... mh1993 by Robert Hunter
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. A Red Dog's Decoration Day. 2. Opening Statement 3. Gingerbread Man 4. Preserpie and Senti Yagoya 5. Exact Birds 6. Jaaz #3 7. Selections from Idiot's Delight 8. Poets on Poets 9. Trapping a Muse 10. Black Sunflower 11. Toad in Love 12. The Pool 13. Sentinel (2 3 4 5 6 Interlude 7) 14. Pride of Bone 15. Rain in a Courtyard 16. Sonnets in Stone 17. Seven Trials 18. Dew On the Daisy 19. Rimbaud at Twenty 20. How We Love 21. Salutation 22. Consultation 23. Omnia Praeclara Rara 24. Cocktails With Hindemith 25. Blue Moon Alley 26. The New Jungle 27. How It Really Goes 28. Growing 29. Yagritz 30. Sense of Impending 31. Nude Recumbent on Chair 32. Ration Your Cylinders 33. Power of Persuasion 34. One Day in July 35. An American Adventure (Chapter 1, 2cnd Movement, Act 3) ···········Sentinel Blockprint by Maureen Hunter·
(this book currently in print by Penguin)
A Red Dog's Decoration Day A red dog trots down Divisidero longing for a new creation. He crosses Fillmore seeking a new logic and a new ends to meaning, rounds the curve of Starr King into Geary, stalking an unknown synthesis. Between Turk and Hyde he envisions a new edifice, obliging to reason but uncluttered by context. A thing to be built in this our time before a lesser edifice defines tomorrow by default. He pauses at the juncture of Post and O'Farrell, relieves himself against a sky blue building, then chases his tail till he blurs and dissolves down a whirling tunnel of time. The quick red dog jumps over a crazy black derelict, seeking a new foundation beyond desperation, beyond supplication, beyond extrapolation. A new basis for significance. A place of covenant and exaltation, floating in the fantastical, grounded on pylons of absolute potential, spanning San Francisco with a largeness like song. Ornamental cherries blossom South of Market as a red dog converges with Folsom on Decoration Day, chased by demons that he cannot comprehend until a silent tide of light befriends him and delivers him from clatter. The ghost of Coltrane blows an alleyway of sunshine through sophisticated chatter of ecstatic demi-monde, through a filter of foglight, earnest of a new dawning of concise freedom and incentive to surpass futile ends. The red dog lies in a patch of articulate daylight inhabiting space and time with a certain sweet resolve, inclining an ear to the shape of sacrificial notes rising above context: syntax of a new creation, revealing new implications and new resources for resuscitation of the century from an order beyond repair. Head over heels in love, the red dog catches his tail and rolls like a fiery wheel around the corner of 3rd & Howard, ducking a Greyhound poised in static flight amid clouds of diesel fume while a skid row ghost town, phantom pawnshop, flophouse and tavern beckons from the reconstructed avenue, glaring through new paint with a terrifying scream. 'Cross Market, up Powell he runs, intersects Grant, leaps Broadway and re-convenes with Grant where midnight sunglasses peer into feathered lights in search of an unsung paradigm. A magnificent summer replies with a moment of clear luster, swinging between cataclysms to the speech of loud guitars, streaked gold by a setting sun. Ancient logic and tarnished synthesis blend into the sky like twilight as a red dog stalks the Embarcadero by first glow of a rising moon, seeking a sweeter creation capable of returning tears to eyes who cried them, innocent of salt, transmuted into resurrection wine. Opening Statement Impromptus of the moment free but for paper's aqueous flame, unwilling to go back and undo what once is said but crash without explanation into the pool on enormous bubbles which pop and spew platitudes cloud high on a jet of hot steam trailing tropes and opinions, thanking the death of stars for the birth of the worlds. Give me a hand, shaped round to the flat of the sky, none of it fixed, none of it firm, none of it numbered, the sparrow that barks like a dog, the horned tusk on the cradle, the nice lady with pie inviting us into the glorious gasp of conception. How can I say that I thought of you whom I've never met, cradled your head in the crook of a shining mechanical arm, stroked the smoke from your eyes with a violet linchpin, fattened you with clusters of grape and cherry, married you beneath a shower of tombstones and carried you off to honeymoon castle pinned to the lining of a vest of flame? All you would want and less than you ever guessed: there are more of us than you dreamed, though not all in the same place at the same time, stretched, instead, in consecutive lines from first cry to the last grim rattle of doom, a million or two blessed by the hawk in the blue hat appointed to die by degrees into salt informing the limbs of Neptune, the hand which carries the waves and all who go forth upon toward home port safe in the eye of God. With the left hand reason with the right descry, speak the warm oil of tongues to charm the appearance of fire at the crest of the brow, a nimbus of sparkling sound. There is nothing more perfect or pleasant than that we be here, ear to ear, later to walk away able to whistle the tune of it all, the feeling if not the words which duck into flame and are gone, seed of smoke in the heart of the flower of the brain, a light scum of love which dissolves in the rain. Gingerbread Man Wading into the fray As though possessed Despite all odds Bloody but unbowed Caution to the wind Not to be nay said All banners flying Times without name Name without number Written on the wind in ballpoint I am the gingerbread man Knock kneed and trembling Yellow bellied and shit scared Jumpy as all get out Trembling like a leaf Whistling in the dark Nervous as ninepins One over the elbow A new way of talking A new way to talk A new way of cutting A new way of cutting through Do you like it Do you love it Do you want it Do you need it Will you hug it Will you feed it, cut it into thin strips and eat it? Flying in the face Flying in the face Flying in the face of danger Heedless of harm Laughing at disaster Letting chips fall where they may Without a 'by your leave' Times without name Name without number Written on the sky in solvent I am the gingerbread man Jittery as all bejeezus Skittish as a squirrel Prudently cautious Breaking out in a cold sweat Scared of my own shadow One over the elbow A new way of talking A new way to talk A new way of cutting A new way of cutting through Do you fight it Do you fear it Do you taste it Do you hear it Do you walk up and rub noses or just turn the hose on it? Flying in the face Flying in the face Flying in the face of danger Reckless in abandon Sheer force of will Without regard to life or limb Nor any backward glance Dauntless, undeniable Indomitable strength of purpose Times without name Name without number on the sky in stars written on the skin in scars I am the gingerbread man Lacking intestinal fortitude Spineless, frightened out of my wits A yellow streak down my back Grinning like a shit eating dog Lily livered with tail between legs, cold feet Heart in my throat One over the elbow A new way of talking A new way to talk A new way of cutting A new way of cutting through I am the gingerbread man Times without name Name without number This is a gingerbread angel From over the bright blue boom Flying down to feast on my Peppermint eyes and pluck The raisins from my smile. Names worth dropping Names in vain Names to be reckoned with Forms of address for the formless Nomenclature Omenclature Womanclature Euphemism Newphemism Ephemerism Alias the Nameless This name of mine This name of yours I do not paint I do not dance I do not dream I do not think I do not take I do not give I do not light I do not burn I do not stare I do not blink I do not sleep I do not wake I do not live I do not perish Flying into the teeth With feckless mettle Daring the Devil Lashed to the mast With full might and main I am my name My name is the name that when you call it I come. My name and I answer to anything. Preserpie & Senti Yagoya Preserpie & Senti Yagoya squander the fat purses of Dismus & Dythimus on a sordid assortment of pleasant peasant blouses then sit by a bank of the roaring Oreo trimming a rowboat with flax & tallow under a Rolex moon. Naked to the navel Ignio Yatayanga squats in the bushes wondering: if the gold screw in his belly were to be turned would his ass fall off? The reason for thunder with no lightning or rain could only be blows of the hammers of elves says Preserpie to Senti Yagoya whose eyes are blue as the milk of wolves in the wild wood. Dismus offers a stack of silver coins to a jukebox set in the trunk of a melon tree, containing only the Songs of Solomon set in three quarter time, played on steam organ and sung by the sisters of Immaculate Conception while Dythimus touches a match to the thatch of his roof & sings by its light to the slight tones of a pocket guitar: A thousand miles I came to hear a bear play violin. The bear played violin, not very well, but better than you expect from a bear. Preserpie & Senti Yagoya return to the feast of fire with twelve silver whistles & a dozen tuned lips to play them--all which is not music is fed to the flame. Exact Birds Regarding (regarding) the touted possibilities of infinity, specifically: the statistical inevitability of Shakespeare, the New York phone directory & the Bible. . . something in me says a hundred monkeys, given eternity, could not change a typewriter ribbon. In service of a sense of shining, we dine at six sharp. Take on substance. Flesh out as they say. Served moments after plucking, garnished only with appetite, we of the Ria Rialta top cabin crew, plunge knives in our lives to improve flavor, chefs unto death. Love knows no such hunger. We are imported. Is that a tomcat rifling the trash or is it my death in the darkness rattling the cans? Demons or the neighbor's dog? --investigation not a fit response-- Birds make no milk, the exact birds as make no cream. Jaaz #3 Stan Getz and Bill Evans got lost in a Moroccoan bazaar back in 1960. They were forced to live on goat flesh until both grew horns and small beards. This may not seem likely on the face of it nor is there any moral to be gleaned except that things are known to happen sometimes that never happened before. Sonny Rollins on the other hand spent a good part of the sixties in the woodshed, forsaking stage and studio altogether, because someone happened to say there are only 32 viable notes on the saxophone and Sonny was perfectly sure there were 35 although two were elusive and the third required perfect serenity but tended to play itself without necessity for fingering if pursued with the whole heart, mind and soul. This he did and one may suppose discovered the note but, if so, he never played it in public because stepping outside those 32 viable notes something tended to emerge which was not exactly jazz and therefore not really his bag -- There was this dedicated trumpeter named Rudy who used to hang with the same crowd I did in the early '60's. He would not adhere to the changes of any impromptu band that gathered but commenced to blow just as the spirit moved him taking maybe 24 bars for a 16 bar solo and causing controversy amongst those who felt tight structure was prerequisite for proper taking of liberties. Let's just say he had his own internal clock and intonation was not his strong point . . . anyway Rudy sidled up to Miles between sets at the Blackhawk, blowing cold spit out of his valves and said "Man you want to do somethin' together?" and Miles said "Whatdya wanta do baby, fuck?"I think this may have been what broke the man because he disappeared to the East Coast and was last seen by Marty's brother Bobby around '69 in Central Park way late at night carrying a broken fishing pole. This was all we heard and could mean a number of things. I mean I don't expect he's still there although the last you hear of somebody is where they live forever in your mind and that's a sadness we accumulate which has nothing to do with jazz per se. IDIOT'S DELIGHT 1/3 (selections) All roads lead to the tabletop, the long board of locking leaves, altar of appetite. Vital as it may sometimes seem to distinguish crêpe from flapjacks, remember: a menu is not a map. Feed rather upon glass fruit, upon the shine, the shadow, or tint of the glittering pear, gloss of the mineral grape, flesh tone of amethyst apple with pits of pearl. Is it by how white sun on fleck tide rehearses unfaceted diamonds yet to be found in critical snow fields of blank earth? Is it by tying a loose loop 'round the neck of a stream & tugging firmly but gently until its tendency to meander gives way to a more linear flow? If it is our lot to be ill, let us be ill with appetite, ill to the Blue Heart of God, from the gash between ourselves & eternity. A place with numerous roses is not the place to speak of roses. Here alone, in barren soil of sand & thorn do they ghost into flawlessness without distraction of perfume. Wm. James sat at table one night, long after supper, blessed by a mood of profound peace, culmination & utter satisfaction until he noticed something invisible & menacing in the corner of the room, whereupon he fell into a state of abject depression in which he remained submerged for a period of two years. Satisfaction ruins appetite. It seems we must learn to value the place of becoming; the almost but never quite-- the sense of impending as opposed to the consummation of any desire. World? World is a way of looking, matrix for raw force of hunger. Grass grows regardless & sidewalks care little who walks them. What of it? All seasons are Spring in some clime; not all water is blue but song bursts free of polarity & the one can indeed become the many. An eagle circles the ceiling of this small room & her wings whisper as she brushes the four corners in a single sweep. My cup is unclouded-- I drink. Poets On Poets Poets on poets writing on black balloons in the dark with pencils of light Poets sweeping the stairs of syntax with red brooms and mops of human hair Poets in white face crashed in a birdcage awaiting the call of the catman Poets with poorboys burning a festive tire for heat near Town's End on Christmas Eve To sink is to swim if to swim is to fly is to fly is to fly in the manner of Irving black poet of gloom who genuinely jumped the Golden Gate carrying roses in '65 in order to survive -- Fog horns tell his tale Candles of the coronation Torch light of the Sun's corona grant us sweet song of passage Poets sworn to the breath and genius of coincidence leaving lines as they lay Poets with word processors performing infinite revision approximating spontaneity Poets listing flat perceptics in concrete cadenzas eliciting the music of matter Poets performing subluxory transection upon the lungs and the liver of language There is meat in the skin of the fleece of the sacrifice / shank, chop & a rack of rib but the portion consigned to smoke for the nostrils of God feeds only the worm at the root of the word Blood of the coronation Torch light of the corona grant swift song in passing Poets on poets become Catholic or High Anglican at the apex of agnostic careers Poets in Tantric ecstasy blowing blue steam out of the top of the skull Poets collecting trading cards of oriental deities, chewing the tough bubble gum of Dharmakaya Poets with ouija boards converting sub-text of the soul into apodictic synecdoche All of this dies None of this dies, returns full blown as though never said before; as though controversy had little or nothing to say except why nobody cares much for poetry except poets and owners of offset presses Blood of the coronation Flood light of the corona suffer kind songs of passage Poets on poets obeying the dictum to make it new while finding no ideas but in things Poets become other than poets by assiduous application of structural linguistic theory Poets born less than poets becoming poets because a poet is something to be Poets who are only poets rising on wings of Ezra where weight of air cannot bear them Once it was Heaven Once it was hot high sweaty joy and celebration in the English dep't well into Summer preceding redolent Fall till Winter came rescinding the free rent of the sun Milk of the coronation Torch song of the corona lend us sweet light of passage Poets exercising seven types of ambiguity in dog-feather beds on acid Poets notorious for public drunkenness on major career occasions Poets boiling water at 4 a.m. to sterilize pencils before writing the name of God Poets tanning skins of fresh butchered critics to write Fuck You in brush calligraphy Paper is cheap The heart and pencil perform as well for you as another but consider what it portends to tell others whom you do not know the whimsies of your soul in a public fashion Mud of the coronation Fell light of the corona give us a serious song Poets who subtract all but the most pregnant words in quest of ultimate density Poets employing only lower case "i" as advertisement of humility Poets who refuse to use "I" at all yet speak of themselves alone Poets who salt their song with numerous "I's" yet seem to possess none How can we help believe in our own, considering what we have been and conspire to be, full of a fine fury tempered by time and circumstance into exquisite anger weaponed with words? Bonfires of the coronation Flares of the Sun's corona Rouse us to song in passage Poets who lose change in the gutter and try to fish it out with gum on a string --complaining Poets who believe God speaks in dactyls and consider the practice of poetry prayer --&endash;complaining of Poets who serve it up by the pound admitting it's all a crock and so what? --complaining of Poets in bathrobes fencing with cardboard tubes Easter Sunday on the moon Risen ... it is risen full on the face of Balboa's Pacific tugging the waves by neckties of froth twice reflected light lending sheen to candescent roar, throat of the sea wide open to the sky Candles of the coronation Torch light of the Sun's corona grant us sweet song of passage and a tongue of swords to explode the pus sack of deep profanity Trapping a Muse Go for it go under make your way back recall what you went for first decided to get -- got, declined to keep woke up on a bus saw the place go by and kept riding. Written in rope 'round the neck of the famine "this my own, my native land, this my own countree" men in overcoats bearing a pall in the rain, I and not I equally at ease within the shroud. How a mild breeze can shut a door so that you look up wondering what she wants of you: nothing and everything. Look to your lines and ignore the source. A ghost for all seasons, stroking the nape of the neck of the moon -- strawberries of Ganymede, the blood oranges of Gethsemane; the dates of Amon Ra. Sparks of fluttering rings as she shows the shape of the smoke; the smooth sides of the flame. Useless to imitate when the thing itself is far from outstanding. This is the Age of Understanding. Before it the Age of Marvels. Before it the Age of Belief, the flow of the hair on the scalp of the skull... the beach in the sun of sea salt winter -- rage with runes in the dark of the parking lot. Metanoia : fear of avenging angels. Black Sunflower Depression expression dangerous not to -- ink gives out as I start to write -- switch to pencil which fades from the page given time. Date. Why date? It's the same time only later. Fade. The 4 o'clock pulls out about one minute to 3 due to daylight savings and a slow watch. Didn't want to go anyway. Probably a sign. Yeah, why not? Remember to number. What by how subtracted from why leaves a remainder of one. Bye. Toad in Love With nothing but quicksilver sand and salt of the marsh to tread upon, where to go when eagles, stuck by the wing tips to flypaper coils, remind you that clocks tell time in the abstract: the full body blow of the hours leaves blood on the lips of the soul bespoken under aegis of double dense hearts betrothed in corkscrew shadows, a far fall from the Seraphim genius for love everlasting. What we have is what we may lose by valuing something we believe to be higher abjuring love in the dirt with a ham sandwich and a sackful of twins... Easy for angels who are constructed of love, tapped into the Great Niagara with perfectly lovely eyes pouring perfectly lovely light across perfectly lovely skies, perfect arch of brow above strikingly chiseled chins. We, graveward bound, have more need of love than those who have no bitch with the ultimately augmented tits of eternity. Our demise, small as our love, brittle and flint flaked as Medusa's dandruff, is all the more for what it is not, biologic and brusque, wearing a snap brim hat, tight fisted and treacherous, contained under such impossible conditions that our sheer perversity in daring to love at all declares us worthy to stand toe to toe and slug it out with angels, trading singing commercials for hymns of the Empyrean, vision tuned to the faraway spark of stars more truly than any given leave to steep in holy fire or sing within. Starlight come a trillion miles to sting us leaves instead a bile of years spread thin as salt upon black unleavened bread. The lingua franca of the sun, strains of static rhapsody, cause all yet to be spoken to appear already said, yet nothing but inflection makes one statement to be so and another to arrive born dead. Love begins to be uttered but cannot finally be told: escapes from the far stroke of an eyelid to become, in its own turn, flame, by which light we learn that to love is to burn, return to naked elements transparent as the ash of snow born on our own breath by our own true wind. The Pool a look into the pool shows the face has not formed enough to display features it will in time contain your private life and your private thoughts all that stands between you and that face informing the pool without permission the pool is real though in doubt; isn't particularly a metaphor though it plays like one being modern you want to know what the text is hiding, what really informs it which is expected to be pretty basic and expectation is hard to confound when a certain open-endedness seems the hallmark of authenticity, more a way of looking at things than a way of concluding them the full cipher will not be written since new encoding is generated in the solving of it Sentinel First Watch Black to the west, pearl at the edges, face full of eyes, red at the cuff, my tower of bones blooding the height crosswise to the sea invites the seed to a telling of dream: milk of the musk ox curdled in brandy, coded and bound to coinage of fire struck in likeness of flesh, mutations of waves chatter from the mouths of goblins biting off bits of wind and speaking them. Indifferent rhetoric, proficiently uttered, nothing to challenge the rational -- this is their code and curse. I observe them from my tower beside the sea, call each by name: the one called Many and the many called One. None stands beside me. My charge lies in accepting the evidence of my eyes. I stand where I stand, speak as I speak, take nothing for granted, all open to doubt, evidence of eyes notwithstanding -- yet I do not disbelieve that things are as they seem, though in another place they would seem otherwise. Not to seem to say yet to have said: this is the measure of saying-- to encompass without comprehension, obeisance made to the fact that words belong to the element of air, that is the art of hearing. My report is chisled in rock; let not its weight in stone refute the lightness of its aim, which is that of music-- yet it will not be music. Second Watch A stem twists in my hand, seeking after its flower but the flower knows not the stem, acknowledges no kinship to the stalk of its arising. I have a message: beware! The stem knows not the root and the flower presents no seed. Yet there is perfume in the air of a phantom blossom blooming. This is not the Sentinel's doing; nor was it due to the council of the crow that it should be so. Strange things are brewing. They will need attending. The Sentinel calls the tower to him. The tower is his song and enfolds him. Mystery and reluctance form concentric rings, red to umber along the horizon of such music as is heard in troubled sleep. I spy with my brass eye three stragglers keeping to the shadow of a cloud which seems to travel at their pace. My challenge to them is met with insolence. No reason to detain them. The only danger they offer is to one another. It is the quiet ones... those who respond to challenge and counter- challenge in all respects correctly -- who seek to pass unnoticed -- those meticulous ones, who must be detained and made to answer pointless questions till their logic fails them. Crafting my report, words come with annoying fluency in images not necessarily of my choosing; The gods in the apple tree hold court with the crow. A girl with a guitar sits beside the city gate mending a broken string with twined filiments of her own hair then strums a minor chord raising her voice in mild words forever stripped of innocence. A stick snaps in the berry brush-- noted in my chronicle. Three stragglers and a snapping stick -- things have been lively this watch. What is seen matters less than what is said if it be precisely told. Third Watch There is a language which is spoken, and it has its use but one does not drive nails with the flat of the hand. There is a language by which stories are told and it has its use but one does not poke coals with the eye. There is a language suitable for song, its edges smooth as the face of a coin but one does not hone knives on the soft parts of the body. There is a language of earth and sky that inhabits sleep, of emerald pearls and black rubies which seed the soil to put forth a transparent flower of whose loveliness no song may yet be sung. Invisibility is its essence; fragrance has it none. There are grateful places where hearts tune to the resonance of the soul and healing streams but we have need of dangerous dreams. Fourth Watch The girl beside the gate has come again today. The song she plucks on the string of her hair disturbs the wind -- she sings of a still place where breezes are born dead. Deeper than marrow, pain of the terminal wound risen to full flower of bruise after exhausting all potential for damage beneath the skin... Out of her mouth blooms a rare transparent flower which flows like silk down the face of her body. Only the most fluently adaptable scheme could hope to apply a layer of lyric without intruding on the sound, fuse the intent and collapse the structure into harmless song. Forbidden entry into the phantom flower there's nothing to be lost in assuming it makes no difference. If it is not so, it must be made to seem so and in seeming come to pass. Fifth Watch Jealousy -- that things appear to exist as objects while I am simply a subject. Consternation -- that others should know what they know by right of birth while I struggle from conception to conclusion knowing less of what I seem to know than what I say. Suspicion -- that my grief is not so noble as the grief of the deeply ensouled who face ruin without the comfort of delusion. Fear -- that the pool of my sorrow is so shallow a moderate day's warmth will dissipate the flood tide of my sympathies. I do not know if a tree remains a tree when I turn toward a cloud -- nor if my love is love or infatuation of the eye with the bright gilding of the heart's foundation by whose inexact light I happen to see another. Sixth Watch The blind heart I behold reaches across to me; the fabled lungfish whoring the stony beach unfolds a horizon inloaded with cargo, infiltrates the springs of the bed where children are conceived. These children are born bouncing, fall to the floor like India rubber balls and roll as far from home as the spirit of the wind commands. Their cribs yawn wide producing sometimes a changeling, sometimes the wing of a moth or the feather of some unseasonable bird as token that the other mother claimed them. No more cherries out of thin air -- the magus who produced them has vanished in the mirror leaving a dark wound in the glass from sudden absence of reflection. Only in the body of another does the certainty of freedom digress into sheer ideal, bled white by leeches of light. Interlude (words written in his journal while the Sentinel sleeps) Rotten with confidence the Sentinel dozes in his shoddy cardboard tower dreaming of a seashore strewn with the shells of calcified redeemers -- hold one to your ear to hear prophecy in the voice of waves. He fails, as all must fail, his self-appointed charge: to see what's before him, that alone, unclouded by desire or concept. We three, who seem to him stragglers, are concept incarnate fueled by desire -- we three with angels in our pockets pulling a cloud by a kite string -- we whose powers of observation are focused by the purity of our intention to speak only to angels in prime numbers. Once inside the gates we will release them. By the time he learns who passed beneath his nose unheeded, the angels will have done their damage, the snap of the stick in the brush being only the faint echo of the end of the world the Sentinel seeks to prolong. The angels will do nothing but shine in the corners in radiant absence of action. By degrees perfect peace will descend upon the city until it will seem it has always been so. This is the possibility the Sentinel selected himself to guard against: insufferable satisfaction, stagnating lack of contention. Why do we bring such a treacherous gift? Are we devils? Far from it. We are agents of completion. It is to strike flint to the consecrated fuel awaiting combustion; to ignite the first spark of all consuming light. Flame alone frees! The Sentinel himself may keep his watch, confined to his wall by misunderstanding of the force he opposes; crafting reports destined to go unread but over which, knowing this, he will take more pain as evidence to himself of his purity of dedication. Did he but know his own utility to the angels whom he sets himself against, he would cast his spyglass into the sea in sorrow. Without him we could not ignite our holy fire. He is the sulfurous tip of our quicksilver match. When our work is complete and peace settles in waves lapping his tower struts with monotonous precision, he will lift his clutching eyes to the shifting conformations of the sky in search of change; there will be nothing here to see. The Last Watch Trapped in my tower with no mission but to sound the bell tolling the hours of my captivity, I survey clouds and calculate the tide. Stone axeman among petrified trees, I hear the seasons shout farewell in passing, returning before their echo is diminished, years revising the contours of hill and stream at astonishing speed. Spyglass claimed by the sea, I spend my nights in naked eye astronomy; my days staring at the selfsame sky occluded by the twinkle of the sun. I am the witness of minor variation: no two sighs of discontent are identical in cause. Yet there is value in seeing things as they present themselves, assuming no more than what they appear most nakedly to be: stone lion in the sand with the face of a man a simple statue, grand, but devoid of mystery as any ring of standing stone erected to perpetrate the rites of some who feared the sun might fail to rise without them. Beyond the voluptuous self consuming vortex that winnows out of space and returns along the track of its own edges, defying preposition -- beyond or aside from it, lies the point of rest I seek and of which I cannot be mistaken. In seeming, it must be so, for seeming is the substance of apparency, its sole mode of being. There is no other measure. Where is the place surrendered to mystery by innocent credulity? The still place, sterling bright; the place that must be so? There I propose to go defended against night by a tender history of absolute futility. The people of my city sit cross legged, absorbed in their idea of deity through which they dart point blank into the jaws of their natural enemy while I study the mold on the face of a sickly fruit or whatever comes to hand. It is enough to see. What evades the ear and makes it blind is simple to the eye. I have seen the writing of the three, addressed to me -- and recognize the hand in which the words were written: my own. What witness can withstand impeachment by the light? Since it is so, I do not see how it could be otherwise. It is no concern of mine in what manner I was self-slated to play the fool to my own Magus of Thebes. It is as it must be, since I am as I am, a fact among facts, a figment of my own observation, like any other. If Beauty is to be, it must root in what is less than beautiful; allow itself to sprout shabby foliage serving as a rough protective cover for its seed. The seed has beauty to outshine the flower. Let the seed be delivered intact, sound in husk and germ -- then all is accomplished which has been appointed. This is my full report, respectfully submitted to the seed who knows those things implicitly which I suspect in part, my only business being to say what I have seen and then be silent.
Pride of Bone A sackful of sighs-- Places the Soul felt her beginnings then was forced to forsake in her steady refusal to linger, however chaste or blessed the temperature of desire, however innocent the light. Soul is the Pride of Bone. It has no other. Irrecoverable, except to say something of it, how it seemed; what it could seem to become by being seen in a different light. The past alone changes. Said time is tolerable, time unsaid is dying. Soul is the Pride of Bone. It has no other. We cannot learn from the past; we are the past. Have we lost our magic? Another magic is unfolding. In this hand nothing, in that hand nothing-- Look-- a seed! Soul is the Pride of Bone. It has no other. Rain in a Courtyard mood struck fog flowers, wind sculpt flatland of comet rock, lesser jewels, delphinium & slag with no end rhyme waking into bright rooms yawning with morning sun in blue rain fed on recipes & schooled on symbol summoned for its own striking sake, all the old expansions gathered in a tight fist to shake at the mindless song of stars, cloud fleece, smiling sun & wistful waves the gods of this world offer rainbows as recompense for sloppy skies they also silence whom they love, knowing how there's no percentage in it; how none of it's worth breaking a heart for. Not that this was always so. In the tree a half pecked persimmon, in the courtyard rain. Sonnets In Stone Man on a marble lawn looks up at singing of sorts shading into murmur, wind folded back on itself exhausted, bridges spanning broad breasted water with regular swells something like song. City of stone: stone streets, stone houses, stone dogs barking stone warning at stone cats in lava trees climbing the sky like a leprous mother cobbled in darkness, pit of the earth sprung sulfurous wind. Curl and retract, thistledown returning to the bud of its birth, to the groin of earth descended to the crucible where dozing eddies of whirlwind sculpt the lava into eyes sunk in sockets of coal dreaming things as small as moons gleaned from rivers of silky black magma, the throat of every star. Listen, it said, suppose I began as not more than a slight sighing, would you like to try to learn to love it? Listen, she said, suppose a winter of nursing a child on fire and lye while storms spew out of volcanos, a portion of the foundation erupting to revive the deflated wind, its groaning in caverns mournfully shrill, primitive with punctuation, grieving for long lost loves of the future, restless and ill amused, a bearded crone shattering hearts yet to be born, sucking the elements out of the stones, snatching sparks between sharp fingers and squeezing them into stars, sounding the cry, the fire song, the clatter of hell through the veins of basalt and iron, rage become stone become ice become voice become light become rain become wind, listen she said, sleek, sudden and gowned, stepping from the craterous mound chaste as bituminous clay: if I let it begin slowly and we wind our way there by degrees, how unwilling can you be to come with me? Seven Trials drowsing lips shaped to the curve of the cup suddenly awake running like hell but it's gone seems dangerous to begin again but what have you? after a few weeks it's like starting over first things first don't have time don't have patience don't have nerve hard not to make more of it than it is whatever it is the difference shown in an inclination of the head -- slight anger suspicion disdain -- desire You have to find something else to want, against all inclination trespass at leisure love has better things to do than beware Dew On the Daisy Well, it's been swell and the dew is on the daisy-- or is the daisy on the dew? A cat's meow hangs on the bark of a dogwood where thistles glisten. All day to write it down but long about eve it didn't need to be said. I said it anyway out of desperation, self centered and blue, a rude departure from an old line of attack, but who can keep that up without alerting the clouds? Could make what isn't needed into what is cared for because odds are it's necessary to care for something more than it may ever care for you if only to get even with whatever forces one into such a posiition. Rimbaud At Twenty Clearing dead ash from the iron grate with a penpoint so the stove can breathe, make quick tinder of vision to heat the room if not my heart. Tomorrow I leave France and the unwanted love of idiots I can no longer tolerate. I saw as I spoke and speak no more; wish only to see as other men see who find little to say. Embracing flame with flesh, I am the son of bone who has no mother. There's bone in beauty but no beauty in bone. Only steadfast utility. I was never mad. Deranged, delirious, daring--but never insane, unless at long last, but this I know: There is no satisfaction in high Hell or the Angels -- Pursuit is all. After a night's chase I woke with testimony in hand -- no idea how it got there. My own and not my own, a stranger's notes in my very hand. The part that clung catlike to dry dock in drunken seas-- writing rather than allowing me to drown in raw glory of vision's blood-- argues my sanity; the bitch of a poet who bartered my, lucid & perfectly transparent death for delicate domes and angular words is no more! I killed her with my own hands and now I am one alone, without content. Brother of an only child born an orphan. Now I follow a slender, less austere death to a tropic with no relation to this world where I failed my doom, pleasured myself as it bleached my blood to a thin white milky sap. Now others attempt to become what I discard like a leprous ear. The pitch of their fever is the illness of an hour. Seeking strange hybrids of glory where there is only humiliation, they covet the tongue I pulled from my throat tossed in the alley for dogs to contest. The choice to be as I have been was never mine; a colloquy of spirits cast lots for the stinking rag that was my soul. My corpse walks lighter without it. I seek climes with gods whose names I shall not study to learn; where my old familiars no longer infest-- neither the demons of Heaven nor those of Hell. How We Love Because we love what we love in the way we love, not as we should love we love completely or not at all --other than that we study Spanish in night school and learn to forgive those who seem to be in love when we are not and do not beg our pardon. Salutation When first you came to me I thought your hat was part of your head. Only when you removed it did I realize that the love in my heart was the only polite form of address. Consultation Swell to see you between lives face to face with so little to say, you in your red blouse, waving from a red window set against a red sky with scant red clouds. Your thoughts are thinner; you must be thinking less. How do they light fires in a world with no wood-- how do they quench thirst in a world without wine? It's too chilly to stand here facing away from the sun, would it help to walk around or is this coolness a characteristic? So you're hanging out with dead men? What other kind are there? Don't recede, I'm only joking. Is it true you wipe your butts with Shakespeare? Or that nothing worth saying has ever been said? Astounding. I'm not ready to be dead if this is what it amounts to -- but it's nice to see you in hopeful colors all the same. Like music, you give every appearance of significance while saying nothing. Omnia Praeclara Rara It does no harm to add the water hot It does no harm at all Excellence being rare, one stands for many, declining to beg among flame for cinders, and though the world be starved for song, renounce melody to inspect the heart of words It does some harm to add the water cold -- but less than adding none Seed of the sapling pale and believing listen to the thorn put forth singing, bough and branch of flowering aspidistra going dong ding in a sky tinted frieze of gasping silver fishes The tiresome young and the tiresome old . . . we are tiresome people who go upright on two legs Nothing more tiresome than our words unless our music -- tiresome for a tiresome age -- tired born and tired to employ the grave Let me climb, Rapunzel, see oh see you wear your apron low below the knees and 20 feet of golden braid How may rack of lamb be mated in a sequel to the bone of dream? Add the water hot or cold, it does no harm to broth of stone Storm enshrined mountain darker than feeling, the blistering horn, the blood bell ringing, sundown's swallow sings in the branch muted by rain from clouds crushed to fit her quick lowering sky Cocktails With Hindemith Broken by dogs Arrested in form The fast flying ball, the ball in the wall, caught and returned with a flick of the heart, claims against one claims against all claims against one and all because wanting it done Wanting it done now Most sparkable flow Sense of amazement Breath of the breath Flame of the flame filed in ivory fiddles roused out of early slumber Response of the law to a part of the body reserved for carrying coins The word is a loose flame The sense must be put into it like a peach shoved into a peach pit; anything can be added to disguise the center but the fact of the tilt can be construed from the angle of the axis What may be seen to be climbing is less than an ivy but more than a naked trellis -- You never needed it You never needed it to carry You never needed it to carry on You never needed it to play touch tackle in the back yard with Kaufman's Neitzche for your own golden football You never did --You never did You never will and there's an end to it It's growing now into a full sense of the form of its shadow, fulfilling its format, assuming its stance, already the trellis appears more modest The word is a loose flame; the heat of it must be pried out like a pearl containing an oyster containing a shell, like a bird containing a nest containing a tree, like an eye containing a cloud containing a sky What we have is intelligence What we want is simplicity What we have is a theme in C What we want is the key of E flat minor What we have is the voice of reason What we want is a silent prayer What we have is a square sun in square sky with square clouds because we were not content with circles, ellipses and spheres . . . You could say it was aimless, this refusal to let said be said, this rebel lightning, this charmed circle, this Abba, this Ahba this Abba Ahbarabaca and other Aberacadaberas this Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas this absolution without revelation which is tyranny, this tarpaper block with the glass dome reflecting cocktails by starlight, Hindemith on player piano, lips in the dewdrop shadows, you could say it was aimless, first, last and always -- you could say so and consider it said. Something is lengthening. Something is long. Is it a sunset or a song? If a sunset, why does it not sink and if a song, why is there no melody? Maybe it's whatever it could be to serve some purpose which is less than communication but more than a vow of silence. Something is lengthening. Something is long. Is it fact or a fiction concerns us or merely a motion where motion was not thought possible? Something is lengthening. Something is long -- could it be love charring a cinder through the heart of the candle wick? Blue is to blue as to spin is to spin in identical orbits 'round one and the same sun, rising and falling in vino veritas over the glad hum of the hearth of incandescent earth, swathed in bright aluminum, sworn into testimony this morning at six a.m. with the full force and power of song in the court of cantata, the antechamber of saints, spirits and souls seen in the mirror behind the stairs along with a full dress moon in a folding chair. The word is a loose flame; we are lanterns with legs chasing it 'round the lexicon, seeking reflections of our inner hearts in mutatis mundi, finding the glaciers of Venus hiding beneath the porch at dawn guarded by a dog with a broken leg. BLUE MOON ALLEY Why do I think I remember you by another name I either heard or somehow knew which may not be memory at all but some trick of association, summoned by the grave shading turning into dense purple brooding in this darkened room opening on waves, where the two of us, out of a limited number of possible combinations, were gifted to be born by circumstance or coincidence more collusive than chance or probability. We read & talk as stars fail & gravity traps the beams of collapsing suns. Anonymously kindled, this bleak uneven light is sufficient to read the small inscriptions of joy that sustain us. The New Jungle A good day is a day nobody stayed away but nobody came The New Jungle, present & perfect, no memory of being otherwise, invincibly green Terra Cognita before love was given a word to isolate it from a flight of birds turning flock left in rarified light as of one mind New Jungle, the Old Earth water of separation corrective press of regarding waves throat and heart desiring touch mouth of the water lips of the sea grant it the thing you are to enable the thing you'll be salt rapture surrounded passion seeks what is likely to consume it or it would be less than love A good day is a day someone was born and nobody died How It Really Goes Having never been killed before, to my knowledge, I didn't know what to expect. The pain not being excessive, I was able to think as they wheeled me to X-ray and what I thought was 'this might be it' and it seemed like it would be OK, not as big a deal as I'd been led to believe. Possibility of dying seemed acceptable, palpably imminent. What became clear was that it was not time -- too much undone -- a family, a new child to raise and books to write. So I knew I wouldn't. Die that is. Not now. Opportunity passed. The heart attack was not one after all, just my chest kicking back after cracking a rib falling off a low roof. Presented, considered and rejected: death as a proposition with no component of fear. How else would it be? Growing One night with falling stars the other man in the moon suddenly rediscovered-- Recognition of a flavor out of seventh summer only to forget everything we're made of Stars, baby Who made common cause with the elements? Called iron his neighbor; could say of gold: I knew her as a child. He is risen! Holding his breath, standing quickly without blacking out, he glides through the playground gate at twilight looking for empty bottles he can cash for deposit. Yagritz As might a light sleeper attack autonomous daylight with blinds so might Midas speak his mind without metaphor scheming to deny any substantial song to the flat horizon in thought balloons proud as a pillow doing soft time caught out hiding meats in the attic bedded in union divided by twins stacking black syllabics point counterpoint to the crystalline substrate epitaxic as no other lingo climbing a laddered seam in a short shift intent on southern exposure Georgia inclusive Florida moreover Veronica redux thumbing the leaves of the Mind's Eye Revue hewing to no creed saw Jesus in blender and fainted Has this transom been thank you more often than not so much or been shaken till prophecy settled in fleck foam attesting to the less than so, the more than merely nothing axis of no axis forever an organ unclear as to origin set set set Collide Pretty red bird Pretty red bird winging Pretty red bird winging west Midas with justice might break into be continued thanking you dead in equatorial ink and resign By the might of what moon hauling tide to the Urals by Estonian Steppes might Midas lay claim as the man of loss foretold Hosanna Forsythia multiply multiply incubate ratify amen to the stars where no one is anyone's equal torn from the end of the book and pasted into the preface laundered in semaphore corrected in vanishing ink Not over there Over here Voice to voice Dead center align Total description by detailed process of omission freighted in index larded with lightning One stroke from absolute precision it was silence undeceived them: the Dickinson daisies the small boats the wedding shore immortal as ice at the top of the world mens aeterna est quatenus res sub specie aeternitatis This is to follow what went before Let it be given to the night and see what thrives Pretty red bird Pretty red bird winging Pretty red bird winging west Away to the west Away to the west The translation least like a lie is the clearest misunderstanding for the moment neither invention nor equivocation but a gift handed down to the last born by the child of a child who hopes you might see that the use of it is ornamental and cease mistaking Father for Olson in Berkeley hanging on a cross with a 5th of Scotch where ears have wings and the wings have flown Sense of Impending Something rejoices. Something rejects. Something ignores. With no regard to legality Life legislates against Death. Civilization has that purpose. Death is what happens to someone else. Then you get nostalgic for it. Good Old Death the way it sweeps away the sun & stars. Been party to the likes before. Strumpets in bumping cars, strip Bingo at the bazaar, vertigo without the luxury of suitable heights. No one expects you to jump over your elbow for this but what of the night you finally understood your own intentions were not good and didn't bother to warn the others? Nude Recumbent on Chair myself as the type nor was she inclined that we first became who were only mildly at whatever cost taken at face value while others dwell laughingly over it sensible compromise total unlessyou mean could not account for or accept with regret denying she ever had not making allowance less than scrupulous or alarmed in retrospect inaudible reticence swiftly slammed shut to hope without trust otherwise no reaction flat of a hand to the slip of a tepid sigh downside the upshot declined with regards stolen in broad sun wild to the waist in forcible recognition slow inch by quick mile salted strawberries four to the platter splashed down with apple wine & wind Ration Your Cylinders Consciousness is a stolen car Relax into absolute tension No lights No smile No trial run Clutch when you shift It affects the whole train of transmission Up is to down as float is to sink Ration your cylinders This is big action It flows into gear The wheel turns of its own volition The sacred smile accepts a sandwich Lack of theme is the master theme; absence of item an item itself We do not go so we cannot return Once we made as if to go but could not Once we tried to return without leaving, found a message nailed to our feet: "Now you know all about nothing" O dog of the dump, the lips are the heart of the face What do we have we did not have before other than perspective? Power of Persuasion How crazy are the crocodiles in Anna Nealy's cotton crib. Born Summer to be thus trading in night skin suffering solid sense of corded catastrophe, braided table leaves and something about a golden rake winnowed by force in whose hand? I don't care. It has been done. The adventure is ominous but the hint of freedom is too fair to behold distant. All force of reasons concur that what's to be done is to be done differently since what's been done demands only a sequel. The original is impressive, not less so than the copy scripted in fair hand but mistakes are a form of creation and size argues the stakes of inflation. Fate holds the lease. Death could intervene. Understanding that, the options are easy: throw crows to the wind and swallow your trail one footprint at a time beginning with the last. One Day in July I elect to do nothing but bask in the symmetry of one jewel of a day in July, exalt and cajole it to become more nearly human, though human it never was, past all that though not beyond. I'll do this until the bell rings nine then climb hand over hand the ladder prepared westward into night. Clotilde, it is sunny. Flowers nod on skinny vines, a door of cloud swings on hinges of breeze. So far from harm, the promise of the kind of a day it is, insinuating no sort of reminder it was ever otherwise. I sat here, Sunday as ever it is, unable to consolidate the day, so I thought I'd speak of it and try to pry my thought from its wistful clutches. Day as day, lengthened into mid&endash;late afternoon, attempts to enchant but I'll be no party to spells. All spells are spells of vanishment but one, the song of the blue elves. No attempt to use the day, only to press my will up and against the perfection that all too easily baffles my soul into acquiescence shrouded in calendars. Alone for two weeks, I've tended to gaze at days slipping by, making little or no effort to catch up with them. Finally, today appears slowed to my own pace. I am, after all, Man-- time is my invention. Days are as may be under the signet of eternity. I am going nowhere else. What are days to me? Could it be roses are calling me? I will feed them October wine, clusters of crickets. I am not the sort of person flowers ordinarily speak to, but in extremity they are not proud who tends them. Should the day deliver full weight of promise I won't breakfast till twilight, full of what needs to be said about this particular day to distinguish it from a chalk mark on the wall of a cell, time served insteade of time serving -- freedom no longer potential but present, this and never another. Wind picks up, swirls the tops of trees rousing venom from flowers that enflame. I would there were an Autumn country where leaves were ever red and brown, nearer to Summer than the Winter edge of Fall-- enduring. A place between September and mid October cast in a cool, rational light reflecting dreads of Winterfall from a distance, if at all, pleasantly ominous phantoms of the air. Enough of that. Circle around and make of it something said. Rise and carry what song is left in the afternoon. A little past six, the phone pole shadow has entered the ivy at an acute angle to the east window, more solid to sight than the sun splintered stick which casts it. In this clime dark will not come till well after nine. The day dawdles with the length of seven squeezing the juice of the hour leaving only the rind. I think a day like this is not counted against accumulated time -- no sense of it passing but only persisting through changing light. A song could be found here already written -- caught, caged and carted away to a day far distant but the inclination is to let it remain and feed on the afternoon shadow, slip away unsung into some oblique angle of sun. How much true time does anyone need to perform deeds we feel within us? A few days suffice to shape essentials. But, having time, a way is found to spend it: by defining, refining, losing sight, regaining it, rethinking, reworking it into one or another borrowed conclusion. There's no moral proposition here. Time, like flowing shanks of lava, is anything but moral. Evening voices settle in low ranks against high banked clouds. Fairness deteriorates into serviceable gray. Differing threads of lateness gather. Switch on the light and heat up a can of soup for supper, Cream of July with a sprinkle of pepper. After my meal, an unexpected trace of the song of the day remains in my bowl minus its hours. A pleasant thing to do, bring this day to you, Clotilde, like water in cupped hands, spilling a few drops. But now I will end because it is done. The last of the light untangles from sight like a squashed glove on the horizon and now it is night. An American Adventure Chapter One: Novus Ordo Seclorum There was no time like the time we thought something was happening which was not what we thought it was but might as well have been considering how little it was anything else. If what was seen is to be spoken of, it must be said all in a breath or it becomes something else: a glyph, a gloss, a reflection of a vase bearing an artificial flower on a living stem. If what's said in a breath isn't heard in a breath, it was never said to begin with. . . and if it takes a walk on the coals to convince you that faith is more than a metaphor, you've achieved the most you can expect from a hot foot. To go back to the beginning, what did we think it was leaked out of the sea dream of our age to swallow us whole and later spit us up on the very spot we'd have chosen for ourselves had we known it existed? Behold a city half visible along the cloudline, studded with faraway spires, domes, turrets and other paraphernalia with which deep-seated yearning tends to outfit a horizon. A beckoning beam glimmers across furlongs of pale grain waving between us and what seems our individual and collective destiny. In retrospect it's fruitless to try to determine if it was simply arrogance compounded with sensory overload ...or if we really saw something else besides, in its true and difficult form, not always at a distance; something not generally given to standing still in the same spot in an attitude of welcoming. As for entering the cloudline city, indistinct memories tell us we we did so, although snapshots from the era indicate that it might have been otherwise. The inch thick layer of immaculate shamrock glass which coated the pavement is shown, in the photo, to be only unadorned city concrete and not all that clean. There is no evidence of spires and the pack of gangling gawkers posturing in the foreground -- could that be us? Time is the great counterfeiter-- it was not like that. I know. I was there. I remember. There must have been a particular day when it became common knowledge that the dream was over--God knows the songs were suddenly full of it, though it was not clear where the messengers got their information. That particular news sailed clear over our heads, immersed in the so-called dream as we were-- or perhaps it was intercepted at office level and stuck in a dry file, labeled something misleading like: endive-- Intending to leave the world a better place than we found it, a misleadingly innocent trope, we were eventually forced to conclude that it had a logic of its own having only so much and no more to do with us-- although we still harbored designs on what we refused to believe it no longer was. Now is the future past, the appearance without the apparatus of power, the peacable kingdom of wide eyed glaring beasts frozen into immobility by a vision too extreme to fit behind closed lids. We assess it as though it were beyond our control but in our hearts cannot quite manage to believe that. It seems there's something we could have done other than hope for the best and trust that somebody more responsible would come along and put it all right. But nobody came and in the space of a mere decade, the fabulous city lay smoking and desolate, the rags of its ruin unfit for restitching. It was then that we understood we were dead... but it made no difference. The object of our faith still showed its beacon light despite the condition of the city. Or was that only the neon sign of an all night carwash flashing through solid sheets of unremitting rain? Whatever it was began to cut off altogether for a day or two at a time, growing to weeks and months. It wasn't sudden. There was time to get accustomed. There was time to wonder just how brightly it ever shined at all. After awhile imagination began to substitute lights of its own. But nothing seemed to possess the steady, mysterious beckoning quality of the beacon of earlier days, with its promise of untellable things soon to be revealed to the joy of all. Cut to a rat trap stumbled upon in a trip to the wine rack where bottles of Thunderbird age in temperature controlled darkness, wine of the stone eyed goddess of scrofulus grace; high priestess of the grass that pushes its way through ithe shamrock glass to reduce it to seedy sidewalks. . . a trap expanding in size to the dimensions of fear, baited with the guts of a weasal and chained to the cellar floor. Never mind that the trap is only apparent and the bite of its imaginary steel on an imaginary leg yields only imaginary pain, for which imaginary medicine and an imaginary vacation will generally deal an imaginary cure. It still can deal imaginary death, which, as the son of any respectable Denver bum can tell you is a fair substitute for the real thing. Meanwhile, stuffing ourselves with snapshots of steak while thrumming and nictating over a salad of stringent mitosis, open to charges of pandering with the flat of the hand held parallel to the sky as though seeking moisture independent of the provided cloud system, offending an angel or two to be wrestled later, in the privacy of the skull, the question arises: Was the faith we had worth saving? Consider the alternative. . . searching the skies, the cards, the gizzards of rats, random images, modern pop prophecy or the latest simulacrum of the psyche for any potency willing to present. Spellbound in a bubble of glass, warm flesh believes. Garroted, gelded and clapped in cold irons or left to compost in some carefully calculated public perception, one breath without hesitation suffices to declare that flesh believes to the roots of its teeth or dies. A glyph. A gloss. A post-midnight resuscitation beneath a weatherbeaten leatherneck of a moon. New Atlantis rising from a duckpond in the year of the dogs in red bandanas chasing frisbee in the park. Summing up what it meant but no longer means to a disenchanted generation without many illusions about illusions, proper discretion lies in not noticing the severed dog head in the instant pudding. We need three ears to hear the belated truth: an extra one for what was never said. What is said all in a breath must be received in a similar way. What is not heard in one quick snatch of the earball, the content of a single breath, however elongated, is not heard at all. Reasoned out or possibly divined, but not heard. To hear is to forget, for a moment, all but what is being said. To forget precedents and probable antecedents. To forget who is saying and who receiving. To listen is to change places with an idea, an idiocy, a saxophone a prophecy or a proposition. Search for certainty destroys any sense of proportion. Kid starts out eating crayons and ends up engineering a hostile takeover of Gerber's. And meanwhile, there is music. . . Music is not a substitute for meaning. . .it is a replacement! Is this dangerous? It would be if it were not, you know, music. Sometimes it sounds like bubbling syllables rising from the scud and garnish of the deep. A new thought to be set beside a known one. . . the unknown always adjacent to something known. When what is unknown is set beside another unknown, any sensible carnivore becomes wary. Which is when, out of fear or simple prudence, we tend to freeze it, put it on a stick and call it a popsicle. It differs from a bicycle in that it comes in flavors but, naturally, makes poor transportation. Really tragically poor. Lick it if you like but don't try to drive it to Los Angeles in under six hours. · Second Movement: Annuit Cptis Besides hogging most of the mayonnaise, the Beagal Boys demand the lettuce be cut into bite size chunks, assign unforgiving deadlines and stick us with promotion designed to wilt the parsley, all the time laughing up their cardigans humming: I did it my way with yours. When the contract comes up for renewal we wonder: why not cut loose from the whole avoirdupois, and open up a salad bar of our own with only ourselves to answer to? Hire our own tomato growers, import avocados from the moon ...take bids on the chives... It might work. It should work. It will work. Spruce up the environment by arranging for some blues with progressions modeled on the tesseract to play over the sound system, feed rabbits the salad scraps and teach 'em to lay hardboiled eggs. All we need to do is mortgage our hats and coats which we don't need anyway because the summer is endless and so is the promise of song. Suddenly the times change tripping our g-g-g-generation in mid-stride. The bottom drops out of Caesar Salad forthwith as alfalfa sprouts are discovered to cause mental retardation and probable damnation in fruit flies. They'd kick us out of the tossed green game if they had the option but are unable to do so because we can rent out the lettuce shredder and live off our own endive. How High the Moon? High as we can reach on tiptoe to secure the far end of a clothesline and hang our hearts out wet in the rain. The weather may change, but who entirely believes that the wrinkles fall out on their own? The fact that no one disbelieves suffices. Repetitive death on the racks becomes a fact of life but there seems to be a market for endive and hard boiled rabbit eggs out in the provinces --so we hook a caboose to the salad train, restring our noseflutes and practise making noises like a carrot to attract what rabbits remain. There are things we need to know and that we know we need to know. Did Hannibal cross the Alps on an alligator and if so how many brass coots in a brass coot tree? Answers to these and other critical questions seem to depend, ultimately, on cranking it out until (or unless) physically restrained. Uncompromising ridicule from the press is resolved by forgetting how to read. Not only what was said but what wasn't gradually assembles an audience as confused as we are. Avenues plainly marked dead end are taken at breakneck speed without appreciable brakes although the perception is of glacially slow movement. One day it appears we've been here forever. A glyph. A gloss. A random motion of microscopic particles suspended in gas or liquid caused by impact with molecules of the surrounding fluid. Brownian Movement and no mistake. Parry, thrust & kick off the body and lick the blade. Stick it, kick it and lick it.This could be fun were it not in such deadly earnest. A sense of adventure infuses failure which later success can only approximate. How many glass cats in a glass cat stew? Six if you dine at five. Eight if at Nine abiding in cause and consequence by exercise of free will, or some convincing variation, making a virtue of necessity... which turns out to be the combination to the safe! How you got it is immaterial to the contents of the strongbox which are variously edible or negotiable for chattels foreign and domestic, such as Hegelian head cheese, Tasmanian rope money, or the rare blue endive which grows only on the dark side of the moon. Approaching the frontiers of the ocean, non-swimmers are lashed together to make a living raft with promise of being resuscitated with kisses if they only keep swimming until they black out. In deeper than we had no idea and the plain fact was we'd forgotten how to drown, or, more to the point, never knew how. Among things the late 70's has had it with is shit like the ideals we are assumed to represent. Our actual values were probably too diffuse for reductive consideration, could even be said to co-opt certain powers reserved for Church, State and the Networks, such as infathomable vagueness and promiscuous fondness for gathering large numbers of people together for purposes not altogether unrelated to mutual gratification. Too late to say sorry. Sorry only cuts it with the motherhood crew. Without apologies, we keep trying to stick our pig vomit in the ears of the public just as if nothing has happened, disregarding the tempo of young America at work and play and other febrile notions of progress in the field of demotics. Problems to do with trust accrue like spiders behind a dart board. Wrath of reluctant realization: where it all comes from comes from somewhere else and that somewhere is not here. After a bout of threatened retirement, we brush the cobwebs from the pane of a studio window believed to open on nightmares, only to find a friendly gathering of concerned faces pleased to find everybody isn't dead in there. And then the light dawns: the whole implausible coda is not only strictly necessary but ultimately capable of withstanding dense critical scrutiny. It is what it is and there is nothing else like it. And it's ours, all ours, hahahahaha... Some kind of test has been passed with no one knowing exactly what or why. Certain mistakes will not be made again; fresh mistakes beckon with perfumed eyes. Back alive and bleeding from numerous non-fatal slights, exponentially increasing throngs of salad lovers gather to the sound of the lettuce shredder in full fury, operating outside its assigned time slot and into the untended present, causing a hole in the fabric of continuity big enough to drive a truck through. The spires of another day are finally visible again, still set firmly on the horizon, though the beckoning beam no longer seems to operate... could it be that we've arrived? Then why are the spires still at a distance? Because that's what they are--they're the faraway spires. That's all. All of this happens flying by the seam of your jeans thinking someone else is dying when the roses are for you. Found picking pepper when the hurricane hit the pepper tree we suddenly found ourselves with a whole load of pepper; more pepper than anyone might have thought. Enough to make a pepper pie and then some. Something needed to be said about it and still does --or they rip out your gums and bill you for individual extractions. To say anything at all, out of the countless ways things could be said, it's necessary to say it as it occurs to you, whether it's worth expressing or not. If it's a thought of your own and the urge to speak it is strong, it makes it's own reasons and provides its own context-- so long as it's said in a breath it will at least have a chance to get said, from which follows that it just naturally becomes history, official or otherwise. Whether it finally reflects what you intended to express must remain a mystery. The context itself is mute, but it probably makes little difference what the exact intent, so long as the initial thrust sufficed to compensate for a fuel tank later discovered to be entirely empty since somewhere shortly after takeoff time. Thank God no one thought to check the gauges or we'd still be back on those alligators climbing every mountain in search of a comfortable swamp to decamp. Meanwhile, a horse, a cow and 3 blind mice are discovered down in the cornfield shooting high dice with the corporate kitty... merely strategic problems are miniscule compared to the weight of this one. Trust itself has been violated. · Act Three: Debts Public and Private If it is to be said it had better be said all in a breath--the thing we think we know so well, yet can rarely remember to say aloud--believing it's only because we forget to remember to say it that it's so rarely articulated. . . rather than adducing the fact of the matter, which is that it only exists when formulated by living breath. It has to be said before someone changes the subject forever-- and affirmed with the tacit understanding that sometimes it's good to be wrong-- not just about details--but--you know . . . about everything. To be precisely useless has its uses, reciprocity being what it is and depending as it damn well does upon the ability to rip off a piece of territory and spend the rest of your life defining it. Are we talking Rock? Or just some species of the Roll? In deference to the non-presenting metaphor, it becomes wonderfully apparent that when you have nothing to add to what you've already said you shut up or suffer the consequences. Seven years of silence drives inarticulation to a new high but the breath is not abused in the utterance of endless artifacts with no reason to be spoken beyond the disturbing of a doubtful peace. It is within the catalogue of permissible things to be dead wrong and even to derive moderate pleasure practicing intransigence for its own sake. When time comes to resume speaking, say what you have to say, all at once, letting it be the lover who speaks, the one who will most rarely say you wrong; let the rest be meat for crows. If no one tried to live this way no one would discover it can't be done. These are the things you do trying to be true whether or not you know you do. In the meantime, something's always creeping up with a good deal of stealth, usually undetected until its moment of denouement, generally after it's perpetrated some activity so off the wall it could never have been predicted-- such as installing a bidet in the birdbath... or detailing how both what we did and did not do either was or was not more or less than it appeared in light of a value we had never considered. Who we were meanwhile was a gaggle of collateral witnesses providing unnecessary alibis for a failure we were no longer perceived as having. Now it was time to start denying responsibility for being so disproportionately large, plead innocence and try to lay the blame on the times. . . the old Aw Shucks approach, valid to a degree but more of a smokescreen than an outright explanation. The fact is we no longer fit anywhere and there's not a great deal to be said about it that hasn't been said before though there's always a chance that something can be blurted in a breath that couldn't be thought out in a thousand years. Transformation happens when the old rules don't apply the way they used to and the new rules are still being written. Perception was a creation of the '60's. There's nothing intelligent to say about it because intelligence wasn't invented until the '70's. Discrimination was the brainchild of the '80's, the ability to tell a louse from a Lifesaver. Meanwhile here in the '90's we seem to be chewing on the notion of synthesis, which is probably a good thing because it provides a new context that'll fit just about anything that the tides of the times wash up on the gut infested shore and decline to wash back out again. Grab a quick nap approaching extinction out of a great gray steel faced shutter to awake with the time almost entirely gone, sliced into slivers thinner than seconds and served between draughts of black brew from a cornucopia connected to the sludge at the floor of the sea where Monkey Face sinks to shine between ambiguities. No chance to enclose anything in the shaft of an oversize arrow except for this ridiculous rose carved from a ruby as large as a fist, odorless and semi-eternal, while upon the strongbox the new Queen of Hearts stares straight ahead at the horizon, remembering when it stretched forever, perfectly straight and endlessly distant, where ships fell off the edge of the world. Attempts to rephrase the old equations for balance and proportion dissolve like slugs in salt for reasons no one cares to consider. That would be looking back and we know better, how it tends to devour whatever small personal space remains; how the Trope of Eternity surfaces at odd junctures to bathe in the soup without so much as phoning ahead, tells you it was at your own invitation and proves it. Whoever said life is a bowl of fruit of any kind never understood the intricacies of angling for a fish as big as New Jersey without bait. Someone else has to care as much for your unspoken promise as you do if hope is to be regulated in any deeply satisfying way-- things don't tend to work like that so you learn to cling to the diminishing number of artifacts that testify to the truth that you stumbled on this without planning or wanting it, found it ambiguous and tried to make the best of it. The facts, if there are any, will be reassessed at each change of context; the score is never exactly tallied and consequently never settled. I say we or it is the wind who speaks with loose lips to a mango moon spilling fermented fragrance over the woman with amber eyes gazing into a sine wave generator saying: "Go on and hypnotize me. Prove to me there is such a thing. "Bend me to your will if you can. Make me demand that you lay down your life for me. Make me believe. Without details. Above all do not trouble me with details!" Permanence is in such short supply one understandably wonders what today looks like twenty five years down the line or if the flies get to the rye before the frost or whether east of the sun logically becomes west of the moon in curvaceous space without the necessity for doing much more than hanging in there long enough for it to come around in its own good time, sweet and shimmering as love wearing a long blue cloud in a sweet and spotless sky. Mama said there'd be days like this but never how many, how long and how emphatic. Which about covers it except to stress that should the thing that wants saying not be said in a breath, so that it steps forth and stays said, accepting the possibility of being irrevocably wrong, it might just as well never be said at all. §