Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas with St. Brendan

Then the bird of the tree came to them again and he said, "You will sail from this to an island where there are four and twenty brothers and you will spend your Christmas with those holy men;" and with that he flew back again to his comrades.

Then Brendan and his people went out again into the ocean in the name of God; and the winds hurled them up and down, that they were in great danger and tired of their lives. And they were tossed about through the length of four months and they had nothing to be looking at but the sky and the waves.

And at the last they saw an island that was a good way off, and they cried to Jesus Christ to bring them there; but the waves rose about them another forty days and they were loath to go on living.

They came then to a little harbour and it was too narrow for the ship to go into it, so they cast the anchor and they themselves reached to the land. And they went searching the island and they found two wells, and the water of the one was bright and clear but the water of the other was as if stirred and muddy. And some of them were going to drink from the wells but Brendan bade them not to do it without leave. Then a comely old man came to them and gave them a fair enough welcome, and he kissed Brendan and he led them by many good wells till they came to a great Abbey.

And there were in it to welcome them four and twenty brothers having royal cloaks woven of threads of gold, and a royal crown before them and candles on every side. And the Abbot came and kissed Brendan very humbly and bade him and his people welcome; and he led them into a beautiful hail and mixed them there among his own people. Then there came one that served them by the will of God and gave them plenty of meat and drink and set a good white loaf between every two, and white well-tasting roots and herbs, but they did not know what roots those were, and they drank the water of the good clear well they had first seen.

Then the Abbot came and heartened them and bade them to eat and to drink their fill. "For every day," he said, "our meat and drink is brought to our cellar by a strong man; and we do not know where it is brought from but that it is sent to us through God. And we have never provided meat or drink for ourselves" he said; "four and twenty brothers we are, and every day of the week He sends us twelve loaves, and on every Sunday and on the day of Saint Patrick twenty-four loaves, and the bread that we do not use at dinner we use it at supper-time. And now at your coming our Lord has sent us forty-eight loaves that we may be merry together. And always twelve of us go to dinner," he said, "while another twelve of us serve the quire; and we are here these fourscore years and in this country there is no sickness or bad weather. And there are seven wax tapers in the quire," he said, "that have never been lighted by any man's hand, and that bum day and night at every hour of prayers and that have never wastened or lessened through these fourscore years."

After that Brendan went to the church with the Abbot, and they said the evening prayers together very devoutly. And Brendan saw beautiful woven stuffs, and chalices of clear crystal, and in the quire were twenty-four seats for the twenty-four brothers and a seat for the Abbot in the middle of them all. And Brendan asked the Abbot how long it was they had kept silence so well that no one of them spoke to the others, and the Abbot said ,"Our Lord knows no one of us has spoken to another these fourscore years."

And when Brendan heard that he cried for joy and "Dear Father" he said "for the love of God let me stop along with you here." "You know well" said the Abbot "you have no leave to do that, for has not our Lord showed you what you have to do, and that you will turn back to Ireland in the end?"

And as Brendan was kneeling in the church he saw a bright angel that came in by the window and that lighted all the candles in the church, and went out by the window again to Heaven. "There is wonder on me," said Brendan, "those candles to burn the way they do and never to waste."

"Did you never hear," said the Abbot, "how in the old time Moses saw a bush that was burning from the top to the ground, and the more it burned the greener were the leaves? And let you not wonder" he said "the power of the Lord to be as great now as ever it was."

- From Lady Gregory, “The Voyage of Brendan --The Silent Brotherhood,” in The Book of Saints and Wonders

Orca (Oct. 2003)

Ends are my dapple--
white as polar ice,
black as the the
squid’s dying fume.
Only my teeth know
true color, guled
with your gore.
Honestly, I don’t know
how I manage with
you on those crutches,
hobbling like a
old bear from bed
to downstairs
to make coffee and
wheeze down in
a overplushed chair.
I’ve blood so hot
freezing brine
is a sweet bath.
Your hand on the page:
A cub seal I jaw by
the dozen before
a proper red meal.
And your words:
such a lousy sea
for rogering bitch
tunnies or weaving
the floe-wrung waves.
I am the brute dolphin
who mows down
God’s plenty. Within
this narrow abyss
you write I must
somehow wedge my bulk:
to ride despite dry
metaphors and the
landlocked airs of
some samite beach. Me?
I lift and smash the sea
in its darkest arrears,
the lion in a zebra’s cloak,
the mouth which battens
on every neck of red soak.

Revising the Maps (Dec. 22, 2004)

I write these words and they
seem true but not enough,
not stellarmost or washed
on shores you’re closest to.
One morning years ago
I wrote, “I will not die/
Until I hold you in my arms.”
I had woken from a dream
of a woman standing in a
river who beckoned me
as the fish that had
swum up through her
spread feet. A few days
later I met Becky (get
it) and a week later
I wrote on another
morning, “I will not die/
until I’ve held you
in my arms again.”
Those first lines
and their revision
have masted in a way
my singing for the past
quarter century,
through loves and
their travail, their
loss and all the
soppy voyaging between.
It took a broken heart
to find the truer words,
those valves of massive
waves to wash the
spirit’s droll crimes
full clean. Anyway
the poem I wrote yesterday
about the wilderness
inside each town
had the dull clang
of an ache poorly named,
safe, too known: dead
citizens pressing with
the cold to my window
was a first room of
the next dream, a
first shore where your
traces were the oldest,
most ebbed. Irony is
pointy enough without
a narwhal’s horn
clubbing up the street.
And dead people I
didn’t know in life
cast too little fire
into their mist. So
I recompose the scene
again here in this
chair at 5 a.m, the
morning blackest
in this deep end of winter,
not as cold as yesterday,
one day past the
nadir of the year --
and here I try to plunge
the harpoon yet deeper
into the whale I’ve
camped on all these years.
The wilderness in town
is inside the aging heart
which has found harbor
in another, in rest
and warmth and securer
walls and yet has webbed
feet and finny balls, and
must keep one foot
in sea-water else the
dry world ebb to dust.
It’s the way that wild presses
its salt length against me
through the day, a hoary blue
shade beyond the pane
of life’s safe houses -- the jobs,
the AA meetings, the
tendings to marriage and
home and family. Something
in me breathes at that
window looking out
at the wild world looking in.
There are so many
errancies I could indulge --
troll for strange women
or even just their lucencies
in the wetter reaches of
each day -- but love of
such riding on the rim
of ends is the worst
form of betrayal to
love’s vaster rends,
the deeper wilder life
than mere wilding.
Living it up is one thing
and swimming up that old
river is another; I suspect
that river woman prefers
her salmon fresh as
the last wave from the
astonishing blue sea.
I’ve learned that when
you fuck your muse you
louse up both singing
and the life: to make
love to her and make that
song my wife with all my
harpoons racked and
ready in the prow --
that, I suspect, is as
much of that wilderness
as this suburb of the
great fires can disclose
today, at this end of
the page. Perhaps such
surf sounds distant, like
a shell pressed to the ear.
But today I think it better
to spread that crashing
everywhere we shore in
this lived life; my job’s
to thicken that thin
drowse as best as she
bids me, to write the
poem all over again
with a bloodier heart
and words to prove it.
Who is that presence
mashed against the
window, so nakedly
dripping from huge falls?
Let me stretch my
lenght against her
on this page torn from
that beach which no
boat can ever reach--
the one I swore to
find again and do,
each time my pen
comes to this kiss,
this end.

Christmas on the Pequod

At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided. It was a short, cold Christmas; and as the short northern day merged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor. The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the bows.

Lank Bildad, as pilot, headed the first watch, and ever and anon, as the old craft deep dived into the green seas, and sent the shivering frost all over her, and the winds howled, and the cordage rang, his steady notes were heard, --

'Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,
Stand dressed in living green.
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.'

Never did those sweet words sound more sweetly to me than then. They were full of hope and fruition. Spite of this frigid winter night in the boisterous Atlantic, spite of my wet feet and wetter jacket, there was yet, it then seemed to me, many a pleasant haven in store; and meads and glades so eternally vernal, that the grass shot up by the spring, untrodden, unwilted, remains at midsummer.

-- Melville, Moby Dick, xxii

My love for You is old, old, old

The bitterer it is, the sweeter it is to me. My life departs but my love does not wish to leave. The whole world ages from day to day, my love does not age.

-- Ibn Quzman (11th century?)
Diwan cxxxii

Blue Map (Dec. 23, 2004)

It has been noted that “the death
of an unwanted island was a lingering
one,” and it took the Isle of St. Brendan
some thirteen centuries to disappear
from sea charts.

-- Gillis, Islands of the Imagination

Age erases longitudes like a tide:
increasingly you are freed to walk
that utmost isle no man
has even dreamed, much less found,
though each day I sail full toward
that ultramarinal. That sand
as bright as a cunning angel’s smile
oh so slowly washed from the map
those futile nights, year after
year after year, going the way of
dragons off the corners of that world
which was a bed of crashing,
failing hopes. The map rewrote itself
upon a blue too true for any
sextant to hold fast, too wild for
any mouth to name, much less kiss.
I’ve sailed these paper curraghs
too long to think any more that I’ll
find you, nor doubt that you are
master of its tide and trade winds.
Our love has bleached from one map
amid the bones of each disaster,
the split whalers bled of men and
their ferried perfumes, the broken
harpoons still fast in the ribcages
of rogue whales. Gone, like a castle
by the sea washed flat by all it once
could moat. Each vanishing isle
appeared upon another map, the
secret one we share, locked in an
old oak chest beneath the bed
you toss and dream upon while
I wake and walk these days.
Each time I let you go, another
isle appears further out on
that blasted map, a wild and crashing
land of melusines and silvering
strings tuned to a noctilucent breeze.
Each poem sets you further out
upon that tide of unknown truths
which has no latitude to proffer,
not even just one kiss. Ah but
all these voyages sustain that
prior bliss which made every
encounter in my history
a similitude, its thunder folded
in a larger, older wave.
On this map which has no edge
and is inked by my life’s spoor,
you’re on every beach I fail
to find you on, askew and perplex
like first light upon the rollers
in from doom, so pink so blue,
so meta-cerulean, so sinfully
UltimaTherulean, bringing with
this new day new shores to burn away.

No Going Back (Nov. 2003)

There came a time in the deadest
block of night, those three hours
between the last drink and first
light, when I found the apple
island in a sweetly curved woman’s
unfolding and encircling sighs:
Her bed became that shore I
had for years been searching for:
she clasped me in Yes and I
believed her, believed was home
at last in that pentecost of light
and come and wild pounding surf.
Released at last from my long
historic plunge, I drifted off.
A woman came to me in a dream,
still standing in that blueblack
surf and looking straight at me
like fortune or fate she said,
“You who have touched me
may never return.” It’s what
the queen of the Island of the
Women told Bran as he sought
to go back to Ireland. But row
on he did, and as he approached
Srub Brain he called to the people
on shore who he was and where
he had been. No one had heard
of Bran except in ancient tales;
and when one of his crew could
no longer contain his homecoming
heart, he leapt out of the boat
and waded in. As his foot grazed
that first dry reach of sand it
trembled and then paled to
the finest ash, falling in a torrent
from his tunic. The wind picked
up and carried all those ashes off;
Bran then knew his fate and
fortune had married where he
sat in the rocking boat just offshore.
All he could do was write his
voyagings down, cast the book in
the tide, and row off, no longer a
man of Ireland, never to find the
Island of the Women again.
Votive now of the numberless
wave, adrift between the lives.
What singing then in the wild
north wind as he scanned horizons
for the next beach with its own
folk tale, its own one night stand
with the next selkie or giantess
or keeper of the door. It’s 4 a.m.
and some Atlantic swirl is sweeping
over Central Florida in long
sighing breezes, the rain a
wet dapplement to today’s oar
tale, dripping on that shore
she says I’ll never again reach.
Of her delights I’ll only say
that one night wove a thread
of heaven through a loom
of limbs, our bodies all wave,
all curve and smash and singing
foam -- sufficient of that otherworld
desire to hang a sweet apple
on some branch of longing
overhead, which I may sing of,
row toward, and ink in full
measure here, though never
actually grasp and pull to my
my actual mouth, else the dream
turn to ash and blow to smithereens.
In life we get enough of heaven
to make our hells complete,
but that is not a bad thing,
really: For what’s a good story
without the trials, the islands,
the books tossed toward a shore
where beds and breakers infinitely
roar? And what are you without
a story, o human, windblown ash?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Why I Sail to You

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

-- Melville, Moby Dick

The Sea by Day

By day the ocean dreams
through me its vigil scree,
curving and pounding
a salt-white sursurrate
in my veins’ cavalry.
There’s not a waking hour
I fail to hear its foam and hiss
somewhere inside or beyond
the daily metronome
tocking my life away --
as if every facet of the
self I’ve made has a beach
where You wash and pound
and tide this shell of self.
I guess there’s comfort
to know such blue devotions
never cease once they pour
through eye and ear. For
me it happened on a beach
when I was three years old,
my mother’s voice spread
over me like a first milk
while sea-paps fed me the
second in the long song
of the surf, wave by wave
a darker, saltier, wilder cream.
One of those waves surely
ran right past, over and
through: then hauled
me surely back to sea.
Ever since by day I’ve
visibly been boy, then teen,
then man, engaged as all
in life’s hot bouree, while
just offshore of every intent
the rollers bend and rise
to spread their blue wings
of choiring, angel soar.
By day the sea is like the saint
who mediates all night
standing in the sea, counting
each of God’s capping waves
like blue beads of a rosary.
Every waking hour shells
a distant, wetter bliss,
obscured by task and toil
-- Suffice to say I sing today
of that tide which saddles me
and bids me ride from light’s
first to last.

By night?
That’s a different saint, a
stranger, stronger trope
than I have words to assay,
though I’ll try. By night
I stand on the shore and
drowse to that darker sound
as my bones tide through
nocturnal rooms, my dream
a crannog beneath the sea,
an aerie for those angels
who wing cold depths eternally.

The Tourist and Water

...Say, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent- minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries -- stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

-- Melville, ibid

Continent's End (Robinson Jeffers)

At the equinox when the earth was veiled in a late rain, wreathed with wet poppies, waiting spring,
The ocean swelled for a far storm and beat its boundary, the ground-swell shook the beds of granite.

I gazing at the boundaries of granite and spray, the established sea-marks, felt behind me
Mountain and plain, the immense breadth of the continent, before me the mass and doubled stretch of water.

I said: You yoke the Aleutian seal-rocks with the lava and coral sowings that flower the south,
Over your flood the life that sought the sunrise faces ours that has followed the evening star.

The long migrations meet across you and is is nothing to you, you have forgotten us, mother.
You were much younger when we crawled Out of the womb and lay in the sun’s eye on the sideline.

It was long and long ago; we have grown proud since then and you have grown bitter; life retains
Your mobile soft unquiet strength; and envies hardness, the insolent quietness of stone.

The tides are in our veins, we still mirror she stars, life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye that watched before there was an ocean.

That watched you fill your beds out of the condensation of thin vapor and watched you change them,
That saw you soft and violent wear your boundaries down, eat rock, shift places with the continents.

Mother, though my song’s measure is like your surf-beat’s ancient rhythm I never learned it of you.
Before there was any water there were tides of fire both our tones flow from the older fountain.

The Artist and Water

But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What is the chief element he employs? There stand his trees, each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke. Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in their hill-side blue. But though the picture lies thus tranced, and though this pine-tree shakes down its sighs like leaves upon this shepherd's head, yet all were vain, unless the shepherd's eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him. Go visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger- lilies -- what is the one charm wanting? -- Water -- there is not a drop of water there! Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach? Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.

-- Melville, ibid

Esplumoir By The Sea (2003)

I wade out each morning
into a foam of rhyme
and down a metered stair
to soak up the darkness
that tides holy there --
A presence so great
as to negate its own
shape, a redress which
fills the hollow ache
of my voice through a life.
Sea and well are both
sound and swell of its
mordents, the splash
and boom of some great
drowned room, deep
within the Jack-O-Lantern’s
raw grin. Last night
the rising moon was
postcard of old boo,
orangey and sieved
by a scum of fleet clouds,
a cantankerous night
for the soul, aggrieved
by wearies and worries
that ferried low in our sleep,
making our bed a
dreamscape of that toil,
and shaping these matins
white as a bone sail.
Dear God, I prayed on
achy knees, lower this
cup and fill to the lees.
Teach me something
of that rooty oak tree
which warrants and
wards the wild primal sea.
Molt in its leafage a
durable, clean page,
& write leaf out of root
a legible, wet rage
for wind in the rafters
and surf in bright swoon
heaved up by huge depths
& dazzled by the moon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The sweet mystery Below

There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about the sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath.

- Ahab, Moby Dick

Boat Song One (2001)

I might have made
much of this
but didn’t.
Other whims fired
my sense, luring me
toward gossamer
declines. Could have
been a contender
but the rends rear-
ended me and
and now I can’t get
much older
in my irrelevance to you:
So there isn’t
much to do but board
this leaky boat and
sail on till all shores
sink beneath
the grayblue wave,
writing on
of tackle and
hook and bucket
and oar. I might have
called this
once a song, but now
it’s only singing,
chanteys for
the oar-strokes
as everything
turns below.

Boat Song Two (2001)

He would say the most terrific things
to his crew, in a tone so strangely
compounded of fun and fury, and
the fury seemed so calculated merely
as a spice to the fun, that no oarsman
could hear such queer evocations
without pulling for dear life,
and yet pulling for the mere joke
of the thing. — Moby Dick

The pulling’s the thing — Pull hard!
Pull deep! Maul the sinews
of your work from the
bottom of your heart!
Only in such surrender to
the task will ye reach
that mountain of hellfish!
Row as if perdition’s jaws
were snapping right behind ye!

—It’s that vital,
though the real sea
is a thousand leagues
from this dry watch,
a cozy chair at 4 a.m.
with a heating pad
comforting my back
and a pile of the usual
books to my right:

Row hard or you’ll never
breast the mystery within!
To you only poems
of wakes and
soundings and spume
too far in the distance.

Row for everything and all,
man awash in
in a wilderness of verbs!
Make each stroke count!
There’s a bucket of
sperm gold brimming
hot beneath you, an
oil for every lamp
burning down winter’s
night. — Row, man!
Write these wild seconds
before they sound again!

Plunge harpoon (Here)

For unless you own the whale, you are but a provincial and sentimentalist in Truth.

-- Ahab, Moby Dick

Jascoyne the Fish

Then they went into the ship again and it was driven by storms till they saw before them another little island, and the brothers went to land on it but Brendan stopped in the ship. And they put fish in a cauldron and lighted a fire to boil it, and no sooner was the fire hot and the fish beginning to boil, than the island began to quake and to move like a living thing, and there was great fear on the brothers and they went back into the ship leaving the food and the cauldron after them, and they saw what they took to be an island going fast through the sea, and they could notice the fire burning a long way off, that they were astonished. They asked Brendan then did he know what was that great wonder, and Brendan comforted them and he said "It is a great fish, the biggest of the fishes of the world, Jascönye his name is, and he is labouring day and night to put his tail into his mouth, and he cannot do it because of his great bulk."

-- from The Life of St. Brendan , in Lady Gregory, A Book of Saints and Wonders, 1906

Map of the Unknowable World

It is not surprising that St. Brendan's Isle should be one of the first islands to appear in a medieval mappemundi. It would soon be follwoed by a host of equally legendary islands that gradually filled the previously empty spaces of Oceanus. St. Brendan's Isle was prominently displayed in maps of th etime because the mappemundi were meant to illustrate biblical geosophy rather than provide precise locations or directions. Medieval measures were impreceise and numbers were used for their symbolic rather than their quantitative value. In Brendan's voyages, it takes forty days to reacy virtually every location ... Like the medieval paintings and stories, mappemundi lack a single point of temporal or spatial perspective that owuld allow the viewer to differentiate between the near and far, or between then and now.

-- Gillis, Islands of the Imagination

My Map of Your Blue World (Dec. 19, 2004)

This is the sacred, sacred
cartography, the lactile
courses on the blue which
route my ache to you.
There is the room
in Pittsburgh in which I
stood looking out the
window at pretty girls
passing by; here is
the beach at Cape Cod
where I first sang
the big music
of the growing wave.
There is the
great wilderness just
outside Rahway New
Jersey where at 3
I wandered off with
Paula to look for
worms, ending up somewhere
at Jacksonville Beach
where my mother's voice
fell into the sea's
and scattered me here.
Here is the motorbike
in front of someone's
house in Winter Haven
where I felt a girl-
woman's breasts the
first time beneath
a wilding moon
and there is the bench
by Lake Michigan
where I wrote my
first love poems
in the mash of wind
and wintry waters.
Here is the room
in Spokane Washington
in which I darkened
and folded and wrote
down all the words
which lined the hole
my God departed through.
Over there is the bridge
over the Spokane River
in early April where
I found all the verbs
like wings lifting and
diving around my
first love's first gentle
oh so genital and
primordial kiss. There
are the eight months
which passed into
the iciest sidewalks
in the world which
I walked home upon
after the bars had closed
and I had failed to
find the next woman
to shrine you yet
again. There is
Playlinda Beach
which that icewhale
shat me out on
two years later
where I walked so in
love with your name
I almost forgot to
curse the surf for
being so wildly
and eternally empty of
you yet again. The
sound of that surf
hangs in the whirl
of disco lights
at 4 a.m. in bottle
clubs I ravened
with the other wolves
of blue, and there
is the door which
opened into a
drunk tank's greeny
washed up phosphor,
the Ultima Thule
of my bottomless thirst,
my island on the whale
who drank the world
to find the thrill of
you again. There
are the songbooks
on the shelf in my
study which for
years now I have
filled, day after day,
which my faith
in you; here is my
white writing, wave-
riding chair, like
the ghost marker of a
lost well leading
down to every
bed in salt hell.
Here is true north
stamped in a corner
of the page pointing
directly at you
without compass
or rudder or dogma
or shoes; worthless
except when you
fold the whole map
in a boat, set a lit
match to its bridge,
and to sing of
a frail candle's voyage
out where the high
ocean devours all
in its glittering
mouth of deep blue.
And on days when
I've travelled furthest
from you -- when all
seems so grim and sad
and riven and fallen
in the brightest abysm
of the whale -- I pull
my map of your
unknown world from
my breast pocket
and unfold it in my lap,
remembering just where
I am, a mile offshore
St. Brendan's fabled isles
with you just as close
by and the sea thrashing
inside my two-dimensional
gaze, a heart inside the
heart of crashing
blue pages too wild
to be real, too gorgeous
to resist, thrilled with
the sail's snap in the
breeze as my hand
trawls down the page,
my pen everywhere
the salt angels
swoon and plunge and range.

St. Columba and the Whale

ONE day when the venerabIe man was staying in the Iouan island (Hy, now Iona), a certain brother named Berach intended to sail to the Ethican island (Tiree), and going to the saint in the morning asked his blessing.

The saint, looking at him, said, "O my son, take very great care this day not to attempt sailing direct over the open sea to the Ethican land (Tiree); but rather take a circuit, and sail round by the smaller islands, for this reason, that thou be not thrown into great terror by a huge monster, and hardly be able to escape."

On receiving the saint's blessing he departed, and when he reached his ship, he set sail without giving heed to the saint's words. But as he was crossing over the larger arms of the Ethican sea, he and the sailors who were with him looked out, and lo, a whale, of huge and amazing size, raised itself like a mountain, and as it floated on the surface, it opened its mouth, which, as it gaped; was bristling with teeth. Then the rowers, hauling in their sail, pulled back in the utmost terror, and had a very narrow escape from the agitation of the waves caused by the motion of the monster; and they were also struck with wonder as they remembered the prophetic words of the saint.

On the morning of that same day, as Baithene was going to sail to the forenamed island, the saint told him about this whale, saying, "Last night, at midnight, a great whale rose from the depth of the sea, and it will coat this day on the surface of the ocean between the Iouan and Ethican islands (Iona and Tiree)."

Baithene answered and said, "That beast and I are under the power of God."

"Go in peace," said the saint, "thy faith in Christ shall defend thee from this danger."

Baithene accordingly, having received the saint's blessing, sailed from the harbour; and after they had sailed a considerable distance, he and his companions saw the whale; and while all the others were much terrified, he alone was without fear, and raising up both his hands, blessed the sea and the whale. At the same moment the enormous brute plunged down under the waves, and never afterwards appeared to them.

-- from Adamnan's Life of St. Columba

Gluteals and Flukes (Dec. 20, 2004)

If you would write a fable for
little fishes, you would make
them speak like great whales.
-- Goldsmith to Johnson

Why does every great love
invoke a whale up from below?
How could so gentle a song
reveal such awful glutes
and flukes? My heraldic
big-fish rider knows the
polyphonic ways of love,
riding that blue wave
upon a sea-swallower's back,
holding fast to the gallop
which has sounded
every acre of abyss.
Feel the chaos in those
feral haunches which
both ride and power
today's wave toward
your next shore.
A brutaller lover of brine
and depth surges in
this pale white hand:
My song to you is
pure spermacetti love,
that sea of oil which
tides inside the bulk
which rides all seas
and spumes all
songs and wells.
My paper trope
pours ambergris
from every shelf in hell.

Whales Weep Not! (D. H. Lawrence)

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.
All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
The right whales, the sperm whales, the hammer heads, the killers
there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of the sea!
And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
on the depths of the seven seas,
and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
and in the tropics tremble they with love
and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
Then the great bull lies up against his bride
in the blue deep bed of the sea,
as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life:
and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale blood
the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom tip, and comes to rest
in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she whale's fathomless body.
And over the bridge of the whale's strong phallus, linking the wonder of whales
the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and forth,
keep passing, archangels of bliss
from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
that wait on whales in mid ocean, suspended in the waves of the sea
great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.
And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale tender young
and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of the beginning and the end.
And bull~whales gather their women and whale calves in a ring when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat encircling their huddled monsters of love.
And all this happens in the sea,
in the salt where God is also love, but without words:
and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
most happy, happy she!
and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she dolphin
she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea she is the female tunny fish, round and happy among the males and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.

The Werewolf. (1991)

The werewolf loped down Cocoa
Beach on a winter's afternoon in 1986.
He came at me like the sky, a motley
rage of grays, his eyes black as tar.
I walked there high tide in my
desolation, the ugliness of the day
like blood from a personal wound.
Oh how I drank it! Drank to the dregs!
They say lone wolves are soul prey.
I found a darkness that day darker
than any I could have summoned.
The werewolf pounced me like a wave,
A shade sharpening into saw teeth
and sea-deep growls in my ear.
He battened on me for a while
then hauled me up into the air
to fly like angels off the scree
and onto suburban streets.
we whipped like wind round
cul-de-sacs and loped over streetlights.
O how to ink a werewolf's howl
onto the frail and milky page?
One rip down Main Street snapped
the spines of two oaks like twigs.
We arced and tore through parks,
upended empty swings, blew out
the windows of Shady Lane.
Did I say I howled too?
The werewolf delighted to part
lovers where they coiled,
shattering windows of parked cars,
ravishing the ravished with a fang.
The werewolf took me everywhere
that night, showed me every way
the dark night wins. All it takes
is teeth and fury and bigger teeth.
And when then the moon woke
from the sea to bathe us all in the
old eternal bonelight, we remembered,
remembered all! O how we howled then!
Do you hear that black music in
your sleep, trilling your spine so coldly?
Don't bother to pull the curtains or
haul the covers over your head.
There isn't a bullet for this rage,
there isn't a dawn for this night.

Wild World (Dec. 21, 2004)

There's a wilderness
in every town -- you
just have to look
with eyes as flung
as sharp harpoons
for flukes and sudden
spume. Between
row houses there's
always a patch
of candescent bad blue,
cobalt then cyanotic,
like fish scales burning
with every spectra
of abyss. Coldest
night of the year
and everything outside
seems nailed fast
in a near-freeze,
the old ice gods regnant
for a night, riding
wild a wolf-like,
Arctic chill. Inside
it's warm enough, our
thermostats cranked
to the heart's red-
wombing wash, quilts
pulled up to the nose.
Yet I got up and
ventured here to oar
that brutal tide which
slams against our
house in waves I
cannot see, much less
name, though each
day I try. I think
of the ghosts of
past residents of this
town, walking in
their hoary shawls of mist
between the houses
which remain, like
fog through a freezing
grove, their voices
soft yet stellar,
singing how these
castles of dailiness
so easily and so utterly
can wash away,
leaving empty beaches
for miles in both
ways. On this
longest night the cold
and dark remain
right at our doors
and windows with
a pale finger pointing
in and eyes like
blueblack wells
of all that pours
from a town to
slake a prior and
eventual thirst. Cold
works through this
like a narwhal,
spearing every
virgin dream. Cold
the music, like
cold cream
spilling from an
udder the angels
of suburbia
remit with one long
wave-crashing scream.

Jonah (2002)

That for which we find
words is something already
dead in our hearts.
- Nietzsche

Lord, you nailed me
to this passionate song.
There's nowhere I can go
that you don't insist
upon tearing wide these lips
like so much junk mail.
Last night I dreamed of a
cathedral of bone
pinned by Your salt weight,
basalt ribs cracking,
all doused in a black roar.
Struggling for words
I fell down your page,
drowning in pure verb.
Where can I go that
You don't irrupt
with the call? My history
has been Your riposte:
girls You swelled
til I burst, my thirst
You furied with booze,
nights turned nightmarish,
their hundred blades
angry for vein.
Long ago I fled the white
god who hammered good
parents into each other's
cross and then snapped
their children like bad host.
I ran into Your shadows
where you fostered me
to Roekthke and Plath.
Over long winter nights
I named each of their
losses my grave and then,
a bald Lazarus, offered the
words back to You like a scalp.
To this day I still trade
in poems, but I don't
believe any more
in their shiny white puckers.
Words are bum angels
who can't say a thing
about the bells they
preternaturally ring.
As Rilke said, the holy ire
which woke me too early
and desperate to write
these smoky lines
is just a starry fraud,
although-yes, my
So here I am,
your guilty prodigal,
a blabbermouth Ahab
backpedalled in Dick.
I leapt from the boat
and ended up here
at the bottom of the page,
depleted, furious, wrong,
wanting only to be held
by my wife for dear life.
Darkness is mashed
on every window today.
I give up, Lord:
Inscribe your roar here.
I'm headed back upstairs
to wake with
my wife and cat.
Go on and ripen that,
sweet Lord, with
red nails at the
pane. Make a
Jeremiad of this,
another rout.
I'll be touching her slow
as first light, waking
in the house only a
human love could
sustain, so frightfully
small, no business
of Yours at all.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Waves 101: The Children of Water

from The Works of Fiona Macleod, Volume V

Long ago, when Manannan, the god of wind and sea, offspring of Lir, the Ocearius of the Gael, lay once by weedy shores, he heard a man and a woman talking.

The woman was a woman of the sea, and some say that she was a seal: but that is no matter, for it was in the time when the divine race and the human race and the soulless race and the dumb races that are near to man were all one race.

And Manannan heard the man say: "I will give you love and home and peace." The sea-woman listened to that, and said: "And I will bring you the homelessness of the sea, and the peace of the restless wave, and love like the wandering wind." At that the man chided her and said she could be no woman, though she had his love. She laughed, and slid into green water.

Then Manannan took the shape of a youth, and appeared to the man. "You are a strange love for a seawoman," he said: "and why do you go putting your earth-heart to her sea-heart?" The man said he did not know, but that he had no pleasure in looking at women who were all the same.

At that Manannan laughed a low laugh. "Go back," he said, and take one you'll meet singing on the heather. She's white and fair. But because of your lost love in the water, I'll give you a gift."

And with that Manannan took a wave of the sea and threw it into the man's heart. He went back, and wedded, and, when his hour came, he died.

But he, and the children he had, and all the unnumbered clan that came of them, knew by day and by night a love that was tameless and changeable as the wandering wind, and a longing that was unquiet as the restless wave, and the homelessness of the sea. And that is why they are called the Sliochd-na-mara, the clan of the waters, or the Treud-na-thonn, the tribe of the sea-wave.

And of that clan are some who have turned their longing after the wind and wave of the mind--the wind that would overtake the waves of thought and dream, and gather them and lift them into clouds of beauty drifting in the blue glens of the sky.

How are these ever to be satisfied, children of water?

-- from The Works of Fiona Macleod, Volume V

Baptism (March 2003)

A low voice crooned in his ear:
a bittersweet song it was, passing-sweet,
-- Fiona McLeod, “The Washer of the Ford”

At 13 I was baptized in the Atlantic
off Melbourne Beach by pentacostals,
an occasion which was strangely
perfect in its timing. Months earlier
I’d been given a tract which showed
the hells of sin: a blue novella of once-

good people deceived by pleasure into
grave of boozy sex and all the fanged
conceits which fork there, ending up
in the halls of pitch and apostate ire.
It scared the Bejezus into me just when
I was ready at last for the world: puberty

had just slammed its flaming wreck into
me, adding three inches of height, burning
off my childhood fat, curling out a brimstone
beard pubic hairs, lowering my voice a
gravelly half-octave.Poised at last for the
eternal pleasures of youth, their infernal

consequences bared their canines wide,
revealing an endless maw. Terrified of
punishment I fell on my knees and gave
myself to the God of the group who’d
passed the track. It was with these people
that I now drove out to Melbourne Beach

on a warm morning in early June, two months
from my 14th birthday. We sang Christian
songs in that packed station wagon, the windows
rolled to a predawn lurid Florida smelling of
citrus, death, and the sea. I was flanked by two
virginal girls, a chaste inch between our bathing

suited bottoms, literally just enough to spare
the devil’s bray. Still, when the car rolled over
a dead mole or ‘dillo, the jot caused the left girl’s
left breast to bounce against my arm, and
the chorus in the car turned to a drone while
I felt that deeper music thrum, the hard rock

of rages which was all thirst, all sweet, all
consummation. Parked on the beach at last
we exploded from the car like colts, sprinting
in joy toward a surf which curled and broke
in the glass of first light. Somehow I managed
to leap and come down on the very spot where

some manowars were buried, leeching my soles
in ocean fire. For an hour while the others romped
and bodysurfed I lay on a picnic table in pure
agony. I prayed God forgive me for the imp inside
me and gave thanks that I didn’t have the chance
fall further in that surf. When I was well enough

to walk, I was led to the surf where the service
began — standing waist high in cerulean, warm
surf with the sun just up from the east, still red
with first birth, the pastor next to me with eyes
shut tight, praying in tongues and then shifting
to English to say God bless this new son. He then
he tipped me back into the water and held me there —

only for a second or so — but while I was under
a cleansing wave passed over and through me, calm
and eternal and silently true. To this day, I swear
it was one of the closest moments I’ve had with God.
Or gods, since the wave passed under me as well,
washing me of every wrong and blessing of my darkest,

deepest joys — angel and imp, agape and eros, spirit
and soul married in that douse which washed through
and then passed and I was hauled back up spluttering
while the others clapped and praised God. The sun
continued to climb in the sky, hot and beckoning,
as the rollers sprawled in again and again and again,

curving and smashing and hauling back our blent blood,
waxing and ebbing, cleansing us in the sea’s feral mud.

Wave Savior (Dec. 18, 2004)

If a man holds this to be foolishness,
he knows nothing of love and how it lives.
-- Rimbaut d’Orange (c 1175 AD),
transl. Jack Lindsay

... And in my spirit, which for so long by then
had not been left hopelessly undone
with awe and trembling in her presence

without more knowledge from the eyes, by
an unseen force that was coming from her,
felt the old love in its great power.
-- Dante Purgatorio XXX 34-9
transl. W.S. Merwin

Just one slap of that salt blue
wave which came from somewhere
behind her sweet kiss
and I was that foolish child
again on the beach, reborn
between my mother’s voice
and the sea’s. How much
tilled thought and willed belief
just vanished in that
baptismal sigh in which
I came in her then
ebbed to a clear blue
infintie space which
wrote over the whole text?
Years of hard study learning
all the greater names, that
slow attenuation of
nuancing numens held
by a greater net of words—gone,
my lips ababble with “duh” and
“dear,” my grin pure votive
of fool’s gold. One wave
drowned every dorm and
library I had in
solitude long marrowed,
& rose merrymost in the
old gothic church til
it bumped against the
window nexts to God
and snatched heaven
back to earth. Squishy
sounds of honeyed
light fill the hundred bedded
cells which limn my memory,
all those lovers and my love
pouring out the altared juice
which reels a secret cinema
inside each day’s picture show,
my ever-newing, salt and sacred
blasphemy. Love’s shore-
washing faith beheaded
every known with just one
fateful kiss too many years ago
and made me minstrel
with a foolscapped pen
atop the crashing wave
that drowns the world
and leaves behind
an ebbing, gentle hiss,
your wordles bliss.
May I sing merry and anon
to the primrose end of this.

Wave Psalm (2003)

I did not return from
that beach a sane man,
happy and free: the
wave that caught me
a dozen yards out
was greater than any
I imagined in my
cold rooms, and dark,
though at root pure
blue: It toppled and
then smashed me
in its marled collapse,
grinding my face in
all the sand I've
spilled from her glass.
Raw and bleeding
with a mask of
salt smarts, I rose
to strand that
vespering surf,
a man no longer
one of summer's
invulnerable verbs,
but rather that lover
whose cross of heart
crests and breaks
two million times
every day. My scarred
length is a vocable
of salt's insatiety;
each morning when
I spout these lines
they bleed an
abysm, a chum
for Moby and Maeldun,
a chorus of drowned
sailors at the bar
down below,
singing a la Roxy
I will drink my fill
Till the Thrill is You.
The pour of the sea
is too grand for
these cocquina walls
which never hold
back, much less heal.
I have no idea where
this poem is going,
yet such voyaging
is my oar and compass,
travail inward from
one sea's way of
knowing (all grapple,
anchor, harpoon)
into a wavelike blue sooth,
gathering up whatever
drifts in from
the next salt door,
holding it high
to whisk its white foam,
smash it but good
on the shore, and
pay close attention
to what so achingly
ebbs through my
hands. I'm milking
that sad long kiss
on a beach years ago
as it slowly fades
to a thundering hiss
of all I don't know.

The Sea-Madness

(Anndra) goes down through the wilderness locally called The Broken Rocks. When he is there, he is a strong man, leaping like a goat - swift and furtive. At times he strips himself bare, and sits on a rock staring at the sun. Oftenest he walks along the shore, or goes stumbling among weedy boulders, calling loudly upon the sea. His friend, of whom I have spoken, told me that he had again and again seen Anndra stoop and lift handfuls out of the running wave and throw the water above his head while he screamed or shouted strange Gaelic words, some incoherent, some old as the grey rocks. Once he was seen striding into the sea, batting it with his hands, smiting the tide-swell, and defying it and deriding it, with stifled laughters that gave way to cries and sobs of broken hate and love.

He sang songs to it. He threw bracken, and branches, and stones at it, cursing: then falling on his knees would pray, and lift the water to his lips, and put it on his head. He loved the sea as a man loves a woman. It was his light o' love: his love: his God. Than that desire of his I have not heard of any more terrible. To love the wind and the salt wave, and be for ever mocked of the one and baffled of the other; to lift a heart of flame, and have the bleak air quench it; to stoop, whispering, and kiss the wave, and have its saltiness sting the lips and blind the eyes: this indeed is to know that bitter thing of which so many have died after tears, broken hearts, and madness.

-- Fiona MacLeod

Waves (late 2000)

Darkly drowsing on the shore
of what has been and
what will be I stand in the drone
of wave after wave
crashing the moment
into the sad hiss of ebb
again and again
each set more real
more damaging than the last
and I wonder how much
more we can take of this truth
before we all burst
like the heart of a rain-soaked
Southern oak but fortunately
there is night and sleep
beneath this shore
restoring this morning’s hope
that it will all make sense
to us all someday
and that God’s in the heart
of every wave, powering
what eventually will set us free.

The Second Wave (2002)

My poems fared churlishly
(brackish with forced
feeling or too affected
by the voices I dipped
them in) until my divorce.
It seemed back then
a choice of Poetry over
Love, high verbage
forsaking one home
for the other woman,
the other crashing surf.
Something springlike
in the poems of ‘94,
virile and supple,
almost cocksure, not
for any burst of talent
but in the widened
floodgates of choosing
to go the other way,
my inward room no
longer a haven from
emotional wills but
rather open range.
I got my first tattoo
back then—just the
logo off the old Riverside
books series a man
playing a flute astride
a diving dolphin. My
shoulder an illuminated
page from a psalter
of song. Perhaps. I also thought
it might help me get laid
while wading on through the
advancing waters of early middle age.
I wrote poems back then for
a lover who also wrote poems
and for open mike night
at the Yab Yum coffeehouse
downtown, for publication
too, although the editors
all chimed back that nothing
quite rang the bell. I even
tried my hand at reading
‘em to the accompaniment
of an electronic keyboard
and recording the transits
on a 4-track recorder.
Despite the silly plumage
and trampish ends,
I had changed from the
one who attends lectures
on what poems mean
to a wanderer who
rides them toward
the hot betweens.
The best of them shined
with a feverish, almost
sexual sweat—adamant
and rebellious failures
to waken or connect,
waves on which I
was fully hearted and
alive whether I could
make you hear or not.
Love then got hold of
me again for better and
for worse, and I’ve dragged
this talent through it
all, writing better and
much worse. I’ve never
won a woman’s heart
or ass with a poem, but
I keep ringing the bell
in my little writing hall,
calling you back
into this monster thrall.
Practice may make it
easier to row back
to the curling wave
but there’s no sure
tactic for abandonment.
You just feel the words
rising in your craw
and ride again on
what they saw.

Wave Rave (2000)

from “A Breviary of Guitars”

The present/
Autumn 1985

How indeed? For
the wave the sea
woman dashed
on me in the
welcome of
a few melusines
has baptized me
into a curve
and curl, an
arch foam
ache and break:
I accept today
that such loves
may have only
been moonbeams,
faulty ego
boundaries &
juvenile whim:
But the wave
itself is
one of the greater
angels, a titanic
motion swelling
up to kiss the
moon: One night
many years later
I walked Cocoa
Beach with a
woman Donna’s
age long after
Donna swam away:
A full moon
high above a
surf impossibly
stirred by a
200 miles
out to sea; Waves
like we had
never seen at
that timid beach
scrolling in
huge dark swells
& the smash
& hiss of surf
a dull pounding
blissful roar:
Silver milk
in those waves
poured from
a crazy moon
& a stiff warm
breeze blowing
through the desire
we felt for each
other but could
not, would not
touch for the ties
she kept with
another: A
dazzling night
in which we
were gifted
with a sea so
few would ever
see: Some time
after midnight
on that silvered
beach where
angels sang
brokenly & eternally
of desire and its
terrible torn
beauty we stopped
talking & listened
& looked
& touched each
other’s hand, just
once, hugged,
just once, kissed
for a second then
turned to go:
I wrote a poem
on it and later
set the night
to music on
a keyboard
synthesizer (no
guitar could
suffice, I’ve learned)
tolling these
slow sure chords,
Emaj7 - Cmin7
F#min7 - Amaj7,
composing wave
after wave
of basso bellows
& swelling strings
& dazed dreamy
overtones caught
in the suck and
the roar of
a remembered night:
O I’m still
desperate to
describe the wave
of the sea woman
rising in me
in you impossibly
high fraught
with the ache
and plunge of
perfect union,
sure in its
rhythm & pulse
& chording &
broken utterly
when cusp trembles
foams & turns
down at the
moment of coming
falling weightless
for aeons in a
sheer glass curve
collapsing in a
smash and a
roar into oblivion:
I’m 43 now
and doubt
any such wave
does more than
shipwreck &
estrange us from
all we build and
strive for in
such difficulty:
No marriage
abides by such
a wave, no
poems or songs
ever summon
it truly back &
it’s an utterly
selfish amoral
surrender no
one else in the
world gives
one tiny turd for:
Yet I desired
her & she kissed
me with that wave
& I can’t stop
this furious scrawl
down the page
mounting this
babel of joy:
Yesterday in
the spinning class
the instructor
was both lovely
& cruel, asking
us to pedal
harder faster up
an impossible
slope: It was
then that I truly
saw the wave I here
praise, this fearsome
nor’easter of a
swell curving
up high high
and higher,
mountainous to
moon: Oh
the teacher was
almost beyond
my heart & I
almost gave out
toward the end,
staying in gear
12 while she called
out 13, 14, 15:
She finally let
us go to
downshift &
pedal mad down
the hill & then
slow & slow
& slow till we
pedalled air
in sleepy arcs:
Of course she’s
this muse that
sirens me out
of too little
sleep & then swims
out just beyond
the tip of this
pen singing, “Come—”:
She was in the
3 or 4 women
who for whatever
reasons undressed
me in her waters
& then drowned me:
She stands beside
the real women
I have actually
loved judging their
passions which
always melt
into a deeper
surer love &
flashes her
booty whispering
“you could have
chosen this, you
know”: I cannot
surrender to
her but I will
not let her go:
Blue green monster
rising sinister
& ecstatic toward
a shore of loins
my balls throb
and pulse for
desperate for just
one smooch of
that hopeless
homeless hocus
hooch of
coochie coo
invoked in this
Breviary, this
blue green wave
reaching for
a fruit I can
never reach,
never burst, till
death do I
truly die: Such
is the passionate
singing I can
no more forget
than the sea
can reclaim it’s
orphaned moon:
Ah desperate
I am this morning
stung and dazed
by the foam of
one wave so
fucking long ago
rising anew here:
And I’m judged
as unworthy now
as I was then:
My hands weary
& aching & tingling
& the loam of
pages fattening
into a mound,
a mountain,
a sea, a cosmos
in the hollows
of a conch, a
pale flickering
dream at the
end of a farewell
& still I can’t
name it or
claim it
nor most of
all let it go:
The woman
of the sea has
exactly what
she wished: And
I her wandering
wounded dolphin
surfer watch the
horizon and wait
for the waters to
heave the next
slow swelling chord.

Wave-Born Sanctus (2004)

Never is my mind more calmed
than when I’m rowing here,
O watering God, ferrying these
well-dippers of blue resonance
across and down the page.
Who knows if the sound
which so enchants my ear
was poured by that same loins
that filled the sea to brim.
Such facts are not required
to lift and cast my hand in
vigor of every wave-borne horse,
to gallop hoof-on-water
in words inked from abyss.
Their tones are bloom-mercurial,
belle-lettres of orange essence
both virginal and saucy in
the breeze, a mint of two-faced
doubloons spilled from vaults
below or within or on some
hidden shore between this day’s
poem and the poem not here yet.
Sulis, Rhiannon, mare Uffington
and Brigit all bed these lines
in the devout two inches
which margin both sides of flow,
across the fold which separates
the pages by a bind, and beyond
the turn of one page to the next.
Of their actual pubes and nips
and bites and moanings I’ll
not defile this pregnant surf:
Suffice to say such lucencies
coil in the wooings here
which only seem like waves
of words against an always empty
shore. Manannan smiles in Oran’s
gape, his tongue undead and
buoyed above all flood. His
missal slowly fills up here,
inked in his blood and the
spool of some whalish organum
I’ll never understand, much
lest name. My job’s to ferry
in my hands blue jots of
merry scrip and scree, the
jowled juju of Your frothernity,
and leave ‘em on this shore
that ends my every poem,
conch and spilt coin and
wilder wave-wrack than any
one has seen or sung
for you to carry home or on
to shores your gods will bid
you ferry, fold and crash.

Hit Counter
Internet Service Provider