Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
Kahlo-Christ Conjunctions - Sacrificed Flesh, Broken Bread, Emmaus Vision
[The curious or, better, interested reader may view the images alluded to in this essay at this website: http: //falconwarren.blogspot.com/2011/01/kahlo-christ-conjunctions-sacrificed.html]
As with love, also the bellows.
Calavera*, the Future stands
hand to mouth, fingers to forehead
unfolding before still instatic shapes.
Hold desperately to frames before
these quaking perceptions.
She could not stop there,
had to flare out, dry paint,
and the dryer flesh peel down
to bone, a sexless esqueleto**,
skull no longer mustached,
a calavera, nothing more,
curved calcium reliant forever
upon canvas, what is congealed
there to fan and burn,
a 'cauda pavonis'***.
- the author, from the text below
***Peacock's Tail (an image in alchemy) .
'Poetry such as this attempts not just a new syntax of the word. Its revolution is aimed at the syntax of the mind itself. Its structuring of experience is purposive, not dreamlike. We are dealing with a self-induced, or naturally or mysteriously come by, creative state from which two of the most fundamental human activities diverge, the aesthetic and the mystic act. The creative matrix is the same in both, and it is that state of being that is most peculiarly and characteristically human, as the resulting aesthetic and mystic experience is the purist form of human act. There is a great deal of overlapping, today especially, when art is all the religion most people have and when they demand of it experiences that few people of the past demanded of religion....A visionary poem is not a vision. The religious experience is necessitated and ultimate.' - Kenneth Rexroth, World Outside the Window, the Selected Essays of Kenneth Rexroth, pg.255-256
Rexroth's words are pertinent to the images used in this essay, Kahlo's painting above is visionary, Grunewald's are religious, and several photos are both, and all are 'aimed at the syntax of the mind itself.. Its restructuring of experience is purposive, not dreamlike.' The images included in this essay, which is more a prose poem than regular prose, are meant to convey equally or more, at least as as much as, the words in their incantatory formations which may induce entrance into 'imaginal' spaces where word and image meet in a practical magic, inspire a felt understanding and perhaps gain a view or actual entrance into what ecstatic poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, calls 'the Greater Relation.'
I've decided to publish this piece-in-progress as it unwinds in spirals 'aimed at the syntax of the mind itself...its restructuring of experience' with the understanding that it may later appear in greatly altered form. In a real sense this writing writes itself; I try to heed, copy, then hone to the bone what might be wanting to be sung, for what is below, and often what I write, is more akin to music, a vocal/verbal lilt beyond a particular solid tilt of view of a world absolute, static logos.
Heraclitus noted thousands of years ago, 'All is flux.'
To this I would only add, and perhaps this is what all of my writing amounts to,
'All is reflux.'
Many who know me know that I am passionate about Mexico, my love for the land, the people, the history and culture. Mexico embodies an ongoingly dramatic and profound conflict of body and soul in land and people. There, both pre-Christian religion and Catholic Christianity still strive with each other, traumatically rumble and stumble together a vibrant mix of dynamic images and energies, literal active volcanoes and temblores (earthquakes) add concrete umphasis to what noble telluric forces are seeking to be expressed in manifest people and geography; both the old (pre-Columbian) and the new (to the continent Christian) religions with their tectonic gods and cosmologies enamored/riveted to Star-and-Sky with their calculable notions, mathematics greater than ourselves, abstractions of once solid exigencies greater still, are compensations for blood-, earth-, carbon-, metal- deities. Incorporating the Sky, an edible notion, the more potent sacraments of plants - fungus, febrile root, vine, leaf, pulp, spore, entire chemical choirs of angels gather in a chew or brew, a puff and spew, fiber and fever swallows which lead to being swallowed by raw Existence unmasked revealing infinity forever turning in upon itself, an Uroboric Fractal to which we are not inclined in spite of religious wars to give ourselves consciously, utterly. Given this parity of storming exacting deities, revealed in their own inexorable mathematics calculated in plucked hearts and heads rolled, it is no wonder that the imagery and message of Christianity would strongly resonate in Aztecan and other indigenous psyches of Mexico.
Enter Frieda Kahlo, code in part for me, of Mexico and the maelstrom of the Twentieth century, of modernism, of vibrant culture and of passionate human suffering and creativity. Kahlo's paintings partake of this iconoclastic encounter of catastrophic theologies formed around and within the mouths/bellies of gods of trauma seeking to relieve that trauma by blood requirements either enacted ritually/symbolically in religious rituals or in literal violence acted out in unconscious identity with these instinctual gods, usually both; Carl Jung once said that 'god is a most shocking problem...god is a trauma.'
Each viewing of a Kahlo painting is a viewing of her life, body and soul, its alluded metal serpents, cyclopic hulking male tyros (Rivera, Trotsky, to name only two) , volcanic, engorged Titans of Malinche, chingares (goring ones as the bull gores hungrily) swallowed, too, hoping both to remain and to break free of Her, the Great Saurian Mother, Plumed Serpent, Quetzalcoatl, inherited deities extracting from Kahlo and Mexico literal blood, for paint is blood, too, gashes in brush strokes she could never quite conceal/congeal (and thus her paintings turn hemorrhage to good purposes) , becoming herself the clot, her flesh an unwitting tattoo of existence's beautiful and terrible forms. A life with needles, stitched, she pitched repeatedly into the long throat of the Alimentary Great Mother, Uruboros tail in mouth, recreating Her self by hard passages, throat to anus to birth canal and cave, galactic center point waiting perhaps at the other (no) end, carbon jesters, angels teeming on Quetzal quill tips, twinkling fires in the pitch, sometimes called stars, or ravens, black heralds of colors yet to brilliantly come.
Her chosen medium of paint scores the story of soul wrenched from the body in a terrible accident, personal FATE of archetypal proportions lending images to a human century soon to be overly wed to, dependent upon, and controlled by its machines, the soul's uneasy return to a life on earth, mechanics of body, mechanics of the Twentieth century god, Pragmatics, fed by workers' blood, soul's body's become none other than alchemy's 'Cauda Pavonis', the peacock's tail, or the peacock itself, enduring a magnificent ecstasy/agony, an 'in between' phase in which many colors appear, splendid iridescence, midway point, a false conclusion, merely a digestion of polarities of the black and white flaring in brilliant tints upon glinting metal gears, upon human workers glistening sweat - all light is a glancing blow - to be further transformed not only into spiritual tinctures but into spinal ones as well in which she dips brushes, fingertips in finality no longer lingering; she pours salt into what is left of a self, a wound imaged, lived, no longer intuited, recognized as sacred for a scar is not an idol but a deity hard won.
Kahlo's images are soul trying to scry the 'tragic side of life', the careening streetcar of the Future repeatedly crashing into the always pedestrian bus of Now, forever-world yet changed by the same themes such are archetypes extending at least for a life span which envisions, enlarge, into the next few centuries.
As with love, also the bellows.
Try as I may to render Kahlo as noun and verb, as event still venting from grave mouths such are canvases, my attempts fail to distill, to come to terms with what happened to her at 16 years of age, piercing metal violated flesh newly woman, which turned her into something completely utterly astonished, livid and unforgiving pain burning her to vapor yet still each canvas she is ever falling back within the cruel alchemical vas, glass splinters into unrelenting nerves, encased steel plated Virgin taking a cyclops for lover.
Love inherent in Kahlo's work is all the more Love amidst the ruins disguised as progress. Kahlo's Christ-self in thorn necklace, hummingbird in shape of the Cross, at times her eyebrows, is the 'more real' to me than any I have been so far tendered but for Grunewald's painting of the Isenheim Christ (imaged just below) for the sanatorium altarpiece, a diseased Christ on the Cross covered with syphilitic sores showing 'the strange beauty shining through the disgust and unbearable pain of disease' (text from the back cover of Evil, Sexuality, and Disease in Grunewald's Body of Christ, by Eugene Monick) . I now run from any 'offering' of Deity which drives me further away from my humanity, all of it, by which no god or gods are deposed but, rather, exposed in the fleeing to be all the more gathered, and all the more weathered, endured.
I dwell more in Kahlo's world and long to someday live in her Mexico which to diminishing degree still exists, which does not refuse the comfort of iron nor of Grace, always a surprise, placed and displaced at once in the scarring conjunction of flesh and spirit, human/divine images prominent in Christianity, a dismembered and devoured Christ as only incarnation allows, insistent autonomy arguing autonomy, rough acceptance, Grunewald's unique One, especially the One with shades appealing eternity, beheld for a sickly yet shining, fractured and much, much loved, begotten world.
Christianity, not the Christ, exchanged images for words, images within them breaking to openness into and beyond that mortal sign bursting still into the still more open 'Word' which, too, in spite of Churchly preventions and stops, breaks free of doctrine-adequately-flavored but seeks perhaps secretly to be undone, 'the bells, I say, the bells break down their towers' (Hart Crane, 'The Broken Tower') .
In reaction to images and imaginations leaping out of the word/Word, breaking free even within the Church, 'heresies' so called, the Official Church poured concrete into molds (and pouring more still) , congregations hardened to prevent further conjugations of Imagination within the Words, the Magisterial Delirium of Word/God ensnared - 'once reified deified' - yet insists upon only those sanctioned shapes, and in so doing much of its soul and body wanders, strays, lost in the exchange of image/imagination for said concretions, un-altared sentences weathering in now acid rains. Granted, logos, word, needed to be cultivated in order to extend human consciousness into the past 2000 years, but words and Word ARE images in abstract, compacted, myriad 'angels of the face' (a phrase in Shi'ite (mystical) Islam for the appearance of that 'Other, Truer World' revealed in myriad manifest 'faces/images' apparently eternally unfolding in space and time): all these it is supposed was/is compressed into a Word, 'the Word made flesh which dwelt', and dwells still, 'among us' donning disguises, for eyes, even God's, want to see newly through the darkening glass that always optically teases Imagination from it's coyness.
Still, such timidity ends in engorged blood, meat requirements, rendering vaporous sublimity too thin for fingers, why forks were invented. If modernity, it's forks and faxes, returns anything of value to us stretching into denial which is all our futurity, it is the return of images, high heels or flats, official and unofficial, which return us in turn to our official and unofficial selves, limping shod or un-, ens-not-Ens (being-not-Being) as we are chafe to particular part-selves multiply-imaged as they want or dream to be -Who are we?
Frieda with her Twentieth century stifles a yawn and 'stuffs the universe into her eyes' (a line from a poem by zen poet, Shinkichi Takahashi) .
My words here are not intended, nor are they able, to exclude what Word-oriented, revealed religions of 'the Book' have brought to us and advanced, but now, next 2000 years, the creative struggle will be to conjoin meaningfully polygamous images of psyche into compressions (es-pressions, as in espresso) and ex-pressions (pressed out) by and with word and Word which have tendencies toward monotheism, one true meaning only, which results therefore, can't be avoided, into a heavy-handedness in terms of a perceived/derived one and only Absolute. Ironically, the Arabs discovery of always heavy Zero which, to me, is the only Absolute of merit, gave birth to a multiplicity, diverse, perverse, all the more irascible yet embraceable, maddeningly erasable, while growing arms beyond counting, the better to carry the unforgiving densities.
Count them, or try we must, for congenital compulsions such are calcifications, spirit, soul, life in the body are gripped in the teeth of the world; beatific, we perceive ourselves to be in the image of deity. Still, we can believe we are 'safe'within these calcified discerners of 'absolutes', o here is the 'burning bush', or we can risk the profligate ramble which is consciousness, a fire still burning, an intuition in each person that there is more here than meets the eye or thigh or deities as imaged. We all look, or try, beneath the skin of things - under what is presented, or within it - for that half-guessed/hinted at and/or 'felt sense' that there is MORE beyond the barred nerve, more and other-than the shock of a chrome bumper-bent world careening, aware that within all is here a Presence, all images and words assuming that Presence - Arabian gift of the non-alloyed Zero unmeasured by mass, a better name for god depending on thermal history's twisting vector, ghostly mirage, if any are to be had - the base in spite of or within the Metallic Matrix of the blacksmith heart hammering verdigris ventricles into shape, Newton's grave conjugations, living time solidified, hardened, stiffening Presence into dilute renderings of base metal, chaste Frieda, her canvases chasing plutonium wire unaware, bears the blunt end of Presence at the end of the Aeon of the Fishes still barely beyond Bronze Age's just sharpened edges corroded, pre-Christian Mexico preferring obsidian ones hammered, chipped, scraped upon hard flint; Frieda, volcano born, turns into conjugal vessel, Quetzal plume conjoined to Serpent skin rebirthing extensions of crash, a returning God, boat and horse delivered from the red beard of the bloated sea confronting yet one more deity requiring blood.
Viewing Kahlo's paintings, which she came to embody, and they her, even those images and words sought which seek expression upon human tongue in human eye, still seek to deny or decry that Presence, Dark Night in broad day, all appearance, a drift beyond meaning, only a swaying bus careening yet again, repeating collision of the Virgin's hymen, amniotic Host forever a Lover divided yet again, Crepuscular Christi, all this in Kahlo, revered now a cult for she is Woman Christ multipli-imaged Suffering One with breasts, concealed antlered uterus wincing at anviled annunciations verified only in wavering beliefs such are weeping statues and surreal apparitions strung out on coniunctio, the Gethsemani Girl seen, no longer concealed at all or hidden in plain sight, Christ-o-form agony, isolate angry, raging, bereft human confusion, 'despised and rejected' in the meanness within ourselves destined to see our deities through to the end though beyond capacity to smell necrosis, to see the exit wounds of soul coagulating disguised as skin, muscle, sinew.
But it is we who are seen and thus the imperative mercy and compassion, o endlessly, endlessly, for existence as it is and the miracle of that Shining Stranger encountered on all our Emmaus road all the more Real-ing. Lest the bread be broken by that Stranger our eyes cannot see, cannot taste the Thou in existence extending Himself, or Herself as Kahlo-Christ, into our reaching hands and mouths to take, eat all of it. We take when we can see it, what is offered by that Shining Stranger who returns us to that 'Thou dimension', all our suffering then contained, held, though never satisfactorily explained so easily reduced to formulaic glibness as so much theology does to this day.
The Shining Stranger knows a rod rammed in - o touch his hands and feet, his bleeding side - and knows Miraculous Dimensions within the apparently real, discovers that very self to be a Miraculous Dimension, an experience, not a Word, nor an image, for both words and images do stumble punch drunk on the once was new Wine and word, those paper scraps unnoticed, unseen, unread, unheeded, or if heeded are only ITs, objects devoid of meaning, and not Thous, just one more 'drunk singng in a midnight choir (Leonard Cohen) '.
Emmaus is the road I walk. I pray still. I do not balk at strangers encountered there, shining or not. When words are put to 'Thou' purposes as the Shining Stranger did at the camp's cook-fire on the Emmaus road then at some point, when bread is broken eyes are opened, a whole loaf now rent into edible pieces rendering wholeness mouth by mouth, once teased ears suddenly recognize sense in sounding voice, that Meaning Itself is before them, feeding, teaching, reaching to touch our own wounded hands and feet, the bleeding sides. All is changed and yet we are returned to life again, as it is, but now having heard, seen and tasted, ever 'Christ-haunted' for such Grace lingers in aftertaste yet a foretaste, o Gloria, to say the least; even this lingering grace a feast, a proffered shining hand remaindering our own shine, dim in comparison but loved all the more by 'the Face', It's 'angels' shining.
Christ the Bread, also the Confounding Stone upon which all our glibness breaks.
This breaking tells. We are not unloved by that, that Rod and Presence Who knows and partakes of what Kahlo's images, as did her life as lived, portray. No blame. Only awareness of the stain which is existence, exquisite as the burial cloths of the One Rammed to a tree, suffering Divine Paternity, Kahlo arriving on the threshold of the bus which has just, yet again, circulatio, stopped at her stop to carry her forward into Legend.
'No romance involved with all that now' - Fog Drenched With Gerard Manley Hopkins's 'The Terrible Sonnets' Discovering Heitor Villa-Lobos
Awakened to this this morning, Bachianas Brasileiras No.1**
I remember the first time I heard it - in college, thanks to Elaine, a library copy and a suspended moment at the dorm window watching fog pour up from a deep Tennessee valley, socked in again, which often happened on Lookout Mountain, weeks of thick late Autumn fog, gray white-out cloud-light leaning into the un-lit quarter, philosophy books stacked, Pre-Socratics, Church History, Clement, Polycarp, Gnostic wind howling just beyond the pane, the un-modulated whistle of said insistent storm playing the Castle In The Clouds in fierce Sinai song, Bachianas Brasileiras, No.1, conducted by Villa Lobos himself, nothing short of revelation that my too young to be so weary self had no idea existed but upon hearing within pinnacled gale, then, nothing could prevail against my landing oriented-at-last by mostly cellos and fog spinning in the Brazilian folk rhythms I would spend my entire life descending toward, stumbling forward, misstepping after, 'my kingdom for a macaw, ' become a slack-jawed shamanista entranced by dirt, green overhang in forest din, daily feathered by birds all kinds in twining limbs above.
No romance involved with all that now, I am an almost old man more rapidly untangling string by string, out-cello-ed in the end, and yet again, by an innate longing to land, go under, dwell within, peaking out, over strung, finally done with Polycarp and company, at one with my Hopkins book still, sufficed -
Terrible Sonnets to accidental Grace.
Rendered, I yield.
I am peeled layer by layer to pomes-penny-each
glottal stops of 'soul, self, come, poor Jackself, '
be advised once more, 'jaded, let be' -
while not forgetting to go with Lobos rhythms,
leave 'comfort root room' finally escaping
John Calvin's dire and doom -
'let joy size At God knows when to God knows what;
whose smile's not wrung, see you'
and raise you One.
The sonnet entire, #47, by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
MY own heart let me have more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst 's all-in-all in all a world of wet.
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
's not wrung, see you; unforeseen times ratheras skies
Betweenpie mountainslights a lovely mile.
**Copy and paste this link to hear Heitor Villa Lobos Bachianas Braseleiras No.1:
https: //www.youtube.com/watch? v=fL3rH0tCsJg
***Copy and paste this link to hear Laia Falcon, my cousin in Spain, sing Bachianas Brasileiras No.5:
Of Ancient Mastodon, Sleepy Bee & Young Men Who Leap Too Soon From Bridges - Nightingale Confesses Into Straighter Teeth
'...descend, and of the curveship lend a myth to God.' - Hart Crane
Pueri aeterna, septem cadens
Etiam plures ad
The boys eternal, seven falling
Too many more to come
Sub olivae, pacem
Ut vos omnes adoremus orientatio
Under the olive trees, peace
May you all adore this orientation
"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their
hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once
hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."
- James Baldwin
'Ignacio goes up the tiers
with all his death on his shoulders.
He sought for the dawn
but the dawn was no more.
He seeks for his confident profile
and the dream bewilders him
He sought for his beautiful body
and encountered his opened blood
Do not ask me to see it! '
- Federico Garcia Lorca*
Even the pigeons on my stoop are silent now.
One mourning dove coos tenderly for these who
have taken their own lives publicly on our behalf,
for those many gone before them, broken hearts
enraged, no more to engage the unpersuaded
world which, one of them, one of the public ones,
in spite of murmuring wharves, in spite of amorous
dark alleys bitter in the pitch of the last hateful
American Century, Hart Crane, wrote before his leap
from the ship beside the phallic curve where Cuba
meets the lisping sea, took his tongue away which
sang of chill dawns breaking upon bridges whose
spans still freely splinter light returning hungover
from the night wharves, grottoes, and denim World
Wars, industrial embraces crushing every man and
now another one abandons his fingers and fiddling
to scattering light, takes flight from ledges to
edge close to an embrace no longer forbidden -
'And so it was I entered the broken world
to trace the visionary company of love...'
I am at the 'Way of Peace Bistro, ' where the server
Alberto whose cousins are the famous Wolf Boys in
Jalisco, Mexico, hirsute himself, gives me free double
espressos so I may hear his confession, who only just
yesterday came out to me in my confessional booth
here at the perpetually wobbly table in the far corner
at the cracked window rocking with Hart's un-confessed
bones wrapped in soothing silt which he now dreams
to be his silken pall.
Life is indeed strange above the veiled bottom.
I do receive confessions here where I weekly haunt
for studying, writing, chasing down dreams, waves,
Why, I wonder, is each window where I sit cracked?
I am the itinerant priest who sits at meager feasts.
Suffering congregants, forlorn over their starfish
and soup, ask about dreams, confess to anguish, ask
what should be done. I consult espresso foam, open
the nearest book at hand willy nilly to see what advice
or wisdom might be gained from That which, we hope,
indiscriminately sustains us all here straining after
some realing thing to keep us going when Hart and
those too recent others obey some impulse to place
at last the final period, reifiying the punctuate
though unrepentant ending of this too too long run-on
sentence of hate. One hopes this period holds fast,
that Logos/meaning is somehow, plates of starfish
with fork and knife beside, true or truing at least.
One serves where needed. And when.
So come unto me you 'sad young men.
All the news is bad again so kiss your dreams goodbye.'**
Here at my confessional I can only plead mercy upon the boys
who have jumped from bridges, hung themselves, cut, sliced their
compulsive hands, exploded hearts, leaping dears eyes ablaze in
thrall of antlers, trembling flanks strong to fly decrying the
violent hunt which always ends in a death bequeathing these
chopped bits to me and to others like me who remain at table,
plates before, to stare at what is to be later scattered, sown,
these pieces in and for Love-without-name still a stain upon
confused local deities and their wild-eyed supplicants.
But there is no stain upon the promiscuous sea.
The compliant sky is not confused.
Neither is all that is between confused,
allowing birth and blessing, passing of
all kinds in all manner of motive and motion.
But in the human world, distressing, there
will be more boys, more men growing up as
from the very beginning where earliest enmity
mythically grew strong before shoes, before
hearts were capable of breaking, before turgid
theological floods spilled blood of brother
by brother turning witness stones toward silence,
echoing lamenting Federico,
'Do not ask me to see it! '
I don't want to see it!
I will not see it!
But I, but perhaps we, who remain to plant these
petaled parts of these unwitting scapegoats whose
eyes are milk now forever, we must bar sentimentality,
must move toward genuine knowing which comes from
the long hard stare beyond Milky Ways at the way
things still inexorably are. 'Nothing gets better -
or changes for the better - until it is what it is.'
But the falling ones, half-way to eternity while
here and eschewed, know what the 'is' is of the matter,
that it is the others, too many of them, who don't
or won't know, who willingly refuse to see 'what is'
in order to reach beyond the collective NOT SEE
solutions' of hetero-normative culture/religion.
Perhaps even in the deepest fault of the ocean that
very visionary company - in league with stuporous
pigeons, a mourning dove, me here who remains-not
-yet-remains, tearful over my espresso looking for
signs, finding only an endlessly fracturing rainbow,
remembering, too, the murmuring secrets of wharves
and co-mingled breath - that very visionary company
traces all the sunken ones, the jumping ones, those
with other means for departure by their own hands
empty now of demands for love.
Here I sit, arthritic living hands still
demanding, remembering full of past and
present griefs the Violin with a cut throat
in a youthful suicide once writ years ago,
hidden, hiding out, refusing to shout my
rage to Almighty 'Nothing-But':
Do not hear nothing but the cabin walls,
do not hear nothing but late summer roses
petal by petal leaping from the still too
white trellises, leaping pinkly, redly,
memory to breezes, overwhelmed by trellises
shagged with cut sleeves.***
But not me. Not yet.
I don't want to see it!
I will not see it.
On the mute page, the Violin refusing to sing
- in love with Garcia Lorca,
the goring horn of the Bull,
the destined cornada -
each and all appalling, commanding 'Write'
in long nights working where the mentally ill
wandered with me, keys ironically in my hand,
the yellowing hallways with even more ironic
EXIT signs brightly RED above the locked doors,
silent companions somnolent but for the jangling
joke of the keys.
Do not ask me to see it!
I don't want to see it!
I will not see it.
Still, I have now these better days in the Village,
broke or near to it, with eggs and beans, cheap but
edible things. An epicurean after all, I do luxuriously
head to the Polish butcher shop nearby to gather meat
but not any of the young butchers want to be gathered
- too Catholic - for Poland is 'passing strange' with
bad teeth, fingers stained with nicotine. Or is it rust
from once Curtains of Iron,
or the Blood of the Acetylene Virgin? ****
I get my meat, cook my greens and things, have good-enough feasts for garlic and the right spice make grander the demanded abstemiousness of current coin. I purloin my pleasure during eats in my dirty yet happy apron with recordings of poetry, lectures or a good aria or two to salt my food with tears, a blubbering fool beside his one low watt lamp, darkness too too comfortable like a pooch or cat at feet. What is that bleating in the darker corner? I shall wait for daylight to see what it can be. And if I can I shall free it from it's trap and in doing so perhaps free me from all this, all this witnessing as life demands I must, of young ones setting themselves free because they are forced to do so by collective psychopathology now rendered even more effective and efficient via technology, via internet, emphasis upon the 'net', where the ills set free from Pandora's Modem have only begun to be revealed.
But I shall use that 'net' and my still goodly paper and goodly pen to dim whatever ill tides there are and to come, as they surely will in spite of low wattage. I'll jangle keys on the night watches reading my mystic books, making my prayers with roamers of wards and wharves glancing up, considering bridges, edges, silty bottoms. The tides are here even now. But right now I wish to sing a lullaby in protest to those hurting departed, even to those coming ills, that I may sing innocence dumbly back to those who may come ashore again more gently having forgotten enforcing depths insisting them toward resistant yet resolved embraces...
...So breech then, waves. Feet first. Heads in the brine. I shall keep time on your wrinkled toes sticking up from the sand, play peek-a-boo. Then while you sleep I shall harvest gently, place them firmly in that old woman's shoe...'there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, had so many children she didn't know what to do'.
She may yet have learned what to by now.
I haven't. But for my one strange harvest here below...
Somniculosus Apis, Sleepy Bee
Ascendit infra me, He rises beneath me
Deus absconditus placet, The hidden God is pleased
He is busy even as I write this preparing a repast for many paying guests who will watch him cook sacred chilies of his Mother's garden born, who will hear him sing their praises...Krishna was over yesterday, nervous and excited about it all. Working out regularly at the gym he is now very toned, muscular in a good way, not too pumped in exaggerated lumps, and he is even more radiantly beautiful/handsome than when we first met beside the cardamom and the ghee in the intoxicating basement of the Indian spice and food shop not easily hidden, such aromas are not to be tucked down like the shop is beside and below the avenue.
Which flower should I adorn my table with? I ask, approaching shyly beside the spice bins. I buzz inside, a bee for the nectar.
If you serve, said he, If you serve with cardamom and ghee then flowers three are best, the jasmine, the oleander, the anthurium. But if choosing only one, he looks at me, something insistent, responding, in his eyes, I would choose for you the anthurium.
And so we began our time together, the cooking lessons, the first demur approaches, the blushing papayas, then the fires, the chilies harvested, curtains drawn. One day perhaps I to shall fall but in this way:
I shall fling back the curtains
Open the window
Throw cut sleeves for years
gathered, hidden, to the street.
Shouting out names of lovers,
I shall then leap openly into life
land softly upon the Autumn
ginkgo leaves and, golden,
kiss every parked car
on the street leaving
lips like leaves and all
the cut sleeves in love
with all the world and if
not all the world then
all the cars and a fiddle
dee dee for the fall of me
Yesterday I coached him on slowing down as he speaks (his accent is thickly, richly Tamil) , how to enunciate each syllable. He had several stories to choose from which he may relate to the guests, all of which he related to me, a sweet one of him as a little boy waking up at dawn, asking his dear mama for an omelet to eat:
'Sleepy Bee, ' she called to him. 'Go, my Sleepy Bee, to the garden and be sure to smell the jasmine there, touch softly the spices in trembling rows, fetch then some chilies of many colors and I will prepare for you a dish as you wish. When the teacher makes you sleepy by noon reach then your fingers to your face, smell the spices there, remember the touch of smooth skinned chilies whispering of lingering liaisons to come, and you will brighten my Sleepy Bee.'
A chili omelet she would make, a side of yogurt to soothe the burn, and milk from the cow drawn before dawn's first udder swelled against the press of distant hills where even the Temple soundly sleeps so very full and pleased with itself. Mother, each morning as he stumbles, rubbing his eyes, into the garden, tells him,
You may shout if you wish to wake
the Temple for the cow cannot speak -
Wake up! Awake! Make haste!
Lord Indra comes! Prepare the wicks,
the incense sticks for His Holy Fire!
Hasten! Hurry! Quicken!
There beside Lord Indra's captured fire in the little grate her Bee awakens watching her slow movements, the slicing of chilies, the removal of seeds, the washing again of plump hands, the cracking of eggs, beating them with the whisk, spreading ghee upon the hot flat stone, the enchantment of liquid whites and yokes becoming firm, becoming food. She turns them in round rhythms as she rhythmically prays.
After eggs and chilies are eaten comes the rose oil poured upon his raven hair smoothly brushed back to reveal his shining face, his smile. She prepares him for school with kisses, his uniform freshly cleaned, ironed, smelling, too, of rose-flavored soap. Then off to school with a lunch, a string of chilies of all colors sewn together, sewn when he was still in a waking dream.
'The chilies may burn, ' he tells me, speaking slowly, enunciating each syllable, practicing through smiles, returning to my gaze. 'But not like the touch of my mother's hand. She is far away but I can feel her burning hands on me now.' He smiles. I stammer. How can one enunciate such wonder?
Visionary company, Krishna, his mother, and me.
I have been encouraging Krishna (which is a funny thing to say, Krishna being a bold, blue God) to find a language coach to help him with his accent, to tone it down while keeping the wonderful music/lilt of it and he's going to do that...he complains of tilting his head as he talks 'as all Indians do' but I insist he merely speak and let his head and hands speak, too, in their own way. If he does more public events he will need to be understood clearly when he speaks while preparing his magnificent dishes from his country, his rich feasts of stories of the chilies from his mother's garden entwined by morning glories, the morning cock already at quarrel with the world just beyond the tin reaching in to take some spices too enticing to refuse...
I always feel as if he is, or will soon be, bored with me and my humble 'ministrations' but he sweeps into my little 'box-doir' - you recall how tiny my expensive studio on the 5th floor is! - like a Raj, a young prince beaming, brimming full of stories to tell me, usually some food, spicy hot, he has prepared for me, offered with a grin. Then he strips instantly down, lays upon the down pallet in easy, unabashed nakedness - it catches my breath, I do want to see! - checks his Blackberry for the latest cricket scores while I hurriedly 'hide' my Ganesha, the prominent statue of the god I have in front of my useless fireplace; this hiding I half understand...but still, naked, he has a fresh and beautifully made tattoo of Ganesha on his shoulder, he wears a Ganesha necklace, a Ganesha bracelet, and a Ganesha waist scapular, the image of which is just below his navel. So why, I ask only myself and Ganesha, never Krishna, why must I hide my large wooden Ganesha statue? But I do hide Him in deference to Krishna's wishes and meanwhile have intercourse with the god-in-miniature, scraping a necklace trunk with an ear, a tongue, receive a scapular kiss of the image upon my forehead as I trace those wonderful hairlines of the male body on my way to other deities.
Ah! give me all the beans in the world in all my poverty! Am I not, too, a Raj of floors and scented pillows, this beaming god beneath me thrusting utterly to reveal his secrets, his desires, his pleasures to me who am not a god?
Life, dear Valdosta, over all, is good, yes? I wish it no ill. But, agreeing with the cock, I will quarrel, even fight, with life when young men still leap too soon from bridges because I have learned (and relearn it hard lesson by hard lesson at a time) visionary company insists its tracings in many forms, man to man being but one holy expression, those sons, burning mother's hands upon them demanding, insisting to life that each her sons is a rajah, a Sleepy Bee.
So please the intemperate humanity, in the face of patient deities the burning ones are leaping still and I am ill with grief, with prayer, their dead bodies gone, their now emptier hands.
And he leaves me.
I return to my poems.
The room is filled with Krishna, aromas of rose oil in his hair, pungent spices in his sweat and upon his hands and skin, and sex.
I retrieve Lord Ganesha out from his little sanctuary of hiding (it seems I am always retrieving deities) and we both laugh richly. I remember to sprinkle some cologne upon Him, to pour out some milk into His votive bowl, to rub His belly, to light another candle (the other extinguished, panting, while we were busy bees exchanging knees and sighs, diffusing male spices into bracing air, fingers upon oily chilies thickening in always morning hunger) .
I light more incense and thank the Lord Ganesha in all his forms, appearing both large and small, His adornment of Secrets, though one cannot easily hide an Elephant, man-love and more in such a small infinite universe whose toes I seek to tickle then gather for a shoe as tides shrink and swell, grow and diminish depending upon the worshipers, those who will do so in spite of those who would kill delicate or manly infidels whose worship, forever babies breath, is all the more meaningful.
Be damned the trellises. The petals shall reach, shall extend outward.
The violin's throat cut.
'Do not ask me to see it! '
Then, Ganesha restored to His rightful place; good-natured about being hidden, it is back to the kitchen, the slicing of the onion, the crushing of the garlic, the pouring of the wine, the selecting of the greens and washing them of the clinging sand and grit they kindly bring, then to the pot to cook them in, the meat to go with, and begins the fire, O Indra, more aromas extend into, entwine with what Krishna has left to me and the god and I am grateful, full of heart, for each time he is here is a miracle. A grace. Mother India with hot hands gifts me one of Her Raj's who graces me with his presence evoking praise bestowed from oft bitter lips and tongue made the more bilious by aging, aching joints, laxer muscles, and yet the encroaching decrepitude is bent and stretched, the better for the wear from Krishna's 'half nelsons' and yogic overreaches.? More the better for me.
Yet I remain bitter, too, from the senseless loss of young men who could not endure, no fault of their own, for sure, who leap from bridges, forced to by killing edges broken open within and by hateful, fearful others forgetting, if ever had, those restorative burning constancies of a Mother's hands upon them
I have placed your picture, dear Valdosta, upon my altar beside Lorca's portrait, and Hart Crane's young face, the image of a sweet Christ holding a lamb en perpetua, and the yellowed newspaper clipping from Spain of the Matador's death, along with photos of the young men in the past two weeks who have joined Hart becoming ghostly visionary company. They now remain forever chaste not having lived long enough to be wasted, emptied of love from loving deeply out into love for more love, endlessly bleeding out like our Lorca, a corrida of laurel encircling his head no longer remembering but remembering only one sound, guns exploding outward, extending, bullets, petals, one by one beyond the wall where he stood stunned, 'how young and handsome are assassins' faces', he flew backward in the wall graced with his brave shadow then his blood until he fell. I believe he fell hard for life demands it as does death which will continue its duende.
Love, as Hart and all hearts love, is still a vision not yet fully, solidly formed in spite of stones and walls forgetting noble shadows, but there are foolish Krishnas, restoring Krishna-moments, patient hidden gods though human hearts and bodies remove themselves from the potter's wheel too early, too broken, too tired, too alone to try to shape love from Love from the tiny shard, the remnant bone of the ancient mastodon, the last one, dreaming within each heart of that Love which all Nature yearns for.
I pray for my inherited brood of brothers, and remember to be gay for all the gray afternoons in this sad but forgiving confessional, while not forgetting mine and the cock's quarrel with life, in the booth by the cracked window near the corner of 7th and Second.
I am yours, bleating, sometimes crowing, but almost always bestowing praise. I am loved, Valdosta, and I love you.
*Opening quote is from Lorca's elegy, 'Lament for Ignacio Sαnchez Mejνas'
** The Ballad of the Sad Young Men
Music written by: Tommy WolfLyrics written by: Fran Landesman
(best version sung that I know of is by an aged Mabel Mercer in concert, hard to find it now) ?
Sing a song of sad young men
Glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again so
Kiss your dreams goodbye
All the sad young men
Sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights
Missing all the stars
All the sad young men
Drifting through the town
Drinking up the night
Trying not to drown
All the sad young men
Singing in the cold
Trying to forget
That they're growing old
All the sad young men
Choking on their youth
Trying to be brave
Running from the truth
Autumn turns the leaves to gold
Slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old
That's the cruelest part
All the sad young men
Seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold
For a little while
Tired little bird,
She does the best she can
Trying to be gay for her
sad young man
While the grimy moon
Blossoms up above
All the sad young men
Play at making love
Shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light
Guide them home again
All the sad young men
***In China homosexuality was referred to as 'the cut sleeve'.
Read an excellent account of this in
Passions of the Cut Sleeve, The Male Homosexual Tradition in China.
http: //www.ucpress.edu/book.php? isbn=9780520078697
? ****Surrealistic Sutures For The Acetylene Virgin by Warren Falcon
'I think that poetry should stay awake all night drinking in dark cellars.' - Thomas Merton
Look to the body for metaphor
Look to blood, use this word
in relation to dreams or flowers
while silver runs in veins which
are usually streets or vines.
Breasts, male and female,
are stars, have to do with
a handful or feet to span them.
Abdomen, then, is a great
Milky Way gathering,
holding, expelling comets,
caroling colons' humming.
Spleens are bones to
pick teeth with, teeth
which are, of course,
sea horses or gravestones
bearing images of the Flagrant
Heart to tame this spot of
gypsum and flint, to charm
where Violin's cut throat
sings itself awake, one
black breast out of its fold
slapping metal seas against
dropping metal shores in
Sidelight's shadow across
this hand writing now,
slap of waves mute in
this stillness of knees.
So lend a darkness to gardens,
ancient pattern of a breast,
cloth lightly lifting, black on black.
From Her chest reveal a slenderer throat
that nods when she swallows
and names her peace.
The delicate will not pass away just yet.
Great Seamstress of Space
with fingers of dew.
Of Li Po Waking The Morning After, circa 1981
'Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.' - Li Po
'We share life's joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.' - Li Po
Waking up among these frail green things,
by the stream I hear the hornets singing.
I do not fear them but I fear the sting
of light as day creeps into my shade.
I have read of sad and joyful things
under last night's moon and now I weep
for the Immortals fading from light
to light with their pockets of pine bark
and resin to chew, their wine of sorrow
to drink in their, and my, sorrowful season.
I am homesick for the earth as
these old poets knew it,
a thin veil of mountains,
winter birds pecking at suet,
some girls dancing, and a wife,
some young sons to pull the reeds up
fishing and weeping for my exposed
wino bones while I sit, drunk, pronouncing
upon the deeds of state. Pitiable.
Let there be leaving taking and coming to,
drinking and drinking again,
playing fool to the wisdom of the ages,
remarking at those unkind sages
who always smack their lips for war.
Give me again the hilltop cave,
the pilgrim come to call at the door.
Fires I will then light for this age.
Who comes to me in this season for reason
besides the bee and the mite, the winding gourd?
I have sat here in one spot so long
I begin to lose my sight. Look!
The stream is growing a beard in the daylight!
No word can bring back the Immortals but for wino joys.
There is a blight upon our time. I have been faithful to it
tipping my cup. The present is sufficient but I admit
I am ready to go. My time has come.
Leave the world to the scoundrels!
[POET'S NOTE: I wrote the above poem in response to Li Po's famous poem, 'Alone And Drinking Under the Moon'. Here it is, by Li Po:
Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.