THEN CAME THE HORDE Then came the horde in the year of our lord, and all the swans went to Geegle-La-Gesa. 'Boys will be boys' was the only thing said. Gasoline was poured out and lit - the new flames sparked light for a hundred feet. Startlingly rapid, the fire followed itself sunningly; twisting and turning like rope. Wherever it went, fire and heat, fire and heat - and that rippled, blurred vision only hot air brings. The world was suddenly quite flexible, as seen through a new and different lens.
FUTURISTS IN CAMBRIA (the Walking Purchase) I. In lockstep with the external world: 'Remaking the noggin' and The Fuhrer of Reputation. It was Arnold Schoenberg and his 12-tone scale that really did me in. No partita of Bach-elegance this. It sang industrial harshness, it sang brute force. Broken edges and the sundered sutures of a wartime's burning flame. The flame that never went out. I'm not really very happy; a death-bred slob. Who in my condition would be? Who in my situation would even try? - II. The Walking Purchase - we showed them a river that wasn't there - or at least not where we said it was. That was their starting point...and we said: 'as far as you can walk in a day will be yours, from this pointed river towards that.' But, the river not being there, we already had them securely in our hats. They were doomed from the start; and anyway, had not a clue of what we were talking. It was, really, a holiday for all of us involved - and probably our very first one in this new land. All Fool's Day, I should think, sums it up nicely. - III. Those ecstatic nuns of old, and all their garments. Fuck 'em all, I say. Visions are the cheapest versions of reality to be found. - IV. Felix Canada said: 'as people start dying, they get mean, not nice'. I was there when he said it, and that quote's quite verbatim. - V. 'Really well done; but the girls never like me.' So I'm reading some slave woman's account of when she was young, as a girl, and newly liberated; 'freed' in 1865. The first thing she wound up doing was being a whore - that's what her new Freedom gave her. The words were like from some old N'Orleans street back when the levees yet held. 'If'nyou'se ain't still movin', 'den 'jesmebbe' you'semovin' still - either ways, don't make no nevah to me.' She smoked cigarettes while she talked 'lighting one after the other as if the fire had to be continuous or the flame eternal.' Like any other monument, some people liked it, while others just didn't. Freedom brings so much to learn. - VI. 'I been fuckinf'ombefo' I kin remembuh! Shit yes! Wit' my old man, wit' my brothers, wit' d'kids in da street. I done it fo' pennies. I done it fo' nothin'...An' you know whut, Mistuh? I got a quatahfo' sucking off a ol' niggahyestiddy!'*
MEN OF OLD In tenuous grip, something stern and wild - like wind in the air and fire upon the water below - they held their sticks like lances, thrusting across the land. - Voyagers and soliloquists, naming continents and vacuums - places without definition, meanings without import - they planted flags where they chose. It was the searching, always: the search for gold or endless life or wisdom or God. Revelations underneath great boulders, and empty tombs where caravans had passed. The drifting sand covered things over - all things; their exploits, their vast palaces, their tracks and their dreams. Words were carved into stone, lashed onto the backs of camels, and hauled great miles, to be erected over doorways and columns. - Everything passed, as everything does. That tenuous grip, thrusting across the land.
THE NAME DELPHINA Delphina was my mother's first name; she said it was the name of some Greek Goddess of Doom. I never believed her for an instant. She was just trying to scare me, keep me in my place. Later in life, I looked it up. Such a thing never existed. Now, neither does she.
TAKING ORDERS And once the angry man said 'I don't have a life, I have a wife!', I knew there'd be trouble coming. It's the sort of thing I hate to see. Then the crowd took up the chant: 'I hate everything, I'm sick of this shit, I just want to burn this whole place down, I've had it up to here with all this crap!' - There's always an edge to which one should NOT get too close. Mental gymnastics and the sleight-of-hand, eventually even they fail. The entire edifice crumbles like dust. It's so bad, actually, that you have to walk THROUGH it all just to get out. - In the Army you're trained to take orders. The pizza guy on the other end of the phone, he takes orders. The salesgirl in the bridal department, she takes orders. The whole world's a mess. Oh my God! I'm sounding just like them.
I WENT TO HAVERSTRAW ...Where I stayed two weeks in the old Cedar Hotel, overlooking the concrete ships in the Hudson - those leftover transport-hulks from World War Two. The story that crazy guy told me in the hotel lobby : they used to fill them up and send them down the Hudson to New York Harbor but no one ever knew why. All the locals scratched their heads - concrete ships with concrete hulls. Who's ever heard of such a thing? It worked for a while, and then - for whatever reason - the idea was abandoned, and the ships were just left in river. They became quite the attraction. Kids played in them whenever they could. The town finally had to make them off-limits. - That was when I was living alone. The small windows had curtains which blew in the breeze. I always left them open to catch the river-air. It was a nice, Springtime thing to do. One day a bird flew in. It stayed. For a few days I had a 'guest' I actually enjoyed. - Who'd ever heard of such thing?
The scimitar and the scabbard, both lifted from another place. Along the compartmentalized edge, the devotion is apparent to all - the drama unceasingly builds as the actors attempt to cavort. Emotions and intentions both clamor for attention. 'We walk like soldiers straight into the storm! Hie and fie to all those others, for they're all as good already as dead! For God and King - and aren't both the same thing?!' - Bolt-action rifles make their great noises. Cannons are wheeled to the scene. Somewhere overhead, the black vultures float; waiting for a feast. All along the forest's edge, it would seem nothing is present but Death. Death, that great deceiver - never written into the scene, but making a grand entrance nonetheless.
ONE DAY (Orphan Annie) One day I swear I'm just going to quit. The living's over, the bridge is out. Leaping lizards, Annie, this is the end! As I scale that final wall before the jump, I think I'll look back once - thinking of something bizarre, like Chairman Mao on a Carnival Cruise, or Conor Cruise O'Brien playing center field for the Milwaukee Brewers. Anything of that nature just to ease the pain, that final moment before that final splat. Leaping lizards, Annie, this is the end!
SCRIBBLER Like a traveller far from some distant and other world, I staggered into this world dragging memories of things already done - vertical skags of adventures and words, tales and stories already written for things which hadn't yet happened. Somehow, already prepared, I knew it would happen this way - and so was ready for most anything as it occurred. - The tenuous circumstance of a momentary existence brings with it ten million items of equally momentary exposure - minute brightnesses which arrive and flame and go away. We - in both an expectation and a reaction - adjust to what we see; yet we linger too long and with too much self-importance on these smallest things. The vile man runs to his violence. The man from the parish tends his parochial concerns. The scribe, like myself today, scribbles. - 'Pale moon, burning sun. When will I see my only one.'
AGAMEMNON It was an awful inspiration, walking those twisted streets at four in the morning. I had a small knife tucked in my robe, in the expectation of any trouble which might break out. In those early days - as we weren't a warring people - every quarter of the sunny city was held by one or another group. - It was hard to live by the rules: the wind disobeyed, the grape vines went wherever they chose, the blistering high skies, torrid heat and long hot days, brought people to the testy edge of anything. Tempers flared, and those 'Gods' - the stupid, fiery ones - they never showed for anything. - Each day was another adventure of some reckoning - wild animals, roaming, pierced with their cries the endless night. The next day broke, and then the next.
WELL A WEEK It's been well a week since I saw you; that letter in the mailbox, the postcard on the mantle, the small photo, pressed between leaves of a book. Nothing helped and nothing mattered. It was like dining for two when only one showed, or looking with both eyes as only one worked. A boxer would know better, fighting a shadow in the ring, the ring to which the 'other' had never shown up. - One and one, it seems, can sometimes equal nothing. Other times, one and one can add up absolutely to whatever you'd like it to be. Remember the old days, all those immigrants in the darkened movie theaters, staring up at screens with newsreels endless, repeated over and over, trying to learn the language of the land? Impossible sometimes to achieve. When you leave the Old Country as an idiot, you're pretty much still that when you arrive here. Some things never change; the spider with his web, the beetle caught within.
MALLEUSMALEFICARUM AND ALL THE REST ('the hammer against witches') I took the quiz and failed miserably. Rilke on the shelf, next to something about Gauguin and then 'On the Road'. The very next morning, the flagrant mice had entered Lyons and taken all the cheese. It was like cavorting with the wife of an errant bishop, or some local priest, excommunicated long ago. Pestilence I knew about already. There were names for the things I'd seen - the Canarsie local, the old guy with the white tiled butcher shop, the German with the exploding ears. - All of us together, we sat down to read history, nodding our heads in a repeat motion to agree with the speaker up front. The lectern (wrapped in a rubber gauze) had been made bulletproof so he could continue his droning words. It went like Christmas Eve, slow or fast, depending on your point of view and expectations.
(when the hobo played the oboe) I only have now one good arm. The other one is useless - it's still there, mind you, but useless. It drags the ground. Flies adrift in the wind. I cannot control it, nor make it do a thing. Somehow it seems a vestige of something that, maybe, once was. If so, that was long ago. For myself, I can't remember a thing.
HISTORY ON ERECTION STREET I was standing once more at the corner of Bedford and Barrow, reading the sign on the building's edge. All those things - people, movements, places. The material of my life - stories I knew so well. The spit of a horse was heard behind me, and then the torrent of its piss upon the ground. The old, hard-packed dirt was worn to a coarse frazzle - milkmen, wagons, horses and whores. The ancient revolution of the proletariat was once just like this, here. - Everything now is destabilized. Red paint on the windows where the edging used to be. Varnish on the ledges - dried out, peeling and old. Hippolyte Havel, Polly Holladay and Mabel Dodge. Lincoln Steffens. Hutch Hapgood. Right there, God damn it, I knew all those people. Charlotte Taylor and Harold Brubaker too. - Espied through the glass by the looking-glass eye. Soiled and burned, wasted and washed, the strangers never stopped coming. They fucked like wild animals, and drank just the same. We talked issues until wee morning came. Politics and philosophy, and rant and the future - which is now, of course. Son of a bitch, it really DID arrive!
I WAS RAGING WITH BOETHIUS 'Lady Philosophy, now let me ask you, is this what you had in mind?' - the settled cell with the stone seat and the bare-bricked wall, the cut-out for the window, letting in air. With nothing so much as a shudder, she entered and stayed. Tales and stories and then questions and answers. So many it all seemed endless. - I was alone, if only for a moment, with Boethius just then. I tried to have him say something. I asked him : 'Primitive? Pagan? A form of Nature Worship in its way? Tell me, won't you?' For the first time since I'd known him (beleaguered and sad) he smiled, and said : 'It's no difference for me to be, one or the other. I am merely here.' Then I realized, he was but a scribe. - A writer of words doesn't really need the threat of impending death to prod him along. There are always a million other things to do it for him.
MY SOLE SALVATION My sole salvation was in waiting at the station - for you, or for any of the others coming by. Those carrying the cross of their habits or wares, those lugging bracelets of charms and trinkets, those with amulets of despair held clenched in their leering teeth. When the weather came, no matter what, it seemed Winter again : that low sky, dark and braying, falling down with the skittering snow and the spatter of rain; the rim of an icicle on the ledge of a drain. - The sound was made of all music gone bad. The hungry hustings - that place where they put mad men - was filled to its capacity with both scoundrels and their fools. My sole salvation, other than in watching you, was in walking away, in a gait not recognizable as rushed - a Chaplinesque of my own, a slow shuffle, with an innocent whistle to throw people off.
AT THE ART STUDENTS LEAGUE (3/21/09) First of Spring on 57th Street. Fire trucks feed the swell - all noise and rumble and I am driven to tears. Rizzoli's - just down the street - covers its books from water in fear while those firetrucks lurk in the street. I am dazzled by the lights. - At the Art Students League, I am watching the girls as they pass through the stairs. I am noticing the reds and the blues - in the curtains and in their eyes. Color is the pane of glass I'm looking through. If art can be taught, then - really - it ought. - Those firetrucks do what they do.
OK THEN OK, then. Here's what I think: That title has to go, as does the story where the debonair old fellow brings that beautiful young hooker up to his room. None of that works - in context or out. Old men can be disgusting, and young girls are a cliche. Well, that's what I say. - OK, then. I could change my mind if you forced me to, or - perhaps - if she came my way. In the proper respect, with the distance a wealthy old guy deserves - sitting regal and exalted at the Carlyle Hotel where his table always awaits - I could understand (maybe) the situation better. She would have to wear white gloves and a very stylish outfit. Beautiful hands and beautiful eyes. Maybe then I could figure what the story describes. (In that case, I'll be waiting).
COOKING TABLES Counting almonds on the yellow shelf just where someone had left them - a recipe book open to circles of red and a moonscape of crumpets and bread. Simple advertising photos anyone else would overlook. I thought of taking the whole thing home, the almonds and the book to cook.
HORSES The clip-clop of this distorted horse was different; one leg, perhaps was lame. The two cops atop, sitting high and regal, had come out of the Hudson Street Stables some five minutes ago, and were making their way slowly uptown. The sound I kept hearing was hard, like a hammering on the roadway's surface with a higher range, a tenor tone, a flavor I didn't expect. - These two horses, I was sure, had thoughts just then of their country lane - the Hudson Street of archetypes embedded in their equine brain - a well-trod dirt path, a few ground animals scurrying about, and birds flitting tree-to-tree. (So foreign to them this pavement and traffic should be). The tall buildings around them, silent and coarse, welcomed nothing but shadow and darkness. - The sun going down was lengthening the street. Shadows grew long and dark grey.
EXERCISE IN D MATTER Though I've never loved another I was never very smart. Now that that's out of the way, maybe I can start. The bat, hanging from the walls of that cave, has more sense than sense ever gave - me. - Insidious, like water and gravy, these very incendiary things cause dieting and angst. The lips of the child - still stuck on the ice of the pole - will have plenty to remember, for the rest of their life. It's, truly, nothing that can be avoided. - Like Chopin or, earlier, the sounds of some mad madrigal, the insensate singer tries reaching, ever more distant, for a note still farther away... from here. But, in all actuality, it's neither here, nor there - and it's never where they say.
THE TALLER TREES ARE APPROACHING Starting out with a little something. We have the haven. Take what's mine, but please want what you take. Now we must make it work. And not for nothing are the taller trees approaching. This music fills the air, and thus...
IT'S A SAD, SAD WORLD WE'VE PURCHASED WITH A DIME I was watching some moment go by me, (not as Frank O'Hara said: 'I can ignore it; it will go away without me'), but rather a dusty James Dean-like poke in the sand - covered in oil-fake molasses. Whatever brought that out is today's best subject and I shan't let it go. - A photograph dangled from his mirror: a far superior car than the car should be. Some girl, in white shorts, standing near a lake and holding a multi-colored ball. Next to her, looking up, was a small collie. That was all I saw. - I could have been 1956 again, for all I knew. Another guy, I noticed, was trying hard to light a cigarette against the wind.
FOREVER I'm mixing my drinks with your drawers or at least with your fingers; now that the echo-chamber has died down I can't hear a thing, so I just keep drinking. I might have walked the ledge on the seventeenth floor, but I'm sure that was before I knew you'd be there soon. I came right back in once I found that out. Pretty simple idea for fun. A good time we'll talk about f o r e v e r. - I had a brother back then darling - wearing a brown corduroy jacket in some dark shade of molasses - he sat down by the drum set and, just like that, never having done so before, began playing like he'd been at it f o r e v e r.
COLONEL HOOKER ('like, man, 24/7') I made the wrench work for me in the sand, prying open anything I wished - in the sea or on the land - flopping fish or languid clam. - She came to the store wearing barefoot clovers, and I saw right away in her eyes the gleam and the joy of watching cadavers roll over in their sleep. - How silly the howl. Whichever direction was Bethlehem, I was sure to get there by morning. I tried to surmise the genteel traditions of manic and panic and surcease and foam; but nothing - came of it, and I wandered home.
IN THE WORLD Just as I ran out of time, time ran out on me. - In a most peculiar fashion, no less. My peach-pit eyes both darkened in the web, my mouth, always agape but now in awe, settled on words in the fabric I wore. A message from the farthest time : something like death and decay, and blossom and bloom; all those unforgettable moments in the modern sun. The major girl I was with had just stated that she 'wanted nothing, and nothing else', and I was forced - like a riceless peasant - to agree to her words. It's really not the nicest feeling to be the finest person in the world. - ('I would not stop for Death, so Death stopped for me'.)
THE GUEST LIST Let us try for Tristan Tzara and Emmy Hennings too. Let us try for the Baroness Von Henkle and the Molten of Gregg. Let us re-name even the Markovsky Bridge : something regal - no? - like 'Fiddler's Diamond Transverse' or even 'New Rimrock Trestle'. Like all the rest of our local rabble, we can congregate there. We can walk then through the crowd and proudly carry our placards aloft : 'I Am Certain It Will Be You!', 'This Is A Little Mill Town Alone!'. - Whitbread can wager his silver coins. Hardford will watch from his library window. It will all be so simple - as to be - just as well so absurd. - And then, in moonlight, the speeding cars can thin the crowd and we, thereby, will learn from our mistakes.
I HAVE NOTICED ...The moonlight is overtaken by the artificial light until then the artificial light is overtaken by the sunlight which then in its turn takes over - again - the moonlight...until we realize then (how little we see)...
READING IN FURY My erstwhile adventure my maladroit conquest my incessant clamor my fury my anger my verve. Amidst all these, what stands the tallest is power: the fist in the swing, the dichotomy of the hem and the haw, the largess of a monsoon, the finish. I reluctantly agree to abide by you - my shadow ghost - and all your ticklish ways. A horse, in wild gallop, would be no worse. - See the mark of that plane so deep in the sky? It is, while blameless, at work on its own faults. Metallic sheen, glow off the sun, thick windows of airplane glass, the white jetstream of invented air. - I, down below, look up squinting. Trying to read, I welcome no distraction - yet there you are, again pointing up. A nettlesome pest, to be sure. I again look up. Now there is fire in the sky, a huge globe of flame falling down on our heads. Are we to dash simply for survival? Is fear our last amend for all this fetid living we have done? - Alas, it is over that quickly. Nothing hits the ground, and everything, it seems, goes again on its way.
VISITING GRAVES Two places local I often go - just to clear out my head - are the graves of two fellows I'd still like to know, even though both of them are dead. - Allen Ginsberg and Stephen Crane lie not too far apart - perhaps three miles at most, but most likely closer than that. - Both are in small family plots - an odd arrangement I always thought - two fellows so separate and different, in death put in with the lot. If eternity can be the same as forever, a wide and unending shore, at least they're in with the others, they'll never be alone any more.
DEAREST DARLING LILY I just wanted to write and say I love you - and that you left your clothes in the back of the car. How'd you get home that morning? Naked as the evening star? Did I drop you off bare-ass naked? Did I at least walk you from the car? For myself, I can't remember a thing - but that's often now how things are. I promise I'll cut down on my drinking, if you can cut back on the love. All this fornicating has got me thinking - we do well together, like fingers in a glove. I always want it to be this way, though I know it probably can't last. If that's going to be a problem, let's keep going and get it done, fast.
STEADFAST IN ARMOR The man was a Grecian urn. The man was a knight in armor. The man was a Reading Gaol. The man led the life of a dog. The man was a principled matter. The man was a calculated risk. The man was a flying fortress. The man was at the top of the list. - The man was nothing to speak of. The man was as dull as they come. The man had the wisdom of Solomon. The man was amazingly dumb. - The man was a whistle-pot kettle. The man was a vat of iron. The man was a barnyard favorite. The man was a real pond-scum. - The man had a way with words. The man held a gun aloft. The man put the gun to his temple. The man blew his head right off.
CRAZY SQUARE How sweet the puddle of daunting courage I cross. The twist of motion, the delicious time, the splash of mirrored water along the feet and legs. A certain trefoil of green, with light in a certain blue, shimmers along the land : passers-by, derelicts, squatters. The entire small world turns. It is nothing I've ever seen before. This statuary of existence, every stroke and dot, is played out before me as in a sculpture'd garden. - Philadelphia has its lazy streets. I am standing near the wall along Christ Church - 2nd Street, between Filbert and Arch - and I peer up at the steeple of Benjamin Franklin's subscription lottery. Tourists around me are peering at his grave. Both these two remnants of Franklin's day remain: the famed steeple his lottery built, and the grave within which he still keeps a repose. Nothing now moves, I notice, except traffic and people, tourists and branches, like those bare, ruin'd choirs, where once the sweet birds sang.
UPRISING The matter is intact everywhere I go; the old globe standing spins, mountains risen remain. There's nothing different about the world - everything intact stays the same. Risorgimento. Vermehrung. Uprising.
EMPIRE HOUSE I lived for a while at Empire House in Philadelphia's brainfed ghetto - now it's a karate studio on its lower level - when it was still a place to be. It may have actually been 'Brainard' as I recall, but we were all so messed up on creativity we called it 'brainfed' and laughed it off. A vast library on the second floor, a sitting room, like nothing you ever saw. We kept two dogs there as well; fine, upstanding whippets, sleek as hell. I painted in my small studio on nine. The mechanical elevator, pulled by levers and chains, always groaned. Plenty of warning for any approach - which was its only good point. Its bad point: it seemed to take fourteen years to get anywhere. One day, I just ran out of time. - It's awful like that - out the doorway, a few fine trees, the song of a catbird in the air - and then one day the seasons change, the contractors come, money changes hands, and the yard turns into pavement, and they've taken all the land. - ...As I've said, (though there's nothing left around it) Empire House still stands.
TEMPTRESS WITH THE LAUGHING HANDS 'I drank that girl like tomorrow's lemonade - big, dashing gulps, stuff dripping down my face. The fortune lady had never told me this - it wasn't supposed to be, had not been in the cards. Not that it ever mattered : you remember the thousand times, I'm sure, you yourself have thought of things that weren't meant to be and did them anyway. Like a fissure in a rock - a great oozing magma just pulsing out. Sometimes, I swear, it seems you've just got to go with the flow.'
AGAINST YOU The boys who returned have already been carted off; or they've been placed in homes or are cracked-up in asylums or dead. It hardly makes a difference, see, for all these places are much alike : the winsome drool, the very soft toast, the weakened coffee, the food, the routine, the over-cooked roast. - All things that they have seen are terrors to them still : keeping crazed men up at night, whipping through their memories, withering their sex, despoiling any pleasure they might find. Their life - as it is - remains a wounded paradise, a paradox wherein bad images stalk as windows which never close, letting some foul air in, or a reeking stink of death itself. Mysterious elves slink along their floors - little figments holding candles that never go out. - Curse the darkness, or light a match. Remain deadly silent... or shout.
PROBABLY LOW TIDE Probably low tide is an ordinary thing, since water is the element we are most familiar in. The only element we're comfortable with. It douses that which would singe, smothering the selfsame forces we thrive on for heat and flame with its wet blanket of stifling wetness. A film, as thin as ice - when it freezes - is the very same force which kills the masses as it breeches : water-wall, bulkhead and dam. Tsunami and flood; the associated crud of mud and infestation and damp and mold. Surely I could go on - but it gets so 'old'. Right now, this faulty rain annoys - spitting downward and wetting all things. Tophats and raincoats and umbrellas and cars - each bead up with the little bullets of water; fallen, perhaps, just like Mankind. Fallen, just like Man.
-my Purim poem- If you have to ask 'who cares', then probably no one does. If you have too stanch the bleeding, then it's probably, already, seriously late. If the barn is empty, and the door was open, chances could be that the horse is already gone. These are not merely mischievous quips, but quite often the real megillah.
TRUE PROPORTION I've run out of time : that same time the lily has, and the flower which pushes itself up through the ground; that April shaft seeking light, the blistering effort to live. All I have left is the strength of the proportion of all things : the round modicum of the real, the painted simulacrum of the imagined. It is - all - like a masterful circus of the unknown - characters in black-face, minstrels acting out fake motion, mimes stretching muscles in tone. Something watches, and something else applauds. Passages and deliverance, both together, bring all things this way. Home. Light. Ease. Rest. I turn, one last time, to look back - only to see the shadows, which are resting on the grass.
LIKE TIME ....Raised up in a bottle, like time and the weather. The most important part of a watch is the mainspring. I was told that after I said I thought it was the face. Someone else said the crystal; another thought the band. It was (actually) right about then that I thought to myself - 'what the hell am I doing here?' I wound up leaving. - OK, so that was a joke of sorts. - This time - so late in the ending of Winter - makes me think of other things with a wild abandon of will and intention. I want to see those crazy forsythias bloom, and watch the purple hemlocks and dogwoods prosper and throw out their flowers like a bride's own confetti. - It's time for a change!
NO PANACEA SHE A ....went about her way in silence dropping depth-charges in hearts where she chose; countering conclusions made in haste, without changing anyone's mind. I saw the commingling of gold, and blue beads, twisted once around her neck. An enticing moment - something seen from above. Why else would anyone look down?
GALAHAD GLEN Fourteen houses with no end in site; leaning doorways and twisted yards. Over the horizon, far different meadows creep - hillock, burdock, clover and tuft. Silence breeds like a fever. Milkweed pods sneeze themselves forward and scatter. - 'I'm working this from memory, kid'. The guy said that swallowing salad by the forkful. He continued: 'When I was a little boy, it seemed everything was brand new - everywhere I went things still had their shine. Now, by contrast, it's all crap and garbage.' I wanted to (at least) pretend to get his point. - No matter how I tried, I couldn't. 'Well then,' I said, 'where were you when it all flamed out?' He looked at me and nodded, still gulping something down. 'By then, I was living in Galahad Glen, and everything was good. Why should I complain? I figured. I'd just live as best I could. That was long ago; anyway, now it's all over, and here I am. Still enjoying life, believe it...or not.'
MY WAY NO MORE Consider the lilies of the field...these items of secure devotion, innocence and rapture, whatever they are, they neither toil nor work and yet - well, I assume you know the rest. We're supposed to find a solace in all of that too, I guess. - I'd rather the wind. You know, that which tears the lilies to shreds, rips them from their moorings, lifts them from their beds. Something about the adventure; keeps me on edge, better apt to energize, more inclined to hedge. I just like it that way. - This life, you see, has a geography all its own. Coming, no one, my way, no more; I guess I'm going home.
FIFTEEN DAYS Oceans and seas together contort, ropelike, twisting knots around ample necks; things ready for taut pressure and deep squeezes. As if, beneath the waves for two weeks or more, some madman's mind would coalesce around a sea-foam'd moment of wreckage. An arc of delight, gone sour and drowned to some soggy death. We would only watch in wonder as certain things transpired. - My peg-legged Ahab shouts back now at everyone else: Queequeq and Starbuck, themselves long lost, are embittered and feeble before even starting out. The sea cries its pity, but goes about its day. Drowning, and death by water, are the only seemingly valid results. Ishmael, in some biblical sense, seems now the only fitting name to give me - and, with these salt-sea dragged open hands, I accept whatever comes my way.
THE GLOBE (Meant Snows, Shrapnels) I don't know what was done - neither the reasons nor the ways. If I once knew, I've anyway forgotten. All those things are lost like soldiers in the snow. - The only thing I know about the shoreline is what the water tells me - yet I can contradict all that by what I see. The sure mark dies; and with it my genealogy. Those who have seen me have seen, in like fashion and time, the end of all other things. - (I, together with the end, am all that is and has been forming. I create that vast voice humming that you hear thinking on all those messages calling. Space between words, and meant snows built on letters both deep and dimensional as well. I am that brigade, and marching with it, am of that army armed with inner battles, fragments, and shrapnels of the mind.) - I don't know what to teach you, for when the Leader too is lost then the source becomes confused, not knowing where to turn. And I am that marksman, seeking now for the target's center.
PARSON EDUARDO RUTGA Unraveling wordgames makes me sick : undertakers at a dance contest, barracuda hunters entered in a knitting competition...what is all this about? At the country church along Wickensham Row, the parson is unwrapping silk and hanging pictures by the stool. He thinks it's all worth something. Never in his readings (Sunday sermons or Saturday lectures) has he mentioned the 'Fool', nor even the 'Hangman' from his tarot deck. So many things go without saying. Places and times. Socks and shoes. Only his chambermaid knows. She's the one who empties his pots and unclutters his papers as stacked on the edge of his very messy desk.
CARTWHEELS AND THE CRAZY The afternoon sun had already left and the relaxed shade of a late afternoon came rushing in : lemon-drop soup and the shoes the maid had worn were all that was left of worthlessness. I was askance at nothing, and I sweetly dozed while the old pick-axe swayed. Lithesome music came drifting in. - It was all different before the war. I'd not yet committed Little Gidding to memory - that Eliot poem presuming to tell me of air-raids and shelters. I was still a young boy in a sparse suburb of Londontown. - Felpham Manor, William Blake, Fuseli and all the rest meant nothing to me then. I sprinted like a horsemen to the charred kingdom's chambers: torture and reprieve and then torture again. - 'The eagle soars in the summit of Heaven, the Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.' ('This is your mystery, man. Take it for all it is worth')...
ITHACA NY You know how it is when water runs off a ledge: that final gasp of air and mist, that color which 'makes' the falls, the joyful halo of rainbow and hiss. The draining pull of beavers in tow, the rant and pillage of muskrats and fish. The whole world joins in.
INSURMOUNTABLE THE ODDS Once I awoke, the straight line to the door was easy. The razor-thin margin of turn and of error meant nothing to me just then. The die was already cast - streetlights flickering off, sunrise approaching on the eastern ledge, and a few candles still sputtering where they hadn't burnt out from hours before. I felt liberated and, at the same time, as enslaved as if my marrow was molten lead. - Hours later, I saw her again - a weak signal from a heart still strong enough to beat but struggling to maintain. Ice on the shelf where the fire should be. A few sparrows pecking at some feeble seed, a timid squirrel too shy to eat. I knew the feeling myself - and she'd never even once looked up. - Had I ever the time to re-live this life, I'd do it all over again - this time with my hands tied behind my back and my eyes - fixed, gazing - so sure of nothing else than of staring at Heaven alone; and nothing less than that would do. Insurmountable the odds, that I'd ever be here with you.
STARS AMID THE ALLIANCE Startling aperture; an awakening into the eye of a God. The unblinking awareness of tumbling dice upon a glass-covered table. Appearances seen as rolling forever - off the notion, past the edge of anything, and over the falls of contagion. - I swear I saw that ham-fisted man coming at me again. This time he had knives and a fork, not just the loaves and the fishes. Maddening to a fault, I sat down and decided just to listen. Flagstaff Arizona could be no better than this. Not to worry - every meter was filled with coins, and each spot held even more than a car.
NONE TOO STABLE The last thing he said was 'I'll be okay!' Subsidizing the pizza guy and walking through mesh, caning the forewarned and washing out the corral. Using the hose to water the walls; lashing a mundane hammer to the roof of the barn. And then, all of a sudden, the old blue car came up the papered lane, stopped in its tracks, disgorged a few passengers, and sped off. The pom-pom girls were left speechless. 'It was nothing I said, I hope', he muttered that to me in the last second before he jumped. No big deal - three stories down he landed in mud. Rolled about a bit; got up and tried walking away. I think maybe his ankle was broken, or something. His final words upon parting: 'Lightheaded, and none too stable, but I'll be okay.'
POLITICS IN THE TRENCHES Far greater things have happened than ever those that have fallen to my hand - I have seen the colors and the paintings and the caverns and the land. The Lord of Kingship has visited. The reigning Queen has vied for time. We are all 'in this together'. See the twists from the vaulting wind - it is sweeping and it is carrying anything in its path. Briars and bromides together are useless in this place. We stand to gain by the support we garner.
ELEGY I am not now where I once was, and where I am going is not where I will be. I've not always known how to loosen my arms - as if playing a piano straight and with very loose fingers. To all of that, I say 'alas' - while both thinking of tomorrow and letting it pass. I am nothing here but an unencumbered soul, and - sincerely - wish for that to remain so. I have no shadow and I have no ghost. What I see now is yesterday, at most.
SWELLED HAND He broke April into pieces - this wiry wind, this awesome wetness of shower and the pelting deluge of raging flood. Everyone of course knew it was coming; the signs had been on the walls for years, the markings someone had left at every corner post and pole. Ignorance is no defense, or - as they say - 'a willful disregard of the signs before your face goes nowhere towards proving you are innocent'. Blindness is not a plea once you've entered a movie theater. - They took down the bunting from the stadium facade. The authorities, having already removed those whom they considered repeat offenders, had allowed the crowd, or at least its remnants, to stay. Cumulus clouds overhead had puffed and billowed into formation, while the lengthening day threw its shadows about. As one, the hoarse roar of the people groused and hollered - something with great ingratitude, for sure. - Once the smoke had cleared, it was obvious everything was over: heaps of the dead and still-piles of the living - it really made no difference - were positioned all about. Fragments of smoke and flame yet pillaged both wood and flesh. A really pitiful scene, but not one you could call a surprise. As obvious as a nose on a face. The swelled hand had done its work.
CLAIRE DE LUNE They launched (as ever they should) from the launch pad waiting : a taut dirigible, something pointed straight up to the sky. No labels, no names - just the old preachment of a once-perfect timing. Ten nine eight seven... and all of that. A countdown, and one for the ages. The full moon swept in to watch, as Mars and Jupiter jumped their pirouettes across the clouds. Stardust. Cosmic dust. The Asteroid belt itself was scattered anew. These are the parts for which we all tried out. Now we must attest to having won the role, and with all our best effort, play the part well.
You can surmise all that I am from what it is you read about me herein - experiences and outlooks philosophies and viewpoints too. "For God's sake ! will SOMEONE please read this stuff - it's very important."