation of final skies. Those remote familiar stars, the human Outlines of constellations' pallid myths, Congregate their austere silvers all together, And, all together, they coldly turn away. They have other planets to look down upon tonight.
THE GIANT IN THE CRADLE
I Perhaps it is no occasion for a poem, Being alive, and so much of the world gone over To death. Being alive ought to be to be, to Oblately be, like the reflecting pool at Versailles With its zillion squiggles of fiery lines, heedless Of the poem's primped trumpeting, spritzed for its Enlivening, pinch and kiss of a nasty aunt, Mentholated smoke blown in the occasion's face. ....so much has gone over already, so much.... Our whole world will go over to death, And all of the poems will have worn out their heels Slowing us stuttering down the backward hill. Barefoot at last, we pirouette over a wormy log Into the bleak hole our hale love of Earth prepared, Long ago, for us--for us alone, that hole. For us, And all those bones not yet born. What can the most fertile couplet fructify When all that lives must also die? If it is not for ourselves or for the dead That life must be enlivened, then why Cry "liberté!" at all? Why inaugurate the wish Life could be bounties of loosened roses, And not hard bright bales of tears? Or, if it must be tears, unwillingly wept-- Ruddy tears that have roses at their core. II "Liberty" is too big a word to read aloud, Among all the printed trash of papers crowding out The cafe clatter, coffee cups gone cold, The morning rage that accompanies opining apes Who spare no detailed love for inch-high dreams. (Still, rhyming Jack nodded among his Harriman's teas, Seeking biggest visions in that gentle steam and seethe.) Sleep, to them, is release from obligation, A vacation from invective, light's extinction, perdu. Their moon's no mistress of inventive eye, Doodling woozy outlines of pallid paradise As she parades, en nude pointe, about the parkinglot. No, no. Sleep is their escape, purely and practically, An oubliette to oblivion for the day's rubbish, A hole where magic casements ope' On pools of dirty oil. (Perseverant Jack, to grow his giant, thumbs the seed Into his very ear until the broken cradle bleeds, Responsive to sharp imagination's seethe and need.) Clairvoyant voyageurs of the quaint quotidian, They read their minds in the paper every day: Life is puerile in a purple haze, A titanic catastrophe, capsized Beside an iceberg. And no rowboat home. III Shall garish maidens in naked garrisons go forth, Weaving wheaten garlands as they march Down silhouetted avenues to make us free? Can billeted gangs of regimental bicyclists expunge The uneven levity of our solitary repose? How can all the multiples of men amend, Or lunatic doubling of naked ladies' leagues allay, The single niggling sin that haunts my breast? Politics is but passion personified, a hasty mask Strapped gas-mask grim on the gagging populace, Without so much as the pleasant pressure Of one's own fingerpainting fingerprint applied-- Swiftly slid orange along the disguising nose, The weakly-inked imprimatur of a primitive. And yet, it's among the olestra mass, we pretend, Our single fate discerns its predestined end. How much better to laugh behind a damasked hand At secret meanings whispered by the grass, Or build up a minaret but cricket-high, and lean And worship there in solo loneliness, Than to huff a bicycle among the numbered blanks, Or giggle belittled in the garlanded herd. IV Come instead into the forlorn solitude of self, Sultriest interlude of self and self, the self Doing little more when midnight booms Than romancing the forgotten moon, Dancing dunce-like on the dunes in the silky light, Alone among the waxy blooms that shine Up at her radiant round, their sultry mother. Down all the lonely aisles of neglected time, Come loiter here among the leaves' arsenic pallor. Make up a game for one, where time plays Lullabies into a pinking conch's soft-echoed ear, Mysterious residuum of your own rose pulse. Walk at ease along the forgotten beach Of self, the self's returning tide half black, Half white in moody moonlight, and no oar. Here on the beach, tallying the sea-drift, The self like a wisp of smoke ascends, Yes, ascends, invisibly to heaven. What use now the orgy crowd and clamping mask? No null numbers can add up all your sum. Alone with the veritable surf, alone with no one, No parade of pretense to hurrah you high And keep warm the solitude hid inside-- Mater moon must mother you, as she the leaves. Bathe by that light, dive in the veritable surf Arching back-and-forth before you argently. Swim until you are not what you were. V Public men in a public time, large-armed, What have they to do with love, the double Solitude to which all consummate desire comes? Whispered vows and private pets as soft As raindrops, preach from no soapbox pulpit To captivated crowds, but singly lick Wordy seeds into receptive ears of earth. Unloving laws of the public men, large-armed, Bind all affections, communal to a common postern Past affection's expiration. Who can inhale a scent, However intensely tart, however vast, Waving winds have whipped away? So loves And lovers go sinuous through our lives-- Twinned rivers escaped beyond our bending, Far past poets' suasive sigh or snit fantastic. Laws, too, are nothing in the heart's demesne, A febrile fence erected for leanest leaping, Advice for ears reddened by their own desires Obedient to an inner sing-song no orator can echo. VI Ruined statues in the park offer no roses To the eye--but to the eye within the eye, The eye that lets the eye apprehend Both stone and rose? To that eye, No violence may be done. No thumb May muscle it out, no lid lure it blind Or blank its vision of the human things it sees. Milton penning paradise and Homer eating grapes, Sightless yet serene, saw into the raw marrow Of what we are: human--ruined or noble. Right to the withered pith of us their bone orbs Dissected fault and fury: spun Ulysses Recklessly round the sea's ceaseless sink, Or rang old Lucifer down from curtained Heaven To opine alone in the bituminous pit. If no more blessed by being than merely human, How, my hearts, account for love's intrusion? Does such second sight come, as Vishnu advises, Because we and all things are One? Why, then, The universe, however wide, would lack its mystery, And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow Its surprise. No elation scintillates when we kiss No one but ourselves. No satisfaction crows its kill If vengeance but defangs the mirror's face. We know the inward rose of others By the softness of our own.... VII Here the beautiful sounds of the sea walk beside. Pebbles mumble and crested waves assert; echo Understates the case. And you, and I, walk beside. Persuade me, limitless sea. Give me an identity To be, someone too lovable to drown In your green wish and wash, your blonde Summer utterances, golden yodels, sweet sweeps Of beach--blue beguiler of my own inviting! If sea-shanties prime your immortal flood, May my tears, too, be provident for good. I want to know just what to do, just who to be Beyond the cozy monuments of warm mortal love. Shine my broken glass in your swift foreverings. VIII Whitman moved among squat hospital cots, His salt beard bright beside unseasoned breaths. He poured no balm of runic ode, but cool carafes Of water for the broken soldiers' ease, sopped blood From wounded piteous faces, knelt and prayed Hand in hand for a salvation he did not really feel Remotely possible. Hand in hand, he never told The heavy news that "der Gott ist Tod." They fought and died in youthful simpleness. "Liberty" was a word as wide as they, A torso-word, a wound-word, a death word Worth living for through all the battling stars Night-belching cannon or Springfield long-bores Could crack, pouring out their milky smokes No somnambulating symbolist could unfocus. The rose-shell ear of the exploded soldier Remains the excellentest vase for prayer's flowers. Myths are the poems of our intenser angels, Spread-winged griffins among molten smokes, Constellations constantly re-telling all, line by line, As they look down between dark-parted stars. It is in these stories, as they swerve, that we share Our remoter solitude and sublime source, Command with chants ruggedest happenstance, Fan piquant fable to flaming grace, and partake Of the painful wrenchings of our fate. IX Reality is permeable to our taut investigations. The melody of one rose is all symphonies. The experiment of a single tear is every tragedy. Our integration, the integration of poetry And reality, is simple as a sugarcube dropped In dark morning coffee, or the milky smoke Of cream, sweet interfacings of Havana fields And Columbian highlands ground down, Lump and liquid.... The poet on his balcony, in dim moonlight, Utters his liminal sibilances For his gilded ear alone, one candle at his back In which phosphor pages freshly flare; Not for all the humdrum roll-call of humankind In their chiffon sleeping gear and plummy dreams, Does he sing low to stars embedded in his lids. He speaks for himself, but not to himself, Frank affabulations of the summer moon, Honied orb to which all men, lovesick, stick-- Moon, let my inky invocation be Sworn with every susurration of the sea. And so star-clad sugars of self-wish mix With mud-mad grandeurs of our rooted world, Those velvety blood-blacks affianced, via me, With saccharin siftings of the spooning moon.
SECTION: LOVE’S SUMMERY BUSINESS
LOVE’S SUMMERY BUSINESS
The summery business of lying beside you Beside a bedside a fan in the dark-- The sweat of day recedes almost into memory. The fan blades circulate cozy hosannas of air. Almost, love comes out like stars between us. Almost, the sun and his sweat have gone Up the empty chimney.
The distant road is whispering. The air is softly, softly Stirring the peacock feather. In my morning mind The warm image of you Stirs softly, too.
TWO MOON RHYTHMS
1. Behind the apartments The young gulls skreek and squeal Over the old dump Ripe with peelings, mangled cans. They think, If I flew to the moon, Enlivening its dusts with my wings As they flash, I could not be more satisfied than now. In this, the young gulls Preening high over the glittering dump Are not deceived. 2. In his room He nailed up a poster of the moon From an old bijou. And round shone that moon Upon his wall. His lap glowed slowly obscured With drift, with stardust.
TREMOLO LIGATURES OF JULY
Not like a mouse Timidly hugging the wainscoting Did you meet the prismatic glitters Of July moonlight. Nor trailing scarves With threads of silver Did you attend Its slippered breeze-- Nor waving silvery scarves Threaded with prismatic colors Torn from passing rainbows. Oh, no. You came and sat On a flat wooden chair, Hard. And sweated all July. And stayed. You sat down hard On an old wooden chair, Sweating and wiping your face Prismatically.
VORUBER, ACH, VORUBER
I was a maiden first. Of crinoline And electric green, My gown. Then you came, Choice monsieur, With red eyes And heavy hands. The days broke open Like glass Like cymbals Like mirrors crashed. The days broke open. Like summer rolled over on his back, Open-mouthed with sleep, You came. In the hay, in the day, Heavily, heavily. Such hands, monsieur. And my gown Felt velvet, Grew red.
THE ABLATION OF ABSURDIO
What I feel, here in this room with you As the walls drift into space, Obscure rhomboids.... More than your eyeliner of kohl, More than your lengthening hair Poured from its sumptuous bucket.... What I feel... is what escapes saying. The sound of the hurrying surf Fills my ears when you bend near. Your shoulder brushes my cheek.... The walls drift off into space.... What was it you were saying?
AND WOULD NIGHT COME
And would night come Not once but a thousand thousand times And each sad star above me be The burning shadow of your face Still would I want--and need--again A thousand thousand nights Of such unerring grace and sin
A QUIET KISS
A quiet kiss is all I request While the blue moon rears so rare; Such double fullness fills my August As I imagine you quite bare. Two moons blunder by in one summer month, Doubling our lovers' light; Toward you I flutter like a moth, Encouraged by such burning nights.
BECAUSE YOU TOOK
Because you took me to bed, I love you. Because your sex wraps around me And my body falls out of myself Like a flower, I love you. Wisdom doubles itself like a germ, Adding body to body. Your eye Adds itself to my eye, and we go on seeing: New things, new newness. Cicadas, windfall, our braiding bodies-- Tender, joyful, awake in each other, Simple as forgetting. A slow-crawl cross, holy and mossy. Hesitant as a craving bee I explore you completely, Exhausting the tassels of sunlight, Removing valuable essences even by the powdery moon. And its lonely magnet unites us, crests in us. Stale, silly and small, I return to the gorgeous orchard of your arms. Your arms tensile and lively as if managing a sailboat. The heavy sail red, full of bloods, wombs. But agile anyway in the universe that blows it Before your face, in the front of the dawn, Your hair whipping!
THE COLOR OF YOUR SOUL
More ardent, more loving, more longing, Now I know the color of your soul; How white the justice of your eyes, How mountain blue the ambition in you, How pale the shimmer of your sheer sincerity, And like the rose's red the love you give. In evening when my sight is dim And the fire casts the colors that it can, Snaring all shapes in its flares and fans Of shadow and intensity that alternate Between the cracking wood and iron grate: Steady glows the color of your soul. But beyond these tints and tinctures Of day or night, beyond what any sight Can by light looking give or get-- Clear as evening's air, as vibrant, dear, As tears composed of alpine snow, I know I know the color of your soul.
HOW I LOVE THIS WOMAN!
How I love this woman! Through the open door of my soul Into the wide fields of thee! You stand unashamed in dainty dignity, A fine mind and eyes unblinded, Fresh and ready as grass after rain. Out into the nude acres I go, Barefooted and bareheaded, anxious to serve Such swaths of white wildernesses! As a bee attends the minutest bloom, So I follow the shadow of your going And canopy all the Earth with song! My soul awoke one night with you, And still in legendary dark pursues This new star in the evening sky. High above forests, horizons, and Hell You shine divinely, adjusting your jacket Or pushing a button into your narrow lapel. I sing the visionary river Flowing wayward and seaward at once! The bark and chuckle of otters, I sing, The wet salt that shapes the beach-- I sing the long celebratory downhill race To the frigid lake beloved of ducks. . . . I sing landscape and inscape, Outside and inside, day and night, and you.
SECTION: A TASTE OF TRANSLATION
A POEM IS BORN
I present this infant child of Idumaean midnight, His pale wings powerless, plucked of flight: All night my study's closed window glowed With mirrored lamp's incense and burnished golds, Each sad pane, alas, by harsh frost ringed and stamped Until dawn's wide fingers calmed the ailing lamp --insubstantial angel-- Unveiling to my tired Dad's eyes: the babe a-beam, Night's afterbirth--gifted relic of a dream!-- Raising round my father's mouth a faint, queer smile In anemic silence; day's blue dews freshened by sunrise palms.... Oh Mary, Mary, cradling our daughter to your kisses --Cold feet so innocent!--Welcome, too, this three-headed brother! Sing "lullay, lullay" with viol voice and frail harpsichord, will you? Press with faded finger your fulsome breast, won't you? Please, bleed the sibylline whiteness of a woman's soul Between starvling lips, dropped from virgin skies.... Mallarmé
Virgin dawn's violet, ineffectual light.... What use the shuddering wings? Delicate inebriate... Shivering no fissures in the lake's hard haunt of ice-- Glacial transparencies flickering with effectless flights. Once swift and serene, his memories flitter: ill-lit, Magnificent, and without hope. He strains.... Never enchanted by chansons of Riviera suns, Never flying from winter's sterile dazzle. The long S-neck convulses--whitest, wintriest agony; Infinite space afflicts; the snowy swan denies, denies.... A horrible mire frosts the impeccable quills. Phantom of brilliance by brilliance confined To immobility--in his insolent trance icily fixed-- Sleet-sheeted, inutile exile of a Swan! Mallarmé
The moon despairs; seraphim in tears Dream among heaven-scented blooms, bows Tautly in hand, eliciting from the fatal viols Spectral sobs glissading azurest corollas-- That day of your first, blesséd kiss. O vision of love, return to me, martyr me! Lick, inhale old wines of that dear perfume, sadness, Left after regrets and deceptions depart-- Unrinsed leavings of the gathering Dream, Fortissimo moanings sunk in the heart That collects them, big as a sink. In disarray, I cast my wandering eyes Distraught upon the pavement pale.... And then--sunshine in your hair (on the street, At evening) appears, and your lilt-lit laugh returns: An apparition of the blonde fey with her bright cap Who once upon the sleepy beatitudes of enviable childhood Trespassed, trailing from pale fingers of her half-closed hands Shaken bouquets of milk-scented stars. Mallarmé
THE SUM OF ALL THE SOUL
The sum of all the soul Is lazy exhalations, Smoke rings in rings in rings And their derivations. So says the brune cigar (Burning wisely the while) Letting shooken cinders char From the clear kiss of fire. So the smokes of poems Insinuate a smile;-- Dismiss thisness, singer, should you debut: Reality's vile. Too-precise a sense erases Literature's half-guesses. Mallarmé
Swiftly, gamely, mademoiselle Made a wish to hear toned notes Floating from my old wood flute Revealingly. Poignant practice in the park Between our picnic and the flocks Achieved some partial good when I stopped And stared at mademoiselle 'til dark. This vain breath that I extend To where my antique wood flute ends By spastic clasp of crippled fingers In incapable mimesis Can't catch quite your natural and clear Childish laughter that charms the air. Mallarmé
Silks involved in balms of Time Where even fictive if expires Vaunt not the coiled, the native cloud Combed in your mirror's lens. Patriotic ranks of stagnant flags Exalt above the vacant street; Drowned by waves of your naked mane, I plunge to my eyes' content. Yet, no mouth may be sure Of the savor his bite procures Unless, regal and rampant, he insists, Amidst your immense coppery tufts, On expelling a diamond sigh: The cry "Glorie!" that he stifles. Mallarmé
All's quiet, except the silence; As at the fireplace I lean, Military slacks Redden against my shins. The invasion I await With virgin courage Is that of the baton a-tilt, The soldier's white glove-- Gilt or stripped It waits to strike--not Teutons But some ancillary menace, Some acquiescence one desires. Beat back this wild nettle: Sympathy before battle. Mallarmé
THE DAGGER OF ART
1. Yes, all things increase in magnificence When hammered with travail And patience-- Verse, marble, onyx, enamel. 2. Damn each false constraint! Yet, that you may walk erect, Your corset, Muse, pull tight. 3. Sculptor, renounce Clay and stone, chisel and bit When doubts Unnerve the finger and the spirit. 4. Hold to hard Carrara, With Paros cool endure, So rare, Guarding the pure contour. 5. Imprint bronze of Syracuse That, firm and proud, Never releases Each trace fierce and charmed. 6. And with a dread most delicate Pursue the filament of soul In agate, Profiling perfect Apollo. 7. Painter, despise pale aquarelle And pin your palette, So faint, so frail, In unchanging flames enameled. 8. Bunch and twist blue mermaids Trenchantly a hundred ways By their fishy ends --Monsters of antique heraldry! 9. Show in a nimbus triple-lobed The Virgin, Jesus And the globe Blazing beneath one Cross. 10. --Dust to dust. The pastor intones Talced white Above white pews of skeletons. 11. Art alone, robust, Savors of Eternity; the ephemeral Portrait bust Survives the charnel. 12. And the austere medallion Plowed up by a laborer From dirt and loam Reveals an Emperor. 13. Gods die and are interred; But sacred, sovereign verse Endures-- More mightily made than Death. 14. Sculpt, carve, chisel; Until the floating dream alone Smiles Within the resisting stone. Théophile Gautier
SECTION: THE SCARLETS
Being A rhapsody Of the Scarlets' Star-lit Loving. (Varlet And Harlot Scarlet, To be exact.)
Witness This Thin Thing So living, So loving.
THE MUSKETEER TO HIS MISTRESS
To my Scarlet Harlot: Try Harder With your Father. I'll float The moat. Post This note On your door. Love, your Scarlet Varlet.
Subtle sambas, Wriggling rumbas, Limber Latinas, Ay, cay rumba! Sweaty sweets, Nimble feets, Levitating, Titivating. But just From you, My muse, Have, I must Spanks And thank-yous.
Ounce said to Pounce: "Ouch! That's my head!" And Pounce replied: "Love hurts. That cannot be denied." Then Pounce kissed Ounce once and off to bed.
You've A duty To ennude Your booty. I've A bounty Of Quaaludes, My beauty To urge And edge Your booty To doublesome Troublesome Duty.
Wanting Haunts The heart: Gaunt Faces, Empty places. Till Death Takes us, Breath Vacates us, Wanting Haunts The heart, Hurts.
If Gifts Breed Bliss, Be greed. Take this: Hand Madam-- Live Grand, Love One Man. One.
Neck To neck We'd twist, Kissing And kissed. Unwound, Let-down, Such Clutches Are missed. Loneliness Sifts The dour Hours.
Before you Nothing To do No zing In anything. Since our meeting Too dizzy, Too busy, Ev'n for tweetin'. Sweetie, At dawn In your arms My heart Sparks.
Wildly Violetly Empurple My steeple! My mistress, My kisstress, Keeper Of hearts, Parts, And my wand'ring peepers Wonder No longer, Doubt no more: You, j'adore.
Alone Unhomed, My heart, Bone- Lonely Beats Apart, An egg Unshelled. In Hell, I beg: Come quick, Quick, Quick!
From the simple Grinful Of your darling Dimples To your sinful Eyefuls, My darling Darer, Your fancy Prancing And disco Hiprolls Show mucho Mojo.
Cat's cradle Weaving Waving Fingers Together. Play-doh Pounding Rounding Colorful Lumpfuls. Games Of love You've Made untame.
We're Here. One Year Our sum. Plus Night's Delights... --Shush! Ennui? Puh-lease! Still chill. You, me, Our "we" Fulfills.
Adam And Eve, Snake- Struck, Had No Luck. "Go Damned," Grieved Gabriel, "Until Reprieved."
My heart's A lark! All day I sway.... Feel Real Swell. My hips Dip The way An eel Swims-- So dark And thin.
HER SKIING VACATION
Icicles, Thickened In vacant Intervals, Quicken When Tickles Begin-- Licks Likened To kisses, Kisses If wishes Were kisses.
To You My Spry Love Springs, Sings Above Death's Dearth. To You, Contralto, This solo.
I Fly Untried Skies Asking Everything It's Which N'what. But, T'love My wounded dove? Homeward, I'll Crawl.
Love, Duty Prove Beauty. Hate, Envy Berate Levity. Life, Death-- Brief Breath. You? What's true.