Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Voyages North (The Eve of No-Time)

Let us travel along with Oran as he voyages north and down and in and through the boneyard of all souls ...



It is commonly said that the People of the Sìdhe dwell within the hills, or in the underworld. In some of the isles their home, now, is spoken of as Tir-na-thonn, the Land of the Wave, or Tir-fo-Tuinn, the Land under the Sea.

But from a friend, an Islander of Iona, I have learned many things, and among them, that the Shee no longer dwell within the inland hills, and that though many of them inhabit the lonelier isles of the west, and in particular The Seven Hunters, their Kingdom is in the North.

Some say it is among the pathless mountains of Iceland. But my friend spoke to an Iceland man, and he said he had never seen them. There were Secret People there, but not the Gaelic Sìdhe.

Their Kingdom is in the North, under the Fir-Chlisneach, the Dancing Men, as the Hebrideans call the polar aurora. They are always young there. Their bodies are white as the wild swan, their hair yellow as honey, their eyes blue as ice. Their feet leave no mark on the snow. The women are white as milk, with eyes like sloes, and lips like red rowans. They fight with shadows, and are glad; but the shadows are not shadows to them. The Shee slay great numbers at the full moon, but never hunt on moonless nights, or at the rising of the moon, or when the dew is falling. Their lances are made of reeds that glitter like shafts of ice, and it is ill for a mortal to find one of these lances, for it is tipped with the salt of a wave that no living thing has touched, neither the wailing mew nor the finned sgAdan nor his tribe, nor the narwhal. There are no men of the human clans there, and no shores, and the tides are forbidden.

Long ago one of the monks of Columba sailed there. He sailed for thrice seven days till he lost the rocks of the north; and for thrice thirty days, till Iceland in the south was like a small bluebell in a great grey plain; and for thrice three years among bergs. For the first three years the finned things of the sea brought him food; for the second three years he knew the kindness of the creatures of the air; in the last three years angels fed him. He lived among the Sidhe for three hundred years. When he came back to Iona, he was asked where he had been all that long night since evensong to matins. The monks had sought him everywhere, and at dawn had found him lying in the hollow of the long wave that washes Iona on the north. He laughed at that, and said he had been on the tops of the billows for nine years and three months and twenty-one days, and for three hundred years had lived among a deathless people. He had drunk sweet ale every day, and every day had known love among flowers and green bushes, and at dusk had sung old beautiful forgotten songs, and with star-flame had lit strange fires, and at the full of the moon had gone forth laughing to slay. It was heaven, there, under the Lights of the North. When he was asked how that people might be known, he said that away from there they had a cold, cold hand, a cold, still voice, and cold ice-blue eyes. They had four cities at the four ends of the green diamond that is the world. That in the north was made of earth; that in the east, of air; that in the south, of fire; that in the west, of water. In the middle of the green diamond that is the world is the Glen of Precious Stones. It is in the shape of a heart, and glows like a ruby, though all stones and gems are there. It is there the Sìdhe go to refresh their deathless life.

The holy monks said that this kingdom was certainly Ifurin, the Gaelic Hell. So they put their comrade alive in a grave in the sand, and stamped the sand down upon his head, and sang hymns so that mayhap even yet his soul might be saved, or, at least, that when he went back to that place he might remember other songs than those sung by the milk-white women with eyes like sloes and lips red as rowans. "Tell that honey-mouthed cruel people they are in Hell," said the abbot, and give them my ban and my curse unless they will cease laughing and loving sinfully and slaying with bright lances, and will come out of their secret places and be baptized."

They have not yet come.

This adventurer of the dreaming mind is another Oran, that fabulous Oran of whom the later Columban legends tell. I think that other Orans go out, even yet, to the Country of the Sidhe. But few come again. It must be hard to find that glen at the heart of the green diamond that is the world; but, when found, harder to return by the way one came.

-- From Iona, Fiona McCleod(William Sharp), London: William Heinemann, 1912

Song for Oran

Yes, this work reflects your ocean
In pocket fjords of blue -- yet more
Than ghosting mirrors, you sail each
Toward the next, your smile the roller
Which collapses every next shore.
The poems proceed from me to you
To dream our child, his voice not ours
But some fourth choir of one, this dark
Book I slowly fill -- Or rather,
That nook your song coffined sailing
To frozen hell and back. Your tale
I ride down every page, or it
Fins me -- Never to end, nor quite
Say; not to propound or console
But freight the whale from pole to pole.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Harvest Moon

St. Oran's Day 2004

Last night the harvest moon
burnt full inside a total eclipse,
as if Saint Oran himself
bore on his feast night
the earth’s voyaging shade.
His boat indeed is dark
inside that pure silver,
mined from every
shores he searches within.
When I woke that harrowing
was over & the moon burnt
high above the west,
a white skull turning the
sky into wild milk, so hot
with noctilucence that it
almost hurt to stare.
Reliquary of the sea’s old
song, vox organum belling
high the narhwals’ choir,
crown for us what sails
our deepest soul, isle for isle
through all loves, all lives:
you are the music inside
the tomb, the man who
sings inside each collapsing
wave’s long boom. Moon
which wombs no-time,
toll that sea-torn note which by
rising and falling all tides
and songs and bell towers thrive.

The Legend of St. Oran

Oran may may have already been on the Isle of the Druids when Columba and his 12 companions arrived in 563 A.D. to found the Abbey of Iona.

At first, the abbey construction fares badly. Each day's work is leveled overnight by some disturbed spirit. Columba sets up a watch to observe what happens at night, but each person set to the task is found dead the next day amid the fallen timbers.

Columba decides to do the vigil himself and sits alone at the site in the howling cold dark. In the middle of the night, a great and terrible being in the shape of a half-woman, half-fish comes to Columba from the surrounding waters. Columba asks the apparition what is repelling his efforts to build at Iona and the fish-woman says she does not know, but that it would continue to happen until one of his men offered themselves to be buried alive in a grave seven times as deep as a man's length.

Lots are cast and Oran is chosen (other accounts say he volunteered) and he lay down in the footers and was buried. No wind rises up that night to spoil the work and the construction proceeds without incident.

After three days and nights Columba became curious to know how his follower had fared and ordered him dug up. The monks excavate the spot where Oran had been sacrificed, finally uncovering his face. Oran's eyes pop open, and staring right at Columba he declares, "There is no wonder in death, and hell is not as it is reported. In fact, the way you think it is is not the way it is at all." Horrified, the saint had Oran buried again at all haste, crying "Uir! Uir! air beul Odhrain" or "Earth, earth on Oran's mouth!" (The saying "chaidh uir air suil Odhrain" or "Earth went over Oran's eye" is still widely heard in the Highlands and Hebrides.

Despite the frightful encounter, Columba dedicated the monestary's graveyard to Oran (Reilig Odhrain) and honored Oran's sacrifice by saying that no man may access the angels of Iona but through Oran. The bones of many Scottish, Irish and Norwegian kings were sent to Oran's graveyard; Duncan and Macbeth are interred in the St. Oran chapel at the center of the graveyard.

The Third Road

Erect no markers
on the Island of the Dead.
Ferry no man there
who has not loved
nor sailed nor
both sung and cursed God.
The high crosses
and brass bells
are a distraction
to their next work
which you can only
shore. Plant their
bodies above the
waterline with
their heads facing
west on the road
only they may travel.
Do not make camp
there but sail
before sunset. You
don't want to hear
the wolves carving
their bone songs
from the moon.
One bite of that
oblivion and
the apple island
drowns all you
know of heaven
and hell and
God and man.
Listen, even at
this hour in your
far suburb of
modernity: the rough
spring breeze which
snarled the night with
storm betrays a
a thin cold baying.
That song strafes
the darkness with
teeth as pale and
old as the moon.
First light will surely
wash this clean
at the feet of
our Lord of Days.
But for now, a last
few lines to lick
that skulled shore
which bears no
mortality in its
wild blue roar.

Oran's Sink

Taurus dracomen genuit
et taurum draco

"The bull is father to the snake
and the snake to the bull"

-- Cretan symbolon

Coin the motions
I bell here a
Doubloon: On one
face blue Oran,
that dark raveller,
his mouth welling
antiphons of primal
cold: Turn the
coin over and you'll
see me in this white
writing chair atop
a treelike esplumoir,
his dark book in one
hand, a gold pen in
the other, writing
down Oran's slither
round and tween
the lines.
I found and fathered
him on this page,
though it is his
words which
engendered all of
mine -- "The way
you think it is is
not the way it is at
all!" -- a truth which
by its unknowableness
is by nature recessional,
bidding all who seek
to travel further down
and cross the page,
island to island,
poem to poem.
I have written down
what I found,
and what I found
has forged this song,
mortaring poem
by poem this
singing house
in buried blue.
The mystery is
as simple two
halves of symbolon,
a knucklebone
split in two and
shared by two parties.
One half is shaped by
lines on paper down
to here: The other
half is what lies
inside those lines,
or what comes after
them in a sheer
drop of white space
off the page -- what
I'll never know fully
upside down,
though each next poem
I surely try. Each
day I flip the coin
and watch it rise
then splash and
tumble down in
gold and black
revolvings, articulate
and not, tumbling
line by line down
the shelves of
ancient dark
til it disappears
from sight, surely
to rest at last
in Oran's skull,
atop a pile of
prior poems. That
bowl of bone is coffer
to these coigns which
have no vantage but
their salt surrender,
at home and free to
whirl the sea-god's
sky which only
seems a wetter darker
blue. Suburban
angel of that
winged descent, I
ride this writing
chair astride the
white flanks of a
dolphin with a dragon's
tail and hooves of
raging bull: A modern
man troping
an ancient rage,
illuminating a black
page which only seems
as pale as bone. I
count my words carefully
into that lost half
buried purse at the
bottom of a wishing
well no one may drink:
For every breath
I squander here
here fresh bubbles
rise from Oran's
cathedral sink.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Angels of Exile

The story of Odysseus picks up in Book 5 of The Odyssey with him exiled for years on the island of Ogygia in the middle of the sea. He is held captive of by the love of Callypso, the sea-nymph who is in thrall with him. Though she lavishes every sweetness upon him, Odysseus’ only thought is of returning home:

Though he fought shy of her and her desire,
he lay with her each night, for she compelled him.
But when day came he sat on the rocky shore
and broke his own heart groaning, with eyes wet,
scanning the bare horizon of the sea.

-- Odyssey V 162-66, transl. Robert Fitzgerald

The angelic Hermes is finally dispatched by Zeus, whose heart against Odysseus has been softened by Athena’s persuasive words, to compel Callypso to free Odysseus from his exile.


I, John, your brother and companion, in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me in a loud voice like a trumpet which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches ...”

-- Revelation 1:1, 9-11 (NIV Study Bible)


from Rilke’s “The Lord’s Words to John on Patmos,” transl. Franz Wright:

... Satan has servants to bludgeon
whatever grows with most fragility,
and so for a while yet I must
support man in the image he has come to understand;
but I think I will stir up my beasts:
because there is this yearning in my works
for incessant metamorphosis.

Humans are attached to concepts
they were long in fathoming
so for a while, let ships be ships
and houses houses.
And the chair, the table, cupboard, chest
and hat; and coat and shoe --
let them remain as they are:
but these forms are not mine.

Whenever they cry that I am mad,
I’m happy to send down my fire
over those who have.
I like to test one of their things,
to see if I could possibly conceive it --:
if it catches fire it’s real.

If man only knew what most delights
an angel’s soul, like a waterfall pouring
down constantly over my oldest
commandments -- ... Long ago I should have
withdrawn things like camels and hacked them to pieces.
Civilization is not my concern
for I am the rain of fire
and my glance is jagged like the lightning.

Behold I will not suffer one man to remain.
Write: through the body’s dust
I hurl men toward the target,
toward labor or toward women
and I need women like I need leaves.
Only in the child do I pause a moment
for the spreading roar
to gather in its shell-like ear.
Behold, in the small narrow place prepared for me, I strike
order into the chaos of my worlds:
what perishes takes place there first.


The “angel” John -- a “being of spirit” “who inhabits a non-physical dimension of life” -- speaks prophetically to the New Age metaphysician David Spangler in 1980:

On our level, we naturally do not identify life with a physical body; consequently, to us, the loss of your physical form is not a tragedy in the way it might be for you. The death of millions of people is not in itself a tragedy for us, for it simply means their birth into our domains. What is a tragedy, however, is the loss of even one person because either lines of separation have been drawn, which shut out love, sharing, and human communion, or fear, neglect, and hostility have been allowed to determine your actions. When multiplied by thousands and millions of persons, it becomes a great planetary catastrophe which pollutes the inner, creative environment with vibrations of anger and fear, hopelessness and depression. All of you, and all of us, suffer from this. The lack of certain inner qualities, such as love and caring which transcend time and space, reverberate through the human species in ways that simple outer actions cannot. You do not face the ghosts of those who have died, but you do face the ghosts of neglected and forsworn opportunities to affirm your human wholeness and unity. You face the ghosts of those actoins and, most importantly, those attitudes that foster fragmentation and separation.

“Conversations With John,” Lorian Press, 1980


Angels are indeed messengers, with extraordinary things to tell us, but they do not come from the supernatural realm, from God, from what we sometimes call “the beyond.” They are from the human mind, including its unconscious component, and only from there. Thus they tell us about ourselves. They tell us about the motives that drive us to create a world of spirits and to indulge in rituals, or enactments, which magically empower and sustain us as we go about our business on the planet.

-- M.D. Faber, The Psychological Roots of Religious Belief, 13


... When I go back I feel exiled from it all.
And always there are two thoughts,
one cutting through The first until it isn't there.
Overlooking the narrow road that leads out of Porlone & the wild
Solitude of the South Coast,
Stunted pines & rock-strewn hills giving way to bleached grass,
And a longing for solitude rushing in
And replacing, a moment later, what I had thought
Was solitude-& the longing wilder
And more permanent, &,
Coming as it does in the wake of everything, the endless mimicry
In the gull's cry & the sprawl of a wave....

from "Elegy with the Sprawl of a Wave Inside It"
Larry Levis (published after Levis' death of heart attack in 1995)


There was an ease of mind that was like being alone at sea,
A boat carried forward by waves resembling the bright backs of rowers,
Gripping their oars, as if they were sure of the way to their destination,
Bending over and pulling themselves erect on the wooden handles,
Wet with water and sparkling in the one-ness of their motion.
The boat was built of stones that had lost their weight and being no longer heavy
Had left in them only a brilliance, of unaccustomed origin,
So that he stood up in the boat’s leaning and looking before him
Did no pass like someone voyaging out of and beyond the familiar.
He belonged to that far-foreign departure of his vessel and was part of it,
Part of the speculum of fire on its prow, its symbol, whatever it was,
Part of the glass-like sides on which it glides over the salt-stained water,
As he travelled alone, like a man lured on by a syllable without any meaning,
A syllable of which he felt, with appointed sureness,
That it contained the meaning into which he wanted to enter,
A meaning which, as he entered it, would shatter the boat and leave the oarsmen quiet
At the point of central arrival, an instant moment, much or little,
Removed from any shore, from any man or woman, and needing none.

from Wallace Stevens, “Prologues to What is Possible”


A chalice used by the Iona abbey was broken and Columba had it taken by one of his monks to the Celtic sea-god Manannan, who magically restored the chalice by blowing on it. Manannan sends it back to Columba with a question: Will the sea-god achieve Christian immortality? "Alas," replied the saint, "there is no forgiveness for a man who does such works as this!" The message is returned to Manannan, who breaks into an indignant lament: "Woe is me, Manannan mac Lir! For years I've helped the Catholics of Ireland, but I'll do it no more, till they're weak as water. I'll go to the gray waves in the Highlands of Scotland."



Wild energies flee
approaching light
too conscious of itself,
too missionized by God.
When Manannan
left Iona the day
turned too sunny,
the sea smoothed
to brilliant glass.
Men saw themselves
in that water
and no one else.
History began its
holy fifth age
with no one to
blame but ourselves.
Patrick smiled
in his grave: No
worm battened on
his bone. The
sea-god was
swallowed by the
Book of Kells;
mere splashes
of cerulean ink.
Sometimes my
hazel eyes turn
that blue-gray
and all I hear then
is the mash of
waves, a laughter
in the roar of
surf, Highland airs
whistling keen
within the feral
octaves of the
wind. His home's
below, where all
my terrors and
delights batten
on the daily fuse.
I hear him when
no word can
suffice and the
page yawns down
below the last
impotent line.
At my wits' end
he begins, sweeping
far, the ocean fist
inside this well's
obfuscate mist.

- 2003



Shetland Islands

A story is told of an inhabitant of Unst, who, in walking on the sandy margin of a voe, saw a number of mermen and mermaids dancing by moonlight, and several sealskins strewed beside them on the ground. At his approach they immediately fled to secure their garbs, and, taking upon themselves the form of seals, plunged immediately into the sea. But as the Shetlander perceived that one skin lay close to his feet, he snatched it up, bore it swiftly away, and placed it in concealment.

On returning to the shore he met the fairest damsel that was ever gazed upon by mortal eyes, lamenting the robbery, by which she had become an exile from her submarine friends, and a tenant of the upper world. Vainly she implored the restitution of her property. The man had drunk deeply of love, and was inexorable; but he offered her protection beneath his roof as his betrothed spouse. The merlady, perceiving that she must become an inhabitant of the earth, found that she could not do better than accept of the offer.

This strange attachment subsisted for many years, and the couple had several children. The Shetlander's love for his merwife was unbounded, but his affection was coldly returned. The lady would often steal alone to the desert strand, and, on a signal being given, a large seal would make his appearance, with whom she would hold, in an unknown tongue, an anxious conference.

Years had thus glided away, when it happened that one of the children, in the course of his play, found concealed beneath a stack of corn a seal's skin; and, delighted with the prize, he ran with it to his mother. Her eyes glistened with rapture -- she gazed upon it as her own -- as the means by which she could pass through the ocean that led to her native home. She burst forth into an ecstasy of joy, which was only moderated when she beheld her children, whom she was now about to leave; and, after hastily embracing them, she fled with all speed towards the seaside.
The husband immediately returned, learned the discovery that had taken place, ran to overtake his wife, but only arrived in time to see her transformation of shape completed -- to see her, in the form of a seal, bound from the ledge of a rock into the sea. The large animal of the same kind with whom she had held a secret converse soon appeared, and evidently congratulated her, in the most tender manner, on her escape. But before she dived to unknown depths, she cast a parting glance at the wretched Shetlander, whose despairing looks excited in her breast a few transient feelings of commiseration.
"Farewell!" said she to him "and may all good attend you. I loved you very well when I resided upon earth, but I always loved my first husband much better."

-- George Douglas, Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales (London: Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1901), pp. 153-155



Hell on earth too hath
dreams of Eve &
her six sisters.
Observe the monster
in the black zoot
with scary mug and
stones for shoes:
He’s mooning
like a prodigal
in the ever-noctilucent
boneyard, another
lonely revenant circled
back to Golgotha for his
passion’s sake. He finds
the door -- a crypt,
really -- and climbs down
into the mad doctor’s
bubbling lair, barking
and snorting and waving
his left hand in that
dismissively lethal way,
signalling that via
negativa where
only love and it’s
good lovin’ will do.
He’s offered bread
then wine -- mmmmm
good, he growls --
and finally, way too late,
he’s introduced to
the next Missus
her veins glowing with
a hearty shot of lightning,
dead juices
preternaturally revived.
Ah the doctored
and romantically
engineered pair -- big
lug to the right, dame
with seared beehive
to the left: the cusp
and heart of this
day’s predawn bouree.
She stares but for
a moment before
screaming like a
virgin at the stake;
and like a bolt
shot straight from
hell, our ugly hero
feels the horror of
good loving gone bad.
Heart split, our
raging monster
strangles the assistant
and tossed Igor
from the ramparts,
finally hauling down
the lever which explodes
the whole caprice,
the way that no love
is good enough
unconsummate or forged,
not even among the
grave’s defrauded goons.
In the end, the horrorshow
is pure melodrama,
the beast tragically undone
not by torches or
his own ghastly strength
but by a fool’s real heart,
immortaller than bolt
or sky-juice, more vital
than our conceptions of what’s
too dead. The film
ends enclosed in
his wings of flaming fire.
Shoot me in the head
while I’m in my
spread bride, and
by God I grunt
& come -- and smiling
-- before I die.
Bring me back for
news of that dark bourne
and I’ll berserk the room
for just one squeeze
again of her forever-
waylaid fruit,
my lips pursed for
a squirt of that
wild arterial juice.

- October 26, 2004

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Promised Land

The end of art is in the Beloved's arms, beyond all measure, all words. Each sentence sails toward her, in full belief of reaching that shore.


To tell the Beauty would decrease
To state the Spell demean --
There is a syllable-less Sea
Of which it is the sign --
My will endeavors for its word
And fails, but entertains
A Raputre as of Legacies --
Of introspective Mines --

-- Emily Dickinson (#1200)


St. Barinthus tells St. Brendan of a voyage he has undertaken on the sea. One of his monks had approached and implored him, “Father, get into the boat and let us sail to the island which is called the Promised Land, that land which God will give us and our successors on the last day.”

He boarded the boat with his monks and sailed off into an enveloping mist. An hour later, they came to a “a spacious, lush and green” island. They tour the island for 15 days, seeing “only flowering plants and trees that bore fruit, and even the stones were precious ones.” They come to a river flowing east to west, and they consider whether to cross the river.

“As we pondered that matter in our hearts,” St. Barinthus relates to St. Brendan, “there suddenly appeared a man in great radiance before us, who immediately called us by our own names and greeted us, saying, ‘Be of good heart, my brothers. The Lord has shown this land to you, which shall be given to his holy ones. This river divides the island in two. You may not cross to the other side. Go back therefore to the place from which you have come.’

“When he had finished speaking, I immediately asked him where he came from and what his name was. He said, ‘Why do you ask me where I come from and what my name is? Why do you not ask me about the island? It has remained unchanged just as you see it now since the beginning of the world. Do you need any food, drink, or clothing? You have been here a whole year already without having anything to eat or drink. You never have felt drowsy, nor has any night fallen. For day is never-ending here, and there is no obscuring dark. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is the light.’”

-- “The Voyage of St. Brendan”
in Celtic Christianity, 156

Woman On My Lips

Affection! thy intention stabs the centre
Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicat’st with dreams; -- how can this be?--
With what’s unreal thou coactive art,
And fellow’st nothing.

-- Shakespeare, "The Winter’s Tale"

I was the greater fool
who thought you breathed
and pined for me on
that bed I reeled to reach.
Walked too many miles
down that broken shore
alone, my voice more naked
than the white sands
of that beach, my song
more blue than the surf
that spring day I swore
to find you. As if real
breakers could dissolve
the vanish in your curves!
Or that some wavelike
passion raised your
stabbing nails of sweetness
back from that dead terrain
where I had heaped, like
corpses, all the nights
I couldn’t find you
where my heart
swore you reclined. What
I’ve salvaged from
my ruination in a trope
is that your initmacy
is pure intimation,
the lucency beyond
each fragrant
kiss, a surflike hiss
expiring into that
which no clench may
ever fully crash and
recede, alike as loaves
and fishes in the
miracle of that love
no love may fully kiss.
You aren’t an untouched
body but my embodied
reach from this shore
toward a mythic strand
where every Yseult
rouses her half-drowned
sea-weedy man,
my ache’s Tristanning
which shipwrecks
all purpose in one
unmanning wave and
leaves me where
no compass sail or
rudder of my mind
can ever find. You
aren’t the wings but
their necessity, the
sweet hot flash
inside the insdes
of fused loins. Yours
is the gaze which
in passing pierces me
then is gone,
leaving me to figure
out who’d read my
name then tossed it
back, hot for bigger
game. Your absence
is the pure invitation of
every inward-swinging
door; your smile the
length of that always
self-evicting digression.
What remains to say
of you is unsayable
in this poem and
so fragrant and
flagrantly blue
in the the next,
where surely I’ll
beach at last
on your apple island
where all is
pale and pearly pink
to death and you
are all I cannot name
much less conclude,
and all I ever wished
for with my face flat
in the aching well,
the woman on my
lips whose name
I can’t recall, beckoning
inside the next wave’s
bright booming farewell.

-- Oct. 22, 2004


It’s been so many years
since I left you on that first
bed, drowsing while I
crept out. -- Or had
you already abandoned
me before I thought
to leave you there?
Did you flit out
the window like the
dream I could
not keep, leaving
behind the part of love
I thought was booty
but later found
that sack slack
and empty in
the shadows of
the bow as it kissed
the next shore.
Circean wares don’t
ever leave the bedding
of their wiles: My longing
is just the snout she
gave me for scenting her
ahead, wild for her
dusky immortelles,
my blue eyes cursed
in the ocean’s fixed gaze
ever beyond the bounds
toward that whatever
next gambol where
she forever next resides.
Where curves are rounded
most the moist-eyed lover
knows no night can ever be
long enough, no tale
an ocean too wild
to voyage across.
The next shore simply
dresses now in
the same oldschool
debauch. Will I ever
write another poem?
Someone deliver me
from this whale of swoon
who thrones and altars
and rudders this bliss.
Connive for me to
clear the reefs which
shores my soul’s soul kiss.

-- Oct. 23, 2004


... this great herb with holy force
will keep your mind and senses clear.

-- Hermes to Odysseus
on the road to Circe’s keep


No mortal man has ever
scaped your swoony bed.
It’s much too beautiful
and ambrosial, too sexually
true. Inexhaustible like
a spring leaping from your
every curve and sweet
crevasse. Nothing but
the greenest world may
suffice once I entered
the glade where you are throned.
My every thrill since
was minted in that view,
my nerves woven by
that silvery blue derange.
And your kiss -- was pure
puckered nipple
and endlessly wild. No wonder
I lost it all again and again
those awful nights of
my youth, grunting
and whinnying your name
in bacchanals where nothing
but your actual breasts would do
and none I found sufficed.
Then the Lord of Roads
came and handed me this
amulet of verbal seem
and hid me in a
lyric with verses for hooves.
I’ve writ on down that
savage perplex stream
from I to all your Thous,
aboat abook aboot around
what babes in boozy
beds aroused
then drowned. Holding that
blade of tempered tween
has yielded all your beds
without your seawitch curse.
To write of your delight
inside the white hot blight
is like finding a way
off your sable island at last
albeit on keels your ribbed
with naked arms flung wide.
Who am I fooling? Yet I
sit here at 5 a.m. on this
cooled Sunday morning
in late October, in a house
real love built and lives in,
stilled while ten thousand
verdured naiads whirl
and sport my tongue.
I sing the world
exactly where I lost you
or learned to row away.
I’d hardly call that completion
but it gives me much to say
and pleases you, I’ll bet,
more than all that dicking
in a doodleplast you
wove like skirts or shores
beyond. Thank God
for the next poem
and pass the ammunition.
Soft and green the garden
inside your salt commission.

-- Oct. 24 2004


We may know a good deal about the manifestations of Aphrodite in myth and in our personal lives. But we know far too little about how she governs the premises and conclusions of our thinking. These we naively think are based on
empirical facts. But the very idea of concrete, sensate facts suits her style of consciousness. The erotic “facts” on which we build our ideas are her creations.

-- James Hillman, “Anima”


Myths of your submission
and service to my cause
are as laughable as the bells
which cap every fool’s
blue skull. I’m no less caught
in your riptides now
as when I sailed to you
through all the folds of night.
See: each day I sit to write
some life onto the page
and end up hurling
all my ink your way,
exactly as I railed
the legion of my sperm.
Both are manners
of copying down your
tidal ingress through
a singular, vicious maw.
This poem is like a
field of poppies
outside of town
behind some stoved-in,
long-abandoned trailer,
the flowers’ shimmer
somewhere between
high moon and distant sea,
naked in their silver,
their sirens’ scent of
endless drowse. What better mast
to masturbation’s greed
for quench on distant
shores than the pure
reverie of reach?
What an effort to look
up from here and out
the window at 4 a.m.
2004, the outside moment
lulled in the million-
year dreamtime with
little actually there --
a yellow cast of streetlight
staining as with
sulphur physic a bough
of oak, a stretch of
dead Ninth Avenue; the
garden just outside
underexposed in
this fag-end of night
though from outside
eyes it’s washed
by the moon
I saw in the hall
window as I trudged
to the kitchen a
half hour ago, its
shape rounding
towards St. Oran’s
eve two nights down
the week, its cast
so white and blue,
lathering all
with exalt, exiling light.
Our cat followed
me a few steps
behind on silent
feet, greedy
for her morning
treats (three pairs
of Double Delights offered
to her as I say my first
prayers on my knees);
my wife coughed hard
once upstairs in bed;
a few fish runneled
fast away in the
ebbing waters of
my dream, where I
had wandered an
old job’s halls with
some predatory
hunger for sex,
fancying a new woman
at a desk in
a building I haven’t
entered for six
years & taking
up the reins of my
old corporate
job, talking with
my old boss Mary
who loved me in her
way or mine,
having shared only
the burden and fire
of so much work
for so many years.
That dream faded
fast, taking all
reverie of old jobs
with it, leaving this
task at hand with
all those shadows.
Are these so so
early motions
devotions that I send
to you, or are they
yours already, strummed
from a lyre you’ve
hidden between my ears,
throned in my hippocampus
or walking a green
verbal sward of Sidhe
somewhere, forever elsewhere
on the ranging hills
of brain? My mind these days
seems to have just
one song, of deeper
daily undulations,
the way the world itself
bells a single drone
from all the world’s
waves pounding
all its shores. Narrowing
my means to find you
between safe margins
has not made you
any less or safer a sea.
Hardly. If any, I’m
more in thrall with
you than all those nights
I chased you through
a forest of shot glasses
and tall Budweisers.
It’s as if I’ve not so
much evolved as
revolved back to
my earliest sense of you,
between my mother’s
voice and the crashing
tide at Jacksonville
beach in Florida
when I was 2 or 3.
Ah what bright preponderance
of celestially ringing blue!
Surely it is the aptest
measure for all the ink
I’ve poured these
past few years
trying to get down at
last to you, to your
salt psalm’s threnody
at the bottom of my throat
and heart and gut
and sex and ancient,
fishlike dream.
And yet -- please
evidence that hermetic
voice -- And yet I struggle
hard to find a blade
to circumcise my thrall,
to cut me free at
last of salt mother’s
mighty web, the
web which rips all
tides into one furrow.
Help me write -- I pray
to that road-sailing
sooth who carries
the old ape-scribe
Thoth in the pack
on his back -- Help
me write of yesterday
afternoon when love
was so much at rest amid
the worry of finances
& bitter days a
week before a bad
election: Help me
tenor that halcyon
light of Florida’s
autumn bronze
with temps in the
low-80s and a
breeze washing through
all the opened windows:
Shoe me in that
Sunday drowse
I settled down
into on the couch
as my wife read the
employment classifieds
& our cat curled
at my feet and
slept, her fur all
sable and mink: Help
me bowl here all
of that milk, a cream
despite the hour, the age,
the rude saga of
flooding years.
There at midocean
of an afternoon
he helped me see
the land beyond you
which is always ever here,
the one you make
invisible with all the ways
you cloud and toss
my mind. What I found
there I would write
here, though my
words have seeped in
you; no wave, no shore,
no bower or cabin
of lashed palm and
frond with its bed
of halved mangos
& brimming cups of
rum and the naked
fruit of you -- No
dream of tropic hithers
hindmost of every day
but the very now
astride all that
standing proud in
the foreground, dripping
and smiling and mine,
all mine, no matter
what you say. Now
it’s almost 5 a.m., time
to type this drivel in
& start the dingdong day
in the screaming
perfect world -- time
to shit and shower,
shave and groom, eat
some breakfast &
feed the strays on
the back porch --
& then time
go join my wife in
bed & tell her how
much I love her
by stroking slow
and soundlessly
her feet: And when
it’s finally time to
tuck that nipple back
in your blouse &
drive into the now
roused and wakened
day, may the world
be washed with
that old marbled
beachlight, that first
fold and crash
inside this lifelong lash,
this wild riptide.

-- Oct. 25 2004

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