A Poem

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A Poem

Post by W4TVQ »

Dylan Thomas wrote that "the legend of Adam and Eve is never for a moment silent in my service." It haunts me, as well, and sometimes thinking about the implications of it, and of being "in the body" yearning for freedom from it, I recall this poem I wrote long ago. It still speaks volumes to me about what is going on in my head on days when the moon is in the last quarter and time seems long and heavy.

Anyway, here it is:

A song of Adam, recalling Eden


After cool light,
laughter of panic.

Past laughterfall, only
an empty room … and your hands
where they were,
thus. I remember
former perceptions.

Stuffy and bright to the point of darkness, and alive;
a room
of calculated panic. Your eyes
too, but
past smoke – between sheets
of laughter;
noise of hidden winters,
Eden closed, the season over.


There was Mirama
her eyes
there were her eyes
possible eyes with traces
of hands

there was a fulcrum
of time
(kairos: telic,
‘eternally present’)
and there was
a coffee-cup
containing the world.

All activity of the
artificial room of smoke
--- and
panic pass at this hour
through red brick silence.
Yet even here, Mirama,
there is still the noise
of your eyes.


Celebration of panic
by coffee and understanding
by passage of time
beyond, between
even here, where dust
holds time captive
-- noise
is the Pater Noster
of active despair,
wild gods among the glasses,
Mirama; our gods.


But there were mornings
of Caesar and sun, beginning
successions of intellect until
you were quietly there.
Then, hours lost their voices.


Having been stretched away, Mirama,
and in my tongue mute,
my eyes blind,
having made a small gesture,
I obtain the symbol, flagellate, adorning
this unsurrounded air.
Having been made
white by sacred candles
I hope therefore for this
that in this (by this)
I shall go
perhaps once more
across the dusty alley
to the oracle.

Then and therefore have grace, Mirama,
but not
sounded against the chiming
of long black bays
nor rung against the tollings,
the winter bells of summer.
but as the owl flies,
as the whipporwill;
altarlight gone, no bleeding wafer,
Grace not as in prayer
but Grace
as in lakeflight
against lightning.


There were a few who chose
to be bright gods
affirming finitude
in sultry places;
we called them heroes.
Einstein, Homer,
Harvey, Gandhi, King.
Collectively, Christ.


I trust existence is not
four confining walls
a roof
a typewriter, Bibles
and prayers, snatches of music, poems
-- only that these
are rudiments of a growth.


It is not Sappho who sings,
nor Virgil.

I have strange dreams
of other voices;
odd clicks and whispers,
creation groaning
abstractly, resenting
what we have done.
The empty clanging
of bored planets.


Yes, there are days
-- days elastic that lengthen
into months; their moons
make years and yearnings,

Husks of scattered clutched pasts
that somewhere shrivelled,
wan roses on sere stems;
when life (a cat, cursing
caged yellow birds)
telescoping into boredom
becomes a room, four walls,
weekends in parentheses.
I go enclosed, and you
the same. Time’s a colossal
cube of walls, and walls,
and walls.


I am only old.
What is only old
surpasses ugliness into beauty
as dust falls from the yellow wing
(I have been across rainbows)
where feet of gods only
mark new snow.


At four time waited,
captive of carpeted clocks,
grieved between joy
and caskets.

I wait alone, noticing
the men among the flowers
have mice’s feet.

Tonight will grow
into formless shape, somehow
into potency
furry, full of silence
suddenly, as if it were
-- I think it has been so
before; quadriplegic moments
of the mind out of joint,
the chambers clamoring
to weld


At seven, it is Greenwich Village.
Daylight crawls under a stone.
You are gray,
and the light passing the window
is yellow laughter
of the atheist.


Light passes as white inference
from gray thought.

I am tired of coffee-cups
and the voices in them
of numbness testifying
to struggle, of
the wrenched neural mass.
Eager hands of the clock
hasten through minor eternities
and the wind questions
momentary ghosts.

And growing old shall be
as a river
the banks growing green
deeping away in perpetual evaporation.


I would not hear Sophocles,
but brush the dust from Camus;
comfort the hours’ crises
with prayer and grieving.


And now the hot walls’ breath
from dark suspires
(and I have seen
chancels of emptiness
honored of webs;
the royal spiders’
designs multifoliate, time
disfigured, elevated
at bells.
The silent walls
are dragons breathing heat
the transient second eternally

(and I have been
lauded among silences,
a shell singing
to the winds’ voice)


We learned once in other places
that Heaven’s full sea
had no tides for our shore;
the garden, then,
only drippings.
The fig leaf was the sign,
the last life
of a long season.


Will you remain with me, having returned?
Or is it for this hour – to go again
riding wings of sea-birds in the mist
when next we grieve the dawn? I only ask.
I will not follow, for I cannot fly
where you have flown. Bound to the vested earth
a few years yet before my golden birth,
I cannot bid you stay. Too well remembered
the flaming hand, too well recalled the sword
guarding the golden entrance – and the key.
But on a lonely beach, with you beside me
silent, there’s a wind still blows from Eden.

Once in wild winter you returned, before,
when I was sleeping; tendrils of my dreams
enclosed you then as you enclose me now
within the waves’ soft summers. Our memories
are of the garden and the hidden fruit;
our whispers echoed first in other mountains.
But when the cardinal sang among the spices
I sought you – you were gone. I was alone.
I knew you still, but as the rain remembers
waves of the sea in crystals of ice-clouds.

She sang the summer in the silent air
and called a motion from the frozen earth;
I heard, and followed. Nor have I returned
once to that garden by the rising transepts
to search; had you come there, the cardinal
had come to tell me. But the sign was graved
once past the gate, upon us, uniform,
hidden in the severed living leaf.

She sings again who sang among the roses
crying you gone, and in her solitude
cries yet again that you are not there.
Nor here … where I touch you, hear you, know
you are unreal; and I could sing with her
that touching I feel not; knowing, I am unknown.
All that is real between us is a season
and bells that call the hours. It is not yet,
it is not yet. The hand is flaming still.
You pass me on sea-storms in the night.
Return by sunlight, when the sword has cooled.
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley