When I have found no open notes
In the sound of the piano,
When the brothers of harmony
Recognize their own vibrations
And drop into what we call forgetfulness,
I will finally hold you to me,
Spreading across the land
Like dogs discovering the midsummer night,
Anxious to tell you of small things.
Listen. The barking of a dog.
The flash of the goldfish in the parlor.
The ecstasy of recognizing
Ourselves in a particular afternoon,
And of course, your lips.
I pour through my own blood
Singing to you as sweet as memory
And open myself as a street corner does
To a song and there you are.
My bread, my star, my library,
My endless labyrinth,
An eminence, a remembering
That blows through me and away
As each moment demands its due.
FOR MY FATHER, DEAD MANY YEARS
My dear father. I am now seventy
Years old. You died at thirty-nine
And still I am not able to find you.
Your memory is nearly lost now.
Even your own children see you
As the faintest of ghosts.
Your youngest is not able to recall your touch.
Yet I saw that touch. I saw you love him.
I see your love as all and what of it?
What is your memory now?
A trace in the ionosphere.
A shadow, an inscription,
A note on the back of a photograph.
All of your brothers and sisters dead.
As dead as you are.
You are ash in your grave
At Forest Lawn. As my friend
Tells me, ‘You are the ash
Of which oblivion is made.’
Still, tonight I see a glory,
An inexorable light that
Knows all my ways
And the ways of my brothers
I will stand with you as close to
A night that will never arrive
And listen with you to the
Secret parts of what were your days
And love them as my own life,
As all your children do, Ray,
Even without knowing they do.
NOTES TOWARD THE TALE OF RELAN
In the earliest forms of the story
There was no large room,
Acres across lit with bats
That flickered a green fire
From their mouths as they flew.
The lady who eventually
Went back to the harbor was nowhere
To be found. There were two children,
Blind, who had much the same role.
Clenneth was only seen riding.
He never spoke except
To order his soldiers, except one
Time when he closed the eyes
Of a lancer who had died
But who would not stop
Crying. Perhaps it was same
Man who was beheaded
In the second version of the tale.
The rats and the blasted plain
Figured in both versions but
The description of the horses
Were startlingly different.
The moaning chorus seems to have
Entered the story about 325 B.C.
And all versions say they played
The white drums with white
Thigh bones but every song,
In all versions, differs.
Probably the most startling event
Was the tale of Malcom
In Version Two. In that manuscript
He rose through the clouds and
Descended on the mountains as
Colored rain that lasted for
Two weeks. He did not hold
The lightning and break it in his
Hands or carve a river bed
With his voice. That part
Seems to have come from ‘Simeon’s
Dream’, a much shorter but
Much bloodier tale of which
Only fragments remain.
We are fortunate that the
Silver manuscript exists at all.
It had been locked inside a giant
Clam shell when the wars ended
And was not rediscovered until
Children found it by accident after
Racout Belan was revealed
In the giant upheaval of ’83.
THE RUINED AMUSEMENT PARK AT NEW ORLEANS
The stillness of the park did not come all
At once. It was as a great bird of some unknown
Species had opened its wings and passed above
Us, wings full out, cupping our fears in its passing.
We were startled at the devastation. The carrousel
Crushed, the great ferris wheel, standing but skewed,
Its metal bandied, ripped, rusting. The fun house
Tumbling down upon itself. The giant clown head at
Its entrance no longer inviting but beaten, bruised,
Partly smashed by winds and the great flood.
It was now old and tired and hurt and we hurried
Through the wreckage of the midway, anxious
To leave before the daylight fail and catch us
With shreds of dreams clinging to our bodies,
Finding a horrific music behind our frightened eyes.
THE DREAM OF ANOTHER MAN
What does not come back
Is the night. Not the same night,
Not the blood pulsing through us
In the same way we pass
Through the rooms of a palace,
Singlemindedly searching for
The corridors we have slept in.
All these are gone, every night,
That tree, never ours.
These victories are never our own.
The blue wall where the child
With that hat is sitting, not ours.
I dream of being another man
And finding the exact night once
Again that I had travelled previously.
The darkness eats into the dream
Bringing horsemen and
Provinces I have never known.
I run toward the missing mirrors
The night wishes to form about me.
I am staring at myself as I ride
By quickly, like a knife
Plunging deep into the heart.
THE SINGING STARTS
These times in stillness
When I walk down from the hill,
My long spirit pressed against
The will of the trees and they breathe
For me. I, whom they know only
As the form that is not a bird
And is not a fox or even a hare
Or mouse or vole. The snow
Cracking beneath my boot.
I walk slowly. There is only
The charm of the place to hold
Me and I am the piano
The day has chosen for its own.
Or so it seems. I, fully awake,
No particle of dream depending,
I chase golden flares from my eyes
And there is that waltz
I am become almost by accident
But ordinary as dreams.
It is Tuesday or it is Wednesday
Or it is the open wound as explained
By Wallace Stevens or Jorge
Luis Borges, placing me in the labyrinth
As fabric wraps a body.
I am done with thinking.
I will be the singing.
I will always be in the cool
Of the garden on Sunday morning.
I REMAIN AMAZED
I remain amazed that Michelangelo
Knew the exact light of creation
And dear Raphael could see
That precise quality of light the Virgin
Presented against each and every day
That Giotto was not dumbfounded
By the Italian afternoon
With all those Saints milling about.
Rembrandt on the edge of the sea.
Bonnard constantly surprised
By the morning, then the after-
Noon and again in the evening.
Gotthart fearless against
Any light the Gods could throw
Her way, that we may see
As she sees, with a clarity
Offered usually to Saints
And the makers of the Seasons.
May I know no interruption
To this tremendous parade
That reminds us we have
Always been in heaven.