Doves and Marbles

The Dove Collection

Marble Seasons

A Collection of Poems by

G. Theodoridis

©1994

The Tranquil Trip
Oh, Death!
Supple Reeds
Emotional Flux
A Poet’s work
The Diploma
Vased Chrysanthemums
Sappho’s ‘Evocation’
Shower
The Slipper
The Tram
Visit me now!
The Warrigal Bitch
Embryos
Enlightenment
Fire In The Swamp
Valediction
Worm Lovers
That There Hill
Theme on a Canvas
Trap-veil over Trap-hearth
Sediment
Sanity
Anser Anserum
Midnight at a Singles’ Bar
The Morning after on a Greek Beach
The Odd Artist
The Odd Photographer
Upon Homer’s Odysseus
Olive Grove Soil
Prometheus
Ruins
Gardens
Marble Seasons.
Salmon Women
The Teacher
Venus of the Streets
Anchor the Busy Shadows
And so, once again I see.
Flibbetigibets in the Ashes
Asphodel/Daffodil
What The Priest Saw
Birth Rush
Brigitte In The Forest.
Brigitte In The Well.
Brigitte in my Glass.
Brigitte in my Bath.
Allegro Vivace
Butterfly
Cassandra
Cauldrons
Classroom Rites
Didgeridoo
How was I?
Have I a good figure?
Jasmine
Letter to a Friend
Medea
The Sacrifice
Soul Mate
Emigration
Dear XOX
Our Ancient Boat
The Palm and the Cypress
Ode upon an Aged Man
Edwina’s Bush Home
The Soul of the Elm

——————————-


The Tranquil Trip

Of my late professor, George Gellie.(1918–1988)

 

The Eucharist is in the tabernacle.

All is well

The service may begin.

This is a face that opens like an ecclesiastical

Tabernacle:

The eyes and mouth slowly phrase

Out the alchemy which turns behind the forehead’s

Deep

Fraternity of lines; and on this face is the

Tranquil wisdom – drawn gracefully with quills from

Within

And with splendid colours supplied by a god

Whose dictum might well be:
“words

Are actions, indeed;  good words are good

Actions and vice versa!”

Or:

“Words are the wombs of actions and

Actions the graves of words.”

 

Words, indeed;  all the words uttered,

All those written and all those that will be.

 

Dust now the precious marbles,

Unroll the frail papyrus and read,

Read!

 

He taught us what those Greeks – by the

Same splendid alchemy of words – managed to do.

Words, accents, breathing marks and iota

Subscripts.  How easily the meaning changed

With the subtle twist and turn of an

Accent or a breathing mark – Why wars

Have been won and lost because of just

Such a subtlety!

 

And with that teaching the misty outline of a shore

Lined with marble took shape for us

And,

Ahoy, me mates!  Heave ho and sharpen your elbows at

The oar!  I know this shore and

Just a mile deeper in the mist

There is a spire!

 

Ah, the spire!

This beautiful spire that inspired us all to spend some

Time

In loftier company, slowly, socratically, taking

All the questions in, sipping at the Eucharist wine!

That lofty spire inspired us all!

 

What more may students ask of their

Teachers?

 

Anchors aweigh mates! Heave ho at the anxious oar!

 

Will they still come?

Will the marble shores still come

And

Will the men and women with the

Elegant minds still come?

 


Oh, Death!

Oh, Death!

How marvelously doth thou inspire!

What a competent and dire muse thou art!

 

It is to thee that Homer called

As he began the epic that most appalled

 

It is to thee that the English bard did turn

And so did all the other bards, new and old

And poets of songs

And of words that actors say

 

It is to thee, Death, they all stretch out

Their plaintive urn

Begging for help, beggars of words

That swell and rush about in their hearts

That make them move and laugh and ache

 

Death!

Oh Death!

Who doth remove all men’s tentative breath

And have all men, brave and good

Bend their knee in fear and in awe of thee

From cot and crib to horse’s gallop

 

And to the battle’s bloody flow and flood

 

To thee, Death man doth turn

To ease unyielding pains

Of soul and body, of heart and head

 

How broad beneath our feet is thy awesome shire!

Oh Death!

 

 

Plea for a Portrait

Paper and pen in one hand and a candle’s

Butt with its scuttling flame

In the other

I come to praise her again.

 

Drowning Time part!  Like the waters of the

Hebrew myth

Part!

 

Let these waters stop their rushing course but

You, Stellar Muse, go on with

Your inspiring song;  go back now and tell

Of the summer moon that rolled above our bodies

And of the fragrant myrtle domes that gathered our

Sighs.

 

Help me write this dead girl’s portrait!

 

It was her mother who daily spun the spindles of

Fates and of men into her mouth’s basin,

She it was, who drew

Brazen whispers in the summer air and made the

Villagers look sideways at my gait.

 

Some frowned and

Others tended to approbate my

Book-reading and my short pen’s flight but

All-in-all,

A general agreement was balanced with

The summer light that

She and I should blend in pair for

We were both

Ripe and ready to be picked by Life’s exposed vitals.

 

Thus the summer moon and thus the shrubs of fragrant

Myrtle on the hill where we tore the petals of

Each other’s bloom.

 

Undulating her body, like this land’s crimson whims and the

Morning sky pampered her eyes for eons.

 

Primitive black mud coloured her hair and

The sounds that the amorous stars make as

They couple  squirming in their nocturnal haunts

Are the visible harmony of her

Mating calls.

 

Calls that used to come in lachrymal sonnets

Though from frolicking lips;

And I,

 

I, fixed by them again now,

Come to lift the heavy bands that

Death rolled above her eyelids;

For I’m in arrears again and my pen is mute

And

The story of

This love remains unfinished.


Emotional Flux

Nothing but the wind that gives soft tremble

To the leaves resembles her.

Nothing.

With her,

Everything is in a state of flux.

I have sunk my face in the quivering shadows of

Elm-leaves,

Loosened all my joints -legs and arms and spine-

And I drove my mind out of its bony throne-

And yet,

The stars still paint despair.

I have gathered the drops of blood,

Gathered them one upon one like the pilgrim

Gathers the splinters of the

Holy relic and

I’ve fed the elm’s roots with them.

Will this wind never stop?

Older women have told me that the song of the

Trembling leaves will stop soon;

And that the perfume of

The woods will soon lose its charm for her

And…

Ho! There, look at the

New brides they bring me!

Tall, straight, unbending,  against the wind,

Uncharmed by the scents of the woods,

Their nostrils seek the smells of the

Hearth, of the bed and of the furrowed fields

And

Their mouths smell of berries and figs

And

There’s beauty enough in those eyes -soft, black bows-

To wash all that despair from the breezy sky

And

Kissing enough in those lips to turn the heart

Into a pool of Dawn-lilies!

Why wait?

The older women ask me.

God,

How short was her moment, her forest-scented moment!

How swift that moment’s feet

And Time,

Time, like a grotesque gargoyle

Stands fast to her beauty’s horror.

All is in emotional flux!


A Poet’s work

Then your “poet” friend came

And, before he left, he

Spread his yellow silence

Over the burning logs of our fire

Place

Like sickly pus in a heart

Like a snail crawling over a work of art.

He

Is no poet, that friend of yours, with the

Phlegm in his eyes,

With eyes where one dies of malnutrition.

Look at our fire place now!

See how that flame  – that

Red flame that once kept us warm

And clean

And wise and whose din filled the whole house

And kept

Us

And our eyes alive –

See how its once red heart is now

Yellow,

And see how the embers fade as they die?

He is

No poet, that friend of yours!

A poet’s work is to turn the ashes into

Flame, to heal the jaundiced eye and let it

Thrive in new sights,

To show the snail how to admire

The work of light.

He is no poet,

That friend of yours.

Where did he get his diploma from?


The Diploma

On the flinty lips of my birth-river,

A spring-water river that runs passionately

Beneath Artemis’ lavish cliffs,

You loosened the swaddles of my unfledged

Soul.

You picked the soft cloth slowly

With the tips of your grin

And unwound it

And,

Turn after turn

Like the swift, graceful cadence

Of a swallow’s tail

The bandage ascended above me;

And beneath us the pebbles,

Some full-white, some flecked with red

As if sprayed with the blood

Of crushed cherries,

Smooth, round and made alive by the

Wild paws of Artemis’ hounds,

Crooned at each turn

After turn

Of our disordered twine

Tightened fast in the rushing turns

Of love-in-the-making.

Two elks, then two tigers,

Two butterflies crazily searching

For their buds

Through the fine tapestry of the

River

Spray and the

Sun

Rays;

And when my soul fledged

And the soft swaddles dispersed

Into the beating rush of the passionate river,

Your grin intensified

A little,

Like a signature on a graduate’s diploma,

You unwrapped your flesh from mine

And walked away

Following the banks,

Looking for another.

I gripped anxiously at the diploma.

“Ah, a diploma!”

They now say and look at me proudly.

Tempus may fugit

But my diploma stays!

Posterity’s evidence that my soul is

Fully fledged;

Yet my body,

My body,

Is still naked

And still unfledged.

Song on a Canvas

There’s no wind without movement,

No movement over this landscape

No temperament and

Wretched is the whistle of

This train and of this poor desert boy

And

Of the flowers

Above us and of

This starved stalk of corn.

Wretched the twang of the sinews as they are

Released by Hunger-driven death.

See the lute strings in the hand of the

Dead bard

And there’s no

Imagination after the

Love is drawn out of

Philo-

Sophy, so wisdom is left simple

And harsh; and there’s

No Imagination

After the paint is torn away from the brush

By the hungry canvas, none

After the parents are pulled away from the child

By Court Decrees.

There’s no wind without movement and

There’s no movement more wretched than that of

Hatred

Made ice-white and glacier-strong by having it

Stripped of imagination.

But the song is left

On the canvas my loves,

My loves.


Supple Reeds

I played with the

Dazzling sunflakes that hopped about

By the young rivulet of a

Village  whose dress in winter

Was like a bride’s and in summer

Like a groom’s

When I was but a fraction of

A man.

And

While the other children

Wore garlands of taut strings of wheat

Mingled with those little merigolds

With the scented sighs,

I chose the green, supple reeds

Of my rivulet,

Threaded the little fish

I had caught with my bare, childish cunning

And tied the reeded catch around my forehead.

The other children laughed

At the city snotty slick from

Salonica.

Yet

I was born in that village,

Under that ageless plane tree there;

The one with the calming disposition

That bends over the running water.

My child-mother had told her younger sister

To run for the mid-wife of the village

But the silly little girl

Stopped to play with the priest’s goats

On the way.

“You must have landed hard on your head

When I heaved the final push,”

My mother said, accounting for my

Silliness.

The children’s laughter reached the

Other villages

Of the Universe

Of which I knew and even now know

So little.

Small knowledge that made my rivulet even smaller.
Even smaller:
A sunspeck in this aging darkness

With the disturbing disposition

Of my nearly-whole number.


Vased Chrysanthemums

Your

Soul and

Mine are now like those open white

Chrysanthemums.

See?

The buds are bent low under the weight of

Vase decay.

Thin petal after thin

Petal each falls under the weight of

Vase

Decay.

On my Colleague’s Departure

I shall feel a little hollow

From now on.

The man who sat at the desk

Next to mine is gone

Like an autumn oak-leaf that’s torn

By the breeze that runs just ahead

Of Winter

Scattering wisps of warnings of

Atmospheric turmoil;

Or like a great bear that turns despondently

For home when the season is over.

I shall prick my ear for his crisp autumn wit

In vain

From now on

And I shall feel trapped

Like a fawn is suddenly trapped

In a forest of

Rushing fires.

This great bear has gone

And with his parting also are gone

The mellow whispers about Homer and the

Tragedies of Greece and Rome

And England

And discussions about

Symbolic instruments in

Books -ravens, doves and the like-

Will never produce the same

Delightful juices.

When  I turn to speak to him from now on

I shall know that the oak-leaf

And the great bear are gone

And I shall feel abandoned to a

Sleepwalker’s soliloquy

Pondering things in silence, alone

And I shall feel cavernous

And cold

From now on,

Now that my colleague’s gone.

Salome

I will loosen Sleep’s soft bands

For you tonight.

Come early.

You’ll find that the jasmine is still

White; it hasn’t died from neglect.

On the contrary

It has completely taken over the pergola.

Though Salome’s dance was

Enchanting

My head is still intact.

Besides, I’m no Baptiser.

Come,

I will loosen Sleep’s soft bands for you

Tonight.


Sappho’s ‘Evocation’

Immortal Aphrodite of the jewelful throne!

Cunning child of Zeus! I beg you, Goddess:

Don’t abandon me nor break my spirit with

Distress

But come to me, since always before

In such metters you’ve heard my distant cries

And obeyed

And, leaving your father’s golden chambers you’d

Yoked your chariot with the beautiful

Swift sparrows who, hurriedly beating the sky with

Their wings rushed

To suddenly touch upon this black earth;

And you,

Blessed Goddess, with a grin on your immortal

Face you’d ask me what heart’s woe had made me

Call for you this time.

What now did my frenzied soul want to happen?

“Whom must I now convince to be your lover?

Who, Sappho, is being unjust to you now?

If she shuns you now, she will soon be

Pursuing you;

If she doesn’t accept your offerings, soon she will

do the offering and

If she doesn’t love you now, soon she will -willingly

Or otherwise!”

Now

Come to me again!

Release me from this horrible concern!

Accomplish what my soul needs to accomplish And

Be my ally in this battle!


Shower

I took this evening’s shower

With a thought

That obeyed gravity –

rather than me –

And

Fell onto the slippery floor

Before it glided into the

Hole.

A crimson, thought, I admit,

One that made the cactus

Bend soft degrees in shame

But…

Damn the disobedient thoughts!

I shall lose some hours of sleep

Tonight.


The Slipper

The grass grew tall around your slipper

Which now knows the language of the worms

And of the birds.

They perform dances of magic

And croon enchanting spells around its entrance.

It lays there under my vine-covered pergola

As if spellbound

And I watch it being embroidered

Slowly and meticulously by the

Dawn’s and the sun’s

And the moon’s messages.

All our yesterdays and our

Tomorrows dance together within these

Flashes of light.

Tall, urgent waterfalls  -these blades of grass

And light- rush through our story.  Pulses of

Our time.  Wizards and witches

Our moments.

Omens rattled in our night-breasts.

Yesterday our tomorrows were palpable dreams

And today our yesterdays are forsaken breaths.

I pour out the ceremonial mead and sing to

The airy meanads from whose midsts you’ve emerged

But the waterfall is in too much of a hurry

And you’ll soon be lost in

The growing grass.

The grape vine that shades my pergola needs pruning.


The Tram

“Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

“As You Like It”     W. Shakespeare

 

The tram runs like the exposed

Philosophers run and

Like the priests with

Their acolytes and like the whores

And like the

Brain-blood of the

House-trapped house-

Wives and of the boss-

Owned husbands.

From the depots of oblivion

And back

Again

It receives, as the boudoir

Cistern receives, thoughts of all sorts

And

Intentions from all directions and

Uncouthly, chunders them out

Again, stop by stop

All the way to the Depot.

“Move along the tram, please,

Move along, please, there are

Others waiting to get on.  Next stop

Oblivion!”

Cap askew and money bag glued to his

Belly this chirpy

Conductor moves

Sideways up and down amongst

Pinned crabs.

And the tram runs on.


Visit me now!

Come, visit me now

Before Time’s next attack,

Before the mirror slides

Into pious rectitude and beyond my

Control.

It will become

Almighty then, not

In my own image but in its stubborn pursuit of

Verisimilitude.

Come before my lies become more numerous

And more embarrassing to all

Concerned.

Come, before the present totally recedes and I become

A pitiful suppliant to my memory,

Ever-begging her to recycle some of

The old thrills she holds so covetously.

Will she betray me then?

She can be very sadistic when she wants to be.

She will say “yes” but she will serve me only the

Small garnishings that went with the main events;

Titbits that are excruciating to behold

Come, before quotidian

Time chops off  my legs and arms, making me

Incapable of pulling my own at the nocturnal

Yoke.

Come on,

Visit me now!


The Warrigal Bitch

Let the Warrigal bitch sniff around

The dens of other warrigals,

Dear children, dear children.

Let the Warrigal bitch howl at the moon

And let out the pleasure-screams of insanity.

She’s mad, the bitch,

She’s mad!


Embryos

Thousands of embryos were simply pencilled off,

Ejected from the white-blank womb

Before Creation could take a good grip

Of their meaning.

Don’t hold me to my word, mother

Muse;

Their meaning is

More slippery than a Luna Park mirror.

And don’t tell anyone of this immense

Embryocide.

Believe me, these difficult words are still

Alive  – or at least, floating in Elysium,

Somewhere at the back of my mind;

And I’m taking it easy with the alcohol

While I’m pregnant.  Once

I used to stay up ’till late with

Love making and wine worshipping;

Now I stay up  creating embryos,

Which I then promptly cross off from

The lines.

One day I shall write a whole opera with

All these floating embryos at the back

Of my mind.


Enlightenment

Stained

On our church’s high window,

Young

Christ and His Mother,

Looked as if overwhelmed by

Apollo’s  irreverent curiosity.

The New Testament and the

Old Myth fused in that church

And

Our Sunday teachers explained the Holy

Spirit -its ethereal properties,

Its role in the Holy Order and in the

Holy Trinity, its ability to reveal virtue humane

To the humans-  while our

Daily school teachers explained how

Homer’s gods played

War

Games

Using mortals from Greece and Troy;

And it wasn’t until I came to Australia that

I had read Virgil’s  ‘Aeneid’.


Fire In The Swamp

Selections and rejections brought me

To this path and

She played her part: that of a woman

Maddened by her virginity.

She played her part and I took this

Path and

Lo! I, too, was maddened by her virginity.

Prometheus brought her to me that

I may see his capacity and my way out of

A thick swamp that I had managed to get myself into

Again but,

For once,

Prometheus was wrong!

From the swamp I was driven to a field

Burning under a village sun and

I laboured hard cutting the yellow stalks

Of wheat under that metal sun

And my day’s triumph was crowned with

Rustic garlands weaved by the villagers

And with a young woman whose face opened my heart

But

Prometheus was wrong, just this once,

With his selection.

To be sincere, for a while

I enjoyed Pandora’s firy glow –

It lit my swamp and gave life to much that was

Encrusted by the weighty sludge of age

And I had thought at the time, that her rosy flesh was

Just what I needed;

But then, the girl opened

Her mouth and spoke
And that’s when I’d discovered that

Prometheus was wrong – just this once,

With his selection.


Valediction

Byzantine airs discovered

Our midnight path and,

Like sudden chills, cut across it.

Religious mysteries… awesome maybes

And Time’s plangent tongues

Like lean, black-cloaked monks

With frenzy, web that path.

The monks shake their heads

Like tolling bells, ringing

Questions and answers in monotones,

In maybes.

Wails within some disturbing, raising,

Gregorian chant.

They web the path and

Trap your name within

Their incensed neumes-

Neume!  Neume!  Neume!

And soon, too hurriedly soon,

Your icon is buried, like a holy relic

Beneath intoxicant, spicy clouds.

Chilly the binary word

Neume!  Neume!  Neume!

That severed our binary path

And scattered the airy wafers

Of our communion.

Chilly stopped the blood within

My binary heart-

Severed and seized.

Exquisite communion while it lasted.

Worm Lovers

 We squirmed under the sheets

Like two worms in a rush

To climb

To higher ground

To avoid this season’s

Floods.

 

Worms with arms and legs

And genitals

In a rush to beat these floods

 

And one could easily mistake us for

Cannibals,

Biting at each other’s flesh but never

Quite chewing nor satisfying this

Hunger that grips two people in lust.

 

Writhing in lust like two worms

Rushing to avoid the flood.

 

I hope you don’t smoke.

I hope you won’t light one of those filthy things

Afterwards,

After the panting has subsided – if you haven’t by

Then driven me into a coma – and then say:

“Ahhh, I needed that!”

 

I never know whether it’s the cigarette or my…

My what?

God, I hope you don’t smoke!

 

That There Hill

There’s a disturbing anachronism in

That there hill;

And another thing:

It speaks to me

Like the legs of a woman standing

“At ease.”

Time moved on a long time ago

Leaving behind the putrid smells

Of Time-departed;

But that’s for me,

As for the hill, it grins with tidy

Smugness.

“The waves at my feet,” it says to me

“Will be my pilgrims for ever!”

Such were the legs that once walked

At ease with me and

Such was the smugness in her grin

At the waves of my heat.

Ho, ho! but my house has a new fragrance now!


Theme on a Canvas

Brush stroke hunted brush stroke

All day today

And I was behind the last one again

Crying.

 

From bristle’s thirst to bristle’s

Arrogant burst, the paint and the brush

Brush after brush, the flesh and the paint and

The brush, rushed from pallet to canvas

Pressing pigment into pigment, piling pigment upon

Pigment and

There,

Suddenly are mortared the sinews of the dream.

 

Hushed, still torches of ancient light and a

Vortex of flying fish

Trying to escape their element.

 

Cool sapphires humming to the beat

Of a warm day, this river humming,

This river, their element and mine and

There’s my renascence.

 

But the agile brush escapes my grip and

Here’s the foreground and the beat of

Your stream

And

Here’s the painted theme, the one theme I’ve been

Trying, all day, to avoid.

 

Your shadow appeared first, carved and burned

Into fragments by the torches of the forest;

Then your body and your body’s flesh,

Bright, young, lithe, like the morning

Fawn, grazing alone;  alone,

To you, the sunlight and the torches belong.

 

Naked body which I, alone saw that

Dawn and, seeing it, seeing the running blood, seeing it

Running

Between the water and the splintered torches,

Like a child,

I began to cry.

 

Brush stroke has been chasing brush stroke

All day today,

All day.


Trap-veil over Trap-hearth

Tide and Moon swell slowly

And

Slowly the spider’s feet

Darn

The sticky trap-veil which I’d

Managed to damage

Recently.  I didn’t know at the time,

Of course but

Friends

Told us in swelling courts and bulging

Affidavits and gurgling

Telephones that it was my fault

And

These cackling Furies

Should know: They had lived in our pockets

For years.

But nevermind that now,

The spider’s feet are healthy again, I see,

And they’re nearly done.

See?

The tear on the veil is invisible

And this gorgeous weave takes again

Its proper place

And the trap-hearth is set.

Clever feet these spiders have, full

Of insane creativity.

And I,

While

Tide and moon swell slowly

I

Darn the children’s socks.


Sediment

I’m too intense in my old age,

Too tightly coiled, they tell me.

I grip too desperately

At life’s final trinkets.

Everything’s trivial.

Gone is the impact of the small words,

Like “love” and

“Heart” and “soul” and

“I” and “You”

 

And

Gone is the impact of the

Whispers in the ear;

The secret sounds of the day

The scrumptious sights of the night.

Whispers, less audible than thoughts

More compelling than a girl’s first

Love-blush.

A barbarous death-wind

Makes me involuted

 

And

The whispers from the dryads in the woods,

From the nereids in the waters; from all

Those other sylphic beings of

The refined air

Can’t reach me now.

Sweet nothings are no longer

Sweet

 

And

(Listen to the way I talk, for goodness sake!0)

Tastes no longer tantalise

Or linger.

 

I want far more.

I’m too intense, they say, and

Too abrasive and

Too gauche and

Full of bombastic flummery,  too full of the obscure, of the nugatory,

They say.

Too much in need of

Subtlety that lasts,

I

Say!

 

And

My inner tongue wags

Too much against me, these days!

I’ve little time left

And none of grace.

 

“You’re incredibly gauche,”

A Peggy told me once; and

“You’re unbelievably impatient,

Why, we’ve only just met,”

Another Peggy said and

A Margaret told me once -I remember

Margaret for her peerless bottom-

“Relax, relax,” before she spun me into oblivion,

 

And

Then there was

An Anne who’d asked me:

“You’re too intense, why?”

 

I’m pouring out the sediment these days,

That’s why!

That’s all that’s left of life and love

And of all those other little words

That’s why!

 

That gorgeous heady dross has long been swept off

At the bacchanals and

The purity of things was drunk decorously

In charming, virgin restaurants,

Long ago -so little of it!

 

The sediment is all that’s left:

The soul’s little wounds.

That’s all that’s left,

That’s why!


Sanity

How feeble was your friendship!

The Great Bomb had gone off before I was born

But the explosion has yet to enter the discarded

Snake skin,

To enter and to calm the gurgling bowels of the snake skin.

You suspended the explosion and

All that destruction was but a gentle

Clap of a wave against the Titanic

And when your oxen-drawn cart rolls over

The cobbled stones of my village, you offer pardon

To the tongues

That slashed you out of my arms,

Severed your arms, Venus of Milo,
Sanity, Sanity, Sanity!

Shouts the wooden cross

Sanity, Sanity, Sanity!

They knew not what they were saying and

They spoke with virtuous mud in their mouths,

Made with scented rain and the sparse

Soil of their hand-farms, virtuous arms swung

To evil gestures for

They knew not what they were doing

When they yanked you out of my arms.

Oh, incidentally,

The snake skin is still

Waiting for the

Explosion, so hurry up,

Sanity,

Hurry up!


Anser Anserum

And when he finally turned

Quadraginta quinque anni with witnesses

And wine

Sad all, sad all

Sad all.

His eyes turned away from

Her face

Like the hands of the clock from the hour.

Ah, bona Hora fugit!

Cara Hora fugit!

Goose to goose

Anser anserum at the mirror

Gilded though its frame and it is

Anser anserum with the photograph

Proud though the wretched camera of its precision

And

Anser anserum at the canvas though

The artist is famous.

This then will be the quinqennium of the goose

And the good,dear hour has perished

Unnoticed

And no more the face and the flesh but

The goose and its feathers.


Midnight at a Singles’ Bar

I looked for the erogenous

Zone like the Israelites looked for manna

In the wildernesss-

Searched for it everywhere:

At the upstairs bar

And on the dance floor,

Where the viscera of over 30’s quiver

In Death-Dawn’s aura.

Downstairs, where

A woman with exaggerated clown-face

Colours batters the atmosphere

This way and that,

her body mocking obesity.

Around the corner I looked,

Where the primrose wall is dripping with

Derelict lovers, more drunk by the

Fumes of the hunt than

By the enervated bar-spirits; And the

Unanswered mating calls brew in their faces

Before they rise to the ceiling

And hang

There, trembling, like upside-

Down hyacinth blossoms.

No, this place is bereft of erogenous

Zones

Tonight: no shelter for Eros

No place to geminate.

Another euryproctic woman makes a

Gesture which reveals that she too has

No style nor an erogenous

Zone.

Should I go now and try again within

Tomorrow’s Midnight?

At least the waiters look happy.

But no, the noise-spinner introduces the

Hunt-song with a

Commentary which reveals that for too many

Midnights now he’s

Also been searching for an erogenous

Zone

Amidst these grey woods where hunt wounds fester;

And he is a professional hunter:

Fully equipped with all the latest

Electronic bird enticers and

With every simulated

Mating call!

O, solo mio!

O, solo, solo, mio!


The Morning after on a Greek Beach

Apollo is dancing

On our bodies, stinging

The flesh,

Clouding the brain –

Body and brain

Still saturated with last night’s

Ouzo;

 

Like the black olives which you had

Marinated for a whole week in

Ouzo;

 

And the cicadas are arguing

Again; like the tourists do over the price of

Plaster statuettes of the Minotaur.

 

The sea is of no help either:

Pinned as we are on the sand,

This blue, fragrant oil remains

Exotically out of our reach.

 

Our

Spirits ascended too high

Last night.

Curse you and your love for

Ouzo!


The Odd Artist

This artist

Only paints single trees.

One tree, alone, at the

Bottom,

Left

Edge

Of a desert-white canvas.  There is

Nothing else

On this life-big canvas,

One tree, alone, dressed with a sense of decorum

And moment.

Everyone says that this artist is

Odd.

And if you look at this canvas

Long enough,

You can hear clearly,

First,

The breezy sounds of a

Single flute, but then, closely follows

A storm of belligerant trumpets

And trombones

And drums

And cellos-

In a relentless pursuit of the breezy sound

Which, though

Overwhelmed,

Never dies.

And though the blankness of

The world-big canvas

Pushes the tree further and further into the

Bottom,

Left Edge, it

Never quite disappears.

This happens without fail

With all of this artist’s paintings.

Everyone says that these paintings are

Odd.


The Odd Photographer

My young, namesake cousin

Is a photographer who only

Takes depictions with texture,

Dimension with soul.

Even the inanimate victims of his

Preoccupation, like

Stones and folds of buildings, sacred

Channels of ancient masks and urns, all have

Texture, Dimension and

Soul.

Seminal.

So do all his animate victims, of course.

Not yet dogs or cats or budgerigars but

People: Smoothly convoluted dancers, tentative lovers,

Fathers, mothers, sisters, daughters (other people’s),

Cousins – first

Second and

Third, nieces,

Friends –

All have

Texture,

Dimension and soul.

But they are all exposed

Dogmatically in

Black and white.

Seminal, because if you

Watch these photographs

Long enough,

They swell and

Tell of a cervical propensity towards

All

Animate and inanimate victims.

He took a series of well-measured

And

Well-bordered depictions of me recently

And

Now I, too, have texture,

Dimension and

Soul.

Or, at least, my seminal portrait does.


Upon Homer’s Odysseus

What can a mortal poet do

But walk through the ever-burgeoning wood

And describe the fall of but a single leaf?

So,

I must woo the haze-born Muse to

Help me describe the path of this

One leaf that’s fallen from a proud tree.

Too proud that tree

Too proud the leaf that whirled through the

Wrath of this young sphere’s waters.

Tell, Muse, of the moods of these waters and

Of this fallen leaf.

That man who kneaded his wit with that of

Many men and learned their city’s turns.

Tell, Muse, of the man with the much-turned brain –

Let him be the seed of your song.

After he defiled the sacred stones of Ilium’s

Lofty walls, Odysseus

Battered spleen and soul against

The Ocean’s murdering bones.

Thrashed did Odysseus all the sinews of his flesh

Against the curse-driven waves to save

His mates of war and of the pounding voyage maze;

But they, all, with wit-empty skulls slaughtered

The Sun-blessed calves and this hunger crazed wrong

Deprived them of their return home.

Muse!

Tell the story of this fallen leaf, Odysseus, their

Captain-King, beginning with whichever word you want.

You,

Zeus’ child, who knows the fate and the

Sentiments of all the leaves within the

Ever-burgeoning Woods.


Olive Grove Soil

And then,

With a graceful turbulence

You singed the pollen;

And then

The fingertips of my dream

Anchored you -a bobbing mermaid-

In my waters for a while;

And then

The petals fell-

Rain-like, yes-like;

And then

Came the nourishment

In rolling spurts of knowledge –

Sweet, bitter,

Sweet, bitter,

Sweet.

Dig a little,

Dig a

Little beneath the stony olive grove

Soil

And there you’ll find me-

My own fragments of clay amphorae

And other ancient vessels,

The wine still in my nostrils,

Still ardent, still yes-wanting,

Still looking for your grace and your ardour;

And my spirit?

Omniscient!


Prometheus

Prometheus,

Come to my aid!  For

I know the pain you felt,

Chained on Tartarus’ icy splinters

An ancient, broad-winged black bird

Plunging its eager talons and its

Giant, shrieking beak

Into your entrails

By day, surgically

Wrenching them out

Inch by inch.

Plunging and wrenching

Plunging and wrenching

All day

All day, every day.

How you begged

The brilliant charioteer

To fever his steeds,

At the quick of Dawn!

Lover of the wise light you were,

Hater of the day you became.

And the Moon goddess

To lengthen her visit,

At the quick of Dusk,

And to wipe the trmbling scorpions

Off your belly

And hold the flood

Of the putrid blood,

By night

By night, every night.

A dire Titan you were

As assaulted suppliant you became.

I know it well.

Eagle’s talons for the Titan;

Butterfly’s sublime feet for the

Human.

Every day and

Every night.


Ruins

Middle twenties have transformed you into

A middle-aged dung beetle

Fluttering over revered

Cadavers

And

Deadbone-colored marble.

“Ruins,” you wrote

“Are just ruins” and quickly tightened your

Tourist money belt and bounced off

To land on an orchid implanted between a pair of

Spanish thighs.

From Plato’s sun to

Plato’s cave.

You thought that old Aegeas who worked

Poseidon’s wrath against the ancient mariner,

Would spruce himself up

For you; smooth out all his wrinkles, pinch a new

Blueness on his cheeks and clean up the mountains of

Dung that a million dung beetles like you

Drop into his soul every year.

Every year.

And you thought that Pericles of the golden mouth

Would shake Pheidias of the sublime fingers

Out of his sleep, to get up and

Meticulously toothbrush and dentalfloss the

Marble columns

For you.

That all the wise would gather ’round you

And make you feel like the young Christ

In the temple of God.

Would you have stayed then?

Would you have stayed there among them –

Among the temple stones and the holy inventions-

Eager to learn, eager to spread the learning,

To become what you once were: a pollinising breeze?

Go back young coz and learn to

Feel the flaming chill that

I once had felt when my

Fingers read the chiselled words upon

The Pheidian rocks,

Carved with spiritual beauty.

Go back and learn to feel.

Go back and learn.


Gardens

I’m tired of tidying up the

Sunrays in

Your garden

And if you ask for

My sprinkler

Once more

I’ll scream!

It’s

My turn now.

It’s

My turn

But my garden faces the

Moon now

And

The healing butterflies have long ago

Turned into light-scavenging

Moths.


Marble Seasons.

I’ve spent most of the time

Spinning in the sealed barrel of

Turbulent sleep.

Narcotised passions, a muse-forsaken

Will and

Seas, furrowed deep by weird moon-

Movements, kneaded me slowly

But certainly into an

Undecipherable life pattern;

And I haven’t touched a piece of

Marble all this time.

Through the crawling breaths of seasons

I was

Tossed into

One night and

Tossed out of another.

This land is good for lovers of sleep,

Loving sleep and burning lovers in sleep’s

Crimson turbulence.

No, I’ve done nothing significant since

Your last letter of a long time ago and

The candle’s wax drips only by habit and

In vain.

Oh, yes, I did plant two cherry trees

As you had asked once

And pruned hard the vine that knitted itself all

Through the pergola –

All this

With a perfect air of

Profound despondency.

Goats

Goats once lowered their bearded

Jaws and dragged the penury

Out into the open air

But we knew then where we were.

We lived on a poor land,

Nourished only by thin blood

And airy myths -hardly the stuff to

Feed the hungry multitudes!

Everywhere we dug

Our fingers would come up

Chipped and scratched white by the

Marbles

Which we then caressed and studied with

Reverence and,

Once again, forgot our

Rumbling stomachs.

There were only the thistles and these

Belonged to the donkeys and to the

High sun.

My father now, hoe in hand, bows a little

And digs deep into my own, personal,

Vegetable garden and by High

Summer the salad will perfume my kitchen.

“There are no goats, no myths,

Nor any marbles here,” he says

As he scrubs hard at the black, horse-

Manured soil stuck deep into his fingernails.


Salmon Women

Then, like a river whose

Path was suddenly torn by Jehovah

I plunged -arms and legs comically fluttering-

Into a skull-crushing void.

Years ago.

I take and

Am taken by

Women for remedial purposes only now

Which is to say for no purposes at all.

Cultivated nipples curl inside my chest

And move there like home-searching pink

Salmon

Upwards against a torrent of hurled-away

Sighs

Searching for their home

Searching for

A home.

Perspectives, directions and body movements

No longer follow wisdom.

Some remedy this…

This sex business!

Some herbal tea,

My dear?


The Teacher

Not like her colleagues’ eyes,

The bright eyes of this Calabrian

Perform with some sensitivity.

She’d make a bed warm for her husband

In winter and

Her scent would refresh the most

Crumbled sheets and weariest of husband-bones.

My triptych would have her

Bowing over swelling fields

Amidst Nature’s pure pleasantries:

Seeds, birds, brooks

And

Breezes that carry grateful peasant voices,

At Dawn;

By the hearth, in the evening -I can see her

Reading a book to her husband who, with his eyes

Fixed on a fire-blade ponders tomorrow’s harvest;

And in the sacred conjugal bed at night,

Book-tired and soil-worn,

Obsequious sun-energy gone, asleep;

But this young woman is a teacher

And her fields are English and French.

Earthy perspicacity in the furrows

Of an urban school.


Venus of the Streets

(Upon the death of a 15-year old girl)

Ah yes!

Time rolls and Time crawls and

Time does as Time tolls for all the helots

Wrapped in the mouldy newspaper leaves,

In the menacing full-moon shadows, violet

Shadows of trees and

In the steel curves of bridges, deep in this city’s

Carcass where these moths are hungry for light bulbs

And these melancholy cicadas find no homes,

Find not one home.

O Venus, my ultra-virtuous, my crazy moth!

The Devil’s got your ash now and

My dreams have your soul

And

Your phrases parade drunk one by one on Sleep’s

Etiolated fairy floss cinema screen.

Raw sugar crystals, your phrases

Raw marble crystals, as precious as the

Lost arms of Venus De

Milo the goddess who the present and the future

Man

Can only dream and scream about.

You screamed when your ultra-virtuous, crazy cicada

Turned to the turn of a scuttling

Scorpion in the desert and I,

In turn, screamed

When my ultra-virtuous, crazy moth turned

Into the drunken phrases parading in Sleep’s etiolated

Fairy-floss cinema screen.

Ah, yes!

Time sings her own songs, phrased

With unpredictable turns, ancient oracles

That baffled Calchas then and baffle me

Now.

Raw, raw crystals these phrases

Crackle and burn at the serpent’s discarded skin

Stuffed full with the chalky bones of the

Beggars and the buggers and the whores and the muggers

And Mammon’s euphoric priests and Machiavelli’s

Phlegm-spitting acolytes.

See them all marching to the city, ready

For their chores!

Oh, I had dreams, all right!

Where, as if driven by Calpurnia’s premonition,

I stuck your wings back on again, back on again,

Back on again though all of Caesar’s augurs

Couldn’t find the bird’s heart and

Your statue,

Venus of the Streets, would always turn

-in this dream-

Into the grotesque

Statue of Liberty, the stony flame above her arrogant,

Gold-loving head showing the way to

Helotry

And the raw, raw crystals are

Powder of white gold needling its way

Into the serpent’s discarded skin

Bulging it with percolating sweet mists of ecstasy

And Hate.

See how the sweet crystals dissolve

In the reptile’s eyes…see the hate…

They dissolve and as they do

They flipside all the buggers and the beggars

And Mammon’s euphoric priests into

Rich whores

And back again

And the putrid newspaper mattresses into black,

Sex-perfumed and flesh-wooing silk

In brothels

And the madness into wild poetry full of

Enjambments and un-rhyming argot and therapy

And back again

And flipsiding also the good, healthy, ultra-virtuous

Men like me, into bad, sick, poisonous scorpions

Who ought to be fighting the ENEMY in the

Oily desert along with

The cicadas and the moths,

Triggering the smart bombs,

And the good, healthy, ultra-virtuous women

Like you into drunken phrases

That parade on Sleep’s etiolated fairy floss

Cinema screen… “come with me…kiss me…love me…

Take meeeee now!”

And back again.

Words have the power to turn people

Into savages or angels -take your pick, take

Your own pick

But the Numbers have won this game and so

You can’t take your pick, you can’t take

Your own pick.

With a ding and a dong,

Little minds are enchanted  and enslaved by

Numbers and by Neatness and by the present;

Big minds are enchanted and enslaved by

Chaos and the Soul and by the eternal

Song

And the Numbers have won this Party

Game.

Poll after Poll the percentages and

Decimals won

Poll after Poll the usury goes

On

Poll after Poll the bells toll

On.

Ah yes!

The reel spins on and in this darkness

The flipsiding goes on.

It went on while Jokasta

Was giving birth to her lover and it goes on still,

Goes on still -look at you and me!

The eleventh hour and all is well

Ding Dong! It’s the crier’s bell.

Ding dong! It’s the night crier’s bell.

It’s the Party’s man

Or woman and

The papal

Encyclicals keep coming, keep making it tough

For the little boys and girls that want to make

Love.

Veritatis Splendor!

Ding dong!

“Stop all that masturbation!”

The papal canon decrees and the

“Large Red Book of Bullies” in a Primary School

Frightens the little boys –

Frightens them all

So “all is well” the crier cries on.

“The Party’s on,

Come and get your own,

Personally Inscribed

Fascula!”

Ah yes, ah, yes!

Time’s bells peal with the joy

That we had felt in the moist fog that

Wraps our river, near, near where the river ends.

I had spat in Sleep’s eye and abandoned the bed

And I drove there that night,

There where the river ends

And you were there and

Time and fog had turned you

Into a song, humming through my strained cords,

Words that cooed and asked for love on the damp grass

Of our river’s banks…”come with me…kiss me…love me…

Take meeeee by the head

Now!”

Andante e staccato, con tremolo… piu tremolo!

For God’s sake, piu tremolo!

Eeeeeeftasaa!

And

“My body is my land, root it thoroughly and

Enjoy its fruit,”

You said but the Devil’s got your ash before

I got my chance

Because

At Dawn, Ms Arrester, the young cop on the beat,

Spun the pea in her whistle and told us to move on

Because

Mammon’s bells had begun to toll and the helots

Were marching to their spots:

“No corrupting the helots!”

Said the young cop -it wasn’t her fault,

She was only doing her own helot-chore,

So we put an end to the

Tugging of our own bell’s cords and we moved on,

We moved on.

We moved on and with the moving, you broke

The cord and were

Lost for eon-long nights and more,

More bells toll, toll, toll,

Toll the vacancy in my soul, your home, now a derelict

Mud-cavern, cracking in the wasted

Sun-rays, derelict clay dust on the floor

Where

The winds found a hollow in that dust

Where

They spin and billow the mouldy

Newspaper blankets off the backs of the bridge drunks.

See the headlines pillowing the drunks’ heads?

“Veritatis Splendor!” and

“Big Red Book of

Bullies Frightens Little Boys in Primary School!”

Say the Papal

Canons

and the little school

Principal’s

Canons.

It baffled Calchas then and

Baffles me now how easily we commit hubris,

O, my Venus of the Streets.

I saw the boat slide through the fog

And you at the rails slide along

Away from where our river ends

To be lost in the moist fog of the vast ocean.

Of fire.

It baffled Calchas then and it

Baffles me now how deep that fog is

And

I’ve often asked the fog,

Why wouldn’t Agamemnon, leader of all

The armies of Greece, enough men to fill a thousand

Ships, give back Chryseis and why did his brother,

Menelaos of the fair locks, leader of the Spartan

Force

Bring this great

Force

There, so far, there,

On the swarthy shores of Ilium for the sake

Of a woman, made lunatic by her own beauty,

And why did Ulysses, king of the fairest isle,

Suffer a decade of war and a decade more on the

Swarthy water to get back to a wife now twenty years

Older?

Calchas was baffled then and I am baffled now

By the parading phrases.

Oh, I had dreams, all right!
All scattered by Dawn, all lifted by Dawn

As Dawn scatters her rays on her own

Horizon, as Dawn lifts her rays from her own

Horizon, all dreams, sweet and gratifying and bizarre

Years of them and more, such dreams had baffled Calchas

And baffle me more

Scattered all, scarring the soul, severing the arms from

The body

Like the executioner’s axe severs

The marrow

From the bone, scarring the soul

Like the sun’s swords scar the clay landscape

That lies, planet-wide between us.

Your words are now whispered deep into my ears by

The beggars and the muggers and shouted at me

By Mammon’s euphoric priests and

Machiavelli’s phlegm-spitting acolytes and

Turned into gurgling

Images by the needled eyes of the street-seraphims.

Zip-zap, zip-zap!

Electric shocks in the head tell me that you’re alive

And on your way back,

Venus-of-the Streets,

And the bells peal the joy of your return

Voices deep in my head,

Hosanna!

I’ll plant,

I’ll plant

I’ll plant

A thousand hosts along your return’s way

A thousand torches like those watched

Earnestly by Kletaimestra’s servant

Night and day.

And on your way, sweet Venus,

You’ll go past them,

Past that spot in the desert where

Alexander, the great child, found a helmetful of

Water, a multitude of parched soldiers at his back

Weary with war and

Their souls, by now, accustomed to the hovering

Between worlds, between worlds, between

Worlds, and their throats more accustomed to thick wine

Than to thirst, like the diesel truck to the

Gas

And the melancholy cicada to a leafy home.

They saw him tip the helmet over and the water was sucked

Urgently by deep ravines of

Sand.

Think of it, Venus, and feel my thirst, equal to

The thirst of that multitude of soldiers.

And don’t pay heed to the subterranean

Troglodytes who don’t speak the language of Homo-

Sapiens but that of mindless and heartless reptiles

And live, like the reptiles, in the wet

Caverns beneath the Earth, dark and cold and there,

Upon mouldy newspapers, under the steel curves of bridges,

Eat the carcasses of their own

But you, Venus of my Streets, continue on your way,

Cross the hard desert that waits upon the

Flowing procession of the winds and of

The hungry carrion birds

And soon you will come to Poseidon’s wet domain,

The greatest on this spinning planet.

Thalatta, thalatta! The sea, the sea, the great, oh

Great sea!

Read Xenophon’s Anabasis for a quick thrill

And

Don’t ignore the small statue of

Beethoven.  It’s true he talked with

Death but then he went on to feed many orchestras

With Schiller’s divine words:

“And ’tis Joy that moves the pinion,

When the wheel of Time goes ’round.”

O, song of joy!

Think of it sweet Venus! Death and joy can live

Happily in the soul

Of one man, as you live in mine

But nevermind the man,

Hear the composer, and see how

The white sugar crystals still dissolve in his

Sliding eyes.

Nor let Time make timid your intent but

Go on, go on, come on!

Pick up your own

Lyre and pluck your own

Song,

The song of

Woe

That told Xerxes of his own devastation -those Greeks

Could not be trusted even to stay dead!-

Think of that song,

Venus of the Streets, think of that

Woe!

The greatest army against a handful of villagers came,

Beaten,

And gone

And this baffled Calchas then and gave

Xerxes much

Woe.

Think of that

Woe

And of that

Army’s thirst and think how I live in

This carcass now where

You and I were born, and torn,

Torn, our swaddles

Torn

And come, come now before the next stop!

“Move along, please!

Next stop, Lobotomy!

Aaaaaall’s well!”

This is the age of the sirens and of the bells that

Toll,

The burning siren and the chilling toll,

Venus of the Streets I love your eternal

Song.


Anchor the Busy Shadows

(On Plato’s ‘Myth of Er’)

Anchor the busy shadows to the

Nether mud and

Turn the spindle once again

But

This time –

This time let

Me

Choose my lot; and let

Me

Read it in my own chest.

Fates within fates have lowered

The aged web of life’s flame and

Lowered too the pitch of their

Single note – see how smugly they sit

Upon their cup’s lips!

Cup within cup

And

Celestial ring within celestial

Ring,

All turn within the spindle of

Necessity

In the Under

World and the shadows rush for

Their lot.

Stop!

And now flick the spindle once again but

This time –

This time let

Me choose my own lot.


And so, once again I see.

And so,

Once again I see

The furry stalks of poppies bend.

Slender single; as feeble and crooked

As memory, as die-hard and humbling

As memory.

Down and around, in tune with Earth’s

Every breath, with Spring’s

Every whim, they bend, they dance.

Delicious ears, soaked by

Hair that soaks the blood of Daylight;

Blood through which once

My hand chanced to travel.

Poppies that have seen the

Rainbow’s desire swell and rise

To mate with the drying sky.

Silent lips that have brought too many

Echos into the hollows of our irony.

These are the

Poppies that have gladly mattressed the

Beds of one-season lovers, of

Rushing, extravagant lovers, of

Spring-pricked, hope-stung lovers, of

Feeble and die-hard lovers and which

Cushioned the small, bare feet of children and

Drew the deep, grave prints of soldiers’ boots and

The elegant hooves of the obsequious oxen

And mules.

And which

Pampered the children and

Shrouded the soldiers red and

Fed the oxen and the mules –

This field of poppies is enamoured by the past

And by

The future but

Paints indelibly the present:

No regret, no hope.

Smug eyes, these poppies,

Smug eyes that have known me whole –

From hair’s tip to

Soul’s every disassembling,

Discordant turn and twist –

(Here’s a dancer with two left feet!)

Known me whole during one whole season:

In my bed and in my muse’s field;

In ebbing sleep

And

In the stream of the day-rituals

Of pain and boredom and grief and of

The madness of regret.

(Does a brook dare regret its passage?)

Smug eyes!

There the flower.

There the poppy’s suspended, sublime fire.

There the daylight’s blood.
There the happy past and there,

There is no hope.

Poppies that have felt Dawn’s pure jewels

And adorned them

And then

Felt them gone.


Flibbetigibets in the Ashes

Another

winter had come and gone

Never, thank heavens, to come and go again. It was

worse than all the other winters that have

Neared my home before, winters that have pinned me

close upon my hearth’s dear

Fire.

Endless

I thought, this winter would have been, its icy

Oars smugly hitting the waves

adding to  their anger’s

Rhyme.

Endless

it seemed, until a woman’s voice,

Oh, a woman’s

cherry-sweet voice,

Announced Spring’s

adorning again!

Never again

will that winter shroud my hearth,

Never will I despair before its dead ashes!

Under her splendid wings this woman had

A different warmth,

A fire without ashes

And out of their deep myths she let out the

Elves and hobgoblins

that now whizz about. She

Opened the doors for

all the imps and sprites and leprechauns;

And

She replenished the air with all the

pigwidgeons and

flibbetigibets.

All erupting through the ashes!


Asphodel/Daffodil

Cry with a clear voice

My asphodel,

Daffodil-

Dapper little daffodil that you are

And here’s to you a blessing

From a grey-gold man afar:

Once there was wheat aplenty

And corn enough to make a

Winnow sing and once there were

Males aplenty, guiding the heavy

Ox-hooves to the threshing ring;

And there, among the obsequious

Oxen and the earth-lads I have seen-

Oh, I’ve seen what I’ve seen with

My young eyes I’ve seen!

Sprightly marble bodies once filled

My Grecian scene.

Dapper little daffodil, asphodel

That you are, stand you now dapper in

A dead bronze lantern among the

Dead avant-garde

Of my mantel piece.

Getting up in the morning I’d say:

“Today I shall play among the straws of

The Earth and the Sun”

To my grandfather, and he’d suck me into his arms:

“Aye, that way to Heaven, go play in the sun,

Dapper little daffodil that you are!”

There goes Ikaros!

There flies Ikaros!

Hands?

Hands deep in bees-wax, and

Feet?

Feet deep in slimy sea-scum

Sun-dried

Sun-drained

Fallen down and

Sea-drowned

There goes Ikaros

Gored by the sun,

The master-mason’s son!

Trying, see him trying, with his right-angle

Staff, to measure (down to an ox-hoof) the

Awesome symmetry, the blissful symmetry of

My front yard,

My well-rounded day and all

The beats of my heart!

We’d sing this song all day!

Svelte sinews of wheat-gold, spinning

Sinews of even planets, calm sinews of

My river’s easy ripples, subtle sinews of

Marbles beneath the ancient soil and above.

These are the sinews of the blessing of that

Grey-gold old man afar.

Aplenty, aplenty, not so long ago

Aplenty, aplenty, the maidens and the

Gorgeous lads; aplenty the

Babies around me, aplenty the old folk

And only but a small pinch of decades

A click-clack of Time’s broad oars.

Aplenty then the water of this town’s well.

Glamorous Earth, glamorous men and women

Glamorous the aged and the not,

United with one blessing, one lust all.

Furrows dug deep in the worm-rich and scent-rich

Soil and

Furrows above the brows of the lads

And the girls, and furrows deep in their groin –

Aplenty, aplenty the gods in their deep-furrowed

Groin.

“Is this the way to Heaven, old man?”

“Aye, that way to Heaven – and here’s my

Blessing, the blessing of a grey-gold old man.

Not that of Ulysses, mind; shrewd bastard of the sea,

But that of a grey-gold old man, whose love is sky-Deep.”

Oh, grandfather, grandfather!

Aye, that way to Heaven my darling son’s son,

Remember my grandson, what a daffodil you are!

Then,

Thumb and third finger touching, raised

Through the raised window for the morning

Blessing, he made the sign of the cross in

The air above the whole village

And I,

I am that silly asphodel standing awkward in

A dead bronze lantern among the dead avant-garde.

Asphodel

Daffodil, Asphodel

Daffodil, Oh, Asphodel, Daffodil!

Deaf is the corn’s ear.

Deaf is the wheat’s ear.

Deaf is the mule’s ear,

And all the marbles are dug out.


What The Priest Saw

The village

Eased the rhythm of its harvest

Whenever my grandfather spread

His tremulous voice

All over the scented fields.

A good priest, bedridden with asthma.

Every Sun-peasant stopped, wiped the

Coarse trickles of earth-sweat and

Watched the summer birds swoop

Around the loudspeakers

Trying to get deep into its iron

Mouth.

The army had

Erected these new devices

After the War,

All over the fields

“For the purposes of peace-time

Exercises.”

The colonel, an abreviated man,

Walked into my grandfather’s

Bedroom

Every noon, and –

Reverence curling his shoulders-

Asked the priest to “test the microphone.”

Neither he nor any of his soldiers

Was brave enough to test this new thing’s

Awesome power.

My friends and I then, would take

An earthen jug of spring-water, some cheese

Made from the frothy milk of our four goats and some

Onions and ran up,

In my grandfather’s hayloft, or

By the banks of the childish river where

The air filled with his voice,

Transformed us into

Subtle men of the

Old Testament.

Once a young corporal lifted me

Out from the hayloft’s  window and

Took me to my grandfather’s bedroom

To blend my yet unbroken voice with that

Of the good priest.

My young friends crossed themselves in awe.

One thousand lions

Stirred gracefully in the old shaman’s

Grey, wispy silk as

He pulled me deep into his sun-flooded

Arms.

He wore the cassock

Like royal regalia.

And my grandmother kissed me on the forehead

And whispered that she wished my parents were there

To hear me.

We sang Byzantine chants

That my parents later heard about

In Salonica,

City of many new devices.


Birth Rush

Blunt echoes the hips of over-

Garnished teenagers on the old

Rock ‘n Roll floor

And the stinging shouts of

Bosses and bureaucrat louts have

Returned -like all things return-

To their birth place;

And I like stewed fruit,

Slowly simmered for ever

With sugar and not-too-dear

Champers,

In a billy,

Over a swaggie’s fire;

And silky cream

And strong black coffee for

Breakfast.

Cool creeks, greened and scented by

Eucalypts vocalise my new

Birth and my ears search for the

Sounds of aboriginal myths and birds,

My eyes read the barks of old trunks and

My fingers -my heart’s tentacles-

Tease the earth looking for the plot with

The most sumptuous soil.

There are no Pheidian marbles nor ostraca here,

Dear parents, and

The photographs have

Lost their voices long ago.

With my dusk’s wine

The blunt echoes

Assemble the stars to draw some familiar

Love-scene.

Just like that, they do it, easily,

Out of the dark blue,

Sharply but without the fury.

Above my skin float the curly talons.

A last gush of birth

Before Hell’s ravens get on with it.

The Brigitte Quartet


Brigitte In The Forest.

Like the eyes of a wolf that snarls

Hungrily

In a vampire’s forest

Two questions tighten my heart,

Brigitte:

Will last night’s torment

Be repeated?

And

Will last night’s torrential ecstasy

Be repeated?

And,

Like Vesuvius, brooding in Pompeii’s crimson

These eyes assemble my sins

Against Eros,

The god who brings transcendental

Bliss in bed.

God,

God, I need your imperatives:

“I want you to screw it, Mike,

Screw it!”

Or,

“Love it, hate it, DO

Something with it,

Mike!”

And,

“Make me come!”

And,

“Don’t tell anyone at work!”

Let it be known:

I hate Kathy Acker for having taught me that

Creativity’s well is despair.

She’s wrong, and worse, she’s

A hypocrite, the squealing bitch-on-heat!

Despair is a dry well and

Creativity is drawn out of a bed and

You were in mine and I was creative then,

Not now!

“Make me come!”

And other such commandments

Unspin me out of the night’s urgent

Whirlpool, like the voluptuous stench of a

Burning brothel and turn me into an ardent seed;

Thrashing frenzically to create.

“I would have come had you not touched

My lips with your fingers as we were screwing!”

And,

“I would have come, had you not been

Looking into

My eyes while we were screwing!”

And,

“If you make me come I’ll do it,

And I’ll do more –

I’ll do all those things

You want me to do!”

(Coming,

To Brigitte, is

Psychotically important!)

It’s a cold forest, Brigitte,

And desperate the snarl in the wolf’s belly.

Brigitte,

You’re a tormenting miracle!

Come, pearl-of-the-bed!

I won’t tell anyone at work.


Brigitte in the Well.

My bed has become a well of dreams

Recently

And sometimes the hands of a benevolent wiseman

Guide me from behind

And sometimes the hands of a malevolent wizard

Force me from behind.

And sometimes, from behind,

Paganini gently stirs,

Gently stirs my fluids;

And sometimes Wagner

Ploughs them into icy clods,

As I approach this well.

And when I bend over its wide red-stone lips-

My right hand resting next to a truss of golden Marguerites,

Indolently animated, askew of Nature’s canons, and

My chin upon the index fingerprint of my left hand;

Sometimes I see the puzzle pieces of my own face

Superimposed over yours, or yours over mine,

And sometimes the pieces mingle

Upon the tranquil surface

And often the blobs are blood-red

And often the fine webs are jealousy-yellow

And often I want to jump into the well

And mingle

Violently with the bloody  blobs and with the

Jealousy webs and

Shout

Until my vocal cords become too taut

To vocalise

Always:

“Come back, Brigitte!”


Brigitte in my Glass.

Tonight

I’ve managed to squeeze another glass

Out of this cask of unhelpful wine.

Red, fruity, Shiraz

That perculates my melancholy

And your consuming scents.

I remember the bright afternoon when

The sun parambulated lazily on the lips

Of our glasses.

That was a

Better wine, that;

Red, French and a little musky

That perculated my joy

At your promises of eternal company.

I drink in atavistic darkness

These days;

To facilitate the visits of

Your ghost

And to dismiss the light’s

Unhelpful forms and utterances.

I remember how difficult it was

To open that little oyster,

With my bare desire.

The ocean waters and smells filled

Me to the brim.

I had put the little bead in my mouth and

Threw the oyster and its home away.

Stupid man!

I pay and pay for this mistake, Brigitte,

As I drink

Profusely, in

Atavistic darkness.


Brigitte in my Bath.

Suddenly

I’ve developed a pain across

My left shoulder.

A tiger’s heavy paws

Rushing for the kill,

Her claws out,

Stomping all along from

The base of the neck to right inside the

Ball of sinews from where my arm begins.

Mysterious, diabolical, inexplicable

Pain;

Penetrating and engaging,

Demanding much attention which I must

Ackowledge by rubbing angrily my fingertips

Into the bare skin.

Stupid old pain

Which others get in the chest-

The rubbing conventicle for the psyche and the body,

Which they must rub angrily with their fingertips.

Others,

Who have lived through a similar

Concantanation of night-desires,

Who lost themselves in the same rivulets of

An inguinal dream.

Or,

It’s like a thick, tight wire of steel

That suddenly springs into tautness

When the funumbulist

Ends her trick.

Sometimes

My eyes are frightened shut by an invasion of

Sparkling stars within an ever-

Tightening firmament.

I fill my bath with myriads of virgin

Pearls

With the aroma of musk

And therapeutic salts

Before I sink into it,

My left shoulder last,

But still the pain persists,

Calling back the anger.

And

I sleep badly these days

And it’s true:

The greyness and the wrinkles

And the bitter phlegm in my eyes

Become ever more prominent.

Still, must this stupid pain be so

Excruciating?  And

How long

Will it last?

How long will it last?

I hate women who have only one expertise:

To dexterously knit

Pullovers for their relatives

Whilst they are prodigiously making love.

Mothers of insouciance.

And

I hate love,

The most insidiously debilitating…

Thing!


Allegro Vivace

Your house is too far for me now;

Too far for my shattered knees

And for my less pertinacious will.

Oh, ho, but I make a plucky start

My lover;

Every morning,

Full of bravado.

“Allegro!” once I’d command the swanky rhododendrons

Along your path

And mine.

“Allegro, vivace! To my love’s abode!”

And quickly and with lusty violins

In the sweeping, Dionysiac breeze

They’d play the prelude

For a Pastorale Fantasia;

And in an instant I’d be there

My night’s discordant fantasies

Give me the morning bravado but,

I barely make it to

The rhododendrons now.

The young, welcoming breeze

Is now an old cantankerous chill

Attacking with the force of a dragon’s nostrils.

My spine becomes your quaver

To use at your capriccio’s need.

And the violins sound too ravenous.

So I turn back

Angry at my night.

All bravado,

All bravado but

No performance

To match your inconsonant cackle.


Butterfly

Limbochild before her arrival

I wondered in the cold hollow

Of blank, blank pages –

Particles of a demanding stillness.

Like ringing in one’s ears.

Virgin leaf after virgin leaf

I desterilised with thought potions

Veined by dictionary words

Which I chose as I choose the dead

Pricetags on the supermarket shalves.

Then I’d throw the leaves each and all

Over my head,

Angry at the Muse for rejecting my adjurations,

For leaving me alone with my tortuous passion,

For forbidding me to feel the pulse andthe

Purpose of my lung’s puff;

Or its cause.

I was imparadised suddenly.  Sometime

Between mothrise and moondescent,

During the silky crackle of an opening cocoon-

A slowly opening crackle

Between one of her verses and another

As they emerged

From her bedfire.

I was crunbled,

Torn from my hollow,

Squeezed within the folds of this silky

Cocoon until the red light drained out

And then cast into her paradise;

Pinned amidst her fevered verse-sighs.

In bed she said:
“Look at me!”  and:

“Don’t be so metaphysical!” and

“Don’t be so meta- so…quasi!

Look at ME!”

With wild elegance she paced around me

Kicking the crumbled thought-leaves

Here and there until,

Out of this airy chaos they came

To settle around her form,

Orderly around her form.


Cassandra

(The Woman Prophet)

 

Dare we anger the man-gods, sisters?

Their wrath will hurl the soul into oblivion,

Their punishment will tantalise Hades.

 

Now the tongues of once-solid Ilium are more

Incomprehensible than this woman’s tongue,

Who speaks with Apollo’s gift-punishment.

Svelte flames wrap their crimson heat

Around her cheeks,

Her ears, her hair; burning them,

Burning the meaning

Of the clamoring, coarse utterances

Of the women and of the children; the meaning

Of the men’s heroic death-sighs; the meaning

Of the lofty towers’ cries as they crash.

 

O, their tongues, good sisters, their tongues!

Once these women used their tongues to whisper

Medicinal words, to humble the chests  of their man-gods.

Once, this woman dared to use her tongue

To say “no” to her lofty man-god;

Whom she served obediently and faithfully and

Kept his home-temple serviced and well-adorned with

Fine cloth of linen.

 

But his veins became turbulent when,

When but a child-virgin she dared.

 

The wooden steed, a death-belly of

Writhing men, a death-wound that

Billowed before it burst,

To spill the death-men out,

Is still looking proud, looking proud, down

Upon its vile accomplishment.

 

Still looking proud upon the hissing man-reptiles:

Once a proud king with fifty proud sons

And as many proud daughters;

And, down upon a tumbling city:

Troy that once was full of man-pride.

 

For each and everyone of us, sisters,

There’s an Apollo,

Master of the sky-flames and Lord of the

Plague-bearing rats,

Whose wrath severs the tongue from the wit;

and a Locrian Ajax, whose own mortal wrath

Violates the body.

 

One man-god spawled into her mouth,

The other -a warrior- into her womb and,

Wit and tongue now, each alone, ramble.

 

Herbs, in a wrath-busy desert.

 

Violation is the affair of man-gods.

Dare we anger the man-gods, sisters?

 

Wives and mothers, sisters, next to the torn

Corpses, amidst the gashing flames

Tear the warning from their throats:

“Beware of the gifts of man-gods!”

 

Dare we say “no?”

Dare we say “yes” to the death-gods, sisters?

The proud man-victors reaped again

A plentiful woman-harvest.

Again.


Cauldrons

Cauldrons within cauldrons

Within cauldrons

Spin in opposite directions

Yet

Our families have been friends for eons.

Their gates faced each other across a

Muddy path.

Your father played a reedy instrument and

Mine, the three-stringed Pontian lyra; and you and I

Danced.

And while, in the myrtle-scented air, you

Carried a sweaty urn on your shoulder – the urn’s

Edges softened by your thick silken plaits- I carried

Hay stacks to the stable.

Our mothers baked their bread in the clay-

Oven which your grandfather had built;

And behind your house stood fierce the tall

Mountain where Artemis roamed

With her hounds and from where the

Whines of the hungry wolves

Rushed to chill the bliss in our marrow.

Then, suddenly, like Spartan Helen,

They took you away-

“To the other end of the world, Australia,” the adults

Had told me

And,

Like Spartan Menelaos,

I climbed aboard a ship

And followed.

Dreams within dreams

Within dreams

Spin in opposite directions and

They’ve been  spinning like this for

Over thirty years;

And

The muddy path still separates us.


Classroom Rites

Shy as the young shoots that

Move the showered dust

And leave the earthy womb

To climb the air’s silent mast

My thoughts

Stirred and showed

First file within my mind’s surprised

Confines.

There they pressed and strained

And hovered silently,

Naked and yet unmade

Before

I spoke

And thus concerned the

Air within my lesson’s hour;

And

There! within that hour

The sun lifted the green shoot

Gave it swelling stem, flowered petals,

Swaying leaves and wholesome fruit that

Nourish both

Earth’s womb and Earth’s rife

Dust.

Dust to dust and

Foetus to dust and in

Between

The ever-ripening fruit whose colour

Brightens by

Apollo’s radiant tune.

Chalk dust to green shoot and

Clayed dust to humor and in

Between

The thoughts that multiply

By fertility chants

Of lusty delights and

Of classroom unquiet rites.

And

I see that this year’s harvest

Is plentiful, thanks to the

Sun’s radiant grace.


Didgeridoo

The hollow reed ploughs,

Gently ploughs its gurgling song

Deep into the Earth’s

Graceful entrails.

A black’s song, a black’s reed

A black’s conquered Earth.

Conquered, conquered but

Not vanquished -a soul is

Never vanquished.

Earth!  Gutted by voracious fingers,

Expertly gutted, this sanguine Earth;

Churned and burned,

Dexterously “developed” by

Newly-arrived Mammon.

The wisest and the most virtuous

Will mutate when the plundering

Is terrible enough.  But

The hollow reed still sends

The soothing song, those

Ancient phrases of gratitude

To her who mothers no wrong,

Deep-sprung from empathetic entrails:

Heart and guts;

Crying lungs and a spleen full of wails.

Life-breathing spirits, not gods

Weave the song’s folds,

Weave dexterously and gently plough,

Expertly knead

Sun-soil into soul-song;

Spirits that search

For that dream-born seed

With a black’s

A black’s

A black’s

Umbilical reed.

Two Questions They Always Ask After The Event


How was I?

And then, after you drew deeply into

That stupid substitute and let the

Smoke slowly creep out of your nostrils

To smudge your face,

You asked:

“How was I?”

You were like the anxious express train

That leaves this city’s tube at 6.02 am

Precisely.

Commuters are always caught stranded by

Its anxiety and even before they shut the

Doors behind them they hear:

“All aboard!” and

Off you go!

Chugging through station after station

Non-stop and breathless:

The kitchen-

The lounge-

The dining room

The bathroom-

The front garden-

The back garden-

On the floor-

Halfway up the wall (your

Screams distracting the

Astronauts from their stellar duties)-

On the table -legs straddling the kitchen sink-

And,

Outside, under the pergola (late into the night now)

Your fire attracting the moths-

Chug-chug

Chug-a-lug, chug and

My grip on the strap of reality

Is slipping fast.

Chug-chug

Chug before we finally reach the

Bed and I’m screaming with anxiety because

I’m still in the kitchen and

I think that I’ve missed the bus that takes me to

This city’s tube!

Chug-chug, chug-a-lug, chug!

Off you go!

That’s how you were –

Satisfied now?


Have I a good figure?

I parked my imagination

One metre in front

Of your window and let it

Rip.

Voyeurs drool over sights like these

And

I am no exception.

Beneath your whorish expression

I see

Your breasts stay firm and

Defiant against gravity even

After you’ve removed your folded arms

From under them and

Gravity

Yanks at my intestines.

I see

The lustrous thunderbolt in your groin

Point to primal oceanic dawns

And

The misty origins of life

Make a wind-up toy of

My eyeballs.

You turn slowly,

Expansively,

Your arms, like a floral halo,

Surround your face;

Turn around

And

Like a Henry Miller whore you sway

A pale yet exuberant pear

Complete with a minute stalk from

The tree

And

My mouth opens to reveal

Extending canines dripping with

Prospects.

You ask -silly fool!

“Do I have a good figure?”

Silly fool!

Wanna do that again?


Jasmine

Christ’s thorn-crown spinned

Inside the captain’s belly when

I brought out a photograph of

Ithaca’s beach.

“There!”

He said, and his trembling finger

Pointed somewhere beyond the foreign sunbathers

And the seagulls.

Then, as if in front of an

Icon and if in need of penitence, he took off

His black captain’s hat -heavy regalia!- and sat next

To me.

“That’s where I used to live.  If you look closely…”

He stopped there.

If you look closely!

A half-dissolved soul with a

Turbit view of Nature’s laws; of the

Fate that had brought him to these lotusful shores.

“I can still smell the sweet scent of jasmine,”

He said after a while.

“Would you believe,

I can still smell the jasmine on my mother’s grave.”


Letter to a Friend

Send me some seeds

From the apple tree in your

Back yard and, tell me

Do the sparrows still visit your

Stretched open palm?

See if you can get in touch

With the old gypsy who had left his

Rolling occult clan and

Settled down at my old street.

Tell him about me and ask him

To send me some of his wine-music.

Any song will do.  Tell him also that I hear

His violin often.

God, is he dead?

God, I wish we could visit the past just

Occasionally!


Medea

Charged by mist-hidden Fates

She travelled

Standing argus-eyed on planks firmed

Upon a hull that bulged

Above the sea’s head plumes

Like a man’s chest-muscles raised to a pose.

Jason’s prize, the golden fleece, at her feet.

Long she had travelled

Dividing the sun from the sea

The star from the dream, the

Tide-in from the tide-out;

Between Aiolus’ bright moods and bleak

Upon that air-cutting deck

The hull beneath her slicing the everdeep

With the urgent force of home-bound rowers

Like a screeching vulture slices the marrow

Like an escape-fury the reason

Like a plough the earth-flesh.

All this, to escape the savage whitchery

Of her frosty home:

The magic of a golden fleece and a father,

Lord of dragon-teeth and of fleshless warriors.

All this to escape.

She travelled long in a man’s vessel until

The feathers of the birds

And the faces of the rowers changed.

The Man then moored the ship’s stern and made firm its bow

And then, raising proudly on one shoulder the fleece and on

His other shoulder this woman-

Sun-gathering prizes both-

Took them both past the squacking seagulls and into

Demetre’s domain of earth harvests,

Of soil smells, of  pig litters;

And of the inconstancy of men.

But when her breasts sagged by marriage

Jason dropped her from his shoulders and

Left her for a brightly tressed princess.

The frost inside Medea snapped again

And she prayed to the mist-hidden Fates

Again.

Jason’s glance made many turns:

Now manly covetous, now manly benevolent,

Now manly feeble until

It finally rested firmly upon his naive princess.

So, perdurable Medea

Brought out from her long-shut chest

Long-dormant savage skills and with them

Clashed against Demetre.

Then, with a savage storm of hate

This ever-migrant sailed off again

The blood of her children still clotting

Around her knife

Jason’s immense grief cutting his body into

Violent folds.

What is a wife, then, if not a torturer’s tool?

What is a mother, if not a suckling’s tomb?

What is a woman, if not a man’s begemmed snare?

What is a man, if not the maker of the tool and of

The tomb and -all at once- of his own snare?


The Sacrifice

The

Matador’s eyes scorch the turbulent

agate dust in the ring’s air and, like a serpent’s

rasp, the sacrificial beast

yanks at the earth under its belly.

Matador and bull with serrated will

and

cunning and

Nerve

exact each other’s

intent for just a little while before the

loud lamb’s untimely, unexalted

death.

Sirens

Sirens sing no more your artful song

Odysseus has endured you and gone

Gone to endure some more of Polyphemus’

Vengeance.

Throat and lyre strung in tune, two snares

In harmony to make the seas’ farer swoon before the

Whims of Aeolus spread the strength of their

Enchanting shriek.

Lure upon lure the throat and the lyre

Cast golden and silver breezes and

I,

Tied firmly to my ship’s tall mast, pressed hard

Against the ropes that my children cast

To see me through

Your artificial ruse.

Gone is Odysseus, sirens who tear the sailors’ flesh;

He’s known you

And known the clouds and thunder that broad-voiced Zeus

Had rolled the one within the other;

Circe’s webs and her wizard’s wand; known

The heaving purple waves and winds that

Shrilled and hurled their ever-frothing fear

Across the hollow black ship’s

Burnished bow, smashing the oars of

My comrades.

Unburied now and without their oars,

Nor proper rites as Fates decreed,

Their bones will, by the ever-folding waves,

Be ever made to roll

The one upon the other.

Their spirits will wander through Hades’ groaning halls

Cleansed, stripped and purged of

All their sin-steeped flayed flesh,

Foolish leather sacks, one and all,

True mates and fools, both each in turn.

A worldful of thoughts and deeds.

Relentless demons, fiery chills;

Noises and voices of people and their cities that

I’ve known; some lofty and firm, some low,

All in turn, after the tallest citadel of all:

Stony Ilium, Zeus-nurtured, Priam’s splendid home

Where I slaughtered maddened bulls, a hekatomb of

Fattened rams with curvy horns

And ewes and scrumptious lambs;

Burned their thick thigh-pieces to appease the

Ever-angry gods, and

Scattered prayer-barley

Until the wide flames burned the flesh and bones

Of all of Priam’s men.

Noises and voices that beguile and kill,

Meek and murderous like Klytaimestra’s

Murderous skill and her welcome smiles

And like Helen’s ghostly wiles –

So many voices did she craft beneath the

Silent woodcarved art; and I denied them all;

I have denied and have endured them all.

Then I slaughtered the haughty suitors all

With my artful bow and killed all their sluts

And cleansed my halls and purged Penelope’s

Sagacious mind of all its doubt-sent ghosts.

Cleansed and purged like my comrades’ bones

All proper and as the Fates decreed.

I’ve known you, sirens and now I’m gone.

At home I stand and through its columns I gaze

As I gazed before

Upon Calypso’s full-wooded yearning-shore,

Forlorn, forlorn and comradeless, without their

Precious, precious noises and voices!

Ever-tortuous dreams, that roll and roll

The one into the other,

More tortuous now then ever before.

I am ever gone.


Soul Mate

Climates sped past

Since that first pulse

Rippled through my umbilical cord

That primordial,

Refined food.

Since that first pulse

Women fertilised my soul.

And of them all

None did so fastidiously draw the earthy

Nerves upon its soil.  None

Dug, tilled and aired with such a gentle hoe, so

Elegantly and in such exquisite

Symmetry as did

My recent acquaintance, who, yet with an

Injured wrist did lovingly

Enter my flinty Greek field with a

Restorative wit and lusty humus.

A mixture of Irish and…

And something else.

Mysterious concoction of spirits.


Emigration

Then we hurriedly kissed

our loved ones

and stepped aboard the floating city

that bore the name of a queen (some said she was half crazed).

Then we looked down from her balustrades,

well-burnished

by oceanic climates,

into the crowd whose ankles were pinned

aground like those of young Oedipus,

lest they escaped their own fate.

And while my sister and I chirped at each

other, my mother undid the kerchief

from her flowing hair

and turning back her head,

waved. Her children tugged eagerly at her skirt

but this wasn’t Sodom and

Gomorrah and she wasn’t afraid of

turning into a pillar of salt.

Our father was waiting.

Then the engines cranked beneath our feet,

the diesel clotted in the winter air

and we left the solid

soil of Greece to plunge into Poseidon’s moody water.

And we heard the laughter other gods, too.

From that moment on, we became their toys.

Poseidon Apollo and Aiolos, each

in turn, had his cruel fun with us

-migratory birds with their wings

glued together by village children:

Whimsical Aiolos spinned gentle breezes into

murderous pasture, its wild-life swelling the waves.

Then he would make tall, weighty

folds with the waters and let loose the

snake-headed gorgons upon us.

Will he never forget Odysseus’ sin?

And Apollo, who’d play childish games of hide-

and-seek with his chariot,

turning the sky into a vast opal

stone one moment and a slab of black

granite of woe the next;

and we all had witnessed the handiwork of

many other gods as we passed through their meridian precincts.

And the nights!

These moons didn’t

attract the distant wolf-

cries or the creeking doors or the

moans of branches bending by the

determined night storms.

Neither village nor city sounds approached us.

Only the salty claws tearing at the ship’s

flesh and at our own strength.

Will we pass the gods’ endurance test?

How long before our own ways will be vanquished?

And will we, like Odysseus’  men, kill

Apollo’s sacred cows?

The adults shed tears as our ship travelled

reverently over Ageas’ green tomb

and they pointed soft fingers at the whitewashed

rocks above it.

We had left behind the music of the Greek stars,

passed through the narrow canal that

separated the giant continents, slowly,

lest we disturb the quiet of the sands over which

History slammed tight her doors.

Green land became yellow

and our hull hurried through

Buheirat Murrat et-Kubra,

the Bitter Lake and entered the waters of the

Red Sea.

On our right, Ethiopia where

Poseidon came in the days

when this land was splendid, to receive a

hekatomb of fattened bulls

and lambs and the other Olympians

had worked in his absence to save Odysseus.

Many the soils

and stones of earth

but girdled are they all with

soil-cutting waters.

Our charts guided us to harbours

where glistening blacks neared our ship

and with comic gestures and sad

words, sold us their trinkets.

Into port

after port

we were sent and from these ports

we gathered small samples of wares,

ate the food there,

compared the water,

listened to the strange speech,

made our nostrils aware of the air,

learned and mocked these people’s

ways and postures, gave alms to

putrid mendicants and replenished the

cellars and pantries of the ship-queen and all her workshops.

Once a kind steward aboard, who

played sweetly at the mouth-organ told us that this ship had an ill destiny.

That this was her last voyage

and the first she ever made to Australia.

That the captain wasn’t familiar with the

starweb of the southern

night skies and after we’d reach our

own end this ship would head for the

watery graves of America.

But another steward caught sight of our

bard’s eyebrows

and of the swing of his glassy eyeballs

and broke the black magic of the song:

“Have no fear,” this second steward said.

“Our captain is wise and well-learned

in the ways of all the waters.

He’s a Greek after all and as captains go,

the whole world knows there are no better!”

We had a ceremony as we passed over the

equatorial waters and

priests of many religions blessed the

vastness of the sea’s surface and

pagan rituals were also performed and

petitions were made to the sea spirits for calm.

And Poseidon heard and nodded his broad face.

A few days later we had celebrated Christmas.

We called the hierophants again and they,

in their glittering regalia, gave glorious

witness to Christ’s birth.

Then, one still night,

after the days had rolled the one

into the lap of another many times,

when the stars had changed

their formation  again and again,

when all the climates reversed their

garments and when all the

ports and their people looked the same,

when we had tempered with all the

temples and altars and shrines,

someone called out across the whole length of the deck:

“Australia!”

We all rushed immediately to the bow

and looked earnestly into the night’s horizon.

Our knees bent at the sight of this land’s

lights and an immense sigh rose from us.

Two thousand people or so, strained

their imagination’s bow to hit at omens.

We stopped there all night and greeted Australia’s Dawn.

O, ho! Dawn, mother!

Look, Australia’s Dawn!

Look how brazen she looks and she

clothed with the finest raiment:

Penelope’s silken threads, Laertes’ dazzling shroud.

O, ho, mother, look!

Look, behind that splendid tapestry

is our father, waiting with a dream,

in a land that is reluctant to leave

the dream’s fabulous realm.

Australia!

We harboured the next morning and

we wandered dazed through the streets

of her first port.

At Freemantle we bought sandwiches

for the first time, and milkshakes

from milk bars that were owned by Greeks,

waited in queues at souvenir shops to buy

more trinkets from

Saxons with business smiles.

Our eyes and ears worked well with the

new environment.

We rolled new sounds in our mouth

and studied the architecture

for the next four hours.

We walked the asphalt roads back

and forth and proved the textbooks

and the glossy brochures

wrong for we saw

no blacks or gold-paved streets.

At midday the engines rolled true again

and we looked with brazen arrogance at

Poseidon’s face.

With prideful chests we boasted,

rolled our souls deeper

and deeper into the mire of hubris:

Are we not stronger than him?

Have we not beaten him at his own game?

Do we not know the seas better than him?

Ha! Is not our captain Greek?

How stupid mortals are!

How worthy of their Punishment!

How little they do learn from their mistakes!

Had not Odysseus made the same mistake?

And someone had called out:

“These are Australian waters,

fools!  Olympian gods, all other gods, must

surrender here their authority to the

gods of the Antipodes and

terrible often is the clash before the surrender!

Beware, beware!”

And even before Apollo could

warn us, by hiding his chariot, say, or

by sending some bird to fly in a way

that knowledgeable seafarers

can interpret

or by some such sign which he often sends

to humans when Poseidon’s wrath is imminent;

even before that, a cyclone,

born out of Summer’s centre but with Winter’s will,

rose mountains of sea spume

above us and hollowed deep caverns below us.

And this cyclone whirled his liquid

coil with wild speed and

our ship spinned like a lost sparrow

before Poseidon’s thundering

mouth and our bodies were flung

savagely against moaning timbers

and the rusting steel of the crazed queen.

Our captain became busy then,

sending S.O.S.

signals which were lost in the white spays.

The loud speakers called for

calm in many languages and the

stewards rushed about double-tide strapping life-

jackets on people’s shoulders and mopping the

everflooding sickness.

The hierophants rolled their hands,

prayers and eyeballs at the heavens and,

all the while,

the wailing rose higher and

choked pitifully, for the gorgons

emerged from their dark caves in ever-

great numbers and their intent looked

calamitous and they fastened panic

hard into our hearts.

The snakes sprung out from the gorgons’

heads and lashed and flogged the

migrants furiously and played with the cyclone

with chimeras and ghosts and spectres

all in death’s red cauldron for

four days and nights until someone

yelled for all the elements to hear:

“These are truly Australian waters!”

and so the Antipodean gods finally prevailed.

The Great Australian Bight was then

released from horror’s grip and our own beaten

gods rushed back to Olympus.

Then the currents dragged us and the

weary queen slowly towards the end of our voyage,

into Melbourne’s night.

Only we, the children and the steward

with the mouth organ are on deck.

He played and this city’s lights began to

mingle and dance with the stars.

“Look how Australians dance and make love,”

he said and we could see that this wasn’t a

Greek village wedding.

For a second, the music of the Greek stars

echoed in our ears, then faded again

and we searched the concert of this

strange heaven for the new music.

We looked at the map once again.
Only one tomorrow left on this floating city.

Our father was waiting.


Dear XOX

Dear XOX,

I’ve trimmed off the mould from the

The Swiss cheese then wrapped it up with the

Fresh cheese cloth.

The persimons are ready, finally, and they

Will go well with the cheese and a glass

Of cool water.

I’m off for my morning constitutional

And if I’m not back by

Ten or

Eleven at the latest, call the under-

Taker.

Tell him I’m lying somewhere along the footpath,

On the road

Between here and

Ithaca.

I can hear you saying

“Silly old goat!” as you’re reading this

and

I can see the “ts, ts!”  on the edges of

Your mouth.

I love all that!

Hooroo, my

Love,

Hooroo!

XOX.


Our Ancient Boat

He died upon the cross,

Oh Joy,

Oh Patience,

Like a true Lib. boy

John, did,

Oh Joy!

Upon this election’s cross,

Oh boy, oh boy!

But Leunig,

Oh Leunig!

Live on, our lad

Live on our boy and

Point your cheeky pen at

The sycophants,

The Pharisees,

The Sadducees,

The Philistines,

Look at them all,

Bastards all,

Bastards all,

Ahoy!

And no one to keep them honest!

Draw on, our brave lad,

Cry on, our melancholy boy,

Oar on, guide our ancient boat of Democracy

Through the tears,

Through the parliamentary blood

Of the Libs who’ve forgotten that

Liberty’s not a Torry toy!

Live on,

Draw on,

Cry on,

Oar on,

Our own little bloody

Democratic joy!


The Palm and the Cypress

Stone crushed

Stone for hours

Last night.

He, beneath the Palm and

She, beneath the Cypress

And

The ancient allegories

Rose and fell -breaths and sighs

Of a crimson evening-

And

The night’s

Gargoyle

Was too far to frighten them.

“Tell me a story,” he said -not in as

many words-

And

She began with

The death of a great English

City, the first for the Anglo Saxons.

(The Cypress giggled

And some of the Palm’s leaves fell

As its king crumbled.)

They drank of Tristan and Isolde’s wine

-which was no wine at all, as it

happened, but a benevolent aphrodisiac-

And the night moved closer with feline

Curiosity.

“Tell me a story,” she said -not in as

many words-

And

He began with

The wedding of Achilles’ parents.

Then, the breaths took them all the way to Troy

And all the way back again

Breath-and-sigh

After slow

Breath-and-sigh,

Right up to

The death of Klytaimestra, the queen who had

Murdered her husband who had

Murdered their daughter.

Ah, the stories!

Her stories flowed like indolent

Honey from a forgotten beehive whilst

His scalloped their backs up

Against the shimmering

Chestnuts of her eyes, wanting to get in-

to her indolent foams.

The crimson dissolved

And…

Stone crushed

Stone for hours

But the

Gargoyle was still

Too far.

Too far,

Damn it!

Dum loquimur, fugerit invida

Aetas!


Ode upon an Aged Man

(With thanks to Keats, Shakespeare and Homer.

and apologies to Yevtushenko and Longfellow for

having made no use of them. )

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?

To what green altar, o mysterious priest,

Lead’st thou this heartsome bull?

O Aussie shape! O fair gait without the fairly well-

Lavished Aussie belly!

Thou were truly bred with this

Parched land’s frothy beer and well-trodden jam do-nuts

And canteen apple pies.

Bred were thou to breed and make many

Passionate maidens overwrought,

Yet thou art still sluttish Time’s unravished groom.

Thou foster child of trivial Age and slow Pulse.

Silvery man, who canst thus express

A flowery tale more sweetly than all the stars’

Enchanting harmony. What leaf-fringed legend

Haunts about thy shape? What men, or women, or gods are

These that bear you high to that altar?

What maidens see I pursue your sluggish, stolid gait?

Alas, these are no maidens true,

But mark-anxious female scholars!

And God help thee if darest thou to plant

The number forty nine

Upon their much-caressed CATs! The giggling fools!

Curses to Socrates and all his peripatetic schools!

And what pursuit is this I see?

Oh, ho! How maddened the struggle to

Escape the age of forty nine!

O, Forty Nine! Betwixt fairest Venus’ Sixty Nine

Charms and thee, thou art the fairer of the two

For thou art the most desired!

O, fair un-youth, o un-young Forty Nine!

O Edwin! Fairest, hairfulest youth that

Once thou were -and art still but by just

One unjust year!

But just one year! What is one year?

‘t is not an eon, nor an epoch, nor an era by which to

Measure the paths of steadfast glasiers.

Huff, puff my man!

One year, one day, one hour, one moment,

All this is but one fractured whiff of Time’s

Most fragrant, endless garden!

O kind, generous, loving, sugar-packed Edwin! O true

Blue mate! Thy voice doth, indeed, teach the

Universe to sing  as Shakespeare’s Juliet did teach the

Torches to burn bright that night when his star-crossed

Lovers first came to make their illicit meeting.

Such is thy voice

And so, I go on more upon thy graces.

Thy heart is a psychologist’s  spinning nightmare

And purse-delight; a small pouch which money shuns

But people coagulate within it.

Thy mind is mine own cross and crossed bemusement and

Amusement and, though thou art a true sage, thou art

Wrong, wrong, so manifestly wrong, Edwin,

When thou doth debit thyself with all-consuming age –

For thou art not consumed, least of least, not of age

But of thine own gentle heart and inability to say “no”

To people and to do-nuts.

So thou art wrong and oft’ did I so debit thee!

These Fifty Years form no altar but a number.

One number as is one note in the infinite firmament’s,

Sublime music. Alter the note and this music is but a

Piper’s meagre, airy tune –

Small sighs for peasant child-lovers.

Ah, happy, happy branches of Life’s forest! that cannot

Shed your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

Forever warm and still to be enjoyed,

Forever panting, and forever a slow-pulsed youth;

Love to thee from thy friends, our friend, Edwin,

Is all the same, whether we say  -each to all-

Good morrow or good night!

And so, remember, aged mate that

When Old Age shall this generation of well-girdled

Men and maidens waste,

Thou shalt remain, one friend to one man,

And  I’ve been spitting faeces

Of the rebelious Aussie bulls

For over fifty, asinine verses!


Edwina’s Bush Home

Morning follows this two-year-old

All day.

Dew covers her little forehead

As she crawls from kitchen to

Lounge,

Dragging her plaster shackles behind.

Legs and waist

In plaster that weighs but does not arrest this

Morning girl.

From the book to the puzzle to the

Toy V.W.

“You ready now?  One, two,

Free!” and the V.W. screeches to a

Halt way down at the other end of the lounge hall.

“Now, ‘Dwina’ll get it,”  she says and the

Plaster tries to hold her back like a

Brake that’s stuck at the wheel.

“You ready now?”  And the fresh life within her

Moistens the wisps of corn-silk above her eyes.

From book to puzzle to toy and then-

Plaster worn at the knees-

Outside she goes, where Earth’s first dawn firmed well its

Honey-coloured quietude

Around this girl’s bush home,

A home that’s as determined to hold back the

City-speculator’s asphalt rush, as she is to run.

With operatic calls she defies Sunset and Night and

The cot and –

It’s morning all day here, around

Edwina’s home, around Dawn’s bush palace,

Around Edwina.


The Soul of the Elm

Hear the soul of the elm simmer,

The brook’s froth curls in our direction;

Hear the woman’s marble shoulders

Divide that brook’s gentle path.

Yet

More

Hear the birds ascending and descending

Amid the ribbons of the slow wind.

So much past has passed

Through that elm’s leaves

Through the blood petals of

Those poppies,

Through Van Gough’s cypresses-

Yellow flames that make the

Elm’s soul simmer!

Now,

Women come and go

One by one

Baring their marble shoulders,

Their poppy-lips move gently and

Promise not to divide

My brook’s path

And conjure up the ribbons

Amid which the birds will float again.

Women come and go

But I refuse to travel anywhere

Except to the sun above the

Ikarian waters.


The Dove Collection

Age
Music In The Shadows
My Art Teacher
Today’s Art Lesson
Ash Womb
Breakfast at Laura’s
The Dingo
The Dove
Enough!
Fifty Springs and Summers
The Orchid
Outside the Dingo’s Den
Sleep
Spring to Spring
Summer Grass
The Gatherer
Tout est Calme
The Tragedy of the Mask
Watermelon
When the Salmon Women Left

Age

Age O, Age!
You are abominable.

I’m now squirming like a worm chased by a
Snake,
I above the earth and
You below it.

You, Age chase and I, the poor worm
squirm.

This is the age that makes the quill’s tracings
faint though the pressure upon it reddens the fist,
though the determination to leave a trace
is urgent.

This is the age that boiled dread in Methuselah’s heart
and this is the age when Mammon’s maggots gather round
to suck what little life remains in your eyes
what little blood remains in your fist
I have sunk my nostrils deep into a
handful of soil and smelled the beauty of resting rot.

Tranquil rot is there in that handful of soil
and beauty in that rot.

No, rot is not odious,
I’m not afraid to rot,
joining the leaves and bones that still push
the quill with reddened fist, that try hard to leave a trace
of their soul.

But
I’m truly afraid of Mammon’s maggots
that come before the beautiful rot, that come with
Age.

I am afraid of the maggots that you,
Age,
have sent to eat at me:
Money bag carriers, interest rate watchers,
Dealers in other people’s properties,
in other people’s lives.


Music In The Shadows

“Now trim the lines and
lace them with shadows –
very important the shadows!
Mozart’s adagiettos and all of
his despair wait there,
there, beneath the web of those charcoal
shadows,” sang her fingers.

And so,
my charcoal digs, jabs and pummels at
the white breeze on the canvas
and there now are my shadows,
the shadows my art teacher is looking for.

There, are Mozart’s  adagios,
there, the damned violins that always
make my heart cave in
and there, there, in the same shadows is
the reason for asking
this art teacher
to teach me
her art.

“Very, very important the shadows!
Tomorrow we’ll be working with
the oil-dipped bristles.

Tomorrow the pagan plumes will fly and
the shadows will not be shadows but
shades!

Wait for it,” her fingers sang
again, at the end of the lesson.

I can see their song in those shadows:
I must be learning!


My Art Teacher

I always listen to my Art teacher
and do as she says.

She can tell the difference between an ugly
and a beautiful worm
and between that of the living
and the dead sperm
simply by placing the thumb of a stretched arm
up against a brush and looking past it.

So
I listen to my Art teacher
and do as she says.

Oils or water today?


Today’s Art Lesson

Today I’ve succumbed to my
Art teacher’s behest and looked at
a bowl of fruit she placed
at the edge of my cluttered
table.

Today she has taught me that only
swaddled Lazarus would consider
apples to be spheres –
living zoographers know that apples
are cubes
cubes
cubes, damn it!

And that the charcoal’s sinews on the canvas
configure them as such: cubes, cubes, cubes,
Damn it!

Today she placed a brush at the
peak of an apple, swung it this way
and that
and I’ve discovered
the hidden lines
Rallendando!

“Slow the thinking down
and rush the charcoal stick; look,
look at the total bowl and not at the single fruit,
the fruit is not an island,”
oh, God, save me!

“Don’t use your own eyes but that of the fruit, look,
look, look at that apple!  What is its view of the pear? Hah?”

Look with the eyes of that apple!

“Art,” said Degas,  “is not
a matter of what you can see but what
you can make other people see.”

I told my art teacher that.

I said to her that Degas said that it’s
what other people see, not
what fruit
can see and she said that
Degas was a narrow-minded, blinkered twit
who was dead.

So I squinted and bent in front of the apple.

It was green.


Ash Womb

We dug our feet in the cool mud of the water
melon patch, at the edge of our village
and
played with words and heart beats, mixing the two
like oil and vinegar while the other peasants teased
the earth’s belly and gathered the sunflower
seeds
all summer.

But then the heads of the flowers fell and the shepherd’s
flute stopped
and
we were chased by the wind
each to our own sealed house.

Oh, hot song of the fire place!
Ash womb!
See the elm tree dancing in the fire? You gave birth to it!

Oil, vinegar and elm, flute songs and heart beats,
one
by one
are wished into love
by me
because of you
in that ash womb with that hot song of fire!

How you made solid the clay around my feet!

Shall we imagine that we’re dancing to that elm tree’s tune again?

How long before summer comes again, I wonder.


Breakfast at Laura’s

Let the breakfast be spread!

Let the homemade preserves and the
Marmalades and the toasting bread
Unlock and each to each marry their hearth-sighs!

Let the essence of blueberry and
Wheat fill our air.

Each to each, the cheese and the sweet melon
The grapes and the butter,
Let them all declare their love for each other
Here, at Laura’s morning table!

Each to each,
Our own autumns weave their mellow colours here,
Here,
At Laura’s sunrise garland.

This sumptuous marriage of sight and taste,
This glorious and prodigious gathering
Of earthly declarations of love marks the very moment of
The blossoming of May’s autumnal bud.

See here, the nectar beckon at the bee, and there,
The berry’s petal turning to the Sun’s eye!

Hear now the symphony of stout, male fingers kneading the dough,
The big breasted women at the stone-oven’s  fiery jaw, singing
The happy songs of a plentiful harvest!

This is no woman kept in a velvet-and-glass
Case to be taken out only for Sunday shows
To gather prize ribbons and trophies for her keeper.

This is no such woman at all!

This is a woman whose mind and heart do split frivolities
Apart
And go to the core of the matter –
Who knows Nature’s ebb and flow –
Able to give one a breakfast
Crammed full of Nature’s virtues.

Each to each then,  you and I
Let’s drink tea from the wild mountainside
And let’s toast to the merry Fates who brought our autumns
Here, at your table.

Mmm,
Lazarus had an easier task,  I think,  raising from the dead
Than I will have, raising from this table!


The Dingo

Let that dingo howl and let it
rave, let it snarl at the full moon all night,
every night from now on.

It
has bitten
the hand that fed it
for many years.

Fed it well;
fed its sloth and fed all its craving,
and
made it fat despite all its wailing
and all its whining
for many years.

and

let it roam all the territory wild

and

let its teeth foam fear and bile
into other animals;

and

let it sniff around the dens of all the
other dingos;

let him sniff them clean of all sympathy
for all I care now – I cared enough
for many years.

It’s mad, the bastard,  it’s
bloody mad and I,
I’ll not be his
warrigal bitch for
one moment longer!


The Dove

If I were there
That moment when the jasmine first turned white,
That moment when the white dove
Lifted its wings for its first flight,

If I were there that moment when the poppy first put on its flaming garb,
Or
When the bursting cherry first offered its luscious flesh –
Moments which, beholding them would make all other moments marred
Yet
I
Could forfeit them all still,
For that moment when our own flesh first obeyed
Our bursting heart’s decree
And shed garb after garb
To make our bed the nest of
Our love’s boundless greed.


Enough!

Let the fingers stop their endless dancing:
their high kicks and low kicks and whirls upon the key board!
Let the net be gathered and the words be weighed:
toss them back if they’re far too light,

send them off if they’re plump and juicy enough
for a nourishing meal!

Come, press “send” now!


Fifty Springs and Summers

(To my sister A.)

Fifty Springs and Summers have weaved their charm
Upon her face and let
Flow gently through her every vein their scents and
Gurgling disposition –
Heating her heart against the icy ravages of
Fifty Autumns and Winters.

Sublime blossoms and full-flavoured
Crops have been
Gathered from her because of these
Fifty Springs and Summers.

Spring rolled upon Spring and
Summer upon Summer,
Each  Spring and Summer conquering
The Autumns and the Winters that rolled between them.

See?  There’s no Winter’s hurt evident upon her face,
Nor any sign of Autumn’s  sullen spirits
Anywhere about her compass!

Son after son after son yet again,  have eaten of her
Spritely fruit,  have received the arms of her love,
Have grown tall because of her heart
Because of her well-lit hearth,
Because of the Fifty Springs and Summers
That have settled well into her soul.

Husband and sons, brother, nephews, nieces,
Parents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, outlaws and friends,
All felt this woman’s Fifty Springs and Summers
And with her felt the power to vanquish
All their own Autumns and Winters.

This woman,
Let me, her brother, tell you,
This woman, named to honour an ancient Goddess for her
Wise effect upon her subjects, has truly grown, yet grown not old.

This woman, is but
A
Young woman,
A
Beautiful woman, both,
In
Aspect and in soul,
In all things visible and not.


The Orchid

Let that orchid leave
and
Let it fall
wherever its fat belly may bend
or wherever its bells may toll
for it stands tall for one
season only.

But you,
the immortal earth,
giver of all birth,
will charm and enchant and live on,
live on
to enjoy the bulbs and seeds of other
flowers.

You’ll live on,
live on
Always.


Outside the Dingo’s Den

Let your eyes come out of that dark hole,
The dingo’s dirty stall, the
Cave
where the sun’s nourishing eyes are
stopped dead at its entrance.

This is the crypt where the frenzied fates crawl
and
scrape at the damp soil looking at the dark
past
instead of the future.

Frenzied the fates,  because they find scavenging fleas
instead of Time’s  seeds.

Dark enough the past, dark enough the crypt
to snuff out the whiteness of
Jasmine and the sighs of frangipani –
Too far this place from where you were born.
Let your eyes answer the call of the Sun now
and
let them come out to where His warm rays
bloat the cherries and the persimons
in people’s gardens –
I can see them in mine! –
Cherries and persimons and plums,  bloated
red,  bursting with rich
blood and flesh,
and they inhale life, not death,
Life,
not Death,
Not
Death!

Leave now the dingo’s dirty manger
where sloth and heavy slumber
sit broadly on the eyelids and on the soul
and where stomach and throat are bloated with
growls and wails and
the mouth is full of the foam of hate and anger.

Let your eyes come out and see
Life’s whirling theatre under the
all-seeing Sun.

Let them roll out crystals of joy
into the arms of this heart-cleansing
Sun –
Let your eyes come out,
come out and
See!


Sleep

I am no Aeolos,
gatherer of all the winds, the god who once helped Odysseus,
the Great ancient seafarer;

Nor am I Prometheus the Titan,
gatherer of hopes and horrors
who gave a wedding present to his sister-in-law.
Pandora the first woman.

But I am a gatherer of dreams.

So
I have gathered all the evil dreams and locked them away
in heavily-shackled chests.

Chests of the evil.

Gathered, too,  of all the nightmares that
crowd and screech
with anger at sleep’s door

And
all of horror’s shadows that dig their claws at the
edges of innocent night-rooms.

Night-rooms of the innocent.

And so,
drop by drop, I have gathered, too, the cold drops of fear
and of melancholy that gather
around the wounded brow and moisten the night-pillow

Night-pillow of the wounded.

All these things are free no more.

Free, I have left only the cheerful dreams that fly
within the breaths and sighs of gentle slumber.

Left free, too, such thoughts that fuse
the bee’s sacred nectar with
the lover’s smiles
and
the scents of mellow wines to mingle with
the spirit of your wiles.

They will be the only visitors who’ll come to your bed
Tonight.

And
I have gathered all the bell ringers from all the belfries
in the world

and
bid them cover their bells with velvet when they call their morning roll.

And
I have gathered all the stars and
bid them soften their gaudy dance above your house tonight.

And
Noble Dawn and brilliant Sun I have urged to make their feet less quick in the morning,
and to spread their fingers open across the sky even more gently.

So, leave loose the latch of your sleep’s door
tonight
and dream.
Rest easy and Dream.

Let only me, the gatherer of dreams,  come in
Tonight.


Spring to Spring

Stop now the flying steeds that roll Sun’s
Blazing chariot
Through its Winter Path;

Stop, too,  the fork-tailed swallows from circling our chimney’s
Stack, looking for  hints of Winter.

I’ll have no more of this season,
No more of Winter!

Let not the pine cones fall
or
The forest leaves lose their illustrious youth and

Go now to
Tell the chilling Boreas to stay North a while longer

And
While there
Lock well in heavy-chained chests all of
Winter’s icy garments.

Let not Winter come!
Let stand the men’s axes by the wood shed and
Hold them from building their rude pile of fire-wood

And
I want to see
The sparrow’s beak dig yet into a warm, summer soil.

Hold back all clouds and all their ever-blustering
Storms and
Thunders and lightning.

I’ll have no more of this season
No more of Winter!

And
Let me see the night sky smile her usual million
Summer smiles still.

Don’t ask me where last Autumn or Winter went – I felt none of them
This past year
Having spent it all -from Spring to Spring
Near Spring’s most bright and most dear blossom.

Let not Autumn or Winter come.
Not by Nature’s design
Nor by Divine will

And
Oh, let  next year and all years to come be just like the last:
Love, born in Spring and Spring continuing still.


Summer Grass

The village vespers ended abruptly.
Then
The grass turned into cold ash and the
Agony began
And we began the anxious search.

Behind every mocking star, behind the
moon tips
we searched for the dove which your
graceful palms had sent
off to promenade
amidst the summer night breezes.

And the summer grass!

Oh, the summer grass!

We had searched all night for that dove,
Spinning the cold ash into flying havoc
with our naked bodies.

Sometimes I look up at the night-sky,
This, southern, night-sky, thousands of miles
away and too many decades later
and I still search the stars and the moon tips
from whose company  that dove was rent

And always my search ends at that
deep, hollow, grey horizon beneath which
we embraced for the first and last time

And the
Agony
that had sprung up from
that summer grass
returns.


The Gatherer

And so the gatherer has gone to sleep
Next to his lover
Within his lover’s dream
All the nightmares are fully shackled inside a heavy chest
Elsewhere
Well away from Laura’s bed.

The stars have lowered the noise of their gaudy dance
The bells will soften their morning peel
The bees will fly more gently back to their queen
In the morning
To lengthen this night’s loveful sleep

So sleeps the gatherer of Dreams
A lover within a lover’s dream
A hoper within a hope’s

Swelling sigh
Next to his lover
Contented within Laura’s
Feast of lover’s dreams.

God, I hope I don’t snore!


Tout est Calme

“All is well!”
sonne la cloche
Aujourd`hui et demain
Et
Toujours, tous les jours.

“All is well!”
Will ring the bell
Pour notre éternité
For us
Just for us!

“Oyez, oyez, bonnes gens!”
The town crier will call

“Tout est calme!”
He’ll sing tonight.

“All is well,
Tout est calme!”

Take my arm
Pour aujourd`hui et pour demain
Et
Pour tous les jours
Tous notre jours.

Shhh!
Listen!
Can you hear the dingo’s  whine any more
Amour?

“Nor can I!”

Sonne l’ homme avec la cloche.
“Tout est calme!”
All is
and
All will be
Well
For us, for ever!


The Tragedy of the Mask

I have seen the veils of many women,
fall
watched them fall like
the petals of a
white-hot
rose,
falling from a smiling balcony.

I have danced with them the immortal
spinning dance of
instincts,
danced with them soul to
soul, and
I have sighed with them all, shoulder to
shoulder as they spat out their despair and
pursued their hope

and the melancholy thing I’ve discovered
is that the

Tragedy of Man
lies not in his birth or in his
death -untimely or not-
or in his life’s fully fettered
context
but in the fact that

every woman, of woman
born
or
torn
wears a smile and  every smile wears a
mask
and  every mask wears a
veil

and that,
though the silk veil from
her body
may fall,
will fall,
the veil from
her mask
will never!

And more:
that
no man of woman born
or
torn
can ever hope to make that mask-veil
fall.

Not the veil,
nor the mask will fall!

I have danced with them soul to
soul
lifted skirt and scent and spirit and watched their
body-veils fall as
yours
did fall,
like the petals of a
white-hot
rose,
falling from a smiling balcony
but
the veil above the mask, your mask, above the smile,
your smile
is still there!

Body-veil and mask-veil!

The one makes the instincts dance,
the other
sends them to oblivion.

It is true:
Men too
wear masks.  They wear masks,
they wear masks,
they wear masks above their smiles and above their
sniggers and schemes and brutal conspiracies
and above their hate-concocting minds;

But men will
never, ever
wear veils,
not veils,
never veils!


Watermelon

I sat high on my donkey’s back –
Sleepy donkey, sleepy me, sleepy the fields
Below us.  Suddenly
My grandfather touched my hand and with his own
He covered the horizon.

“Look there, my son’s son, take a deep breath and
Look there!”

And so, I have seen the baby sun rays
Kiss the peaches at that very moment when
Their cheeks reveal their freshest blush

And
So, I have smelled the pristine air of that village sunrise
Fully scented, fully gorgeous, fully enchanting,

And
So, I saw its crimson hand stretching out a clear welcome.

“Eat,” the old man said and I dug my eager
Teeth into a chunk of goat’s-milk cheese
And  watermelon at the sun’s peak.

“Oh, ho,” he said after his own first bite.
“The honey-making bees were very busy this year!”

And
That evening his hand swept the great sky
High above the fields
Of whispering poppies and  wheat and
Thus,  I saw the full moon
Giggle inside the fiery garland of stars.

“What else is there,” my grandfather sighed,
“That may describe the
Need to be alive,
To love and to be loved,
More accurately and more fully?”

“To live, to love, is everything!” he said.


When the Salmon Women Left

I wondered for years what they were after,
These salmon women whose
Cultivated nipples searched my chest.

Whatever it was they hadn’t found it and so they
Left to look for it elsewhere –
Deeper chests, perhaps, or
wider hearts.

Feeble fish, these women.
Frightening.

Intense yet frivolous.
In love yet
Out of love
Sensitive and yet insensitive
Full of care as well as insouciant –
Frightening.

Dangerous.
I was glad they had gone
And left me all alone.

7 Responses to Doves and Marbles

  1. Warrigal says:

    I should have visited here long ago.

    I’ve just read “Age” and I’m beginning to see….

    • Which article, Warrigal? The one on the Greek debt?

    • Warrigal says:

      Dopey indeed.

      I fear it may be some years yet Mou. The penny we’re all waiting for won’t drop until the current economic mess can be understood.

      The problem is that the mess is a little like dark matter. It’s everywhere, and no-one really knows what it is or how it actually works.

      But I see glimmers of sanity. The government here is looking to set up a Super inquiry if they can get the opposition to stop bleating about market interference, as though the market has done us any bloody good lately. Reading between the lines one of the problems they’ve identified is the same one we’re all worried about. If we are required by an act of the commonwealth to give our money to market wide boys, how can we ensure that those wide boys don’t blow it again, like they did between 2000 and 2007.

      Now let me think; who was in power in the western hegemony during those years?

      I also think that what we’re witnessing is a massive failure of belief in, and a political will to act on, those things that we all know must be done, and which will involve a certain amount of sacrifice and hardship as the changes roll through. For this to change positively we need a new political playbook and unfortunately I see no one amongst the current crop of pollies here capable of writing that playbook. So we wait and live in hope.

      Greed and ignorance, welded to self interest, is a diabolical foe.

      • Quite so, Warrigal, I’m afraid you’re absolutely right about the need for a new political creed. One that is wedded to morality and divorced from markets and the wide boys, as you, so colorfully put it. This creed is far too polluted, too penetrated, too screwed by the greedy and the ignorant. Bastards have become far too powerful and now only their sock puppets can enter the hallowed halls of policy making.
        I, too, see no one for at least a couple of generations -which is as far as anyone can see- who’ll have the rhetorical “audacity” and strength to clean these filthy augean stables from this muck. I see no moral Hercules entering the political scene -damned near anywhere on the planet!
        We shall wait in hope…

      • Warrigal says:

        My view is that if it takes more than the current generation, the whole problem will be moot, as concerns about matters political and economic are burned up, washed away, and blown in the wind in the climate catastrophe that will surely come if we don’t get our poo in a pile; sooner than later.

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