Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, October 22, 2004

On, Voyager

According to "The Voyage of St. Brendan," Brendan burned a book containing stories about the wonders of God's creation out of disbelief. For this reason he is sent on a voyage so as to see with his own eyes certain divine manifestations which earlier he had refused to credit. In this way he is to recover the book by refilling it with the wonders which he witnesses on his voyage. The majority of the phenomena which he comes across are related to man's actions and behaviour in this life and the circumstances consequent upon them in the Afterlife. Brendan encounters souls in hell, heaven and paradise. The astonishing and sometimes frightening experiences restore his belief.

-- Clara Strijbosch, "The Heathen Giant in the Voyage of St. Brendan"
(School of Celtic Studies DIAS 1999, p. 369)


If ... exile in foreign lands ("peregrinatio") was 'second nature' for the Irish, the voyage tales are the powerful literary evocation of exile. The "immrama" (literally, "rowings about") were envisaged as a distinct genre in literature in the early Irish language. What distinguishes the "immrama" in structural terms is their leitmotiv of the sea voyage, acting as a framing concept for a voyage which takes in encounters on a number of islands in the ocean. "Eremium (or "desertum") in oceano quaerere" is the phrase frequently appearing in saints' lives to indicate the pious adventure undertaken.

- Jonathan M. Wooding, "The Otherworld Voyage in Early Irish Literature"

The Arch

There is evidently more to soul than Venus, and more to Venus than soul.

-- James Hillman, Anima


You are throned in my first shouts,
oh queen of mere beginnings.
So much more comes after that
in the building and the tillage
that I forget the aquamarine
dolor of your first humid sighs.
Marriage leaves you far behind
like a fading, dripping arch—
a fabling archon of salty depths
which every birth requires
and then forgets, or exiles
to the gauzy otherworld
of all I’ve yet to dream.
You are that descending stair
which I fell down in wild,
so desperate love, careening
from surficial knowns
into the blue sweet of
sea raptures deep between
your thighs. Who holds
on to any whit of self
in that wild saline glissade
from wave-height down
to world-collapsing boom?
Yet waking in that other
world abed adrift at sea,
we cannot help but begin
at once to self infinity
with words and names,
recollecting jobs, ex-wives,
unfinished business and real
needs beyond the bed
like a world around the sea.
Thus the bitterness of salt,
those tears of awfulness
and ire, riptides of woe
and upwelling loss
which always tears us
back in two and makes
love taste so bottomless
and utterly undrinkable.
It’s then you step back on
your wave to ebb away
and leave us wondering
what you began, and
proceed to house and
garden like altars or
metaphors of the fading
echo of our first
milky ejaculate shouts.
All love begins down
your mad billows
one rapturous and raging
night: All lovers awake
as from undersea
upon a dazzling beach
fused now to each other
no matter how far that
first big night music
recedes. Your work
completes in that
next day’s first so
gentle and lingering
heraldic kiss, so soft
as if to dream two
futures in the measure
of one shared breath.
Now comes the hard
part, the one that
lasts the mortal reach
of days. Now comes
the difficulty of real
men and women who,
named by that welcoming kiss,
must build their house
of love with blood and
shit for mortar, & pay
mortgage on your ocean’s thrall
til tombs remit the bliss.

The Fountain

Venus is one of the way-stations, and she must get her due ... But we pay her back best in the true coin of Aphrodite. To pay her in the guise of soul-indulgences cheats her the real cost. It is more comforting to visit her house in the name of anima-development than it is to suffer the venereal evils, entanglements, perversions, revenges, furies, and soporofic pleasures for her sake alone.

-- James Hillman, Anima

A few things for themselves,
Convolvulus and coral,
Buzzards and live-moss,
Tiestas from the keys,
A few things for themselves,
Florida, venereal soil,
Disclose to the lover.

-- Wallace Stevens, from
“O Florida, Venereal Soil”


How easy for the narrative
to say that the fountain of
Venus which rises from the
hips of her dead lover
receded from view, as
one island in the stream
fades before all the rest.
Rash and dangerous, too.
She’s on every island
stepping to shore, leading
my by my immortal
glands into the next,
scented, night-blossoming
wood. Queen, wife,
imperious mother all
make me a flitting
son with a pert
and fickle pickle
hot for plunging
into every dapple
which sigh and slides,
like panties, into
sudden sweet view.
Were it not for
her tidal goad
heaving and urging
like turbines in
my balls, I doubt
I’d daily dive down
here to ring these
bells of welcome
and receipt. A poem
is just my next
jissom of praise
across and down
white pages which
belie, like bloomers,
a blue quintessence
beneath and
between her spread
thighs, thighs for
which no other
psalm or soak
will do. So though
I’m just the first
guy up in a small
town, writing in
a white chair two
hours before first
light, I’m ever
with my face down
there trying to read
and please her
nethering lips with
the longest and
wettest kiss that
she in my mind
has ever dreamed.
how many years
now since I’ve
bobbed for those
apple islands between
real thighs? Yet have
I ever stopped
peering and purring
into the blue, fine-
tuning with every
next verse assay
her forever departing
assy-nova sashay?
Son and sire I am
of that tenthousandfolding
tide of curvaceously
crashing waves, each
a moistmost marvel
of ululalous tang
ever to twist and tug
my root from twitchy
toes to clabbering tongue.
God, that any man
survives the teeming
ocean of his bliss,
or fully mans that craft
which ferries such
desire to every island
in the glittering main.
She is always just beyond
that ordinary wood,
waiting for her lover
and his liver-rending
never-ending wound,
not to heal or console
him but to greedily
haul those waters high
into the cathedral
arches of her womb,
and swell her breasts
like bright blue bells
to clamor heaven
from the milk of hell.
She offers and
demands more thrills
than I can ever swill,
and the view of her
is most dangerous
from behind. Down here
toward the bottom
of the poem is where
she’s known to
lurk, a whisper high
and strange amid
the soothing lyres
of lysis and those
blue-finned bassoons
I try to button down --
a voice like yours
beyond the final line
which pleads in
silted salty pleats
of doom -- "one more
time oh lover,
before it's too light
to darkly know,
before t’s time to go ...."

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Anima-consciousness favors a protective mimicry, an attachment, to something or someone else to which it is echo. Here we see the wood-nymphs that belong to trees, the souls which hover over waters, speak from dells or caves, or sing from sea-rocks and whirlpools — and, most, vividly, the succubus.

-- James Hillman, Anima: Anatomy of A Personified Archetype


The statue of Eleuthereus ((Dionysos)) was carried back and forth on a ship equipped with wheels ... The ship places the arrival of the strange procession in the perspective of the sea, which is no more than a day's journey for an animal-drawn vehicle from any point on the Greek island. The wheels show that the journey to Athens was made over land, but the ship took on a ritual significance which the vase painters easily raised to the level of myth.

-- Carl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life


When Pryderi returned ((to Dyfed)) he and Manawydan feasted and took their ease. They began the feast at Arberth, since that was the chief court where every celebration began, and after the evening's first sitting, while the servants were eating, the four companions arose and went to Gorsedd Arberth ((a fairy mound)), taking company with them. As they were sitting on the mound they heard thunder, and with the loudness of the thunder a mist fell, so that no one could see his companions. When the mist lifted it was bright everywhere, and when they looked out at where they had once seen their flocks and herds and dwellings they now saw nothing, no animal, no smoke, no fire, no man, no dwelling -- only the houses of the court empty, deserted, uninhabited, without man or beast in them; their own company was lost too, and they understood that only the four of them alone remained.

-- "Manawydan son of Llyr," from The Mabinogion, transl. Jeffrey Gantz



You are the ache in my words
for salt symmetry, for those
rudders & wheels
of the god in his
ship-car who freights us,
island by day by poem,
from outermost to home.
Always your blue mordents
inside these daily tides
which is so like something else,
of no day I have seen
nor of any night I've dreamed.
For every purchase
I make here on one
named shore, you
at once sight its
haunting beyond, the
image as real as life itself
and is. Though you and
I will never kiss, our
puckerings are all:
the boom of a
remembered wave's
collapse is like sky
horses at full thunder,
and both are hooves
of that wild heave
of me inside the woman
who is so much like
you. And in that swoosh
erasing all, you ferry
the god in his device
the distance of two souls,
arriving at that
shore where
we are one broken
wave of salt and
foamed surrender.
My wife's sleeping
shape upstairs is like
that mound in Wales
where to spend one
night invokes a mist
dissolving one life
into some strangely
shining other,
the old commotions
simply gone.
Beneath those sheets
are nymphs and
naiads, Ariadne
in her gloom
and Iris on
her pool, the
Lady of my wells
descending far
and still farther
in a gossamer
of fading smile.
In a mole's breeze-
ruffled white fur
where it lay dead
yesterday on the
road next
to huge Lake
Dora (savagely
brilliant and blue)
is every
soft cheek I've
ever glanced, every
pale breast
that swung
up to my lips.
What would this be
without your
other's stain and echo
which no words of mine
will ever quite name,
much less bed?
Like an unseen
shore's faint-foaming
rumble, my every verse
peramble stumbles
everywhere in search
of you, unaware it
is your own soft singing
in tree and wave,
in sleeping wife
and road-killed mole.
Wrap all my ends
in your fish tales.
Be the keel too
heavy with the one
that got away,
the god who comes
inside your ebbings,
the thirst you
slake in every breast
I squeeze and suck
with these othering

- Oct. 18, 2004

Invocation from the Last Shore

Is it too late to touch you, Dear?
We this moment knew --
Love marine and love terrene --
Love celestial too --

-- Emily Dickinson

Greetings from the Coracle

Here we go -- off from the last shore, upon the foam and surge of Your blue demense, sighting You beyond where all the fishes dream. Autumn now and of that bronze annealed, in fainter days and mistier words. I hear you singing in the next wave, though no next shore is seen. Remember me to Your blue bed where love and poetry are wed.

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