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





Gary Allen



A Complete If Dicey Tour



is too quick

for time 

                  ––Charles Olson,

                      "Letter 22,"

                       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

bribes––escalating rhetoric––assassinated

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-

prints—documents––screeching chasm

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

rebellions––conceptual exo-skeleton.

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)