N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 3 : S p e c i a l E d i t i o n
L o n g P o e m M a s t e r p i e c e s o f t h e P o s t b e a t s
A Complete If Dicey Tour
is too quick
The Maximus Poems
One place replaces another,
shifting realms in memory,
a type of light relied uponR
like the daily news, different
datelines simultaneous in time.
Folks, I don't remember nuthin
bout it, no use even askin. He
walks with hand in mouth
to stopper the obvious tendency
to turn into the things he says.
Deep down it's gods all the time,
frequently of a sleazy sort.
Admonishment proves fruitless
even if it does draw the drapes.
Business per usual & I want
his ass hanging in a meat locker
by this time tomorrow, so forth.
Deep down it's dogs all the time,
doing their barking obsessions,
odor obsessions & good-natured,
hopeful confusion routines,
hunted by masters who prove
unreliably kind. Well so, is
one obsession good as another
& where's a meat locker we
can inspect looking for Grade A?
Draft of stars opens in a pigeon-hole.
We tack against the wind of time
& space, glimpse a good-natured face,
king reclined in his hammock
between two missing poles. Hasn't
had to maintain his politics
for quite some time. Reassured
by his jollity, & somehow different,
we say farewell, leave him there,
for the dog shit on the sidewalk &
usual windstorms. Return to find
dear Uncle Ed freshly deceased.
Ed's element-burnished skull cradles
the universes, Aleph, rite, blossom,
coil of galaxies & coil of feces wet
with the smell of truth cooking to
a fine brew, snifter of moonlight
bubbling rainbows. Ed O Ed, up, up,
leaps thy apotheosis! Death is the high
dive where you never hit water.
Remember that, interpenetrated by realms,
re-replaced by who we were, will be.
We could forgive Time its excesses,
but it hasn't done anything wrong.
Ed is pure smile, abandoning frugality.
Moonlight skeletal structure in horses
splashing through surf. It's an eye
& it's a marble rolling around a circle.
A complete if dicey tour. Pedal to the metal,
glued to the rear-view. The lassitude
of speed. Teeth chatter devoid of head.
The past floats by into the future glazed
in butter, delectable, infuriating.
No logic to the parts except that they fit
like fragrant rain in the window. Imagine
the drops sacrificing their pure breasts
on grass blades. Imagine the green-edged
certainty that cuts them in twain. Loving
completeness, made incomplete thereby.
Grey & red rains impartially at dusk.
Could you collect water in a net? Spark
a bonfire with fingertips? Grow
younger through time? We run into
the king at the mall with his retinue
of two hundred children, cornucopia bearers,
acrobats, swordsmen, natty counselors, queens,
scholars & horn men. Greets us gladly, goes
about his business in procession, like
swan boats elegantly traversing the Yangtze.
Sun careens through shifting camouflage.
The myriad structures sparkle winking eyes,
re-dissolve as they re-emerge from
quark soup. Fabric stitched with tongues,
woof of nuns crossing a checkerboard quadrangle.
How many sides to a sand grain? A fish
on the beach at low tide? Fire & saltwater,
kelp & oxygen that produced a blue-green
scale glint evolved inexorably into this beat up
white '73 Ford sedan caroming into the
7-11 parking lot, a few drunken 360s
before she bangs over the curb, swallowed
by imperturbable night. Everyone's a consumer,
tail in teeth. And when Mohammed
drags in from the desert, black-eyed
bedraggled from a wrastle with his angel,
you can bet he lost. That's Fate. Coming
together of theoretical particles––red,
green, blue––to account for behavior of
the larger hadrons. Squadrons of probability
taking off for their rendezvous with Destiny.
Destiny being a bit chancy, a gambler, maybe
she will, maybe she won't. So it says here
in this file labeled "XXth Century," soon to be
fudge-packed with retrospect, if it isn't already.
But the Academy has discovered, ad nauseam,
that "words are empty," & hey, what a shock.
Instead we lean on the products of memory
in our lonely rooms. Consciousness picks
certain themes, classifies them into
particular connections, sends them
into cloud-veiled realms to be retrieved
by petty bureaucrats in a labyrinthine
administrative building, minotaur or two
locked in the basement. Grandma goes senile
at the breakfast table, unable to remember the names
of her children. What she does recall
is a day among apple blossoms, when 11
or 17, a white clapboard house or yellow,
conversation with girlfriend or sister
about that boy, what was his name? We
lay forth our desire, frilled about in lace,
so simply & naively, stand there, our eyes
placed lovingly upon it, as everything else
goes completely to hell. The haunted trees
thread their tentacles above, sealing
glacial evening in the tomb. Imagine
Lazarus' surprise when he opened his eyes
to see the sun again. Stabbed in the chest
in his chair a while later by conspirators
against miracle & myth. That's Politics.
Pinhead tribalisms. Fight to the death
over an imaginary hole. How many
sides to a grain of air? Rain comes again
like a definition, a circumstance
delineating feeling; a bolt of cloth
unravels from the window. Is rain
one thing or many? Does a dog exist
apart from its parts? Who barks?
Who needs a warm hand behind their ears?
Looking up hopefully––what passes for
Religion. Heaven articulated in
one pearl on saw-toothed leaf. Hell,
by a cloven face pressed into barroom floor.
Rolladexadrine. Maybe religion is
the administrative details dealt with
artfully by an anonymous noble in
Chinese silk. Passionate baldness.
The ability to drift into space like
incense, a vanished but sensed presence.
Moth thuds paper globe. Imperviousness
is relative to means. Slide the sword
from the stone in our breast, brandish it
aloft to draw down the rain of blessing.
Successive aeons are only one bereft night.
Time cloaked in linearity. Reveal this face,
our Beloved, in the singular devotion
that sings through events like
a diamond thread. Swans at ease
on the lake. Turmoil years. Crown
awaiting a head. We come divinely
when we come. We come to Love,
as we must. The discomfort of
inspiration demanded over technique.
Or the glorious E that begins the optometrist's
chart devolving into unreadable strain below.
Insult to personal orthodoxies. What loved,
in its original eternity––his broad shoulders
& laugh, sunlight through her silk dress––
shrinks to remembered glimmer as we cross
the smoky opacity of possession. Flatten
tummies. Lift & tighten behinds.
Reduce thoughts. Slim our ties.
Stride cool & comfortable customer
through meat locker to bar,
order zeitgeist cocktail, issue
appropriate vocabulary, & wait
for a good time. It's the dark glasses
on us all: Hope. Good fortune, paizan!
May strong sons be born to you
to work the fields, tend the animals,
impart your legacy & name
to an illustrious descent un-severed
by time; that you might be forever
remembered as one who knew
& quoted the scriptures, scrupulously
maintained his wealth, protected
the purity of his wives & daughters,
& always venerated his ancestors.
But when the patriarch sits
in his porch rocker watching his
grandson sweat in the sun,
the youth furious with the ancient
proposes that he build a coffin
for the old man, to conserve food
& labor. The grandfather acquiesces
& the young man loads him in the box,
wheelbarrowing it to a cliff,
where he pauses & the elder says,
"Don't you want to save the coffin?"
"Why?" "Because they'll need it for you."
The antecedents are perhaps not memories
but our own faces, constructs of time
if constructs of anything. Herein
we propose our own beginning as if
there was one. Innocence begins
& in that lost. The despairing revelation
some years later that our desires were
only ours, writ large by Hollywood,
but a pocketed stub as the marquee darkens.
We knock our way through a few
Pater Nosters. It is not enough
to seek divine consolation in a vibrator.
A flying dream, sucked to the earth
by gravity, but concentrating on heart center,
lightened, to soar above massive
cathedral towers in night mist.
Where do Utopias exist? Determined by thought?
Slid shotgun shell into chamber, cracked
shut, nudges whimpering skull, demands:
You vill deliver pleazure now, ja?
Maybe not. Formulas, theorems, corollaries
side-step a perfect reconnaissance, none
a foot-print in rock. This is Beauty.
Sifting sand paintings––four dimensional
thought. Who thought the thought
of you thinking? The hermeticist
traces back the striations crawling
through encoded text, runic veins
splayed in countless soughing leaves,
winking mortalities, symbols of themselves.
Institutionalize it if you can. The walls,
the water rights, the cisterns & statuary,
the sleek pink-veined marble columns,
the documentation, the appropriate officials,
the gold dome enclosing, defining,
deifying...Uncertainty, the true god
who loves to fuck with us. He
raises the rent, gets us fired, lines
his cronies' pockets, knocks us up,
sells the old pond to the tar factory,
& skips town to leave us horribly,
mercilessly alone with...Certainty.
The real Jean-Paul Sartre scenario: hell
is Me. Village idiot cringes in a cell
of repeating wallpaper. Nero happily
boinks his mom. Interminable terminus.
If only Rome would go up in flames,
get it over with. Bleak years
smudge the ashen row houses. Secret
police file aeon, an elaborate
erasure of memory in guise of History.
And then one day beyond thinking or
effort, Kafka approaches the golden door
& the guardian admits him without a word.
Magpie squawks. Rain, world continues, drip-
ping from evergreen. Cedar wind. Wildness
preserved in the classic English garden,
a little naturalness left to Nature, while
clipped, routed to symmetries by the French,
human design more suitable for contemplation
& criticism. Form being a consciousness
designation-type thing. Space/time spider web,
caught dog struggling by personal definition
toward appropriate object, i.e., odor
left on tree. Cypress at field's end.
Eye & object in copulatory embrace. O
reams of bodies radiate sensory realms,
spindle communion lines, body eats
body, tail in teeth. Sea foam sucked
into sky, shat back in storm. Ship
of weather. Where is there to go, but going
of its transformations, magic show, non-
existent sleight of hand. What we might
seek to wake from or be. Kafka will not
return, but leaves "Kafka" here as "Us,"
in a dark room, anonymous voices outside
the door. Words have referents, say Words.
Plot murder according to the logic of their
constructs, spider web conditions, all struggle
wraps us deeper. Woven from a river of Shit.
Figure lifts hand, uncounted drop in cold pit.
Fruit of lifetime ambition. Wheel's teeth
click. Hen's teeth grind, one stupid eye
fixed uncomprehending on the sun.
Lord, we are dragged through dust
by wild notions & boredoms rutted
deep in our fear. Who rules? Chaos
that makes too much sense. Flies
on a hot afternoon. Cypresses threaded
into the sky. Morning pounds on centuries
of debauch. A lively girl's lips
await a kiss. We won't lift
our heads to look at her, yoked
as we pass, refugees employing techni-
color miracle bodies for the same
old crap. Perception stained by youth.
Age its product. Braided together
into clockworks. Factory melodramas,
not wheel of hymns in the sky. Star-
encrusted blood-line devolved to
inured eye. Pass on our chains.
Or chained light pulses in a single
cell. Net without knots, threads
cohered into change. The Beloved's
face, not commercial for but
actuality of. Invisible copulatory
embrace. Seasonal motion is Sex.
Day into night. Clouds speed over
rooftops, curve of swallows, moisture,
shadows progress the ground. The penis
rises like a camel from the sand, a
cockatoo through immaculate greenery.
Fig, date fed to lacunae, our endless
mouth. A hunger that leaves its trace
during only the momentary eclipse
of our cells. It is parts of cells
wanting to be cells, the components
of parts seeking composition. Gleaming
fury on a schedule. Permeable walls,
increase. Survivalist pump. Beehive
luminosity. Charge restlessly, relentlessly
firing. Ants on the march. Ravel's Bolero.
Swarming need. Spark tornado
congeals into an eye, wetted by
love, concealing a razor, securing
& losing its perch on angles. Thump
of blood circulates messages, network
info system. My baby left me. My
love is a red, red rose. Love those
hot, red pumps. Separation seeks
its source as it can. Blind, sensitive
wand. World cavern. Complications.
"I paid for it!" indignant. Where is
"it" now? In our mouths, 69, circ-
ular fish, a Chinese equilibrium: up-
set continually into balance. Australian
aborigine finds her way home via song,
terrain maps itself, Earth's oldest stories.
Home heard in whistled bagpipe ache
makes the Scot stand straight in his kilt
in the dew, reminded of birthplace beyond
his deepest memories. Note Africa when
Coltrane lifts the reed to his lips, Africa
missing, that never was, invented by unsure
sheer cry, & found. Cry & pleasure shudder.
Lore & need. Sprig emerges fragile from
habitual dust. The kiss is new. The
second lives. The plate––meatballs/pasta,
tofu/vegetables––is set before us. Dig in,
it's food, it's mother's milk dripping
down our cheeks, it's time to eat,
don't be polite, when is hunger fulfilled,
when do government halls release
their doves, when is this intercourse
the unified flame, the complete insignia,
the symbol whole & realized as real,
no longer referential but itself, sparrow
lands on bare rock. And yes,
sea gulls squeaky bitching tangle
above the tide moving in with moon,
neon coming lit against salt blue
twilight & signs streaked rust,
barrels stuffed with refuse & flies
by tourist trade. Dead carp bob
against pier, sour brine of our
unified lives in decomposition. Set
the plate in front of the child. Bid
her eat. Stroke her hair, let her go
play. It is (h)ours, whatever "it" is.
While Ezra Pound gallivants among
the ruins, skips & plods through
libraries in himself. Gay, in his way,
& an old bastard. Wish he'd given birth
to an actual baby, slick with blood &
vernix, squealing into the rest of his
dilemma, not just a museum of retrieved
& polished antiquities. Too bad he
wasn't a woman. Driving down hill into
rain, static eats the radio. Mist thickens,
wipers push blankness back & forth.
Get out the map. Life is the Philosopher's
Art, the Stone his mind, his words for
bird cages or entertainment or guidance
in ethical quandaries, on a good day.
God let Satan through the hedge & we've
been dancing with him in this circle ever
since. Job exits rewarded seven-fold,
rest of us remain out to make a frank buck,
cutting deals on our own terms. The watchful
eyes blinking Morse codes of guilt are leopard's
spots jungle camouflage maya animals
roaming our brains, a flicker across two
points, virgin silence between stars. Mythic
palimpsest, time's skin, time is consciousness,
blurred interface of memory & imagination,
our histories grow heroes, moss beards
on monuments, or quick of the sword through
an enemy's neck or two, minotaur's horn
pierces closet door. Who does what? Where
does the matador end, the bull begin?
Europa raped among garlands of hyacinth––
a mystery tap on the shoulder or imperious
dealing from Above? Satan or is it God
down with us on the killing floor. Ancient
history of daily life. Deadly as a clock.
Round as earth. Crinkle of rain & dog
moan. Cars plow past. Figures hump
under blankets. Why complain? Nothing
hears us, except other complainers who
mutter as the lighthouse sweeps the dark.
Primordial night until Raven stole
daylight in a box from the Chief of Heaven,
winged it here, prying apart diurnal earth
& Spirit World forever after joined again
by Raven rattle in tribal chieftain's hand.
Sha-shok! Couple/three story totem poles
flank entrance to his dwelling, great
bears one atop another uphold images
of the chief: the Chief is larger
than his human form, the Chief is larger
than his human form, the Chief is
larger than his human form. All dreams
monarchical or anarchical. A fish leaps
from water: chaos or order, depending.
Sha-shok! House of dawn in black
bill, one in distinction to other; sometime
thereafter walk out of Ford dealership
car financed, needing registration (flat fee,
VIN no. verification, acceptable nocturnal
emissions, extra charge new plates) &
liability insurance ($ down, monthly
payments adjusted re: age, single or
polyvalent, tickets last three years
[nature of offense(s)], vehicle nascence,
approximate worthwhile, use [business or
pleasure?], previous assurance, & subject
to change due to points assessed against
licentiousness), up to $50,000 personal/
medical, $25,000 vehicular dismay, $50,000
toward other operator, damage/or suit.
But that's Life. Some are well-suited
for it. Walk home instead, orange sunset
spray over hills, cut by blue clouds,
stenciled with bats. Spires wired into
aether by some architect's vision long ago.
Dusk crowds downtown, rice swells
on the stove. Red taillights, red dress
flash. Return home from a landslide
of jostled emotions & requirements signed
half-blindly on the dotted line, lines
solid or breaking into other hexagram
futures. Dust sifts into clouds
piling themselves on horizon behind
the bridge. How to make the numbers
work. Simple or polyrhythmic. Dogma
indicates a tone of voice has been figuring
our mathematics. A thought's shadow
lay on his face. Story-teller the key
figure, critique of him rests
on what he believes, his greatness
in disinterest. Dog's voice as darkness
hems in his yard. Milky Way listens
to itself bark. Time to lace up
the corset, pull on the satin thong,
outline of cock & balls, trout throat
quiver, his lips to her channel, mouth to
universe's mouth, exchanging rain, burnished
conversation, blue smoke curls from a fist.
We jiggle the scotch glass for the perfect
trickle of ice into fire. Furious horns
bray coolly, a constellatory meal. Dime
for the phone. Number dialed is number
reached. Desperate babble on one, casual
flirt on another. Penelope home alone
unweaving. And it's Easter, buddy,
wash yer mug & check yer pockets, how
you gettin home? Nuthin in the coin return.
Next door St. Symeon shimmies with the harlots.
Imam, of sorts, who left the rules trailing
in dust, forged a continual daylight
crawling among donkey hooves & meat
vendors in the marketplace, ill-tempered
cuss, divine light of wretched humanity.
Otherwise our hours doomed to expiation,
strung out on the line––crucified laundry––
by housewife's hands cursed of Eve.
All history's peasants insects squashed
between pages of a closed book, ink
blind to its own incandescence. I
am a soldier six hundred miles from
home. Tonight the few sticks gathered
for firewood don't warm my bones.
My feet wrapped in rags bleed & hurt.
Little to eat. Six hundred miles
from wife's arms, children's love.
Dragged from the plow to march
in my Lord's legions, I will die tomorrow
on a barren plain, strange & meaning-
less to my eye. Meanwhile, Prominent
Conservative Columnist Has Homo-Erotic
Thoughts No One Else Knows About!!!
It's all blunt as a corpse. Another moon
rises mutating, pupil leading to
no one's feverish brain, series of inter-
faces ascribed by perceiver. Ghost
of a chance. Twist from grasp of dubious
grasper. The secret terror lurking the
labyrinth in the minotaur's eye is that
no one's there. Connect the dots. Four
elements held together by nothing, hence
five. Sweat on a leaf waving in heat.
Web strand clung to saw-toothed tip,
catches light particles fine & salient,
bridge across space, investment toward
dinner. Tiny actor, arachnid at rainbow's
nexus, eventually dissected by the
elemental pallete knife that constructed
him. Salmon leap vaginal gaps. Humus
bakes like fresh bread. Geese in broken
V across October. Snowflakes filter
through barbed wire. The sun's palatial
wealth rises on another thin soup day.
Some eat their brethren, gums lined
with karmic tooth decay. Hearts piled
in desk drawer locked deep in the bureaucracy.
The mother hunched on the sidewalk waits
years for her son to emerge. Dividing lines
incised & mined. Individual
differences & identity worshipped as
the sole icons. We will lift that
threadbare dollar to our lips––limp
nourishment––among endless yatter scratching
numbers from the air. The dust our
daily bread. Good sweet Christ––a
cultural road-kill. Sacrifice at crossing
of four compass points, pyramid roof,
or simply run down by a highway
paved by empire intent on its
imagined vanishing point. Ospreys migrate
to the same riverbank cottonwood each
year, fish on arrival. Have etched
continental groove in air, mapped
by etheric sea soundings. Ridges & valleys,
canyonlands of a fingerprint; topography
in touch seeks an unknown smoothness,
a silk wind, a material suffused with light.
Brocade scrolls in & out an abyss,
the wound in the palindrome. Car door slams.
Lawn sprinklers hiss to work. The day
expands into activity, assignments, class
functions, building or destruction projects;
retracts into eight lane congestion rush hour
home. The manufacture of thought. But
what manufacture's thought? Moon king or
Apollonian loom? Curtain breathes
in & out. Door shuts. Bird phrase. Distant
highways. Tiny fly drowns in crescent
left by glass. Juniper berry wine. Roar
of our evenings, a jet over the roof. A god
above our heads as we move through satanic
worlds, trapped in materiality. O Deo,
on our knees at sunset beseeching intervention
of Your hand in this diurnal misfortune,
this darkness of forms which we unknowingly
entered treading upon our ancestors' ill-will
& their greed. O jealous god who stacked
our deck, who whipped our shoulders
to the wheel, who judged our obedience,
who holds the heavenly comforts in a tight
fist, extending with the other a list
of rules & fine print, so the boy scouts
can suck up, & the rest can go to hell.
Heads or tails. Metathetic quandaries.
Erosion of mouth into blue bird into
ironing board into snake curling
around Shiva's blue wrist. A stock
exchange. Hum of commerce. Excite-
ment, gain & loss, full throttle. Chains
linking in DNA prayer cycles, aspirational
murmurs climbing into Actual Scenarios
From Real Life! Moth swirl, &
dandelion seed, unbendingly fragile,
like a fine edge on steel catching sparks.
Each moment coded with becoming, per-
haps pinned by noon's hard plumb line,
or a camel sloping down cobbles into
the river, loping grey-blue to the
bottom. Mermens whisper caged power
& murky gems. Hunters, their horns
& dogs, woven into carpets. Heads
line the walls. Well-groomed man-
nequins stare from store windows
at disheveled pan-handlers. In
some lands you are not allowed
even to beg. Circumstances prove
again & again to be circumstantial,
though with Probable Cause. Found
'is 'ead, but don't see no body. Dredging
the waters for disembodied curios,
composite homunculi, faceless
knights, sibyls offering withered
teats of knowledge. Teonanacatl
grow there, a fungus veined with sky.
Newspaper stuffed with current psychic
ancestry, want ads, presidential photos.
The ground extends 360 degrees from shoes
in grass tuft needle broke twig seed
fern weed cone ant arabesque. No leaf lands
in the wrong place. Squirrel hops
wires. Psychedelic sugar maples come
orange crimson gold. She draws
her lips, brows; shades in cheek-
bones. Threads her lobes with gems.
Artiste of feminine fragrance, artiste
of satin loins, of painted nails & soaps
& floral lace & melody. The sleek magic
of her colt's legs as she runs to the door,
salmon powder blue yellow silk dresses
flung in charmed disorder on the bed.
She is the mirror constructing herself,
lines etched on empty map, the hand
is its message, the firm tight curv-
ature the surprise of space, generating
itself, bright fountain softening delighting
the air. Stars barb fading light.
Autumn drinks down its cup of hemlock,
fruit bed mushed into frozen soil. In
the sublunary sphere, eviction notice
is nailed to the face. God-given
graces corrupted from within by sickness,
while two mosquitoes, driven by desire,
land on wrist. In the Borgesian
library, the universe bounded, circle-
walled, its infinitude known through
symbol, script & rune & pictograph,
like insects flattened between pages, like
a proboscis penetrating a vein. I ex-
pect a full report on my desk Monday
morning. Lone square lit in skyscraper,
coffee rings on file. Something resembling
fluorescent sweat on brow, really beads
of thought, in each a farmer behind
a plow dragging through his stony plot,
between his wife's thighs where a dozen
children spill out. Twelve lines crawl
across a graph from a unified dot.
Several terminate between .25 & 5.0.
One concludes at 13.5 years. The
rest 32 to 59.9. Another chart plotting
their geographical coordinates shows
that none advances beyond a radius
of 14.3 kilometers, if we take their birth
domicile as centre & subsequent domiciles
as progressive. Crows croak by.
The wind lifts, bends the winter wheat,
pushes structures of consciousness into
replication, altering with passage the
shadows & gold that flow down the family
blood-line. Brain's eye, cauldron
stomach, lungs aflutter like sails.
Thus Ulysses expended ten years upon
the wine-pissed sea. Returned home
with his gift for warm entrances.
Back on the family blood throne:
thus the happy ending to many a national
epic. In the 20th century they're written
by Samuel Beckett. The ghost of the
page questions its existence. Incinerates
itself into ash, wed again to the elements.
A hand deposits stars in the night,
& gathers them up. So it seemed
to some guy in a loincloth with a javelin.
Scientists tell a different story. Myth
takes a scalpel to myth. The Greeks
forgot their gods before anyone else did.
Though just about no one, no matter what
they believe, finds emotion easily dealt
with. Ask that guy at the bar, he'll
deny everything, deep in a highball
of speed & technology. A modern future,
sanserif. Bitter wind slices through
those landscapes, concrete/glass,
always someone trapped within &
without them. Virtually reality, among
architectures drawn from greed, arrogance.
Not everyone scales the numbers. Elect
& Preterite, however, take the same road
outta town. Das a Babylon, mon. Any
poor fuck could wash up on its shore,
herd through its gates. Its smokestacks
propose Paradise, where houris scrub
our backs in tesselated baths. How
might the earnest disciple obtain this end?
First, by controlling the five animal senses
(through fasting, refraining from in-
toxicants, & performance of asceticism)
he reaches the second stage, region
of the Angels. Here he prays until no
longer proud of his supplications,
arriving at the region of the Soul.
His duties: love, bliss, searching,
& insensibility. When the pilgrim
crosses the barrier of the self
he enters the realm where words fail.
Rosary breaks, beads bounce on slate,
prayers dispersed. It rains long
through the evening. La ilaha illallah.
Time suffers but timelessness does not.
It strikes the ground, first step in
our dance, joy that drums our feet,
leaps a flame for the air, turns
on a dime. Energetic circulation
exults in expression, calligraphy
slashed into space. Fully fledged,
technic mastered, nest abandoned.
The wine in circumstance. The fully
articulated tongue. Every muscle
poised to perform, flinging itself
from a cliff. Coltrane lifts the reed
to his lips. Buson scribbles three
lines down the page. Striving ceases,
mercy effortless. In the copulation,
in the feet pounding out the syllables,
sun embraces moon, words synch-
ronize their meaning, parry & thrust,
precision without thinking, symbol
without self, another drop pelts
the window. Surf's white penumbra
in ceaseless curves up the sand.
Flinging trees in perpetual wind
down long gardens winding through
the three times, clouds of Monarchs,
orange bits of desire, trail pollen be-
tween grids, crowded tulips clear
as ringing sound, space in a bell,
tongues unfurl in the gestural ecstacy
of ordinary life completing itself with
endings, world united in transition, pop-
lar leaves plucked & tossed onto
river, microscopic populations
migrating horse fly bellies, information
calculated in compound eyes, equation
in search of correct number, or fulfilling
its duty, or in it for fun, or desperately
warding off other notions safe in this scheme
until its finale. Ya drawn in yumi, arm
trembles with its dream of fulfill-
ment, target pierced. No targets,
no archers, vice versa. Mare's
tail whisks at irritants in the pasture &
how did I get here? What's confusing
is that Samsara looks like Nirvana.
Vice versa. Consider the Norse god who
spies the blond comely maiden in
meadow, sweep of gold blue eyes
iris wreathe breasts freshly plump
& untouched, as he descends from his
divine horse to woo her into sub-
mission, only to find out she's
the frost giant's daughter a demonic
evil bitch who sucks him into
a web of foul shit––& who hasn't
fallen for that? The secrets within
secrets etc., the between the lines.
The mark, the rube steps from womb into
bumpkin vistas: Hey buddy, gotta
pea under a shell, guess which one?
The dots erase after their connection.
Rosy cheeks become bitter old fart, no
smarter, maybe less. Youthful idealism
buried under failure & compromise &
how many hotels you can stack on
Park Place. Meanwhile the grass
is eternally young, ruts worn through
it from A to B. Like we might
get somewhere, dot on a line,
memory chain aft, fantasies fore.
Vice versa. But when they pried
open St. Symeon's coffin shortly
thereafter it was empty. Conclude
what you like, he was the kinda guy
who'd throw nuts at folks praying
in church. We've torn away
the ignorance that curtained the
ancient world, reliant upon
intercession of fictional gods
for their unsecured happiness.
Now we walk free (Wheel booted;
a court summons; raised insurance
rates) of superstition as the air
sickens & the anonymous dead
are bulldozed into common graves.
Human rhetoric blows in old newspapers
down the street. Gods & demons are
our cityscapes, different masks
on the same face. Between a civili-
zation's monuments & its refuse stream
people & their pack animals. Frames
in a newsreel. Points on a compass.
Phantom appearances transmigrate
the pure radiant sphere of space;
dream bodies in fluid exchange
without substance, clothed in re-
lational appearance, piling up
debts, paying them off; dragonfly
wings flicker transparent along
a rock, water gushes around it, placid
in a cup, sings from a kettle. It's
a decentralized monologue. Translatory
beings in linear lock-step, the A to B
to C of each manifest object, paths
forking a la Borges's garden. Could we
find our way out? Deer, tentative,
graceful stick legs, chases mirage,
closer it approaches the further it
recedes. What's responsible? The sun,
its reflection on the plain, the deer's
thirst? What transmigrates? Desire
seeks its provender, its lover, its
opposite number, its coefficient, its
covalence, its trap door, succor,
succubus, its branching decisions,
its inchoate knowledge, its sunny day,
its transitional object, its fixed abode,
its flock, its harem, its puppet strings,
its heavenly reward, fulfillment of its
prophecies, the place of arrival. But
no one who follows a bad road ever
arrives. On it anyway, damn us
if you want. Distant cities. We stop
at a roadside grocery. At rest in the aisles,
or roaming the canned goods, lions––
who will move from our way
at their own convenience. When the wind blows,
the grass bends. Dandelions break.
Forget it, Jackson, I've got other fish
to fry! sez one phone wire daw to another.
Taking off, the horizon transmits
two dots. Perhaps nothing can
be shown by analogy, every item in
the catalogue distinct––lichen-splattered
rock, an abandoned refrigerator––
on-going, raising its head mid-stream
to proclaim its thingness, its peculiar
atomic construction, nothing analogous
to nothing, while the analogizer finds
an atomic weapon or the Lord's Prayer
or a home or a masterpiece or the secret
of his failure. The thought emerges
primordial into its golden age,
no rules, paradise renders
its satisfactions, humans live
a thousand years, the rivers run
with wine. Through silver & copper
governments arise, kings establish
the people in knowledge/craft/law.
The grain requires toil. When
the iron bars slam shut, a man crawls
through eighty years & the skies flash
with disease, the ignorant heeded,
the wise ignored. The thought blackens,
its inessential nature manifest, its
perpetuity withering, the snake
spits out its tail. Scream & whoop,
arcs surmounted by greater arcs,
birdland voices in a wet sweet sunset
squabble, boundary & bicker, a cry
plummets again & again into blue
abyss. Bone pit above which angels
pirouette their clockworks, sighing
gardens, water jeweled on dusty tongue.
A monument to thievery this life,
stolen from gods. The gods we were.
Taken but unchanged in its flawless
refutations, its branches of rain.
Footsteps transmit across the ceiling.
An eye opens in each phenomenological
particle (vision a multi-directional
-type thing), rain drops at the junctures
in infinite webs. Stars' gyrations
in map of palm. A million birds
house in those palisades, the mind,
inquisitive or dutiful, attempts to photo-
graph & categorize them all. Liquescent
images in flight. As is our knowledge
itself, eyes moving across letters.
Or knowledge without source:
moon & sun dance & blow trumpets.
Smile a white blossom rooted in sky,
a room unfolding where we set
our plates, walls composed of
juniper bole & fresh evening star,
joists linked by space. Virtues awaken,
effortless, subtle as snow falling into snow.
What duality reaches for, non-duality
is. A circle bisected. Zero is one is two.
Ring around which hyenas pace. Within,
Uncle Ed's skull, brains abubble. Mut-
ability is consciousness, such as it is.
Gas explodes from translucent skins.
Oppositional thoughts propelled off
a cliff, meet awkwardly in synaptic
flash. War is a twitch in our thigh
at the negotiating table. Double-cross
in mythic mirrors. Thought shall
join or be sundered, sez Thought. We
wander its halls in search of what
ain't us, sniffing through god-rubble.
Each dendrite aquiver with adrenal
potential. It's Fear. Part of our
philosophy. Panic in Zombie Theater.
Good/bad guy crescendo duel ducks
among meat locker flanks, dodging
the literalness in each other's
thinking. Fly swatter snaps, gotcha!
I win. Have we taught the others
their limitations, their finality?
Good. Take a stroll. Cigarette
or two. Bonbons, white chocolate
mints, creme truffles, coffee mocha
cheesecakes, & lemon eclairs offered
with guileless cheer by the sixteen-
year-old girl behind the glass. It's
temptation, see, patting girth. Palp-
able weakness radiates from appreciative
spark. Don't tell my wife. Do what
I want (guilty about it). Which
is one thought in two shadings. How
exactly does the Universe assimilate those
calories? One part refined white sugar,
one part pancreatic dysfunction, one
part ambivalent spirit. Somewhere under
asphalt, fin-de-siecle disco industrial-
strength synth hammer, way a life a few years.
All-important Attitude constantly adjusted
to fend off attacks from a shifty equilibrium.
Put one foot after other up steps to street,
post-last call trash skids curbside
like unforgiving thoughts. Countless bodies
in inconceivably various forms led up to
this moment. Each in its unique mode
obsessed with acquisition/warfare
found in an atom from the need to
see it there. Consciousness an intaglio
of echo patternings. To find its head-
quarters a muddle through titanic recessive
bureaucracy & no final desk where
the buck stops. Or to take arms
against a sea of paper troubles &,
by opposing, end them. I'm sorry,
sir, it's not possible until you've
filled out the appropriate forms. I
got an opposable thumb, don't I? Sir,
we're not hiring for that position at
this time, but if you'd like to fill out
an application, we'll keep it on file.
But so anyhow, it all leads up to
this moment when you climb into
the White House bed your first night
as President. Lying there, charged
with excitement, smelling the victory
bouquets & unfamiliar drapes, do
you wonder for a split panicked moment
who you are, how you got here with
the trash rolling past your ankles hunched
against temperature in the junk-sick dawn?
Thus begins or ends a time period
with someone's name on it. Gradually
sudden regicide, on the other side of
all the mortal confetti, knocked off
our given pedestal. We go down swinging––
desperate damage control––impulsive
character(s)––nervous system insomniac
auto-pilot––mainline adrenal toxins––
cruel instinctual violence––no time
to check back––sloppy glaring evidence
––tracks half-brushed out––finger-
of reckoning––penetrated––cat fangs
snap mouse neck, blood jets into Kali's
mouth. If we had it to do over, we
probably are. One side gnaws off the other's
face––clock halves. Diesel hisses by,
exhaust's dirty gauze tugged
apart by wind. Pinpoint headlights
rise & disappear in ocean dark. Food
Gas Lodging Next Exit. Truckers
Welcome. Red insignias yellow
bulbs grid lights dashes & solid lines
white reflectors repetitive info nos. update
rear view analysis damp anonymous real
estate mileage (someone's paper on file)
late night radio blinker on lanes shifted
an inherent belief in advance approaches &
recedes. Lives out there, under pooled
street lamps, or around them. Consciousness
& what is not. Blue cathode shiver surrounded
in drifting snows. Frontiers endlessly
psychological. Astronauts find MANI stones
heaped on the moon. Signifiers of what
we don't see, caught in periphery
by petty obedience & somnambulist
Do you read, Houston? Over. Analyzing
data, Captain. Over. Houston, I
[static] overwhelming urge to prostrate.
Directives? Over. Prostrate to what,
Captain? The stones, Houston, the stones.
No, actually, didn't happen that way: played
golf instead. Things To Do In A Vacuum:
Read magazines. Masturbate. Pick your nose.
Bridge. Freak out. Depression. Anomia.
Re-engender generational conflicts between
designated players. Extend control perimeter.
Subjugate dissent. Water the turf in blood.
I hate your motherfucking (choose one
of the following): A. Face. B. Ideology.
C. Thought Process. D. Skeptical Eyes. Venus
for whoring (pleasure sneeze). World of
knowns (/nouns). Keenly discriminated
variants in officially mandated forms lead,
in ascendent periods, to swift, formal
executions. Decadence brings functionaries
susceptible to bribery & pleasure addictions
in multiple categories. But in any period,
warriors are scum until they know what to
fight for. Wasp buried in bee's back,
their husks stuck to a tree. Put that
in your family treasure album. Nurture
those dividing lines, well-fornicated guilts
under scabrous congealed ideologies,
the half of the thought in shadow.
Difficult to tell the difference between
feminists & fundamentalists when
they use the same tone of voice.
Gull feet left in ice, but the gulls
flown away. Objects over-spill
their objectification, holes in time
where the eye looking in is the eye
looking out. No refuge in flesh
but nakedness, the sun rises
on our appetites, minor crucifixions,
five finger discounts & miserable day-
dreams, all aroll in the Queen Mother's
ocean, in the spread legs of delight!
Vastness in her nether bliss:
foundering mariners tied to the mast.
Center point in total compass of flame
water gale ground melts the perceiver
into Her consort's embrace, identification
with parts desolidified into the whole
banana. Thelonious Monk hesitates
or majestically refuses a fractional beat
to strike the key. Meanwhile Plato
announces to his breakfast table,
"Reason is the highest good!" Socrates
shakes his head, goes off in search of
young boys, muttering. On square found-
ations we shall raise the Republic,
bewildered forever after as our windows
shatter & drop into the street. A feminine
hand extends from the carriage excitingly
callous-free, indicative of aristocratic
rank. We reach to assist those gem-
encrusted fingers, to assist her down,
assist ourselves up from the painful
inconstancies of our current situation,
mired always in logics of skin shadings
& wealth, credentials & know-how,
stretching for Jehovah's finger
or his Virgin's. How many edges
can we accumulate & maintain,
beat the bastards at their own game,
while the Emperor grows bored in his garden.
Glass the meeting of sand & fire, scissored
by wing shadows, arborvitae brushing
against it in the afternoon as ink
scratches out its decrees. Thoughts at
labor, intentions percolating, eventual
effects un-guessed. Generals see
a chessboard, grunts their intestines
on a plate. Death or birth at the fricative
moment the corridor narrows & who
we were can't pass through. Wind
bends the firmament. Light sings
through stone. Appearance at all,
the true sartorial splendor. Nobility
encompasses; falsity clings to titles.
Moslems hammer off the Buddha's face,
but nothing upsets him. Numberless
twigs weave from the sky into
a unified trunk. Crows calling.
Bone splinter ground. Hyena squabbles
kick up dust. Serpent coiled
around roots among old helmets,
rusting weapons. What weapon
doesn't rust? Ask Sun-Tzu, cutting
down enemies before they arise, old
warrior whose sword is Wisdom. Blade
that cuts itself. Bridge out of
our neighborhood is bridge into it.
We cross, a migration of moments
& impulses, obsessed with aspects,
or cohered into wholeness before
it's decided it's achieved something.
A liquor inherent in appearance: eat
drink bathe in it, it's us. Blood
of Christ. Information shines through
the senses onto the mind's screen.
But the screen's a bubble in a series,
theater in motion catching angles
of light, a snow fall, irremediable,
un-regretted, flakes turning in a
blue world, their complex silence.
Perhaps memory only an attempt
at cogency, manufacturing linkage
from after-images to complete the
sparrow's flight across a cloud.
An engine in pieces on a dirty blanket
in the living room. An undercurrent
of bitching usually accompanies the need
to do something. We are trapped
between start & finish. Demi-god
or demi-monde, or half-wit in a
halfway house. Where does one end,
two begin? The pieces comprise
the picture. Orion aimed at center
of outerspace, Milky Way in raindrop
clung to leaf. Plum blossoms drape
the landscape like a devi's kimono.
The problem with deconstruction is
it hasn't deconstructed itself. Well,
leave that job to posterity. But it's
Wednesday night, not much happening
on Main St., just a white '73 Ford
sedan parked in front of a vacant
storefront, a sink on the back seat.
Nothing to do being part of what we
do. Sink or swim. Run endlessly
flowing dappled surfaces in elegant
stillness, wavelets replacing them-
selves in newer immediately gone
configurations a stately rush under
the suspension bridge, ripe with
fish, up river detritus, worn
tires nestled among grasses alive
in cold & perpetual motion, the same
moon Li-Po saw breaks up & re-
assembles there. Mirror of a sun
we don't see on our trundle into
the Land of the Dead. Recall
those faces? Each one what we failed
to destroy or embrace. Though Eurydice
is not as we remember her, smiling
from our scrapbook. Shadows here
made as though to drink us in, each
a millenial contemplation in an
alcoholic stupor. A warrior pays
with every cell in his being to know
what form is & is not, & passes
through the keyhole again, slender
as air. It all goes back to Homer.
Actually, it all goes back to nothing.
History a painting in ruins. It moves
us as much by what it isn't as by
what it is. Or what it is isn't. Foghorn
trails, ephemeral, the equal of fog.
Overlapping gull squeaks. Entwined
clarinets. Unified light on water.
Within the inside is the out. Wild-
eyed, consuming. Foot pressed in
habit's face. Drunk all the time
on blood of our fucked up notions.
Hear it sing, mantra inherent in sound;
to it, night & day taste the same.
Could we then forgive this ineptitude
(ourselves)? Coughing cities & lamentation,
furious labor upon frivolous addictions. Christ
died in this culture but never rose. Three
car pile-up under the overpass. Police
directed traffic until ambulance & tows
arrived. Left-wing political activist
nurses an ulcer; no one listens
to his teeth grind. Letters lift from the text,
fly off like insects. The barrage
a cyclone that punches in, axis a silent
gyration, dancer's graceful foot leaned
into the floor like a mother hugging
her child. Light emerges through cracks
between paving stones, bridge of
butterflies against the sun. Or arbors
a succession of fountains, a sequence
of gateways into progressive nakedness,
skin, entrails, bone & marrow removed
at the door, to sit on the throne within
the most secret court, to be the eye
without hierarchy, monarch of wild grasses
& flowing space, cow dung & lightning.
It churns around a bone axle, gold
wheel & its bewildered inhabitants.
A rain of affection drizzles into desolate
fields. It would never really come
if we had to make it up. Myths
for remembering who we are, more
persistent even than a crushed
cigarette & half a glazed donut
on a plate. Try as we might,
study our Mencius & walk a
straight line, what is is anyway,
total & undivided, a bird cry
sharpening a razor. Odin hung
upside down from a tree & suffered
privations to fish up an alphabet
to put it all down with. Theory
or prophecy, the day passes in
its million moments, old lady's
wheelchair at the window, husband
long dead, teeth in a glass, friends
citations in the funeral notices,
& the afternoon sun sliding among
the balsams like the day before
she was born.
Notes for “A Complete If Dicey Tour”
"Aleph"––See "The Aleph," a story by Jorge Luis Borges.
"Primordial night until Raven stole, etc."––drawn from Denver Art Museum brochure on Northwest Coast Native American raven rattle, pub. 1991.
"All dreams/ monarchical or anarchical"––From Hakim Bey, T.A.Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (Autonomedia, 1991). "In sleep we dream of only two forms of government––anarchy & monarchy. Primordial root consciousness understands no politics & never plays fair. A democratic dream? a socialist dream? Impossible."
"solid or breaking into other hexagram/futures"––I Ching hexagrams, of course.
"St. Symeon shimmies with the harlots all night./ Imam, of sorts"––St. Symeon, sixth century Christian saint, noted for his outlandish behaviour, consortion with whores, & empty casket. "Imam" here, from the Moslem tradition, used in the sense of "leader of the faithful."
"I/ am a soldier, etc."––See the Chinese Books of Songs.
"Moon king or/ Apollonian loom?"––Sun-faced buddha, moon-faced buddha.
"our ancestors' ill-will/ & their greed"––Eve & Adam, to name two.
"snake curling/ around Shiva's blue wrist"––Snakes in Hindu yoga traditionally symbolize kundalini, or basic spiritual life-force.
"Dredging/ the waters"––Water is the psychic element in western astrology.
"teonanacatl"––Nahuatl word: teotl means "god," nanacatl means "mushroom," or psychedelic mushrooms.
"Elect/ & Preterite"––See Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Terminology originates with New England Puritans. Refers to the "Elect" or Chosen who are rewarded with Heaven, "Preterite" being, more or less, everybody else. In Pynchon's world, the Haves & Have Nots.
"How/ might the earnest disciple obtain this end? etc."––Four stages drawn from "Letter from a Sufi Teacher" by Shaikh Sharfuddin Maneri, Sufi Review, Pir Publications, 1992.
"La ilaha illallah"––Sufi mantra meaning "There is no God but God."
Buson––Yosa Buson (1716-1783), great Japanese haiku poet.
"the three times"––Past, present, future.
"Ya drawn in the yumi"––"Ya" is Japanese for arrow, "Yumi" Japanese for bow.
"No targets,/ no archers"––"If we don't have targets, archers won't shoot at them. That's Buddhist logic."––(paraphrase) Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, lecture on "How to Create Enlightened Society," Boulder, CO, 1980.
"bumpkin vistas"––Phrase originates with Shimano Eido Roshi, contemporary Zen master.
"the pure radiant sphere of space"––"Purity" in Buddhist terminology means "non-dual."
"no one who takes a bad road ever/ arrives"––Quoted from Thomas Merton, The Geography of Lograire, who in turn took it from the Chilam Balam, a Mayan text.
"When the wind blows,/ the grass bends"––Paraphrase from The Analects of Confucias.
"Perhaps nothing can/ be shown by analogy"––Milarepa (1040-1123), famous Tibetan poet-saint, sings in one of his realization songs or dohas, "The truth cannot be shown by analogy."
"The thought emerges...the wise ignore"––Relates to the four ages of the world as envisioned by Indian philosophy, each age connected to dots on a die.
"moon & sun dance & blow trumpets"––Lines from a song by Indian meditation master & scholar Naropa to Marpa the Translator, Tibetan meditation master & guru to Milarepa.
"junk-sick dawn"––Tip o the hat to William Burroughs.
"surrounded/ in drifting snows"––"Tibetans have as many words for space as Eskimos do for snow." Ives Waldo in his introduction to The Precious Treasury of the Dharmadhatu by Longchen Rabjam.
"MANI stones/ heaped"––In Tibet, the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, bodhisattva of compassion, would be carved or painted on stones which were then piled into cairns along roadways & paths.
"Queen Mother's ocean, etc."––Primordial space.
"grunts"––Army slang for foot soldiers.
"Moslems hammer off the Buddha's face"––The Moslem invasion of the 10th century A.D. wiped out Buddhism in India. I recall learning in class that there were so many Buddhist art works & statues to destroy, the soldiers would only hammer away a nose or face to save time. Randy Roark commented on this to me: "Cutting off the nose of a statue was common in Egypt as early as 2500 BCE because it was believed that if you cut off the nose of a statue it somehow lost power."
Sun-Tzu––Chinese warrior-philosopher who lived at least two thousand years ago. See his wonderful, pithy The Art of War (translated by Thomas Cleary, Shambhala Pub., 1988). "To win without fighting is best."
"the same/ moon Li-Po saw"––According to legend, the ancient Chinese poet Li-Po drowned when he drunkenly sought to embrace the moon in a river.
"Eurydice/ is not as we remember her"––See Ranier Maria Rilke's rendering of the myth, "Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes."
[Used by permission of the author.]
Gary Allen has two degrees in Creative Writing from Naropa University. He's published two collections of poetry: The Missionary Who Forgot His Name (Selva Editions, 1994) and Love Strolls Among Its Own Fires (Turquoise Dragon Press, 2008)