Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
Missive For Darkness As Vocation, William Hawkins In Mind
[after viewing a film clip of the American
self-taught artist, William Hawkins]
How would he depict it, your
great sorrow now,
even a corner of it?
forge on, find a
photo, a horse
to paint, as in the film,
then busy himself with the making
of it, then see how the belly is too much,
needs to be thinned, a back haunch
trimmed to size,
a concise seizure of eye and paint
dependent upon hands,
a monumental concern which arights,
or at least, perspectives one's own suffering
or, in the
teeth of daily concerns
taken on as ultimate-form,
gives visual commentary,
response in an image-horse
painted upon cast off wood,
backyard ruin put to good uses
with kindness extended in
the hammer's claw, crows near
the barred door, and, with meds
providing limit to dulling descents,
you may find again that desire to plunge
further/deeper, deeper still, into the muck
and magic of the shorter days
given in winter, in the long nights
generously dumped without
portion control upon the human.
Hawkins, elder of the American tribe, worn,
no, softened at edges apparently fortified,
fortifying vision and metal, painted on,
worked those objects of art making,
occupied himself with familiars,
and allusive smears,
serving now and ahead who
ancestrally will partake of his offering,
be held/healed in their beholding,
nuanced in cloud swatch,
land swath tumbled.
And you, too, do that,
still here, have helped bring
him out to me, to others,
an inner imperative; a torment,
it urgently insists that you continue on
within the maelstroms hopefully soon
to blow themselves out while tending
to your allotted concerns.
I once, your other darkness, quoted Hopkins to you,
'seasons of dryness, ' in the bitter pitched midst
his discovery, 'What I do is me, for that I came, '
not a text for self worship but, rather, an assent
to keep world woe personally felt in that greater
perspective, making poems from orphan woe,
from ever furtive grace which eludes then surprises
in bleakest place, sudden, parses newly in the
greener green of things while pleading still,
'Lord, send my roots rain.'
The shorter light, the extended nights of cold and
star-bright questions, may cast clumsy net forward
into what it all might mean to fretted you, to me,
stretched, though I will not thrust these words any
longer upon your pen or paint but make offering
with thanks for your own work to feed us through
the eyes, perhaps time to mount that Hawkins horse
and soldier on or to fall off again, gain Damascus
perspective yet, from one's back watch vision
distort the massive horse into God receding into
necessary darkness foregoing image in order to
see what may form in the spreading dirt,
what resurrection there is in the smell of paint.
Moments From The Orange World
Here is a poem which partakes of 'harvest' - death, dreams, love, dirge and demi-urge, the task of harvesting consciousness from unconsciousness, from the clash and claw and cling of opposites, each has their tasks, the dogs on the edge of the orange world, Death, too, has it's purpose rendering from that which nascently exists and is coming to be to not be again. Selves and part-selves are birthed/deathed to incarnate myriad possibilities of being which is the human experiment, each is a harvest returned to fallow ground. Each is a murmur, a sound expressed then passing into stillness. And myth.
Murmur: '(A) to make the sound mu mu or mumu, to murmur with closed lips, to mutter, to moan...(B) to drink with closed lips, to suck in...' - Liddell & Scott, Greek-English Lexicon,1897 ed.
'In such cases myth is the truth of fact, not fact the truth of myth.' - Kathleen Raine, 'On the Mythological, ' Defending Ancient Springs'
'The repressed value contains transformative energies and a consciousness of its own...' - Charles Ponce
'The Saviors do not lend themselves to art successfully: they are outside the pale, beyond, as incomprehensible in their love as in their example. They have never become incorporated in the blood stream. Forsaking the world, they become as the idols they sought to destroy. This is human perversity. Throughout the ages it displays itself in the individual life, and now and then it bursts forth in cosmic waves of futility and self-destruction.' - Henry Miller in an essay on Kenneth Patchen
As Dew On Grass Sleeves No Longer Stiffening In The Wind
- Moments From The Orange World - After Kenneth Patchen
'...do not grieve, therefore, those who are lost to you; they were ever so to themselves...'
- Kenneth Patchen - from 'There Is One Who Watches'
I've lost my way and wait for signs.
Distant signal fires indicate 'wait here'.
No gate ahead. The iron dogs are waiting over there
to chew all who approach edges of the orange world.
Best to settle in, grin at stinking Death who is
sinking into the ground winking at me as if to say,
You will soon sink. You will soon sink.
Who do you think you are or were?
Step forward if you dare.
I've observed how furred things give up without much complaint.
They grab often enough so Death grabs back.
They sigh or call out in their animal way, Son of a b*tch!
but in the end they relent and they sink leaving only their
pink tongues spread out over the dawn as if to say.
I blink in the dark looking at edges distant fire.
I wink back at Death who's left only a bony hand
on the ground where He waits just beneath.
How trite He is but it does the job, conveys His trap clearly.
When dawn tongues awaken licking dew from my face,
and my fears, I shall raise both my hands, too, as if to say.
And flaunting these two hands to Death's one, and with flesh,
I shall walk away the way I came having done with burning signs
and a night's work of waiting, my presence taunting the dogs,
Death baiting as if He has forgotten one hand upon the dirt.
We have flirted, Death and me. Not the kind of company
I like to keep preferring furred things to winking bones,
Death's head all teeth and no whistle. But I earn my pay.
I walk away, my own tongue licking as if to say.
I can barely contain myself arriving back at camp where
She waits dreaming shyly in our tent, a Bedouin soul bending
gently over wells in Her keeping on Gentler Hill.
I shall lick Her face then. I shall not tell Her how
I have survived the night with Death at my feet,
the taunting signals over there at the edges, iron dogs alert.
I shall not hurt Her with knowledge of this orange world,
all the dark things within it. I shall softly settle beside Her
where She breezes as dew on grass sleeves no longer
stiffening against the wind.
I shall bring Her in as a fisherman brings
in his boat, softly singing a fisherman's tale,
his throat a song-sore nocturne rocking night waves,
beacons ashore flaring where his Love lies sleeping
awaiting conjectures, his folding, folding into Her
gently suspiring guesses -
Is my love away at sea, at sea,
dark as wine presses as he will
surely press me?
O drink from the wells I tend -
I earn my pay - and away with
Distant lights demur sure in their beckoning.
Sudden, he turns singing boat and heart to shore,
starfish near at hand yearning beyond foam for depth.
Dawn tongues slowly raise up the land-sunken houses,
stilled curtains in darkened windows not yet stirring.
Nearing, he shall not shake the dew from his cloak but gather
as much as he can to bathe Her - feet, hands, those parts
Death cannot sink into but he can. And life will continue on.
As will the other, his lost brother of the inland tent
now gratefully at rest forgetting the ever orange world,
edge fires signaling unseen until dark,
and then the dogs,
and Death's hand,
and then back to work again.
Nightingale Confesses Into Straighter Teeth For the Seven Falling Ones
'...descend and of the curveship lend a myth to God.' - Hart Crane
The boys, seven falling: Jamey Rodemayer, Tyler Clementi,
Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg
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 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.
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.
No Difference In Memory - After Reading Li-Young Lee
I am flying.
I am falling.
No difference in memory,
the smell of rose oil in your hair
my body can find even in the dark
its scent upon me when I awaken
is the cup alone I drink.
I shall go on drinking when
you leave before dawn
departing to another life
I cannot live but only steal
from mysterious bankers
who lend but never give.
I am not free of this cup.
I have stolen it to remember
milk and a scent of rose
entangled in black hair.
Put me on any cross then,
one of two thieves beside any
good Christ and I'll be with Him
in any paradise above or below.
When He says, I thirst,
if I can reach with nailed hands,
I will gently touch it to his bruised lips
and say, Take. Drink. Drink it all.
I return this cup to you.