Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Oran's Hell (2003)

Columba dedicated the monastery'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.

-- Oran and Columba: An Excavation

Lots of dead folks down there:
Drowned sailors from the Pequod
& Graubelle men pitched in peat
& explorers trapped in abyssal
caves, their knapsacks filled with
forever lost booty: Musicians and
alchemists and architects who built
their towering achievement
& then died with most of their work
undone: Revenants stuck in mortal
error, like Hamlet’s poisoned father
stuck in the frosty hours before dawn
with all his sins unconfessed
sighing swear ... swear ... swear
into his son’s malevolent ear:
My father’s St. Oran bell tower
is now my Oran’s well: his
tower is forever without
a roof, open to the sky, stars,
757’s, moon: No bottom here
either folks, just new heads
rising in the depths: Oran’s
sinister skull, yodeling Orpheus,
the Green Knight’s noggin
filled with a nougat of spleen:
Women and children too went
overboard here: my mother of
course with voice over me
at my very first beach:
Paula my first love, who at 3 played
topless in the wading pool
down the block & led me into
big woods in search of worms:
The girl of my fancy who fell
into a pond and would have
drowned had I not jumped in
and saved her: That early
fantasy was such a thrall, I’d
place my face on a pillow
& squirm my hips to the
narrative: I thought I rescued
her but she still calls from
the thralls below: The girl
on the playground holding
my forget-me-not bouquet for
one perfect second before
she snarled & tossed it back
First kisses, first feels, that
first shock of nakedness &
the squeeze up pussy walls &
the heart’s descent in that
down down down down down
till we drown Hallelujah:
Loves lost due to youth
& idiocy, who walked away
or were left sleeping in their
beds: Big loves of fantasy,
& bigger loves that were real:
wives, a daughter, cats:
Ogres, too, the Man in the Car
& the Girl in the Woods &
The Four Dread legacies
of Song, Sodomy, Burnt
Fiddles, Divorce: That naughty
drunk trapped in a bottle five
fathoms down: Big fists beating
the bejezus outta me: Errant
blades and can-lids and guitar
strings splicing deeper my split
fingertips: A bricolage of words
stewed from the hair of Homer,
cock of Ovid, heart of Chaucer,
saucer-eyes of Will, Spenserian
ears, Rilkean wings, tongue
a la yeasty Joyce: All the
the shadows they cast deep
beneath every letter of every word
in infernal resonance:
On and on the inventory of souls,
all now insubstantial & yet killingly
potent: whose distant and
watery hands all knock the
bucket as it rises from Oran’s
bourne to here, putting
in a ring or token stone,
wishing on me to sing of them
too, the human toll in
the drowned cathedral of soul.


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