Disorderly love falls on our lives Like a dream in which we die And cannot awake or dream otherwise And only this dream is before our eyes Ritual and rote and stigmatized Inescapable and inordinately stylized A sleepwalker's temptless step's imposed And we see only the dream and are blind
This is an epic: shrunk, crabbed, and small, Full of false-effects, self-pity, the merely personal, A Don Juan who lambastes not the passing scene But all that has-been Juan may be, or is, or has been. Where more loving looks would gloss a blemish The critic's eye inscribes a scar to cherish, For every jot that takes away from fame, frame, or form Bolts the sniping critic thus much more above the norm. I spy inside to sight with telescopic sighs The whys of my feelings' reasons: Interloper on a landscape without seasons -- Why are such thoughts always such internal messes? Insistent blots and bleeding Awful as a Rorsach reading? Or are summer ladies in their swaying dresses The carnal cause of my distresses? (Your guess is as good as I guess my guess is.) Love's each word confirms what I suspect: Disaster's the master, and we but the guests. She sheds no sigh for any man's part, Whether the nether gender or simply his heart. On Time's high hill my glass house lies sheer, White licked-together ice panes as thin as tears--- I'll throw nothing as improbable as rocks But must content my anger by flinging dirty socks. When confronted by the bare barbarity Of a too-intimate, too-personal personal history The titillating crowd contracts a gassy gasp Into the actor's ruination of a yawn. Put away the hugs, unclench the hearty clasp, Poke about for the folded rulebook on Badminton Or dewy martinis not cleared away at dawn, Any of last season's or last night's amenable diversions, No worse for the weather on the party lawn. "But I have a tale to tell you!" he told the mirror As a minor chord played in the castle dreary, And like a lawyer at a settlement Between heavenly disputants temporarily hellbent He unpacked his tale like a holy relic. He tried, when talking, talking about his happenstance To concentrate Pure Mind from nominal Space. Somehow somewhere something means something As we fill with ephemeral words our eternal dumbness. And ever the bleak bitterness of Love is present, Awkward to forget, awkwarder to remember, A golden goose whose taste has turned to pheasant: Sour to eat, but the killing's pleasant. Leaning with a highpower scope on my pickup's fender, I forget at once who was the first offender. A kiss is just a kiss, for all our wishing And love is just another way for brains to say "gone fishing." And yet what hopes are harbored in a sigh To which all the pall of History can't manage to give the lie? And somehow behind Love's final curtain The essential something-nothing of ourselves is lurking. To say that these things are only so, That, in the course of life, such heinousness is usual Is to dodge the lodging dart that conscience pricks And with our green tequilas reel About the empty garden like a crypt. It doesn't make much difference If you're in the Congo, Buenos Aries, or France Time can add no savor but regret To what the hand has done, what heart inflicts. Yet I may say, like the newscaster at six "Once Upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away I loved." Such a rare occurrence Can't be measured by existential stirrings and segues: It's the internal turnings of that monster Fate That makes our mousing loves or hatreds great. Is my mauve eagle of presidential pinion, Or am I but a seraph's wingman? Public puffs and public scrapes Suck divinest wines back to earthy grapes.
A purposeless scrub plain laid before the sight, Inarticulate, has nothing to offer; Neutral evolution's meaning is neuter Until interpretive man stands near. Cool swaths and charts of haughty stars Whirling infinite on a pin To rampaging wolf and twittering lark Revolve innocent of sin. But one constellation-loaded look or angst-angelic glance Cast up by blameful man Can trace God's wrath in each twinkling coordinate As plainly as a plan. Until the intuitive outcast on the monotone plain Divided the iterative day Into the arrowy horror of arbitrative time, Inventing vatic history, God's mercy and His blood could not from the dust Gather us to his breast; Bhudda in his monk-smock howled the rice from his throat, A proctor without a test. Lacking sin's spectacle or anticipatory hope's Human ability to fail Life spins in a bituminous bubble of unbecome, A whereless, whenless exile. Narrow animal and expansive man both hunt world and sky; Anxious and inscrutable they rave. The one with tooth, paw and blind beak will kill, The other with inner glaive.
Once I was happy just To flabbergast and gust Over incestuous Thanatos and Eros, My impulsive pair of heroes. But now my erring mind (Arranging, jury-rigging jigsaws night by night) Surveys the surrounding social scene In meditative fright. The president imposes order, The pope imposes hope; Which one has the right to expedite My sonnets with his ardor? Every rhyme with law and order Is enticingly narcotic, But to impose them on the Zeitgeist Is damnably neurotic. The windbag of a fascist Hoots and emotes in Life's emporium, His whistlework's that of the serious artist, Envowelling society's consortium. His graves are all so neatly done They lie down in counted rows; The bones obey coordinates; Above, there blooms a rose. I conceive a magic bag That holds us all together, Or perhaps simply the spurious Convention of "the weather." There's no God, or need be none (Intrusive into our intimate "Scene A") Who's got to plod, or descend Deus ex machina. Draw instead in dreamy eye or fable Something constellationish Shared with elbows tucked at table, A grace passed round or handed down, The substance of a wish.
Bullets 'oft gang awry' When we squint with lying eye At the target we had thought To level with a shot; Somewhere along the barrel Our curving expectation falls And what is becomes a part Of what we hope to shoot, Or perhaps an intervening wind Has changed beginning and the end. The future always lies Somewhere in the 'is,' Or so the marksman's maxim goes Hunkered in a bush of rose. The future always lies Somewhere in the 'is' Our eyes are scouting now; Hope and here intermix somehow, Nor get pulled apart Unless our killing art Delivers to the shaping thought The dead end we had sought. The philosopher with his carcass Dispenses with his guesses - What would be now is, And this is happiness. Nor does he as he eats inquire "What if I had not fired...." Or if a speck of dust had interposed Between his sightline and his nose. All the dedication of his thought Goes to digestion of what he's brought From the wild field, as able, To his domesticated table. Not until quick hunger comes again Will his thoughts curve and turn To all the 'Ifs' of chance That can cancel out his choice And send aim or word awry In the hunted day.
My beloved Enemy Confronts my chaos to define My anger out of emptiness, A solid hatred from rash wish. My beloved Enemy For my arch-arranging eye Designs an aching target That I must miss or hit; Gives to my wide-range stagger A more local, focal goal, A sharpness to each dagger Unfolded from the soul. My beloved Enemy Incinerates Laws like xmas-trees And from a dwarfish, brutal bush Grows adored as Truth. Without my beloved Enemy --Alone, or made by mirrors three-- No matter how I writhe and twist My very self would not exist. My beloved Enemy Radiant with joy and energy Looks out from my own interior, Puts on my scowls and powers. My beloved Enemy Alight with hate and ecstasy --Fevered cheek to cheek we dance Heedless of our circumstance. Now my beloved Enemy Made naked by wind and time Arrives with a stricter chill: My Enemy I must kill. My beloved Enemy Must learn now how to die, And my beloved Enemy In blood before me lies.
Let Love's lukewarm body lie Drained of every lover's sigh; Put up the crepe, pull down the bunting, Pack in boxes the matrimonial trumpets. Rescind the secret thought, and cancel hope. Let marriage feasts go up in smoke; Let the lover, loved, display Independence to the end of days. Heaven's research into love's prayers Recommends ascetic despair; Despite longstanding and accustomed use, A gander's not as good as goose. When the mirror spots in morning's face No room for absolution or for grace, Every constellation seems Evidence of God's complicity. To exercise the lover's part Seems the only answer to retreating hearts: Mechanics of hydraulic hand Give no ease to loves lorn gland. Modern convenience should make us fit To enjoy the air-conditioning, and forget; Yet still in every neighbor's bush Lurks the same distempered wish. Every kiss but seems to mock Those lips no kissing will unlock; Snipers crouch on every roof To put an end to lovers' truth. Ransack every inked-out line For furtive hints of peace-of-mind, Time the healer will not dispense Relief when every breath is grief. To be a ghost and blow unmade Through drawn and yellowed windowshade.... What aught occurs, there is no stop To distraught hearts or lovers' hopes. What may mere continuance teach, Stalwart survival of the leech? Let pain cease, and let cease pride When love's soft cause has died inside. Intellectual despair Indulges 'The Unrepaired', While Hymanaeus Io wont console Particulate memory, the ripsawed soul.
Ideal and disposable, the idea of you Rustles beyond my moony shoulder, Amorous shadow of fictive love, A dream demanded by the dove. Shapeless bloods within me, grant Dark nurture to this faithless plant; Heart, beat on in dreamland to create, Where a pink and rumpled pillow lies, Nerves that throb in sympathy; Create, heart, until I in moonbeams see A second dreamer dreaming cordially. New eyes open, asleep yet silvery. Confessional moonlight's idyll Which previously had bridled In dry daylight's talk and squawk Now lets our human arms console Each other till the feeling's whole. Let rosy midnight flicker on Neon until the ending dawn; Together in our sparkless darkness, Exchanging jokes and mental missives, Our only soft defense against Outer Nature's rage: This is not this Is wishing, wishing, wishing Against compelling consciousness. And our breaths' most secret heats, Sirocco on rose-darkened sheets, Whisper the stories of our souls Where conceptual contrapuntal kiss And simpler carnal lips may meet. A new moon glimmers in the room. By careful compact with the night, Tangled breaths and traded hands And tangoed bodies no longer stand But lie as loving strangers might Acquainted with mysteries of delight. Side by side let us abide Before that darling blonde, the dawn Explodes and leaves in shards The love we worked on oh so hard-- Let us have a meeting without an edge, Nor wrestle with our conscience once But play pillow-talk, be each a dunce, Two drowsy loves, pale and veined, A pair of frangible spirits' vessels Laughing out the candles. A new day glitters at the ledge.
I lived unaware for a time (I have to admit it) Unconscious in a casual castle Sipping livid Glenlivit; I was deaf to the daily curses Of incontinent scullery maids, And recognized not the stable boys' Disingenuous praise. As lazy time lolled on From here and now to gone A private contentedness And not extant catastrophe was What I secretly counted on. And all that time, you Looked over the lifeboats Tested and prepped the crew, Gauging the drop-height From the second story window In case of fire or flight. I was smoking cigarettes In bed, getting girls up for a chat While tanning in a deckchair, Eyeing the hostess on the sly, And all that. But you had long before departed. The hallway echoed with your passage As dawn or noon or night invited The memory of your visage. You had left like a bell That rings only in memory, Or how a tale told in childhood Retold is a story today. The hearing ear is fooled By a wrongful kindness of the mind Whose generous assistance molds Everything it finds. You are silent, absent and afar Indifferent and unreachable As a collapsing star. Quietly busy ostensibly In an alternate universe For your light still spills Some length of years at ease In at every sill. Ships and compasses Still rely on the light, Having been forged in your presence And wandering still in the night. But one day your light, having left, Will leave us of light bereft. And yet you return, return In all the days of my thought As if there were no now and then As if mercury cornered stayed caught. And yet you return, return Like an agile ellipsoid mobile About your own center you turn Presenting new angles the while, New facets and faces revealed, But really always and beautifully centered. Maybe I too am centered, I too, But more orbitally arranged Fixed on a spar of you From your central largeness estranged As when Earth to dawn has come Halfblind in the sun.