There is a low wail coming
Up through my skin. When
I listen in, head close
To the radio, I can feel
The pulse, the full pulse,
The pulse, pulse of the electricity
In its circuits. I can smell
The ozone. I can tell
It needs flame. Even the music,
Even the announcer’s voice,
Lifting and falling, selling stereos
And car tires has the stink
Of flame around it. I wish
For evening, a room far away,
The arc of a great bird
Across the sky, etched air.
The wail will have none of this.
It becomes louder and shrill.
The dial begins flickering.
Its mouth full of flame.
It begins to melt.
I quickly pick it up,
Toss it into the air.
The stairs of the angels catch fire.
The air is filled with burning stairs.
There is no way to get to heaven
The fire storm rages down.
It is like dreaming.
It is like moving clouds
Away with one’s hand.
I stand at the top
Of the stair and look down.
Someone is listening to a radio
They are an animal.
A STORY IN STANZAS
Headline: “A crystal box filled with music, c. 1000 A.D.”
The sound would be lost
At once were the box opened.
It is impossible to record the music.
It seems to create an empathy
In the listener as a Paraclete would.
For each listener, called “voicers”
By those who study this event,
The experience of the music
Is significantly different.
This is known: The music
Is always melodic, memorably
So. Rhythm is patterned.
Certain passages repeat themselves,
Yet, this is extremely rare.
Oftentimes the music generates
Usually abstract visual information,
But also occasional narrative, as in myth.
Animals, from insects to birds,
Mammals, reptiles, amphibians, seem
To hear these sounds with ease.
They oftentimes pay long attention to
The sound. All have been seen moving
To the rhythms seemingly generated by it.
Some researchers believe particular
Mating behaviors in many species
Have been initiated or changed by
Exposure to this music. Much more
Research is necessary to prove this.
It is said that people who have encountered
This phenomena have recorded their names
In a document upon doing so. This document,
While testified to, has never been verified.
The box has moved frequently
Since its discovery. It is liable to appear
Almost anywhere. It has been seen and
Heard off the Australian Great Barrier Reef
As well as in the Himalayas and the jungles of
Peru, Southeast Asia and South America.
No one knows how the box comes to
Move or where it may appear.
Its appearance has always had the quality
Of a mystical event about it.
In the past seventy years it has been seen
Very infrequently and very briefly.
One other box was known and was opened.
It shattered immediately and caused great
Disturbances in the Earth’s
Magnetic fields and impressive light patterns
In the ion layers of the atmosphere.
Its existence is usually denied except
In poetry and certain fairy tales.
If you encounter this box, contact
Creatures that sing or listen to
Recreate your own experience
That others may know these songs.
The slow, high step of the cranes
May seem of little consequence.
This is the beautiful. It lives
In the simplest of things.
We are listening to love songs.
They fill the mouths of birds.
They fit our ears perfectly.
The river gets very wide east of here,
Doesn’t seem like a river at all.
Eventually it isn’t. It becomes the
Great Lake that it is and finds
Its way through a thousand islands,
Rapids and gains intent to find the sea.
Here no one seems to notice. It’s a
Difficult place to live. Things like
Those cranes are a fine dessert that
Is too seldom found. Still, we
Wait here watching. We are listening
To their love songs. They fit our ears perfectly.
Tonight I read pornography
Watching the silver ghosts of desire
Consume themselves without remorse,
Spilling into the valleys of fantasy.
Language has a new robe here.
It dresses itself in fetish clothing,
Only aware of a specific embolism
Tied to the cortex of loneliness,
Unfulfilled fantasy that demands
A payment in real time,
In spilled seed or rooms of others
Watching, unconnected and involved
Only in the drift of compulsion.
There is no music here.
There is only the seething of flesh,
Unconnected to anything but self.
Rings of brilliance born of hands
Upon the aether, touching only
The intimate. Nothing
Comes of it, an oozing of desire
Or a wash of temporal fluids
Distilled through images and images and images.
Long rooms appear. I walk through them.
I do not recognize myself as I gaze into room
After room of this activity, amazed
At the diversity and the ability to speak
Revealed as a kind of dance,
A thrust toward an understanding
That is unable to comment on itself.
Dressed in fetish clothing
And hearing uncomfortably clearly,
I stretch a membrane of understanding
Across my eyes.
I will have no doubt the next time
I see your face.
I will find it easy to recognize the grace
Of misunderstanding you.
It will be like a perfectly sharpened
My principles will fracture
Revealing all their petty foundations.
I will shake within the wall of language,
Waiting for a single pause where I might catch
My breath and identify my feeling
For you, just this once.
There is no use.
I am smeared upon the words,
Barely able to buckle the straps
Around my body, barely able to attenuate
The vulnerable parts so they will gleam,
Terrifying, romantic in pure discourse.
SHADOWS OF NIGHTMARES
They lean against the windows unwrapping
Whatever is left of the day and setting
It loose to run headlong toward the night,
Transmuting what were the waking dreams
Into the colorless liquid of the sleeping
Dream, blurring the green eternity.
Robbing it of its mysteriousness and installing
The horses that can never find their way
To morning. They flow without end,
Piercing all the mirrors of sanity.
How could we have forgotten that they
Would come with their blood and agony,
The true trappings of time dressed in
Those hours time embraces as its own.
This is no way accident and death,
Never interested in any particular story,
Allows them to open as a great strangeness,
Unknown to memory.
They remain circular but take
What could be revelation, transmuting
The sweetness sleep might be into an elegy,
Ancient, full of consuming confusion,
That, full of objects, fountains,
Statues, their songs with their dust,
Murders with the power of tigers,
Again and Again all of shadows
Except their own.
A SLIGHT BREATHING
Hovering over the words,
Herding them, moving them
Into small groups. Full of meaning.
Here, the description of the heavens
Staggers forward, dragging
Its collection of constellations
Behind it, fully aware
That these pictures are but part
Of light seen from a single
Place, struggling to maintain
Themselves as the heavens
Reel around them.
These are the words of lovers.
There is no end to them.
They slide and describe,
Word after word, the varieties of touch;
Definite descriptions, of flesh
Meeting flesh, in all temperatures and climates.
Gratefully, we follow these things,
Charmed that language
Allows us such rooms,
Such variety of discourse.
From the dark hills comes
The coughing of lions,
Calls of birds. William
Blake, moving room to room
Searching for the right phrase.
Poetry fettered, fetters the human race. Nations are destroyed or flourish in proportion as their poetry, painting, and music are destroyed or flourish.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems and pix!
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