Into each gullied valley, each marl and barrow, aural to the marrow, the upper rapids cascade, receding escarpment. Legend has virgins in white doeskin canoes. Their likenesses embossed on coarse ivory cardstock. The buoyancy to fall singing, voices unheeded, believing a song of massed motion and sight. “Do you feel hollow, birdlike in flight?” Sheeted lightning nightly plays a primitive unfinished drumming thunderous overhead.
It is morning; longing for meaning we move slowly forward.
Distant turrets remain largely intact. Imagine watercolors, submerged outcrops where seagulls flock. And still the schoolies school in the warm shallow pools. One eye cocked. Rising to brush off the caking mud, thinking I’d left long ago, static mountains ahead best dead men buried below the snow line. No one will mourn me, no hearts will be rent with anguished cries, just an unnoticed passing of another lost, lonely man.
Stronger, the dead singing darkness vaulted, vaunted.
The sun, untroubled, a stone revealing our broken selves spoken, our courage held wordless, obscures through rumor. Reframing the photo, softer focus, loss of surface. Pompeian stone meanders delicate rivers, a Roman bathhouse fabled. Worn clothing of a man who failed, spirit ensnared, whispered of. Long suffering the silence common humming like Chinese balls.
“What was it that old fucker said… ‘Tis a face that recalls me to sweet Sunday suet…”
Entering the village, gusts of drifting powder dust the grounds. Wind brittle, biting. Every step grinding travertine chips and slivers of schist. Loose gravel pocks scattered white ash. Witch hazel stands huddle stunted. They’d built and were building walls of large howling stones. Stones levered into place beyond verdant open space off India and Water, a Customhouse view.
Women porter along brackish water.
One long ash keeps the spark glowing, not inhaling only rolling smoke between teeth, along tongue. The sores were not here before here. What was once merely bone grown callous in honest snow surviving the bodies necessary, the crushed heat, incendiary, speaks. Even the Furies weep.
“Long afterwards the news came back that all the donkeys were dead.”
Along vacant streets nail-bitten fingers roughly across tactile surface and deliberate place, aware no despair will quell this dispelling pervasiveness. Seeing the trees for want of a forest, each step is but that. Beseeching children press grave faced persons queued, sacrificing the spare moment or two, for this. Someone behind an opposing door coughs. The quay remains shrouded.
“Lighters, free fer a pound, lighters free fer a pound…”
One among the perishing, the perished. Dying here, here where time died long before thought? Pains only limit greater pain. In a lifetime spent in study of a language unread by many, rags of incomplete phrases knot unwieldy imagery as wholes. Sometimes old rope holds out hope, sometimes old rope holds back time.
So intricate and fine, our hands decipher darkness emerging.
The convent must once have held superior, devotion, and flock. Now delinquent, renounced, the steeple’s shards rise. Recessed in the clerestory, a spiked palate plate rusting in the dank dark and an iron brindle branks. No longer tolling, high hung bells grown less beholding. Haunting hymns no longer sounding those who long, overarching our reach.
We move, finding the skies, as Brecht penned, Empty.
The ground floor boarded, cracked glass afforded access through jagged panes. Two buttressed mattresses moldering in separate rooms. The room between held heaps and bottles of sediment souring. Above, dog-eared old books like winos lying facedown and spineless, forgotten where fallen; bindings unheeded spilling knowledge unneeded.
Would my sins, father, shock someone like you?
He woke up stinking, although he’d never know it. Masonic cattle breeding Rotary of another age in the time he’d made; a veteran of second Lieutenant wars, a bachelor’s degree & Harvard law. A rye man through his working years, he loved his Brahms, saw himself an Elder. To speak, that was war.
“Either my God should have suffered more or more simply made no point of suffering”
The night before a hoar covered condom hung from the drainage outlet within reach of a single ankle sock. Further down the shore a soiled blanket tangled in 40# test lay swept up in the current stretching a canvas of bruised agony. Imagine withered flames of peasant brothers, extant birds migrating south, unscaled sight beyond unfocused heights. Twelve years later, falling, his hands no longer bleed.
Sins without conscious repent to sin again.
Would my sins, father, shock someone like you: world weary prophet exhaustively drawn to smaller rooms, repeatedly wronged, lain incensed, unromanced, uncoupled clay buried dancing sanctified soil? Undone by the logic that love never comes, bliss lays heavy, fades; I realize now how earthquakes resound. Tremors, like rumor, remain.
For now the moon reveals itself like a vulgar cultured pearl.
Conception House. An abandoned estate. Stale must. Mold. Chipped plaster, exposed lattice, once salmon now stripped and peeling. A once visible diminishing of evening’s intuitions intimated. An autumnal darkness emergent. The path lay nearly convincing. The clearing opening below sea level. Its secret belies the actively seeking.
Offstage and unheard: the season turns quickly, unnoticed.
A few hundred yards encompass rotting fodder, teeming flies, gamey fetor and a primal scent of forged soil and domesticated toil. Scraps of clothing, soggy bog rolls, damp bedrolls staked facing the sun. Between rows of horse bean and cultivated corn, agrimony, blessed thistle, woad and weld flourish. Lye leeched for bleach burns breath from lung. Abject lessons in lonely nesting.
Contexts merely content, texture force of reason.
Light thickens cleansing earth. Four walls rolled boulders cleared from the surrounding fields, fitted snugly without capstone, oaken frontage hewn by hand. Crescent over honor point. Stag’s head dexter. Cross-sinister impalement painstakingly worked,
Hic et Ubique in charcoal over mantle.
From outer rafters brindles, saddles, helves of scythes, forks with blunted tines, pikes and leather slung gathering dust in shambles once stable. Collapsing chimney shelters skittish swallows, scatterlings returning. Beasts in silence surround poets without music. Highly descant singing ensconces familiar haunts. Mangy dogs paw boiled gristle. Gnarled smoke tree stumps tie august ground.
Postcard postmarked Tangiers late in the century. He had removed his hat in the heat.
This house where fall of darkness looks up to grieving sky, that humble flight, holds only close this mournful lyre and a calcified old barbarous eye. Want black, dragging blindly this stale churn of unalterable love. Moments before her death, she dreamt her mother call her name, “It’s late, sweetheart, no time to play…”
History: a thousand ships sailing for home tossed by patient storms.
Lrik: a fashioned mage collecting races, listing potentates, lighting dureen between pinches. Hrrumph settled into his lungs. Catarrh rising. Wistfully, “ Ahh… for an amber Hackney E. 8 vial…” Axia: 1.5 billion live cells. Painting eggs not blown out, green rakes and ladders, blue Beltane sparks, a chain of gold hung. Stains mantle the hearthstone, hardwoods brought from abroad.
Tallowed fat tapered, set with wick, waiting the spark.
Entering at nightfall. She slept in flannel, worn at knees and elbows, pushed up past her navel. Her window always left open. Blood just before it is touched by the air, a baby bird fallen from nest. Her face was pale. Dark furrowed brow, the bridge of her nose was thin. No time in night first fading descends. Hampered by damp and must, she wore her habit. A clade numinous. Caressing her stubbled inner thigh. Moistened lips parting.
The alternate movements of piercing.
“Fuck me with your cock, you cunt, fuck me with your cock,” she said. She ground her hips, tacky to the touch, down the chaffed length of my bloodied prick, slapping her mottled ass off my twitching thighs. Atrophied limbs unable to grasp or dance couple with wind, seduce sand. Driving pelvic bone into bruised musculature. A signature style of cutting weathered knots, swollen or shrunken, rope taken root.
Somewhere typhoons season crumpled surf.
The language of sacrifice lay blanketing an onus shouldered, axels bowed. Sorrow an extant existence palpable, ingrained on pall of day. Tacit, metallic blood on baited breath. A song of silence spoke. A song that draws pause. Surrender no kingdom as no one was listening anymore. Still, the whip sleeps.
creosote (kre’ o sot) n. A colorless to yellowish oily liquid obtained by the destructive distillation of wood tar. Used to treat tuberculosis and chronic bronchitis (p. 339 ob. sit.)
Closing time came. Raised grates were lowered. Amongst sinners and converts sat doubters and liars, all those drunk on a truth. Those afraid to sit judged sat in judgment as one. A round was begun as morning drew close. The quay remained shrouded. Last night no one cared, broken rocking chairs, broken clocks, broken teapots crashed down around them while the band jigged on in the corner.
Known to frequent afters, I would often call in favors.
Porters at the Nag’s Head. A mouth of peat, hints of currant and smoke gone to ground. Harpies roosting in the creaking rafters. In place of pins ropy hemp pliant beneath a notice:
All Sharpers, Beggars, Imposters, Vagabonds, Forestallers or Regraters are liable to be pilloried.
“I may organize tours to the sites where transliterations abound, Massacre Bay, Slaughterhouse Hill, the Lightning Field…” il dottore (to his few confidantes) throwing back his last grappa drops slaps his fleshy palm on the scarred table top.
The jeers of passing idlers, idle folk of idle ways.
“In Cayo Hueso, they inter above ground in cracked coral crypts. A rusting water pump lists handle less beneath an impassive handless virgin. Fire ants, laden with iridescent carcasses, labor impervious to the crawling sun.” Attired in black stovetop hat and riding coat, Baron La Croix, inaudible to most, leaning on a silver tipped ebony cane, takes it hard each time someone dies.
Sight secretly leaks from arcane flesh and bone.
Sipping a special concoction of dark Haitian rum served solely to him, the Baron pontificates at length on the parables of labyrinths. “The center, as Yeats noted, will not hold while the edge will remain, retaining its edge.” “Everything is magnified, slightly skewed by perception. For have you not read Pierre Menard’s translation of Quevedo’s Aguja de Navegar Cultos.” il dottore chuckled.
Each evening a variant riffing.
I wrote, “He was once known by the quote, ‘Here’s to victory, to boasting over empty graves: to those who fought to win this and all battles, this toast is their spirit’,” never intending it be read aloud. The pain now arcs from shoulder to hip, down through the veins running along the back of my leg. A dull throbbing in one testicle, usually the left, becomes quietly comforting. Most days I remain unable to raise my left above my heart.
metastases (me tas’ te sis) n. A secondary cancerous growth formed through the transmission of carcinogenic cells from a primary growth. (P.1211 ob. cit.)
Night evolves in eyes under no known sun. Sullen, desolate, pedaling a broken, limbless, naked doll about the barren streets, your image, your ghost, becomes you. Different rhythms free us in this inevitable declivity distending phosphorous light. Pleasure begins with a yawn and the world goes on its way as it always does, waking the dawn, taking courage from silence, from abstract shapes this sadness assumes.
Traveling through unoccupied space, air grows unrecognized.
Dry nettles and kindling script this pith, score bark stripped in sheets. Clouds burst overhead, overheard under breath, “Do you play with your demons? Do your demons play favorites?” Mining syntax from pleasure, scared red clay and an unnamed apparatus mesmerize. Circumventing the earth’s magnetic core, we descend; bastard to those sallow towns lost to time somewhere.
Running concurrent, on loan from the spoils, an exhibit of Durer and cabernet crystals.
A diet of rape (both residue and juice) compounds predacious eyes feeling these spectacles must be audience. Starkly reticent daylight bending brick face behind us. Around my neck an upper incisor in leather slung. In the street beyond the tattered plastic flapping in the shattered pane, the Tourette duet rages profane. Indigenous bitches lie in the heat, begging passersby to scratch inflamed teats.
St. Peter fled Rome soon after, hiding in inns unrecognized.
On the train beneath the mouth of the harbor, several sources converge, hazel husks floating overhead. An Oriental girl, to me Cantonese, rocks. Eyes smiling. Her pumps were white. Long stem plum blossoms fold her chin in her hand. Prepubescent breasts stress a sense of import. Her hair pulled tight in fist shaped jade clips. The base of my neck throbbed.
The harbored desire to loosen fire from its confining form.
Tentatively, distance approaches, itinerant, displaced, knotting horizon to foreground. Single-hair brush stroked skies inhale, exhale. Breath tremulous, burning wicks exalting silence spoken. Less miracle than score, timbre tensile, resilient. Once raised to station dust clung to stilted blotting sun. Torn hoardings surrounding dun hued houses slumped in unconscious slumber. Homes where owners never venture. Ventures where owners are never home.
Closed eyes envision differing hopes.
Wild-pinned pupils know ledges in altitudes unsound, in lemmas and caesuras, in veins in lateral moraines. I dreamt of rising from the ruins, the dead prelate incarnate. Beneath her loosened collar she looked no more than fourteen. I stared for some time, rubbing my chest, eyes glassy. With obvious effort and commanding tone, “We must not undue this distance, this violence suggestive, this gravity so hard to resist or ignore.”
She lies under the sheer weight of all those near. I lie unfeeling, unmoving on instinct.
Once, when young, in an age of gunpowder and flint, a past season’s runs wove marsh reeds into old growth beds no longer used. Where what had been stripped to mine paving stone and salt to preserve left secret sanctuary and grass widows with charges. Cupping a buttock in the palm of each hand, knees pressed to shoulders, she came quickly after two or three thrusts with an ecstatic shriek, bleeding profusely into the porous soil.
Left little more then avuncular touches, the mores inhere.
Her sisters stood watching. Rubbing my cock across their face and hands. Undressing quickly. Kissing each other. Heat bleached pink tin lay scatter shot, oxidizing. Jagged entry and exit holes. No words need follow. Mere sounds born of entropy uniform in this fixation of light. I wish very ancient signs to splay across the violent sky.
What I enjoy, I enjoy alone.
I remember reading from a hornbook when young the recipe for a philter of love. First the crushed skull of the beloved’s dominant trait, then coral, ground placenta from the loved one’s family, a copious amount of the loved one’s shit or piss and finally grated verbena petals. Consequence converted into ruinous vague yearning, Icarus burning, skin vertiginous atop beating wings, atop beating wings barbarous: the fitful sleep of a risen Lazarus.
anhedonia (an he’ do ne’ a) n. psychol. Lack of pleasure or the capacity to enjoy it. (p. 58 ob. cit.)
She came awake with shudders, gasping, pleading for release. Curling fetal to face the wall, “Don’t touch me now, I’ve already come and this room is oppressive.” Pulsing, my head swollen, glandular, she never let me come inside her, pulling me off with her hands instead. The depression off shore threatens. The road has ended. Trailing starlike blossoms, murmured cadences hurl broken nightmares, fits and anger. The cock crows well before dawn. The shutters remain drawn.
In lives of blur and pulp, only terror acts.
Swallowing the medicine. One eye closing. One lazy eye stares back. Stumbling to a small room overlooking a scraggy patch of bracken. An open archway crops a tin tub on clawed feet. Startled, she would prize the fire from my eyes. Still I am shameless, yet ashamed when it comes. “At least it will be of my own making. Not of despair, despair the course to have finally run.”
Eyes closed, the rasp resonating.
Double bent, a dead likeness of what is dead. Strangled, leaves yellow to gold, orange to red, fall. Charcoal cinders, unraked and mounded, smolder. A narrator seemed obvious. Plot, a murder. A beak of scuffed bone in needles exposed, tips worn, no longer meeting. How lovely the mirror’s passing landscape.
Everything once truth and honor above which no one spoke, low clouds overhead.
The brown eggs were cold, already congealed. The cheese, though, was warm. Brief eye contact was made. In a patronizing tone two lines were spoken. “Can I come again…?” “…and sometimes a palm cupped to the ear is all you need to hear…” The scene darkens. The clashing of swords is heard offstage. Sometimes the voiceless best voice the dread. Sometimes what’s said is best left unsaid by the dead.
Lately I’ve been seeing the hints of vision along the edge of sight.
People who no longer love, each other, themselves, often fall into time. Time and a way around the flames dancing higher. “I thought it was once. I told you at the table. My last best chance to take the step back. But it wasn’t enough. You said it wasn’t. And it never will be.”
I am treading water in this air, in what is falling through us. I suspect that I cannot be drowned. You would maybe think so. I warm my feet by the fire of the gathering storm. Each night I count the stars as more than silhouettes, more than breathless shells lain waste along the shoreline. We will walk all night in this dress of dust through this wide tense.
In lonely one-eyed bars, absence becomes memory.
A series of quick edits: animals in agony, dissections advanced frame-by-frame, burnt ochre sunsets bleeding into tawny clay. Standing alone, wicked, drunken sons atoning lapsed passions culled to term. Sunken cheeks from missing teeth and deviated septum leaving no clean lines, raw wounds opened by wind, sacraments of somber tone.
:then a small million of dark voices sing against the awful mystery of light
As timber in shallow rain from furthest things commingle hunger, hatred, the unbearable resilience of being. Breaking like pheasants by beaters flushed or a stray ricochet cock full of vengeance or self, a long slow bullet & the will to pull it. Would my desires be any different? The last to be consumed, you, who none would restrain I approach as having never left.
Once lit, what weight in cisterns ash?
This is the time, the time of ourselves. Possessed of ourselves we are singing, emerging, uncertain, recurrent, worshipping all that is found. Ambiguous oracles of our own sought, instead texts lost in translation. Too far hung to see, my feet upon rock, my hands unfolding grown abusive, suspicious, I muse, ‘We step over the barbed wire into the pasture/Where they have been grazing,’ unsure of a source.
It’s a terrible thing to have fall into our hands.
The pantheon of those unspoken yet to come: rumors abound but none have yet been sighted. “The corpses could lie in state for weeks. They’d burn incense for days on end.” “They say fire has no honor. I, too, am fire sign.” The wind, swaddled in blankets and revelations, conjures nonsense from common sense. Finish fish gutted alive and bursting, foul and dying. As we ask we remember never forgetting the reason.
This darksome art calls forth, catches flame hurled from the cruel beyond.
Into the Nag’s Head a homeless stranger, clotted blood temple to chin, extracts a small box from thin air labeled ‘Aide for the blind.’ In an old winter coat made from carpet underlay he pivots the center quoting Mary to no one, “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather thy fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.” We step around the table, bone meal sprinkled on the floor. In wineskins it lies warming by the shore. It spills, implacable, as close to heaven as Japanese prose. How many authors have penned The Art of Dying?
After years of sickness and strain, let your boat of longing float into greater chaos.