POETRY The Showcase

Discussion in 'SHOWCASING' started by RiverNotch, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. My two earlier collections distilled and sweetened -- some ageing (editing) and some mulling (the addition of a third section, only the first piece of which is yet finalized), and this would be a book. If you're also interested in the process, go visit The Workshop.


    1 -- Seasons and Spirits

    Seasons and Spirits
    The Basket Falls
    The Wandering Dream to the Waking Man
    Song of the Mortal God
    Browsing through the Blue
    House of Cards
    The Concert
    Song of Life
    Song of Death
    Covered in Boils
    Morning Mood

    2 -- Rite of Passage

    Ariel's Achoo
    Ariel's Witness
    Alive Again
    Will and Representation
    Under the Hijab
    Memory Reclaimed
    A Visit to Some Forgotten Church in Moscow
    Giulietta degli Spiriti
    Ariel Herself
    The Reading
    The 120 Days
    Le Iugement

    3 --

    McKinley Road
  2. Seasons and Spirits

    I can feel the heat of summer swinging
    with your every humid whisper.
    Rapping on your radiant temples
    are my greedy fingers, wine-stained serpents.

    Smells of freshly drafted cider
    ripple from your noble dimples.
    Bothering spirits blue with autumn’s bite
    follow this scent to steal our love away.

    Blossoming flames and heady beer
    refill your shriveled bosom with hot blood.
    The fearless rhythm of our winter love
    blushes the silver blind beyond.

    Flowers are blooming on your skin again:
    your vernal musk, your honey’s wax returns.
    A glen of cherry cordial lies
    dreaming sweetly in our cellar.
  3. The Basket Falls

    To sing the songs of summer’s lurid dyes
    and be yourself down groves of could-have-beens;
    to learn to love the stench of waking lies
    then dream of naked girls on picture screens---
    the flower basket falls. They said it’s truth
    to cast away the rose of you and I,
    it’s life to lose the lenses and review
    the burning sun and blackened earth with eyes
    of humble blindness: how they mocked the way!
    We gathered still the roses of the tree,
    and though our lusts denied us time to pray,
    we kept our eyes on immortality---
    the hawthorn’s blooms are false. It comes to this:
    our naked burned-out souls, a fatal kiss.
  4. Spectrophotometry

    A column of light
    broken by streaks of blackness
    each interrupting
    band a disappointment,
    a disease,
    a death in the family,
    --traces of lead, silver, cinnabar--
    with the whole being
    just a perfect circle’s arc
    pressed and stretched
    for the viewer’s convenience.

    Not even
    the subtlest implication
    of the circle must exist---
    light is a line, not a wheel,
    and the dutiful scientist asks
    no questions.
    Today must become yesterday as
    tomorrow today,
    and the dates on the calendar transform
    into memories, stories
    warped for the message,
    marks on the line graph.
  5. The Wandering Dream to the Waking Man

    Through roads paved with the corpses of friends,
    we left the black wilderness behind
    for the little township rising by
    the river Lethe, the river of oblivion.
    Here we are. I remember, on this long journey,
    you were the stone on which my flames of passion bloomed,
    guarding my olive-halls from the hot hands
    of my temper, my lust.
    Steady companion, you always scouted
    down three-headed roads, and returned
    with a map and lamp in hand,
    and when the triumphs of the road came upon us,
    you twined your tender voice around my paeans
    in perfect harmony.

    But you can share my load no longer,
    and all your dreaming days are done.
    You miss your waking home’s beloved light,
    where your eyes shine brighter than the stars
    and your slender frame is ever cradled
    warmly by the rosy hands of dawn.
    And my two feet can never stop:
    my soles are full of holes, never-healing ulcers
    carved by the gadfly’s knife,
    and filled by the hands of greedy time
    with the sharp stones along the Lethe’s banks.
    Their only cure, a gift of nectar and ambrosia
    found far in the east, on the other side of the world,
    beyond exotic lands of men, beyond the coasts,
    beyond even the beard
    of the old man of the sea.

    So now I leave you waiting
    at the township’s docks,
    waiting for a well-tarred ship of horn
    adorned with flowers,
    with asphodels and poppies
    and hyacinths and adonis,
    flowers of love and death.
    I give you four golden gifts
    for the long journey ahead:
    four tender kisses firmly planted
    on your lips, flowing through
    your mouth, your tongue, your throat
    to your heart. May they sustain you.

    And now, the grey ship arrives.
    I can hear its brazen bells
    ring to the songs of the seagulls
    circling round its silken sail.
    The time for you to pass away
    and the time for me to be forgotten
    comes. Goodbye, friend.
    • Love Love x 1
  6. Song of the Mortal God

    1 – The Kingdom of Darkness

    Don’t patronize me---
    isn’t this how things should go?
    Like the fungus
    flowering on a lion’s body,
    one’s creation
    becomes the canvas of another.

    2 – The Flood

    How could I rejoice
    here, at the end of all things?
    This is Daniel’s dream:
    the lion’s roar, the voice of kings.
    Then it thunders,
    matter turning into light.

    I was leaning against the darkness
    before this mess. And from that height,
    you all looked like ants
    flying from the flood. But God
    always demands an answer:
    and I left the moonlit porch,
    my piece of night, for a better view.

    3 – Man and Commonwealth

    strange. Every man, every woman,
    whatever the cloak, whatever the station,
    has a smile
    painted on his face
    even as he drowns.

    We knew this is what you wanted:
    you asked for water, we gave you water.
    The joke is you’re all enjoying it:
    like good little ants, you build bridges
    out of your own bodies.

    Meanwhile, the morning comes.
    Black, blind imitation of God,
    after the kingdoms come the judgments,
    the echos, the reflections---
    and so the solitude of the victor,
    the shame of the defeated…

    4 – Qoheleth

    There are no lions
    in the new world. Only ants
    scattered across avenues of ash,
    and towering around them,
    toadstools. Foolish king
    of the hill, what did you hear?
    There is nothing to Him but fear---
    and now you belong
    neither to heaven nor to earth.
  7. Browsing through the Blue

    Someday, my wall
    will be filled not with baby butt faces
    or future models striking poses
    but with sickness.

    Someday, my wall
    will be filled not with pictures of yummy cake
    or memetically calculated heartbreak
    but with sorrow.

    Someday, my wall
    will be filled not with doodled-out distraction
    or silly slogans for inspiration
    but with silence.

    Someday, my wall
    will be filled not with the stench of a wild night
    or empty promises of morning light
    but with sleep.
  8. House of Cards

    Empty pockets and empty tables,
    what a night. On the mantle to your right,
    a deck of cards, covered in shadow: what,
    too lazy to light a fire? It’s wintertime,
    you’ll freeze to death.

    I told you, your houses lead nowhere:
    you know what cards were made for.
    You gotta invite your friends,
    call them to your table,
    earn some debts then place your bets
    and play---
    then you’ll start talking sense!
  9. The Concert

    The spotlights on the stage
    are burning blue on blue.
    Their eyes are set afire in this light.
    My hand is loose---
    the cold air stings me.

    The spotlights on the stage
    are glowing green and gold.
    Their flaming eyes are smothered by the dark.
    I squeeze your hand---
    my hot sweat stings me.
  10. Song of Life

    1 – Prologue

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth: as his spirit hovered over, he said, “Let there be light”, and there was light; and all the rest of the world followed out of the void, like the tail of a comet chasing after a star.

    2 – The Schoolboy

    The air is always flat this time of night,
    flat and cold and quiet, like the lake outside
    in wintertime. I slow my breathing down:
    I don’t want to break the ice.

    When I go to bed, I never shut my light,
    a sun lamp. Why does no one let me walk outside?
    There, the twisted trunks of oak never shift,
    unlike the shadows of my bed.

    Like the shadows of my bed, the wilderness at night
    is home to demons fanged and clawed; but outside,
    at least, the horrors are familiar, real and steady
    in their motives, while my bed-sheets
    shelter only water.

    I’ve been swallowed whole before. I remember light,
    cold moonlight, crashing through the winter ice outside,
    filling my lungs, choking me, washing away my steady,
    never failing faith. Then, I was pulled up
    by the rooster’s crow.

    3 – The Passionate Youth

    From the waters and the earth, God created man, forming him with his own hands, in his own image: and he breathed in him the Breath of Life, and he blessed him with the Garden of Paradise, and he gave him his Word. Then the LORD God made three women.

    The first was formed by the Word of God from the light, and she was the true companion of man; her name was Desire. But Adam saw her creation in his waking: and he found Disgust in her flesh, and Disease in her blood, and Destruction in her bones: and he scorned her. And she left the garden in Despair, finding refuge in the Dreams of man; she remained a virgin, with perfect youth and beauty.

    The second was formed from every inch of flesh and blood and bone of Adam as he slept, and her name was Lilith. She saw herself as the true equal of man: but God knew that she could not cover him to receive his seed, so he exiled her from the garden. And she became the Mother of the Lilin, the demons of the night.

    The third was formed from the rib of Adam as he slept, and she was named Eve. And man and woman left the garden together, after they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and man and woman died toiling, as they became bearers of wisdom.

    4 – The Judge

    When man lost his arm, his father was reborn,
    his father the wise and watchful god,
    and when his father rejoined the heavens, the instrument returned,
    fully formed: from the blood-red seed of the pomegranate tree
    to the trunk of the tree of life,
    the old oak tree.

    There are no questions to be asked,
    there are no answers to be given.
    Death flies at the face of life
    as the body returns to the waters and the earth,
    feeding the fish, the fowl, the flowers,
    the trees, the beetles, the serpents---
    and the spirit flies over the face of the waters,
    returning to God the breath of life,
    as the soul is lost unto the hands of the multitude…

    There is only comfort. Man lost his arm three times.
    On the first, he lost his way,
    but he found his freedom.
    On the second, he lost his home,
    but he received his love.
    On the third, he lost his father,
    but he bore the multitude…

    Be still: here she comes,
    walking down the milky way.

    5 – The Prophet

    Today, my navel outshines me,
    for today, it is a dying star
    huffing its desperate last breath.

    The immense pressure of gravity’s hands
    ever-squeezing its fiery core
    at last compounds its every facet
    into a heavy hole in time.

    Its shell of gas and light erupts
    into a splendid rainbow of dust,
    of carbon and oxygen and iron and nitrogen,
    of water, earth, wind, and flame,
    of all the material elements.

    And this great cloud of stardust scatters
    beyond the world of my humble body,
    beyond the womb of mother earth,
    beyond the weirs across the heavens,
    to create a brilliant legacy for its father
    by calling forth the comet.

    6 – Epilogue

    And the Word of God released the waters above and the waters below. For many days and many nights the windows of the heavens were opened, and the fountains of the earth overflowed; and the waters of death mingled with the waters of life: and the waters swelled and swelled, so that all the surface of the earth was covered, even the tops of the mountains, and all the spaces of the heavens were flooded, even the seats of the stars, and all the beasts of the earth were drowned, even the fish and the fowl; and their bodies floated on the face of the waters, then blackened and bloated with rot, then sank again into the seas, upon the wet earth, and even unto the waters beneath the earth: and all the world was rendered formless, and void…
  11. Song of Death

    So, the world is round!
    It has its ups and downs---
    A water-wheel
    Guided by the Miller and His Son,
    Begotten One.

    Round and round the circle goes
    With the river’s flow,
    And how the gears and axles spin,
    Guide the milling stone
    Grinding corn.

    Soon, the spokes break down,
    As mold and age corrupt the round---
    A brief command!
    So arrives the Son
    To pull us out.

    Then, to each, a place is given:
    Either the oven
    To cook the family’s meal of bread
    Or the central hearth
    To give them warmth.
  12. Covered in Boils

    Here, the flower, waiting for the inevitable fall:
    does he not feel the warm hands of the gardener
    protect him from the cold?
    Here, pillars, waiting for the inevitable climbing,
    clawing, gnawing of the vines –- pillars of white stone,
    walls of grey stone, and reliefs of saints and roses:
    do they not feel the skilled hands of the gardener
    cut away the branches?
    Here, the painted glass, waiting for the inevitable wind:
    does she not feel the loving, longing eyes of the gardener
    watch her from the distance –- learn from her pictures,
    her wordless poetry, her gentle morning dance of light and color?
    Does she ignore the gardener’s concern,
    ever present, ever careful?

    Or is there only the whirlwind, the inevitable whirlwind:
    the voice of God, hidden behind a spectacle of lightning
    and a mystery play of the flood?
    The whirlwind, he is soft. The whirlwind, he is a whisper.
    The whirlwind, he is the opened eye, the empty heart,
    and when he comes, so the circle will go,
    so all the true concerns of the gardener,
    all the material memories locked behind the shed,
    all these will be swept away, lost, then longed for and looked for again,
    and his current business will be forgotten.
    Such is the voice of God. Such is the concern of the flower,
    the pillars and walls, the painted glass, the eternally
    yet not eternally young temple. Such is the plague,
    the numbed motive.

    Here I am, running, walking, limping,
    all according to the black and yellow lanes of the modern road
    coursing against the river, the high flying cloud
    and the deep flowing spring, all leading towards the city,
    towards the false astrolabe, the eternally shooting star,
    the vision of absolute death. And who holds the gadfly’s knife?
    Whose faith is it that treats even the ugliest flower,
    the lowliest stone, the sharpest beam of blindness
    as a revelation? Who keeps to the hope of the void
    as the love of the final, the fount of eternal youth?
    Not I, I tell you, not this I
    but the congregation, the temple’s founders,
    the fickle spirits of the gardener and his brothers,
    his sisters, his wives and children,
    his mothers and fathers---

    So kill them all. Consult the prophets
    and swim in the waters; reject the city
    and run across the fields. What is faith
    if it has grown rotten? Let the stained glass
    shiver and break. Remember,
    even the whirlwind will be absent:
    if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be.
    Such is the voice of God.
  13. Morning Mood

    On waking hour,
    like the laughter of Hades
    ringing in the ears of Orpheus…

    In my bed, I wonder
    if my love for your
    is still as true
    as the passage of the stars –- I wonder
    if all the questions that you never answered
    would once again in clearness flutter
    through the honest mind like butter
    flies in summer. And then I see
    last night’s dream, the dying embers
    scattered across the floor, the Cumean Sibyl
    standing by the door, her silver hair
    straddled over her eyes –- what did she say?
    All developed love consists
    of conversation?

    Outside, the wind blows,
    and books of leaves
    flutter through the light.
    From the kettle, the water
    whistles a morning tune.

    Today’s breakfast consists
    of two eggs fried, fresh tea,
    and last night’s loaf of bread. I remember
    ancient music as I eat,
    and the swirling
    of the tea leaves in my cup becomes
    the passage of the stars –- but what do I see?
    Only the plain white of cream,
    of the eggs on my plate
    and the steam
    rising from the silver gates.

    And her you say
    you were waiting in the park for me
    last Friday –- and here you play
    with thoughts and shows: yes, you say,
    the car came by the house
    last Friday –- and even when I didn’t answer
    the door, still, you kept my seat,
    bought me beer and meat
    last Friday –- knew I wasn’t dead,
    you say: the dead, at least,
    respond to invitations with a sigh.

    I reply: But I was high! I was high!
    high on drugs, on sugar, music, love,
    on life! How could I
    be sure I suck the sweet sap flowing
    from the root of the living
    tree without those moments?
    No, you were down! You were down! down
    in the dumps, down town
    cutting class, down and out
    drinking, lashing out –- how could you
    be living live with your heart run through
    by three swords like
    on that card you so enjoy
    after vespers?

    But we are children, you and I,
    and there is no predicting.

    gates of horn, gates of ivory,
    they mean nothing.

    And so, the matins. I offer my hands,
    twice-washed, to the ever-watchful god,
    the silent god, who in turn
    offers his readings
    and his good conversation.
    I wonder –- and the light
    stings my eyes.

    Outside, the wind blows,
    and the sprinklers
    come alive.
  14. Ariel’s Achoo

    I sympathize with Plath --
    I’d gas my head through oven too
    if, like her,

    I knew Daddy was a Nazi.
    But the fool,
    though already riding,

    remained behind the fence –- kept feeling
    the weight of the tattoo,
    numbered the faces of her children

    (one, two) with the reckoning
    of the Word –- and drops of dew
    from the nigger-eye

    as marble cubes.
    If like her,

    I would have been didactic –- already
    the Wandering Jew –-
    Eros, c’est la vie,

    to commandant Hughes,
    then let the towels cool
    in the closet.
  15. Ariel’s Witness

    I dreamed I saw two souls return to one
    like the logs on the fire of the hearth of the home
    they had built together, out of nails and lumber
    cedar olive branches cross and layer
    him the binding nailing, her the holding birthing
    now the two the one panting side by side
    on a bed of hides, ages of ages –-

    then I awoke, naked wet alone,
    uttered practiced prayers, thick saliva vapors
    sacrum heart and eye, like Lady Godiva
    on Spirit’s back Truth riding, peeping Tom
    despising the horse the hide the heat –- back to slumber.
  16. Alive Again

    Someday we will be remembered
    not as Adam and Eve were one
    of one flesh, but as Castor
    man and Polydeuces god were two
    brothers, boxer and tamer of horses,
    we shepherd and comforter of men,

    someday, when our father decides our time
    has come, that our flight
    should finally find its way to Santiago
    as this life I have lived
    should rise to that same peak,

    that the sea of our ordeal, now
    named Glacier of Tears, should melt
    and you, Liliana, should spring again.
    Until then, the body sleeps.
  17. Will and Representation

    Isolate –- turn of the century
    prostrate to past and present –- tears
    rolling down windless slopes –- wings, loins
    hacked, scattered –- off the immortal

    I AM –- desiring no malice
    seated, flying, fallen –- peacock eyes
    filled with hateful flame –- with rueful power!
    and skin glowing copper
    turned tarnished tin –-

    Though my skin is earth
    and Venus is my favored planet,
    Saturn cannot conquer. There is
    only Love within this fire,
    misplaced, cracked, consuming,

    yet nevertheless Hallowed,
    for I AM nothing –- a child
    still, enjoying –- sunset flowers
    in the shattered forms of dusk –-

  18. Under the Hijab

    The first time leaves
    no subtleties of truth,
    only desire –- fear –- then a trace
    of vital memory.

    I saw that morning
    in the heart of a summer wood
    what glows behind the veil,

    brighter than the golden stars and leaves
    traced upon the purple –- not sex,
    which the Prophet says would have struck me blind,

    but a substitute more vital –- and I found myself
    lost in the passage of the woodbird
    and the mosquito.

    How many songs have I written?
    How many hearts have I broken?
    only to recapture that same moment,
    that same stolen sight of golden hair
    and ivory tower neck, yet leave
    still starving –-

    never a second time.
  19. Memory Reclaimed

    a memory a film
    viewed once, eventually excitement
    loud action, hero
    slaying dragon
    or princess opening sex
    drowned out, as always,
    by all the little things

    the children –- perhaps the sun
    setting red in the horizon,
    dramatic string section
    hanging chords –- cut to night

    red firelight
    on the deep in contemplation face,
    a young voice, his words in the quiet like

    should I heed? should I heed?”

    and smells of sage on rafter, thickening
    moss on wood, bed of furs
    beginning to foul, sour wine –-

    my son my younger self, we heed now
    sitting here, locked
    in illusion
    now let me enjoy my pipe
  20. A Visit to Some Forgotten Church in Moscow

    One dusty hand reached out, caressed
    my cheek – the other held
    offerings to be bought, gilded frames
    of some saints: Vasil fool, Sergei,
    and the painter-monk Andrei.

    This hooded figure also spoke
    in hazy voice –- and Russian. My guess:
    If only you could hear,
    far-hearted tourist, their complaints
    about this house of God turned pile of earth,
    iconostasis flushed by rain,
    and censer made bouquet,
    then how you’d weep! (or pay)
    as now I do.

    Back then, I wanted to become
    a doctor –- returning home, I laughed
    at the leprous spot below my eye.
    How young was I!