Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
Bare To Such Luscence - A Catfish Mass
Bare To Such Luscence - A Catfish Mass In Mississippi
for John Berryman, his Bones, Confessed
The original fault
Will not be undone by fire.
The original fault was whether wickedness
Was soluble in art. History says it is,
Jacques Maritain says it is,
- John Berryman, from 'Sonnet ix'
Introit then Lauds:
hosanna of rivers
or without gills
I could not make it there
that 'pointed conjunction'
nor up to air. I, Catfish,
soft sift bottom mud, give up
on purity, on flitting civilizations
lifted or pressed between
surface and aspirant spaces.
Done with all that some
have had no choice.
Catfish choices differ
from those of the 'Windhover' Christ,
'dappled, dawn drawn' though they be
(Hopkins implicate flights of resurrection) .
'Stead, Berryman without art or Maritain
out leapt his sonnets to river-fells and missed,
the fool, one last scansion - dirty trick -
'hisself, too, hit, Bones sans pomes,
hard mud, perhaps one foot or his
beard delicately dipped
in paginated river.'
Witless old mud spawn, widest mouth,
no lips to speak of, greed pulls black water
to shore, a bark in air Catfish makes in
punctuated protest at too much light
or is it, rather, ecstasy, final vision gasped
vague in depths, hinted upon surfaces,
Platonic shadow plays portending sparks
praise to what is finally seen at the end,
a life mucked and mired in obfuscated fundaments?
Fate, then, heavy in a boy's hand
hoists dead weight to a nail on a tree.
His knife scores firm flesh yielding
beneath freshly limp gills - there is an
instrument made just for this, pincher-pliers
for catfish skin - he grips and tears,
uses his weight down-stripping smoothly
bare to such luscence little ribs of roseate
Only the overly large head, the ugly face
whiskered within gilded monstrance,
remain pure to form, thin-lipped and
mocking, restrained by depth pressures,
sustained on surface trash, dead things
that sink down it's treasures.
Tenderly sing, then, to a nail,
to a boy's blood catechism -
hands, minds, are meant
to be stained, mercy's quality
unstrained neither by will nor gill.
Scavenging flocks gladly fill their
gullets inhaling entrails tossed
in supplicant bins.
In unison Gregorian they scream:
There is a nail for me
plain, a chorus of barks** -
glossolalia of rivers
now given weight.
One can only will
praise to 'The End',
and spill, post-pliers,
one's silken guts in offering.
**A catfish when brought to shore barks, a rasping, barking discharge of air.
Because They Rhyme They Live, Not I
'O Poesy! for thee I grasp my pen
That am not yet a glorious denizen
Of thy wide heaven; yet, to my ardent prayer,
Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air,
Smoothed for intoxication by the breath
Of flowering bays, that I may die a death...'
- John Keats, 'Sleep and Poetry
I suppose it is the late, or soon to be, poet's lot to jot one
for daffodils. At least one. This is mine, a last will to verse.
But first, I take a pill before dying, I mean,
its meager meal, yellow sun on a jaundiced plate.
'Consumption' is the word I want. I've got that,
and few breaths left and a flat voice to tell it in.
'The daffodils were yellow as the sun.'
So lay down thy pen. Ungrasp! I say.
An olden voice pulls at bruised skin.
I grow thin. And gasp. I grow thin as winter air.
I'll not see them rise again from bulbs perennially.
Not me, annulled in this season of the lung
though each breath mimics leaven, assumes
Eternity's aspirations, but...(where was I?) ...
not me, not long for my tongue to sing.
Meanwhile, bright petaled mouths flaunt, gape,
gulp in early spring, whereas, I flop here, leaden,
landed, banked, a carp brought to heel from bluer
lake pulling gills swallowing nothing that can sustain,
or not much. I sympathize, yes, then down another
pill for more air to clutch, breath an almost perennial
memory of last spring when it first edged me in,
clipped my singing short, when seasonal flowers so
easily rhymed but in a minor wheeze for a minor voice.
Fine then. Some one, some other poet write a
line for when I've gone under forfeiting all final drafts.
Those yard yellows spoon dirt to a useless
feeding sun, useless because I'm soon done in.
I'd do the same for you, Mr. Keats, in a soft, bleating tone of voice.
Black Mouse Makes The World
Black mouse makes
shows empty hands
to each and the sky
confusing sky for
hands clinched in
tight yellow too much
feeling nothing green
is about to happen
what do either
the fiddler plays on
a tune about rain/leaves
in patterns upon
rabbit dances with-
out caution knowing
what holes to avoid
awash in blue
holes being of a
a silver net
trap set inches
from soft pink
clueless paws pattering
musical notes of
kick up from
blind delight -
just dust clouds
before a fall
the bearded stranger
(red hangs the sweep
of his chin)
in cobalt shadow
does not notice
so busy looking
Black Mouse laughs
writes with its tail
Black Mouse Surveys A Village
One blind dog sleeps
Indifferent before all machinery
it moves only, curiously,
before burros gray,
their large eyes wet, shining;
the cooler shade and fields of hay
the long lashes.
A redundant whip in a whipped boy's hand
Sway backs are unburdened by little cries
which simpler crickets take to heart,
their singing legs suddenly still to sighs.
This makes absolute sense
in some discreet window of
the world where Meaning knits
then unknits what is.