Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dragon Voyage (3)


I found a skull in the
back yard, on the front
seat of a rusted-out
car sitting on blocks.
I once owned it, the
skull I mean, well
the car too, I wore
both out on the merry
marauding road of
guitars and bars
and tits in jars on
too-high shelves. I
found it there, the
skull I mean, while
I was looking for
another poem, rummaging
through fallen oak
leaves for a broken
snake, I mean its
tail cut off, chewed
off probably by one
of the cats. I’d found
it out there Saturday
as I worked in the
yard raking and mowing
on a hosanna of a
spring morning. Poor
snake, it was still
alive, crawling away
from my rake as I
probed the tiny grey
thing that was bigger
than a worm, almost
as round as the
buried cock of this
poem. I let it go
just then, reminding
myself to write a
poem about it when
I settled back here
in the court of
& starry ululation.
So today I went
looking for that snake
in the back yard, on
this page I mean,
uncovering not a
half-chewed still-
plumbing umbilicus
to chthonic hoohah
but woeful relics
of a wild bad time
I though were well
buried, sobered up,
the major archons
of those nocturnal
motions bound at
the wing and tossed
down into this
purgatory of words.
I held my old skull
in my hands like
Hamlet graveside
of Ophelia his old
pal Yorick’s jester skull,
the noggin huge as
a Neanderthal, perhaps
as old too. He I
brooding on old
merriment, old loves,
old thrall. Gone.
I half-expected
that half-snake to
pounce up at me
from a black eyehole,
at least sigh within,
hiss. Nada. Instead
the wind cranked
up from offstage hands
to moan and whistle
through that rusted-
out ‘76 Datsun 710
I pushed to the side
of the road maybe
18 years ago,
giving up that bar-
car filled with
cigarette butts and
blackouts for good.
One night I fucked
a hot rock chick
in that now splayed
and ripped back seat,
my 6 foot 3 frame
somehow compressed
to four as I boiled
sperm in her thrusting
shouting beach-white
loins. Some scent
of her sex coiled
in the orange blossom-
fume sailing on breeze,
corrupt as booze
and twice as fragrant.
Gone, perhaps, or
soured into that
awfuller smell of
the 1000 other nights
I didn’t score the
hot rock chick,
the sweat and the
futile frenzy of
desire’s crucifix with
its immortally
immoral nails oozing
a pustulent nacre,
that awful smell
from when I crapped
my pants in a blackout
one night when some
of the bartenders at
the Station tried to
push my car up out
of the bushes behind
the bar. Soured in
graverot: almost gone.
I asked my hand, just what
do I do now? Preach
my gospel of blue
motions til the brutes
receive communion
and settle on back
down to dark-as-
sweet-oblivion ground?
I wish I could, but
I don't know words
blue enough to bless
the dead. Instead, I
call on Prosper’s shade
from the hour when
his tempest stilled --
fatherly at last of
foul Caliban when he
said, “this thing of darkness
I call my own.” Indeed.
And so I put lips to bone
and battered steel
and call their evening
home. Somewhere in
the leaves beneath the
oak, just beyond the
borders of our yard,
I hear a snaky shake and
coil, reminding me
to write of him another
day, to let my ghoulplast
hold the rake and
do some honest work.
Maybe then you’ll find
proper burial at last,
salt my seas but good
and buouy that dolphin
boy who guides my hand
along every graveside
stone along this Road
of Blue-Boned souls.


(After the crew of the Pequod have caught their first whale, tied it to the boat and stripped it of its blubber and retired below decks, Ahab comes upon on the deck and looks on the head of the sperm whale which had been severed and chained alongside; and looks upon it as Hamlet on Yorick's skull:)

It was a black and hooded head, and hanging there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the sphynx's in the desert. "Speak, thou vast and venerable head," muttered Ahab, "which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet hear and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is within thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. The head upon which now the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid the world's foundations, where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot, where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned. There, in the awful water land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went, hast slept by many a sailor's side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw'st the locked lovers leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw'st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insensate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed -- while swift lightnings shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou hast seen enough to make an infidel of Abraham, and no syllable is thine!

-- Melville, Moby Dick


THE FLOOD (2000)

Your house by the sea
is not a married one.
You are lonely for your wife,
remembering how soft
and open she sleeps,
her pale body curving
inside a green silk
nightdress like dunes
before a distant sea.
There is a girl inside that
woman who is damaged
perhaps too much
by your careens.
Your heart breaks
thinking of her
and so you call her
saying, I’m coming home.
She does not respond,
her silence both still
and oceanic. You
hang up the phone
and head to the
bedroom to start
packing a suitcase
when you notice
sea-water mashed
against the window
and rising fast.
Safe where you are
but desperate to
go home to her
you chance the door.
Cold water crashes
down on you in
a ripe, thundering
cascade. You think you
will drown but in the
next scene you stand
in a room harrowed
but dry: The couch
and table with its
telephone is just
the way you
remembered them
from the day before
when all was well.
Now everything is
ruined and even
dangerous to touch.
It is a room haunted
by its drowning,
unliveable and fell.
You wake with a
start to a ringing
telephone. Your wife now
hates you for what
you let in that door
trying to get home.


MARSYAS (2001)

Why do you tear me from myself?
Oh, I repent! Oh, a flute
is not worth such a price!
— Marsyas, Ovid Metamorphoses

My god’s a blue Mohican,
a virtuoso of swoon.
He slides round moonlit trees
like strings of a black lyre.

I tried my pipes against him,
playing a song tapped
from dark suburbs.
Played it well too, soulful
and true—so sure I’d win!

But then the god reversed
his lyre and played it
from below. Oh how the
Muses raved! He tore the ivy
crown from their hands
like a blade from its sheath.

Next I was stumbling down
city streets at 2 a.m. with
techno blasting out every door.
Girls in faux lame clattered
through me like beads from
a broken strand.

A god left me hanging from
this wild tree like a trophy,
a red acre at last pure song.

horse (2002)

At the gym yesterday
working on the
elliptical machine
& watching prim riders
hurl horses through
a jumping course:

A pure joy
raced like adrenaline
through me as
I watched, making
me happy to
pump my hardest too,
my heart so wanting
to gallop away
from permanent grief.

The ocean god
Manannan on his
horse Wave Sweeper
takes me where I
do not know.
I’m trusting this dark
fire with its
wild loud hooves
and wave high leaps—
Nothing to know,
no nature but my own.

Only this gallop
across sea ridges
and suburban roofs,
through the wind and wrack
heaving this horse song,
this banshee joy.

THE MARE (2003)

A screeching colloquy
of cats outside woke
me at 4 a.m., so I got
up & prayed for the
day & made coffee &
opened windows for
Violet while I sat down
here tiredly to read
from the Mabinogion
(“Pwyll”) and then
from Neumann’s “The
Origins off Consciousness”
(“From the union of the
hero’s ego consciousness
with the creative side
of the soul, when he
realizes both the world
and the anima, there is
begotten the true
birth, the synthesis
of both”). Mating with
the white mare-goddess
Rhiannon on this
mound of my meanings,
this puckered navel
to a dark well. Let your
eye travel down this page:
a narrow black oubliette
of words descend white
mare flanks; gauzy
nothing’s cheeks brush
this black rogering romp.
My best and worst
conjoined in tight wads
of verse pistoning up
and down, drilling
the morning’s blue.
Does it work for you?
All I know is that
I’m to remain here
swingin’ with the angel
horde, writing down
the voices & tales
like a scribe in a dark
scriptorium or
an ollave pickling in
the older Earish
tattlin’ house. Pick
up and shell and press
your ear close: you’ll
hear the same. Now that
this day’s bucket has
been spilled, I go back
to bed -- maybe for an
hour’s more sleep,
certainly to wake with
the woman who is
dayside queen to all
this, who emerges
with me from night
into the day we do
not dream, but make.
The cat will follow
me upstairs, waiting
for me to open the closet
door & windows so
she can have a higher
perch on the morning,
like an ear high in the
belfry tolling this lush
sweet morning in
Paradise, flowing out
from where I pulled
the reliquary from the
shelf, like a skull-stopper
in a dyke, like a poem
which crashes onto shore
and ebbs now softly away.



Engraved upon a basement
wall is a devil trapped in rope.
That’s how all churches, hooch-
stills, and marriages begin:
A raw, primordial age
when equal forces saw:
the good which would begin,
a dark which backwards falls.

There is a time when
principalities roar, the balance
terrible, a back-and-forth
over sweet prefecture and ruin;
the mouth which chants
the ululant vowel is also
filled with teeth, filed
to a glittering “T.”

There was a time not long ago
when love and its shade were split;
and on that tortured ground
all decency was spilt, sacrificed,
perhaps, so a carnal
knowing could evolve
from rough magic on to rue,
allowing it a dark enough depth
so I could know for sure
what going home meant.

A boy-man’s down there with
a snake gripped in his teeth;
I’m better off engraving him
lest sleep unloose the rope
and black wings again soar.



Saratoga Springs, NY

Ghosts prevail in this
overweening dark, the
nighmare’s blue-black
soiree like a bordello
on an ark filled with
every bird an its paired
song: I mean the shape
of history inverted in
the heart, the cave
cathedral and St.
Peter’s turned upside
down by these pangs
below, like cleats of
God rampaging on a
ruder turf than modernity
cares to admit. So let’s
say Dante’s hell didn’t
get down far enough
to the greatest Lords
of Desire but formed
a roof somehow over
them, their high massy
heads like pillars to a
sky our hormones
compose or our fates
hurl our histories across.
Time inverts such
majesties, you know,
flipping the coin ever
over and back, one face
of the emperors, the
reverse just that, an
eagle lifting the dream
of empire to be fed
to mountain hatchlings.
Those titans with their
pubic thatches wide
as old-forested Europe
and peckers like the
plinths of Stonhenge
have been blue-balled
since the crack of Time.
They can never be
satisfied nor complete,
not in any words we’ve
found on any shore yet
beached. Their voices
caterwaul this surf,
a boom of exult crossed
by every exeunt sigh,
the alpha man made and
unmade by his parched
white thighs. O Oran,
you were planted in
Their loins like a door-
jamb in the cunt of Hell
to hold transgress
with blue devils there.
And now You are an
archangel, Your silver
wings the sum of what
the surf’s voice wrings
from every desperate
call we send to that
beloved which salvos
back, Not Here. The
great book now housed
in Your great bell is
atop the titan spire,
clanging blue bright
tolls of narwhal jism,
that lucre of blue
Lucifer who rules the
next well’s whaling
groin. Make some sense
of this Lord, this giant
surflike sprawl, the tide
of where the giants
dream the next shore’s call.



Devil in the deep blue seas
Devil with a blue dress on
Devilish my blue ink scree
Salving every wave and psalm

Poet as beached monkey man
With nothing but his verbals on
Heating every blue degree
Which this song is cooking on

Devil in the foundry fire
Devil in the whale’s basso
Devilish the old church spire
Gleaming in the mire below

Dragon with a dolphin head
Mermaid with a siren’s throat
Verses drawn and arrowed
Nailing this devil in the moat

Who sings like an angel on high
With the wings of dragon ire
Whose exorbitance must die
To gut this cocheanal lyre

And be thrown back in the sea
To salt the blue mellifluence
I tide to you eternally
Like a moon under the influence

Devil in the deep blue seas
With you dripping blue dress on
My song is your disease
Busty lauds to milk the dawn.



Sometimes you make this devil
music because God sleeps late
and the world can’t wait
to get on getting down,
ears impatient, like sails
begging to trim wide wind
and haul ass across the blue
bottomless scree of soul.
Day busting out all over now,
cats circling outside, inside
cat rapt in the window
licking her lips, staring at
me with her red so blue
so black eyes. Inside this a jazz
hurlyburly that doesn’t
make sense yet is carefully
attenuated, a 14-bar blues,
all instruments out of tune,
guitar in one key and
trombone sliding off into another.
The grid which amps this poem
is powered by a herd of sea horses
rumbling overhead. I can’t
make sense of this, but that’s
the point, that’s the music the
world wants to give to this morning,
some of that broken moon
boogie from out beyond the
last shoal, the last sand bar
that tries to measure or contain
a split the smuggler’s hotcha boat
carrying countraband -- skiff,
Haitians, tuna, gold, I don’t know,
but I better get busy with it.


THE DEVIL (Dec. 2004)

My voyage to you
on tides of such
insufferable blue
are harrowed
by musics too
high and low,
a commedia of
pure roadshow fire.
Yesterday we
drove into the
maw of holiday
shopping hell,
the day cold
and breezy,
overbright hammers
walloping the migraine
in my skull, my wife
was immersed in
the fret of gifts,
staying overlong
in every store
trying to find gifts
too elusive for
the eye -- an
elven mischief
making for harried
sore and worried
passage. And me,
all I wanted yesterday
was her in full
sail of her desire,
that most elusive
absence of our
remarrying, and
my petulance and
hurt grew to mad
me over that long
day’s peramble through
the stores. And
oh God what women
I saw throughout,
no doubt because I
am so stubborn in
my need for ocean
fire -- women in
heels and coats
with ravaging
busts and bums
in their coastlines,
their eyes all like
my wife’s intent
on other shores
than I, other gods
than sexual desire.
The devil walked
next to me while
my wife shopped
more intently in
different regions
of those stores, my
eyes on books
and gadgets and
boobs in blowsy
blouses, my ears
washed in a brine
of sappy Yuletide
tunes. The devil
merried in my
misery, guffawing
low and shaking
his belled staff
each time my
eyes washed over
the next curved
shopper to look
some other way,
delighting in how
each tore through
me like a nail.
Well, I thought
midway through
that holllied wood,
two can play at
this, and so I looked
every where I
shopped, my eyes
faithful to what they
believe, even if
no mortal woman
ever would or
could want to.
Lingering at
beltracks and palming
those strips of
coracle hide, weaving
my way over and through
a curved and saucy
tide which was mine
to jolly roger in
the wild demense
of my salt reveries.
The devil smirked.
You burn with such
a futile fire, your
cross is my delight.
To which I retorted,
let’s remember who nails
who. Without these
sailing eyes you
have no hill of skulls.
Without this heart
there’s no fuel, no flint,
no flagellant abyss
to even name
your cap and bells.
I smiled and paddled
on through all those
stores seeing nothing
but the sea of my hopeless
blue desire, fanned
by all the siren waves
which ache the song
toward every shore
and give it such
old depth. And as my
wife and I drove
home in the hardening
cold dark, I loved
her distant distracted
heart for keeping
me on course
across this boneless main
where every whisper,
every moan, every
unzipped and coiled
deceit remains as free
& unrepentant as
it is requited,
underwearing what
you spread my
life to proclaim.


NEKYIA (2003)

Without a prayer,
these falls are cruel;
without ritual wraps,
the cold is killingly
dark, stripping and
flaying the coracle
of my ass like
the houndage of Hell.
I’ve found it dangerous
to sail sans pen and
book, drowning down
a bottles neck in search
not of dark truths
but their uteral burn,
their cold fire. What’s
an addict but a monk
whose tossed his book
to the sea, babbling
a blue inpropriety?
The chaos sings to
of a killing plunge,
of upturned asses on
sheets of blue stain,
of dreamlike hellbent
furrows past God,
past love, past this
noisy, chilblained
chainage to life.
No more of that
black winging for me --
Now I dip my feathers
here at the same
predawn hour, the
cat always in the window
the dark soaking
into this page,
exhuming all I
wish I could say
but can’t, though I must.
Maybe its just lack of
balls that rivets me here
on the chalice dipping
the Well, hauling up
waters cold as hell
for your thirst, absent
reader, beloved I’ll
never truly see: But
at least I know that
now, and trade the
old jackal jaw gildings
for this singing geldage.
My questing for
real grails always left
me bankrupt & on
the iron ledge of the
tallest bridge with only
one word left--leap.
None of that here folks,
no sirree; just dutiful
descriptions of what
it feels like stepping
out onto the feathers
of the wind soaring
up at me, angels of
that hard north wind
where all the devils
go, buckets of banshee
riot jissomed up from
the Well which allows
me today another story
to tell of one more
harrowing of a
common and fructive
and nougating hell.



The fact is that I’m rooted
here in this word-woven chair
peeking through the tide of night,
by choice or fate or nature.
My hand moving across the page
is one exempla of the rule
of that starved ghost who
launched a thousand ships,
marched ten thousand armies,
drove me through a million
nights in chase of darkling thrills,
each isle the scent of cleavage.
Desire’s old two-step of ache
and quench has faithfully
steered and wrecked me
yet again at this lonely hour
when no one waits on
the next pale page, though
I doggedly I still believe
this time I’ll coil to rest
around the blue she left behind.
A crannog is God’s
erected throne inside me,
a stiffie ten millennia long
and three billion achings deep
thrust into my care
from the caves of Lascaux
and Dorgonne where
beasts were scrawled
by hands as pale as mine.
And so this poem
is His next rude head
poking through the hour’s shorts,
strangely round and soft
and chivalrous
for all the angry horses
clamoring in belfries
drowned below. This
isle an hour from dawn
was driven and is risen
by the God I named
through clenched teeth
when He was loosed at
last, the stars sea-horses
swirled on sky-tides.
This crannog is the water-
house of kings who married
water-mares for kingdoms
down that mere.
Each line I write logs
the aching shape,
thrusting as it cries
for mother Uffington
in her nocturne’s bed,
her milk the silence
of the itch full fed.
Oh I’m old as stone in
this rude crannog,
as hard as the diamond
stars still burning at this
hour with the same
white desire that cut me
so clean and true
ten thousand lives ago,
when every wild cried Yes
and empty shores sighed No.


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