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Plain poems of experience, with a twist of eloquence
by Gregg Glory
Rehearsing Repetitions Sections List
- he found her here and there;
- know, noelle, this nothing that round
- when i wish upon a scrawl of star
- here by the her of ocean,
- you stepped from the bus-stop
- round and round, the circulating vast
- am i a seed of fire or its soot?
- i meditate between the cracks,
- it’s hard to say just what one feels
- to say despair, despair, despair
- let us attend these voices in the dark,
- past the charcoal doorway moon-white leaves
- what one says is never what
- what transmits our pinch of if?
- is there more to voice than its
- on the river that flitters
- the blue men march, march, march.
- one grows tired of the infantile,
- after a time to be no more
- the visible world is made of
- patchy frost that stuccoes the styx,
- the whole stale globe is fixed
- how tired one is of the umber river
- the long hour’s dread, the water’s calm
- do we make contact with a kiss?
- the patient good of going nowhere
- i dream of infernal pallors,
- in twilight the river came
- the river is full of wet surprises.
- whatever rivers endeavor
- the history of a seed, blind tear
- undulations of mud and river
- the reflective river, reflecting,
- rosy rappahannock, dance on, dance on,
- to lie where the river ends,
What the Cyclops Dreamt
A voice wakes me with its pin
Niggling in my ear.
I can't quite catch the lapsing sense
In the folding moan of words.
The moon embalms the ocean.
Enhanced stars are blown about the sky.
The sea sneaks so close, I can hear
Its little million feet.
And there, beyond the crinkled cliffs,
A splinter of sail. . . .
Three Versions of “The Teenager with the Glittering Hair”
He thought at first he was Mark Spitz,
Slickly triumphant in Speedos,
Because the mirror kept its own counsel
Between more amenable poses.
Then he thought he was the Mutant X,
Of a DNA not quite fixed,--
Because his brother used furious crayons
In the TV's square glare.
And last, he thought his death might be
A captain's statue, heroic, unruined,
Because the sun was shining blandly
All that day.
Winter Without End
The optimist without pants
Supposes plagues of pantaloons
Or, better still, intenser still
Imposes strippages like chaps
Above, beneath, or somewhere--
Nakeding the trousered things.
The best of all possible pants
Are numb and naked nothings.
The philosopher's frosty fundament
Sat fatly enthroned in a world
Stripped bare of pants, but not
Of their conception, their conceit.
It was a world where no pants were
And were never spoken of again.
All Must Dance
All must come and dance, and dance
With my friend, my friend Michele.
Michele, Michele, wild, wild
Michele who streams along the clay hills
Wild as lightning, light as nakedness
Or kindness; wild, wild Michele.
Kind, kind Michele, who answers
The dance's insistence
With diffidence, lively, lively
With her eyes, wild Michelean eyes
So lively and kind, kind, her eyes---
Lamps in a deep place, and a dark.
All must come, must dance, with my friend
Wild, wild Michele; kind, kind Michele.
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.
Lie there, my art -- Prospero
Ho-ho! From out his party grave, up-popped
The skeletal self that Tenor'd tamed.
Dewy longings drift half-wet, in ziggurats,
Down the dirty sticks of his dry fact,
Lending a silver-inlay to his polar bones.
Desire sniffs for roses through groutless nose-holes
And musty wines slalom a gorgeless gob.
Nothing of the lover, of the brother
Lingers here. I stick four mournful fingers
Through his clackers for a tongue, wagging
Idiot digits in mime Shakespearean.
No Yasunarian voice, Horatio, ensued.
No Ophelian sonnets rained in daisy-chains.
Lipless ivories inferred infernal grins.
Tongueless Tenor Semblance, disinterred,
Master-man and mirror-me, was DEAD! And I?
I am no Poet-Frankenstein, evoking souls
From wounded earth. For me, a hole is a hole
Is a hole. Love caressed, love cupped, love cuffed
Suckles living teats, not this bony xylophone.
Still, I loiter here half-longingly and toe
Pale parabolas of a pelvis furred with mold.
I, too, shall one day come undone, un-
Buttoned before the mawkish gawkers in the wood,
Dining on no niceties but dusty praise.
And you, and you. Bluets brush my boots,
Sans author in penless processional.
Tallied Tenor here, pure loss, is less and less,--
A condensate escaped in Gobi air.
What last farewell, or goodbye cry, can I
Cachinnate for such luckless kin?
Feral fate! The day, the hour, is late.
Though crass and cursed and cloistered
In a hole, my man of clay, who I made,
Unmade me. Iffy gift! Solitude still knows:
To live our lithest days in sackcloth is a sin.
My vampire mirror blings, bingeing on blanks.
I miss the mischievous elf I myself had minted,
Wry coinage of a brain love-benumbed.
Impresario of puppets, piccolo fish
Waving in a world wigged with sideways seagrass,
I command my scarecrow scalawag, Tenor
(Whom I marched off to death, alas) a last
Resurrection reappearance imagineer.
Coffin-lid, crack! Earth erupt and burp-up
Voodoo me, vanished voice and vair ermine.
Pffft! And see, through misty mazy day,
In his water-wings and goggle-gear. . . .
"Irksome apparition! Clavicle and skull
But prank the picked-out polychromes of life
More sullied dull. Pink is less pricked than pinky.
How can twanged canaries out-crow sepulchres?
Muddy mausoleums high-rise our tipping tropes.
No quip out-kids a skeleton's ghastly grin."
So I solemnized in my preacher's best.
But cut-rate Tenor in his rotted tux
Retailed another fable, made gritty
By eternal Time's half-sandy clasp.
"Birds of paradise in their jungle mung
Whistle fluent waltzes more queer than square.
When kisses come twitting 'tween the stars,
Their ache is more than mausoleums are.
The softest-rose of live lips out-quips
Clown-corpse midgets and their brazen cars. The curds
Of life are sacred, but only as we sip."
So I sat in puzzlement complete.
Head-hanging, feet-dangling, I weeped. I kicked
Spic hobnails against the grave's gouged walls.
I did not want to hum, or ham, the mournful measure
A mealy mouth had found. Must I have more to say?
To do, to be? Was wishing up to me?
Argent star and pentecostal ghost! It was.
The prolog past was mere evaporate because.
I zipped upon the slipping ice, slouch-hatted,
As I myself alone, floe to floe.
Tenor was my made-up man, my solo ghost;
Of his fragile form, I was holy host.
Vital tailor! Sledding immortality but slips
Us in our heart-stitched skins again.
Thus we see, beyond Death's batty beam,
Is is brighter than the vim of seems.
How, in all this claustric Ought, ought I
To utter and confess my consummate
"Ow to Joy"? Life is pain, and fidgets
As it sings. Dr. Formaldehyde in his lab-coat,
Peering in, thumbs an icy stethoscope to quiz
All coughs, all crimes. What Rabelaisian
Parable am I in? What sly reply does this
Inquisitive pin in my inflated thigh
Giggle to confide? None, none.
All my splendid spillages funnel down to One:
"Paradise is simple as the simple dew.
Blond Life, raw, unadorned,
Is apple enough when we feel adored.
--Settle quick the pipping kettle, Kate,
And kiss the kittens twice.-- Unintended
Heaven whistles wettest, when we forget
The Ever-Arriving River
How do we know we have arrived?
No gate blows open, no trumpet swings wide
Giving boogie-oogie oogie-boogie to the countryside.
Our horses must feed on grass, or perish.
So, too, our souls. Having gone down the long defiles
All night, in a night that is not sure of ending,
Our souls paw their bellies and howl.
Even a ghost craves ghostly sustenance.
Have we arrived then, when midnight creaks
And starved souls howl at the wolvish moon?
Or must we still, in our hunger, kneel and pray?
Must a glittering track shiver in the sleepy pines
For the last mile shimmied on our knees?
Bend at that track, and drink with tragic hands,
With hands encased in silver to their wrists.
Drink and drink; drink deep, O traveler--
Tomorrow we must find this river again.
Rehearsing Repetitions on the Rappahannock
There is no foreign land; it is the traveler only that is foreign,
and now and again, by a flash of recollection, lights up
the contrasts of the earth.
-- Robt. Louis Stevenson
You are here to kneel
where prayer has been valid.
-- Little Gidding, Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot
"O mind like a river!"
-- Scott Carroll
He found her here and there;
With flare, afar; presidentress
Of the dew and morning star.
She was the river valley where he lived;
Her a.m. sheen was more, more real
Than dreamy creams his sleep had pearled.
From invisible to veriest
She shone in vermillioned morning mist
On lungs, on eyes, and on the hairy grass.
Her liquid shine, napalmed gold,
Glossed immensest midnight's diminuendo.
No nightmare alligators crawled
Prickling plain or blue bayou
Flattened from the mountains of a dream
To the drear of here and nearer.
Dry exegesis of our watery sphere.
Know, Noelle, this nothing that round
Us wends is not the nothing
That follows when we descend
Into each others' eyes. There
We re-meet, there forget
The ruddy ruts that shaped our feet.
There our eyes are shiny rings
Of tambourines, shaking as we sing.
In the guttering firelight
On the blackened beach, we sing;
We sing the shining sea, the river's ring:
Just there, just out of reach.
"O salt and blood, o half-hewn thing,
Propound, propound these nothings that we sing!"
When I wish upon a scrawl of star
Scribbled in my mistress' hair,
I in splendid isolation look
Into the nook of night as into a book,
Where the green slope goes down into green eve
To touch the emerald river's reprieve. . . .
Then I consider, in my moody dark,
The owl's coo, the fox's bark.
Dooms of dovish dulcimers
Pluck up the cold, the forceful chords
Where the river's green thigh still thumps
Such human, nocturnal warmth. . . .
Here by the her of ocean,
Against my fraying lea, feelings
Are colors and paint the scene
In delicatest pastels and pinks;
Rollers ripe with rainbow inks
Pivot round my radiant core,--
Oft-clouded, oft-kicked,-- rolling worlds
Beyond my words. Let these rays,
Resplendent raspberry and rouge
And orange and cottony apricot,
Colors from my core, my wealth,
Add some pinching tincture to your health.
And if the colors of my desire
To touch cannot infect, do not
Condemn my wanting such.
You stepped from the bus-stop
Into the sun; it is a death
To know you are gone, are gone. . . .
When the ding-dong bell dong-dings
Is it your foot upon the stoop?
Hi-yii! My imagination slips out
The door and up to very heaven
Flagrant as any tingling lark
Into sunny realms we'd known
Hours maybe, hands folded
Like wing in wing at rest
From frantic flight, and yet
In that duel quiescence, what recompense!
Silent ecstasies of skies made dense.
Round and round, the circulating vast
Echoes the cold shadow that it casts.
Round round dials the running hands
Give chase, though no central sun
Commands. Here's no heavenly cove,
Perfumed and wreathed, rolling rich
And blue beside our inside seas.
Is it a death to stand without you
On the riverbank, and look?
The solitary sun revolves
In bare space, tinting each
Uplifted face. Is this enough
Of love, of grace? What satisfies?
Eh! Time, at best, provides
An arid paradise.
Am I a seed of fire or its soot?
Does dust or flame claim me for a root?
Worms, lie quiet. Your bellies
Give me pause. Digest your outcomes,
I would seek a cause. Is imagination
Phoenix enough for all this caustic ash?
Let sun be stripped of its ocularity
And spin, burning blindly
Unpinned from beginning or end,
Begat or begot
In the blind vat of space. Burn, spin, and then,
Spin and burn, burn and spin again!
Rage, you fiery heavens, rage!
Who destroys the Earth but burns a stage.
I meditate between the cracks,
And, knowing nothing, proceed to weed,
To tidy into squares the things I need:
The things, if given, I'd not give back.
From my ivory dome upon the ivory hill
Jack must tumble and follow Jill
Until reality has touched them as they are:
Children still, but blessed with scars,
With maps that parse them into parts
Frankensteinian and sparse.
It's hard to say just what one feels
Following sunlight that exits the field.
What one feels. . . is what. . . one says,
So notes propose composed in haze.
It is too much-- my page is damp:
Wrappers splayed at a tarnished curb.
There's no order to tonight's white stars
Or to dawn's harassing tassels come up so far.
A rhyme is a rhyme, is just what comes
Going round and around as one does.
To say despair, despair, despair
Tearing our hair, our hair, our hair
Has such a circular air!
The eye contracted with weeping
Sees only its own bleakening,
Whatever the fun, the pleasure
Available in an alternate measure
Where the gyroscopic beat sways heart, sways
Feet that had never felt
Another shoe than despair,
Its black and blare and shuffled stomp.
O heart up-swayed and ladled--
Show shoe, grow hair, to tap, to there,
With such a circular air!
Let us attend these voices in the dark,
Vocal human bruises that leave a mark
Even in the deadest night,
Deeper empurplings in a voluptuous blank.
What can they say? What can we hear?
Sit attentive at the splashing pier;
Watch stars fall from the enclosing clear.
What words come dropping
In the failing light? These, too,
Are voices; this, too, is night.
Past the charcoal doorway moon-white leaves
Rattle littery charms on winter's eve.
Paper things ourselves blown into speech
We can't quite catch what tumbles into reach--
A fidgeting wind whose fit refrain
Says what had not been said again.
As if words were any more ours
Than winds', going their mournful courses,
Saying what had not been said again:
A fitful wind and a fraught refrain.
What one says is never what
One meant; our voice is merely leant.
Our source, if source there is sans ostinato,
Is the silence where all speech goes.
What's done is done dumb at last--
All else is ache above the grave.
No verbal sangfroid relieves
What the heart keeps bitterly.
Timidly the diarist
Records the cause that sprained his wrist.
Pick sticky words from the alphabet of vomit;
All memorial's of no moment.
What transmits our pinch of if?
What throws the pale light of words
And what catches it? What grinds it
Into rote and lets it die,
This highest longest note pulled
Aloud from the violin of speech?
Is there any resurrection to be had?
Has this dissolution of desire,
Fallen mask and fallen face,
Left in thinning air a trace?
Triumphs and catastrophes,
Forgotten as last week's strawberries,
Are fertile fictions we pursue
To tears, to grace. Anything
To keep the blankness from our face.
Is there more to voice than its
Retreating sound, echoic gloss
On love and loss? Tympani dimmed
To a sweep of rain on the roof . . . .
Bid adieu, adieu, fond ear, fond eye,
To each eviscerated sigh--
Gold bullion of goodbyes pile high,
And not one lace handkerchief's discased
In warm memorial of departure,
Tracing effervescences of past rapture.
The tattered retreat of a lapsing wave
Is all the Rappahannock gives, or gave.
On the river that flitters
And flutters and flubs, I float:
Irreducible litter shorn of because.
What I am, I am; what was, was.
An ephemeral caliphate
Scribbling down his fix of fate. . . .
On a foolscap scroll that lolls, I write
Wry words to puzzle the animal,
Adumbrate the damned and pierce
The ghost that keeps our feelings fierce.
The blue men march, march, march.
The green is gone, and brown remains.
Is there a hupping repetition only
In this becoming mud, oozy-oily?
Each thing repeated, as if bereft,
As if tearing our hair alone was left us.
The muds shift, closing oily over
The puddles of our tread, and over
Our faces on that final, fatal day.
One grows tired of the infantile,
The tamely true, the tritely right.
One would rather a slap in the chops,
An angry onion intensely teared,
A uterine wrong belatedly revealed
Among candles at the retirement home--
An explosion under the tea-cozies.
Anything, oh anything, mein Gott!
Anything but this maundering usual,
This placid sunshine square on the floor,
This tepid, interminable sequence
Of will-be, was, and serenely is.
Let some black lightning fork to earth
That leaves the sky more mortal, torn.
After a time to be no more
The balm and butter of desire,
Damned to dawdle and adore
Tussled husks of cobs gnawed raw
In a moonlight that was true,
In the decapitated orbit of recollect. . . .
What love, at best, should let drop
No hammer and no forge
Can resurrect. . . . the flight of a fallen leaf
Whose gold is almost gone.
Desire, the anaconda in the groin,
Turns to stone the tenderness
It had kissed, crimps in moaning tongs
Tender hands prayer had held aloft
And leaves, at best, a remaindered sigh
-- A cruft.
The visible world is made of
Ashes, chirriguresque ashes:
Compact, compiled, complex,
And incomplete without our moaning bones
Singing hollow and alone
Above dirty tides of dust and stuff
The visible world is made of.
The visible world is made of
Histories grown rich in ruin:
Reichs, Romans and religions gone down
To soften our tumble into the now
The visible world is made of.
Yesterday's news and today's maybes
And all the clocks that ever crossed hands
In our walk from the mailbox
To breakfast oranges and eggs
Are ashes, ashes that sift
From if to the gift
The visible world is made of,
The visible world is made of.
Patchy frost that stuccoes the Styx,
The frost at my temples, both touch death
The way kisses confer fullness
Or how a cheek upon our cheek
Can suddenly give us the whole girl--
So I lean at autumn, the tree leans
Touched by frost's disfigurement.
I hunch into age's alpaca parka.
All afternoon the river stiffens,
All afternoon the river shoulders on
Below, despite the stiff, the cold.
And the children slide by smiling.
The whole stale globe is fixed
And finished. No spastic blanks
Fringe or freak our maps.
All we had desired, in one
Cloudy shell is clamped, a cataract
Eye clubbed by interior damps.
Round and round a blue wash basin rolls
The marble of our wants, our soul.
How, inside this stormy island shell,
Dare we pip a pearl?
Discovery but brushes back the curls
From brooding brow's proscenium to Hell.
The conquistador's poise or plastic pose
Can but woodenly suppose our more
Consummate imaginings of rose.
How tired one is of the umber river
Losing its green toward autumn.
Is our real sum the sum
Of what we have forgotten?
Additions scrawled in margins
Haste discarded at a truck stop. . . .
Pages flap by the wetted sill,
And the river writhes through rusty hills
Like rotted moss, but liquiform.
How tired and how feeble one has become
Staring at shapes that will not stay;
The river, as always, keeping low,
Unregarded by animal or eye,
A fluid whisper forced between rocks,
A sum of nothings always the same--
If one could remember what went or came.
The long hour's dread, the water's calm
Do nothing, nothing to defer
The immortal, immoral and amorous fact
Of love in a narrow coffin
Stood up on end and talking
Hour upon hour of the water's calm.
The peace of infinite lakes,
Hazards blue and hazes deep,
The quiet claptrap of the shore
And mopey pebbles rusticating
Do nothing, nothing to deform
Desire's deep, expressive needle.
Eon on eon the coffin talks
Of moony amours, and the long dread.
Do we make contact with a kiss?
On what do two lips meeting
Two lips insist? Did Cleopatra
Really kiss, who never climbed
The ratty scaffolding behind the stars?
Does love demand reality?
O fools, is what we feel all folderol?
Do hearts connect both ache and cause?
Have we really any more
Than a projectionist's panache,
Lighting up our solitary dark
With scenes? Dreaming in daylight
What our lonely dreams may mean?
I hunger for reality under pinking skies
At one, at one,
With the inward of my eye.
The patient good of going nowhere
In the balloon of the mind
(That something, half air, half real)
Is, I declare, a laudable poem
In the tone of time (that somewhen
Of buzzing was and will-be).
To live in circles, going nowhere
In a clime that is timeless. . . .
This circuitous circumlocution
Of life, is life.
And the poem of life is patient, good,
And of articulate merit
Like a muffled chime; the poem,
Disturbed by chilly ripples from the mind,
Hushes the shivering cymbal.
Hush, hush, between heart and thumb
Into a silence not yet manifest. And yet. . . .
There's a music there, too, a stubborn thrub.
I dream of infernal pallors,
Lily-dead smokes infesting
Switchback rivers that snake
The peace-bedizened landscape--
Full of river verve and tribal tums.
Full, too, of the fulsome motions
Of desire-- its bleak, expressive needs
Coiled in the chocolate dark of dreams.
I sketch red arroyos with my
Fingerend, carve clouds with my breath,
And roil the Rappahannock with swales of tears. . . .
By inches I enrich the night grasses,
Dibbling endless seed as carelessly
As the storm-strong river veers.
In twilight the river came
Sighing, sweeping, fresh.
Stuttering dawn flared palely,
With just enough wick to scritch
Midnight waters into day, and usher them
Into glassy existence once again;
Troughs and shadows among the gems
Astound the verdant vertices. . . .
Then dying afternoon struck heightened whites
From the pulsing wave, over and over--
Too bright to look at, too hot
To sit in the shade, feet in the water. . . .
Now night's arriving eyelid seals the river
All-at-once in nothingness.
I am here, now, without it.
Sighing, sweeping, fresh.
The river is full of wet surprises.
Reaching in a hand, you pull back
A hand, wet with the glistening wish
To be all wet yet still be hand.
Look at your wet hand, fingers dripping
Blazingly glazed as if never dry,
As if never needing to kneel again
In the plunging wet, the enveloping mist.
Shake hands with the evasive river, full.
You are you. You are the river.
Lean over yourself wetly, without
Expectation, again and again.
Whatever rivers endeavor
To mean in their molten going,
Erudite in their silvery swiftness,
Knowing in their golden slowness,
They mean without meaning,
Without needing to mean meaning.
Whatever rivers mean they elide,
Wetly content to be wily river
Once more, flowing without following,
Going after what went before,
Flow after flow like honey going
Gold in its golden slowness,
Its prow of now humped high, humped high,
And goldenest too at its going down,
Golden in its flowing going.
Faultless the flotsam upon it.
The history of a seed, blind tear
Crying an eye in the dirt,
Unfolds a flower's talking stalk
Without meaning among murky hills.
Why this incessant spur to grow,
To know, to dominate with words
A landscape we cannot escape?
To vomit, void our inscape
Until all the dome of stars are seeds
Of me, me, me, me, me?
Blind need and blind tears, and less
Fit purpose than this mustard seed
That blindly grows its heats and dies
In a dirt that does not wait.
Undulations of mud and river
Moss a hollow self cored of seed--
A self without a future self,
Sourced to now alone, sans past,
Sans progenitors, sans history.
For him, the hollow one, river flowing
River is enough. In this slatted light,
The intermix of mazy leaves
And slap-slap patterns on the
Waterlogged log all the logy
Afternoon now and always
Is enough. This jelly yellow
Light of the flow suffices,--
Flowing nowhere and everywhere,
Now and always,
In a land of undulous muds.
The reflective river, reflecting,
Reflects leaves, trees, themes, memes,
Men and me, flat landscapes
Of people skating round bonfires,
Feasting high summer with buttery cobs,
Raising a red barn in pilgrim hats,
Or rolling hoops with clickety sticks;
Mirrory people and their alluring concerns,--
Hacked from the fabulous,
Greasy with pig and pie.
As if sky and rock and river
Reflected human magnificence alone
And not some deeper current:
Red, real marrow of the world's bones.
Rosy Rappahannock, dance on, dance on,
Supplest at your merging marge,
Fluent shoe on softening sands. . . .
Imagined dancers in their ritzy habiliments,
Top hat and cane and folded gloves
Solidify the watery waltz,
Red-faced and breathless in cane chairs.
A skirt skirls among moldy reeds
Enhancing the dance with measurement
Of step, swirl, step and stop;
"Once upon a time" is primed,
Enlivened from the vividest ick
Where bullfrogs bow to damselfish
Furling weedy gowns as they stop--
Stop in a static of silks and crinolines.
To lie where the river ends,
To lie in the velvet moonlight
Observing a landscape that is dry--
To hear the vulture's convulsive cry,
To see how slowly the river ended here,
Scraping dehydrated rocks,
The licked whiskers of its own
Envanishment, alone in being,
Is a kind of final sumptuousness
Of torpid nothingness. . . .
Or, more morose, more awful, to hear
The Rappahannock's oracular voice
Grow indistinct at the ocean's verge,
Suave murmurs gone down to a mauver
Sea, full of desolate cries,
Like a mother who loses her son
Among seas of soldiers embarking at the station:
Riding away, away, never to return
Even in flashes of untrustworthy thunder,
Makes a finish of heaven.
Revanches of Reality
Cataracts, rapids and furious plumes
Smoke at the waterfall's foot in one
Hot clouds of chaos in a boiling sink
Sterilize steel, and kiss the quick
Motions of two hands.
These two images of water, two images
Of ourselves in austere imagination,
The yellow raft tips up at the blue, trembling lip
Above the whole effortful journey
In naked air.
Roguish locals on their jaunts
Display the labial blasŽ
They puff their roguish way
Down the festooned avenues
Ringing brass spittoons.
Their chests huff high, puff hard
To charm the curtained demoiselles--
Under surreptitious eyes
Under brightest milky day.
X Shoots Y Shoots X
Duelists remarking the shoreline's fair,
Suave and snakelike grace, are debonair.
To see Beauty in the tooth
That loots you of your life, is truth.
So they thought as they paced the sands
And took the air, having shaken hands.
Blessing gracious life's most gracious feast,
Pinky to pinky, they tinked teacups
With the beast. Redder sands rubbed hourglass
Hands, ticking as their seconds ran.
Debonair as dandies though they stood,
The sizzing sea hissed in her maternal moods.
No one attended their marginal funeral
Save one awl-beaked dull-eyed slue-foot gull.
After the Singing
Hey you! Settle them with cigarettes
Or with fabulous lassoes cast high corral
The jittery arpeggios of choristers,
A most disorderly sorority, drunk
On song and wit as their hale hosannas
Divot the friendly sky.
The time for uncounted choirs of praise
Zagging the azures in brightened blaze
Is over. Call the kiddies to their vittles.
Settle down around the plain broad board.
Line the bench with fat behinds, and tuck
The checkered napkins tight
To quell the singers' appetites.
Sit still like an emanation of content,
At the end of singing, at the end of day.
Let blue silk robes fall stately to stiff feet.
Let there be, at last, a last reality,
Without suggestion. A cold bean soup.
Let leaden lentils lard the golden guts.
In Pan’s Cavern
The annotationist's florid inscription confirms:
His songs were chiseled jagged
From grey granite crags,
Not smarmily charmed
From the skittish scampering of mountain goats
By afternoon noodlings on his flute.
His songs were sharp shavings
Of diamond symphonies
Not labial dithyrambs lisped
By moony romanticists.
Here is the rock's heart
Quartered, mortared, and staidly laid.
Here are the stacked bricks of grief
And cold colonnades of ladies' tears:
The grand, airless mausoleum
Of a windy soul.
“Rehearsing Repetitions on the Rappahannock” Structure Notes
A. Romance, Love
i. She = landscape; love and desire explain our place on the earth
ii. Landscape is just beyond lovers' concern and understanding; address to Noelle
iii. She = landscape; stars in her hair; harmonious completion on nature by
imagination in tune with desire; night has a human warmth
iv. Landscape = she; desire leaps out, coloring what is
v. She is missing; object of desire dies, yet desire remains; memory transforms
moment to sadness
B. Futility, Repetition
vi. Landscape is self-contained and repeats itself; will this be enough without her?
vii. Seeking after cause of all; trapped in objective world
viii. Organizing separated consciousness; imagination takes in what is, maps it
ix. Difficulty of saying what is in terms of self; repetition calms, gives clues,
reduces chaos of what is
x. Despair, repeat of moods, is our weather; links self to reality by sharing
repetition and circularity
C. Speech, Words
xi. Listen to outer reality; it too speaks as self speaks to itself
xii.Words are not just human; they are an expression of reality as it is as well;
refrains of wind
xiii. Silence sources the mis-match of words and reality; failure of final correspondence
xiv. How does speech work to encode our desire to connect with reality; do these words
interact with what is real or not?
xv. Questioning of what is heard; is it real, or mere self-projection?
xvi. Speaker finds his identity in writing down gestures of what is in a way that
sharpens inner feeling; feelings are the inner reality that matches objective reality
D. Aging, Death
xvii. Time marches on; self will die one day
xviii. Desire for contact with the real inside the limit of time
xix. Loss of attractiveness; but not death of desiring; this is aging; our hearts are
less supple in response to reality, tempted to be didactic
xx. Mundane reality is insufficient to the spirit's deepest needs
xxi. Age focuses desire; its force grows as its time diminishes
xxii. Nothing new in outer reality is available to be learned; connection with the
spirit of imagination replaces reaching out into the real
xxiii. Wish for certainty; weariness at the insufficiency of what reality has delivered
xxiv. Speech continues to express imagination's desire even in age's lengthening ennui
E. Meditation, Creative Urge
xxv. Imagination is considered as capable of tying together inner and outer reality
xxvi. Meditation = motion in the world.; the poem is an object
xxvii. Creativity is in all actions of the mind, shaping and even creating the
reality we experience
xxviii. Reality changes; we carry its impact with us even when reality is not directly accessible
xxix. Experience, approached by imagination, can continually refresh the spirit
xxx. Figurations of reality do not deform that reality; what is continually re-asserts
its completeness independent of imagination
F. Final Sequence
xxxi. Humility before the self-sufficiency of reality's self-creating process of Life
xxxii. Self in the now can be content in contact with reality
xxxiii. River reflects both reality and our wishes as they project into reality;
something there is that is deeper than words or desires
xxxiv. Reality dances on, we with it; reality is enhanced by our questioning of it, and
our re-imagining it; experience is sharpened
xxxv. Reality comes to an end; and, with it, the imagination completes its project of creation