An army of golden skeletons
Mounted on golden horses
Stand behind me beneath pointed
Golden Gothic arches.
They are armed with the finest
Of weapons and watch
Word I say to you tonight.
They do not care if I live or die
Or if you can see them or not.
They are there. They have informed
Me that whatever I say tonight may be
The last thing I ever say if it is not the truth.
I pledge myself to you now,
To speaking only the truth.
Every breath, every clearing of my throat,
To communicate with you as clearly
As possible. Bear with me.
TO THE SEA
Now I’m standing at the corner and I see
The lights are changing and still I want
To cross here for it seems so damn important
And it doesn’t look like heaven
And it doesn’t look like mercy
And it doesn’t have a room where I can
Hide away forever, but I know I really need to
Yet still remain outside the fortress.
I will break bread with the sailors.
I will expect the unexpected.
I will stand beneath the royals
On their yards as we are sailing.
I will sing the crazy chanteys.
I will disarm the madding pirates. I will open
Up their lips for them and speak the words
Into their ears. And they will hear me like a savior,
Still they know I’ll never answer.
And I’ll tell them of the dark seas
And the weather caught within them.
And they will want to go there,
Though they know it means forever.
And I’ll sign their names on parchment.
I will hold them to their promise.
Yet they hasten to forgive me when
I swear they will survive this, but they still
May wind up crazy, for they’ve heard
The songs I make up and they have come
To believe them as I abandon them like
Sinking ships and refuse to look back
Toward them. And still they will forgive me
And I’ll be allowed to kiss them.
They will not be men or women, they will
Cease to dream of crosses. They will engage
In battle, recognize their brothe's face
As they hack across the meadows
Thinking they have found him,
The one who’d be their keeper,
But they will be mistaken and the tides
Will rush before them and they cannot
Launch their landing boats and they will see
Their packets leaving. They know they’ll
Never reach them and I will hold their names
Within me and repeat them at the moment
When they sink beneath the wave tops
CHILDREN SINGING: THE NAMES
We were barely breathing.
We were resting in the basilica,
Waiting for the winds and the deep
Rains to abate and allow us to travel
Even higher into the blasted mountains.
Someone who knew Don Juan and three
Chinese diviners had directed us here for
The night. At least we were not wet but
The wind seemed to think it owned this
Structure and attempted to play our names
On the architecture of the building.
We could not imagine the country higher
Than the snows that we had been told about.
At about midnight many children began to file
Into the building and gather in the choir.
They began to sing. What glorious songs.
They told of the breaking of lines by the mice,
The shame of the clowns who dwelt deep within
The many-colored waterfalls of Cherbel, the rumored
Land of our lost leader. They even sang his journeys.
We had heard these tales since childhood and thought
No one knew them but ourselves. We wept upon hearing
These tales sung to us. When the children had finished
We tried to engage them in conversation but they ran
Into the night and the thunder became so loud it shook
The roots of our souls and we fell to our knees before
By morning the air had cleared. I looked across
The courtyard behind the apse and saw three wolves,
Two black, one white move quickly away and toward
The mountains. I swear they spoke our names.
I could not tell the others. Fear was a vehicle with
Claws upon its legs. I gathered everyone and began
To sing the songs the children had sung. Eventually
Everyone joined in and we were able to continue.
THE CHARM OF THE WATER IN THE GARDEN
The charm of the water in the garden
Telling us of evening with a haunting,
An ancient explanation of light as it falls
Through the serene air of a small stone
Waterfall winking an alphabet of light
Through the screens water music creates.
It is inspired by the blue lanterns
Strung along the path, washes of vermillion
In the close plantings of roses, the petals
Taking to air for a moment and we stay
To watch. Who will tell of these
Things when all but these words are beyond
The years and the night but a single
Crystal seen in a dream? The rain?
The white and black calling of birds
Across the roofs of these cities
Too old to use the language of men
Ah bring it to me, calling it everlasting,
This curious place where, had it not
Been for a few notes from a harp
Fashioned of a summer evening,
Would have allowed us to forget the
Water, destroying all such monuments,
Showing them only as gray music.
It belongs to the silences, composed of the drift
Of conversations since the chariots pulled
Hector’s body round the city. The same
Whispers Patroclus spoke to brave Achilles
Of the shades refusal to let him enter
Hades. Achilles wept and cut his hair.
Ramon and I went down to the shoreline.
Great ships moved along the horizon ablaze
With lights. We could hear music coming
From them, so far away. These sounds wore
The same blue that always visits such things.
Radio static in my headphones, parts of words
In languages I can barely understand.
My mouth filled with a metallic taste.
Ramon said he could see time leaking from my eyes.
Shafts of sunlight began to fall like towers,
Crashing into each other. static. static. static.
Tonight, in the full moon, the great sea
Turtles are hauling themselves up on to the shore.
They move like silvered ghosts across the sand,
Leaving trails of their flipper prints on the beach.
They have all the stories. They dig holes
And deposit their eggs, then return to
That same sea. Whispers fracturing moonlight
On the waves.
Hector circles round the planets
Again and again and we reach to hold
The memory just a minute longer.
It takes all of our strength. The
Voice of Patroclus whispers within
Our souls. Sometimes we feel they are
Cosmic winds but they are only
Old stories. We still see Achilles weeping.