Thursday, August 08, 2013

Consulting The Snakes

John Swain

—John Swain, Louisville, Kentucky
Tomb and passage chamber
over the whispering vipers
coiled in their own pyramid.
We consulted the snakes
like stars and painted cards
dark beneath a stone floor.
Those asps our foundation
like red vines overgrown
the city your sitting room
built upon a mountain.
Sun presages the opening door
born at the height
we plunged into headwaters.
Freshened from the depth
of melt like being changes,
bodies became every color
received in a renewed purity
alone and with each other.


—John Swain

After the fog caught
at the rock of the mountain,
I could only hear the ocean.
I placed a black stone
to the shore of black stones
in search of your ground,
this beach of serpentine
that no one can own.
Shrine of abandoned lights
between middens
of broken shell and bones.
I joined the host of crows
dancing on the slope
beside a mystical lion
arisen from burnt grass
to feed me and feed upon
the whole exposure
to the sea wind revealed
like a raving.


—John Swain

The night lake alive
with the full moon lit
gold on women rowing
in lines of shallow boats.
I waded from the shore
where a tree floated
upward from roots
barely touching the soil.
The owl in her shadow
haunted a call
traveling the water
back into my mouth.
I set down to sleep
on a bed of leaves
and stones warmed
by holding fire.

—John Swain

The pier lengthened with each step
down the beach toward its shadow,
evening time emptied the fishermen
as the horizon went white with sails
beyond the jagged breakwater.
Horse rhythms of sea and sky met
like the skulls of a terrible goddess,
my friends shared leaves on the sand
as the wash of the western mountain
away into nothing awaits a finding.
The sun sank fast raising the moon
vaulting true on their lovers’ chain,
the other sky was mine in darkening
as the leviathan spit fire and stars,
I was alone, but was not frightened,
only disowned except to the love
born in pouring myself out to you.
Now I do not expect anything
save this lostness and the saving idea
it created in more than our leaving
for death sped heartless in anger.

—John Swain

Over restraint
of the age
I could not speak
and the age
I became discordant,
I humbled myself
sandalwood ashes
as a mask
after walking
for bread.
The loss we live
is more
than empty hands
and beds,
I try to stay
open to grow
and end searching
for reasons
I could not be.
Gone already
every sadness
and joy
tastes the same
when the tongue
is muted,
I speak now
to your earth
with fragrant roots
for my casket.


—John Swain

Fog on the palms
like a strange grace
of hiding
where I found you
again like a spirit
in a wolf hood
and long thin dress
walking the pass
of sand like a skin
where we met,
the ocean crashed
over your woman's body
like a ghost drum.
Like the waves
infilled the birds
with their moving,
I listened
as you spoke
in howling sounds
and leaned back
on the sea's fan
emblazoned red
with the moon
in dire prodigies
cast to overwhelm
even my longing.


—John Swain

Hills tilted into the river
like glistening shields,
I piloted into the sun wash
turned mother-of-pearl
against the wind of evening.
The boats glowed white
as the movements of horses
then stilled without notice
like beauty,
I vaulted from the railing.
Submerged in quiet water
like release from my being
alone as we are,
I found myself in the down
like the chair of our bodies
set alike to receive each
in its given place prepared
for feast or sleep.
I grieved for all leaving
touched in understanding
as we trailed in the wake.


Today's LittleNip:

—John Swain

Mansions of mountains,
hills of the lion,
I sat on a chair of rocks
dissolving purple sands
to meet an invisible sea
beating at the source of dreams
like a broken ivory horn.
Presence giving images,
the clay of my shape
smoothed like blue glass
I caught from the water
to become more like her,
still cutting in the saw
of my ropes.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's featured poet, John Swain, from Louisville, Kentucky. Crisis Chronicles Press published his most recent chapbook, White Vases. Welcome to the Kitchen, John!