Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Washes (2003)

Iterate, reiterate: There
is a wavelike circulation
to these washes of
grounded thought,
hurling and receding,
a doppelganger
astride a horse of foam.
I love to read accounts
of ancient things: of
excavations in ritual
shafts and burial grounds,
descriptions of objects
dug up from bogs
and wells. That’s where
I find the next poem,
like a skull unearthed
and speaking what is
or was found there.
Such texts embroider
this sleepy dark hour
with the dazzling part
of the dark, as if something
reaches up as I reach
down and back. I also
read old journals, finding
bones and outposts
of all I am about today,
like the boy-man 14 years
ago who first mapped
these pre-dawn hours,
forging dream and myth
and verse in the singer’s
flame -- a mouth opened
from a personal grave
in an older brine, getting
to the inside of so much
raw, choleric spume
and spunk: The drunk
on his cross and his
thirst turned to a holy,
ever deeper and God-
darker well. Sometimes
the depths of it would
drive me nuts -- studies
in Apollo and Dionysos
and the Trickster and
Orpheus loosened a
compulsive flood of
thought which threatened
the field and home
I served in daylight
hours. My first marriage
ended with me resolved
to study hard and
write freer poems, yet
half that tooth was sunk
in some nymph’s
cyanotic ass -- bad move.
Again and again I’ve
learned the folly of
backassed dicking-in-
the-night, fooled by
the desire to live what
only can be dreamed
and more vaguely said.
Desire is the wave’s
dread veil, the curve
which lures us to the
drowned city of my
fellow fools, but only
that. Mistake it much
and you’ll saw any
life apart. Today my
vantage is hardly
different -- same lonely
hour, many of the same
texts, identical hand
scratching out the
same mix of heart and
brain, balls and feet --
Still half blind half drunk
half wild down this willed
well or illed beach between
dry purpose and drowned
wilderness, digging the
same way down the pages
which continue to pile
up and up a narrow round
tower which has Oran’s
head for a bell, that
ringing bone of this hour.
What sustains the motions
out and down now is some
sense of emptying that
well filled by God and
history -- giving back to
the creation the surf of
ideation, a tidal maw of
slat salvations fished
from where all of it was
buried so many lives
ago. Back and forward
we go in this blue
psaltery, antiphons which
rise and fall the
eternal call to sing our
heavens back to He
who leavened ‘em. fishes
and loaves here in these
bushels of words: Mashes
of herring and leavened
whale turds, skulls brimming
with cold water &
reflecting a face which
may be the moon, or
you, or me.


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