May 04, 2006

From the Archive (2003): "The Arabian Bird" Supplementary Poetry

So between them love did shine
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the Phoenix’ sight.
Either was the other’s mine.

Property was thus appalled
That the self was not the same.
Single nature’s double name
Neither two nor one was called.

-William Shakespeare, The Phoenix & the Turtle

When the blank sky that only the West can muster
Inveterates the yellow wilderness,
At that core point where soul & body kiss,
I met a sage drifting across the dune.

The particulars of beauty that ooze through the fog –
Though the pylon’s shadow lurked in front of us,
He supposed nor back nor toward would reach home soon –
As definitions, directions sweltering in a bog –
All read like scribbles melting on a cracking rune.

Indeed, quoth he, the origin would be comfortable,
But upon returning, the traveler would have emerged from the boy who left.

The crossword loosely concealed her tight white blouse:
What if the origin was not in itself an extreme,
& there the sage split like to a succubus
Which violates the exclusive interiority of a dream.

I was feeling inertial, still & still traveling,
My canoe elongating toward the odors of life unto life
& death unto death, the ocean & the head,
Or as Narcissus & Echo,
Mirroring love & woe,
Enjoying recycling sensations of marital strife.

The mosquito biteth, flesh itcheth, & Man must scratch,
To the exclusive renewal of blood unto blood;
The mind it reasoneth, head calleth, the soul unhatch:
Is moderation indifference,
Or harmony satiation,
Or, as it is written, Everything is good.

The Elephant & Areopagite rose as I descended,
As ultraviolet cinquefoil
Bleeding from the fecund soil,
A soundless shell.
Behind the bedded bar the counterfeit tender
(Whose story had ended
Outside of this hell)
Recorked all the bottles as if on his death it depended:
O Dennis!
Who knows not Dennis?
Now all the world shall know
Why you are called Pseu-do.

The dissimilar metaphors of pure aromas,
Not for the sake of art,
You silent fart,
Assault the senses as a bride esteems her echo
In a looking-glass, her bridegroom’s spirit behind,
Representations of a conceptual diffusion.
To describe these aromas as floral –
Although intoxicating atomizers imitate their artist –
Runs risk of visualizing the source as the image.
If the difference between poison & medicine is the percentage,
Then where is the dividing line,
He ope’d the register as beauty’s portion measured to his fine:
O Pseudo-Dennis!
Who knows not Dennis?
Now all the world shall know
That what it does not know
Is what it knows.

The paint that parted the front doors
Concurrently clotted & enhanced its facial canvas:
Isn’t ecstasy the intense moment wrought by love’s extremity.
Her crimson slip was elegant,
But it was not what it obscured,
Like rain, grave at the floor of Fortune’s wheel,
O’er-eager to evaporate, & shed its ocean salt & silt,
Begin again at water’s head, & flow down to its heel.
Her platinum links cascaded like moonlit falls.
Her deep peach skin presented & prevented,
As rising salmon, dams; or Mongols, walls,
Unpossible from North to South, yet visible from space.
But there beyond those seashell eyes, beyond that weathered kilt,
I felt the deeper perfume that the prophet reinvented,
& I knew ten thousand more tomorrows that Time left me, just in case.

I want to smoke with you Jesus Christ.
I want to pass the proboscis of the nargileh
Between me & you & all the saints & martyrs,
(Especially the visionary teenage girls like Perpetua & Felicitas,
& also especially Ignatius because he’s so damned witty).
We would see the electricity of the campfire
Be orphically mysticized by our fumy exhalings,
But I wouldn’t care, because my savior would sit beside me,
A fat Havana dripping from his lips as he lectured softly:
I give to thee a purer smoke, sans briar,
Although that cigarillo’s also good,
For in it you shall find parts of my fire,
As even dormice bleed grains of my blood.

W.C. Fields once said:
Did I ever tell you about the time,
When we were hiking through the mountains of Lebanon,
& we couldn’t find a corkscrew,
So we had to survive on food & water.

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