Many Musics, Third Series


"Out here on the perimeter
there are no stars
Out here we is stoned . . . immaculate"
—The Doors, "The Wasp (Texas Radio & the Big Beat)," 1971.


i. Manifest


What won't come is music half-called,
distracted, hungry hours, sunk in the province
of men. Lights, simmering smells, bread & stew.
Lure, of wine & silk. Someone nods & says
we're mapping beauty, a hour nearer, a formula,
derived of striplings' coos & closely tuned
compass. More smoke, distraction's distraction.
Maybe the potion drunk an hour ago will able save the next.

Music half-called rings back in blind cries &
smoking metal. Sentiments & easy lusts.
Mapping beauty? another says. We can't feed
ourselves & save the trees alike. What beauty
in a hungry child or a burnt acre? Legions
of men will be needed, maybe more than all
this world holds. Legions of men & centuries
of days before anything known, or we even begin.

Music, I call you now, from what I know
& much the rest, I call you now, music,
where you tend I will follow, what you
know I will believe. By star's light &
dream glow will I map beauty, in songs
to manifest, music, I call to you now.
Each drift on his breeze, one wind, many winds,
one rhythm, one melody, many musics, hear my vow.


******


ii. Passing Water

Sing the hours true & know the hunger
  is bound in breathing itself, its walls,
beams, what girds underneath. Breeze moves
  each & all, one wind, many, & rains
fall with the ceaseless questions & some
  answer. Want born, roots, thus musics bloom.

Next hill may show whatever the burning
  smell in the air, or within heart's bluest
scent itself, or where bound world's greater
  arc half risen. Sing the hours true,
chop wood, carry water, reck every hour's
  pulse of promise & ache, what stays, what going.

Ferment & strew, drifting lash on a curved
  warmth, news of today's annihilation in
god's praise. Crack the wish to notice newly,
  the long remembered page's lean wisdom,
dream's luring distant treeline. Every heart blows
  through empty fields with obscure intent.

World manifests in you for its own reasons,
  many, & none at all.


******


iii. Penury

World evolves an hour to a train's slow
  through grassland carrying new dead,
to a long-waited kiss in rainy light.
  Music half-called, deep hungry words,
clear dreams of a dying man. A soldier
  cursing the strange land's heat, his own sad blood.

What to do next when the wind &
  the lightning & the rainbow & the shutting
door? Any of it. What to do next?
  Say the way is dis-illusion, call world
an effect, crack that wish to notice
  newly? Manifest. Shit is beautiful too.

Look onto new years, their clustered
  seeds, unmet faces, chances brambled
in mystery. Eternals touched in finishing
  the song, & crawling the dust. Look back,
bravely, what spillt, what gone, calmly,
  what lingers & what still it seeks through you.


******


iv. Clean

Leaves everywhere shake & I understand:
I know nothing.
Trees above drink of earth & shine alike:
I am nobody.
Human paths through hills & bushes decaying
  the moment the pick draws away:
This hour is a gift to all & my sadness
  is the struggle to share.

What answer is a tapping in our cells,
  a deep rhythm, source of knowing &
nothing, move nearer, no why, move
  on, sing, trust.

What answer in godless hands that
  can shape dust to bullet & thus back
again, or shape dust to a prayer of thanks,
  manifest a star in every seeking eye.

Leaves are shaking harder now, everywhere,
  a language of both knowing & nothing,
a pickless path, this hour's gift both
  spent & unspending. Move nearer
the deep rhythm, sing, trust, move on.
  No why & there never was.


******


v. Viva La Vida

Fear falls frozen dripping through
  the heart, one & many wonder at
its breathless wall, its lump of god within.
  How alone & why? Ask again. The cicadas
& bamboo too? Ancient astronauts taught
  us this far & left, nodded, let go?

Want, taught to want, to feed one hunger
  with another, to chase, to almost know,
hurry toward those brilliant years, sensuous
  playing lights. Sabre tooth & bronts not
withstanding. Hunger, is it more complex
  with more men, larger cities? Does any
who falls tonight triumph in finale,
  glory for not an hour more?

Fear falls, frozen, dripping through the heart,
  great galleries & long centuries,
preachers roar & kings thump. Comfort in
  hovering together close over the abyss, align gazes
& call it love, or gesture to maps & libraries,
  bullets, chalice, scripture, grave, solemn
nod their truth? Comfort in what hasn't
  slipped yet & touchless faith it will hold.

Questions mirror glance to glance, & highest
  music only sighs & sings of full moons,
midnight tides, & the moment's power
  in warmth laying by warmth. Tonight
behold the wide world with all its fears,
  howling & half-awake, no key to explain.
Behold the world, howling, half waking,
  yet still no key to the smallest face or least star.


******


vi. Insurgo (6/19/08)

Old thoughts crowd the peak, obscure
  both sky & valley. The years conspire
to narrow faith, harden & systemize
  what it becomes. Worshipped words without
burn. How long stable this living machine?
  Look to how dear men bear the crumble
of other centuries, & yet little reck
  its warning. Old thoughts, on a familiar
train crossing a local river, some factory
  crowds its edge. I witness this passing
hour in nod to its sky, its valley,
  what treasure it keeps, what it passes along.


******


vii. Distant

Brave, bastardly brave, stupidly brave,
happily brave, let the countless musics
within bloom. Break narrow faith &
dreams of burning landscapes, win or lose
by what matters, struggle to share, & share.
Blowing scarce tonight, I pledge to my
returning tide, & what fineness still waits.


******


viii. A Night's Raw Lyric

Sniff the fecund world from a hid,
  ordinary place. Sniff its noise, an art,
a statecraft, the intense light draping
  a high, hungry color. Sniff the lies
in calling the stars a heaven, in
  praising what buries in earth as
carcass, as remain. Sniff the world's
  constant hungers, drying here, new
wetting up there. The world awful
  with its making scents, where kind &
fine, where cruel, where flesh wilds
  for flesh & not a coin, not a king,
not a god in any skies despite.


******


ix. Plumage

The world downs every man, one day,
  some year. Slinking hours at a distance,
a smile in gauze, the trembling talk
  of books. What fineness in hungers lost,
streets where shoulders knocked with
  high plans, moon an ally, dawn's fresh page.

The years drown in watching the world
  hustle many charms & lies, arguments
for answers, the blunt lure of flesh
  for plumage, the driving, wild wish
for warmth. Drinking hours at a distance,
  still wanting after what they didn't reveal.

Tonight, again, I know nothing. I am
  nobody. Singing to manifest, crawling
the dust. Study the web, pray the hours.
  Watch one may in a doorway guard his
plastic bags, thrown a coin by a couple
  sparkling wetly with drink & easy thoughts
of silked mirrors, cuffs & cocaine, stereo moans.

Watch another fall from his seat,
  others notice, flashing lights arrive.
Stumbled out to the curb, slumps with
  a cigarette til a van & kind voice arrives.
Hours since: another man shovels in cheap
  food where that one went down. Despair.

Tonight I still beat at narrow faith,
  at vows thin of mystery & pleasure.
I am reaching for the hungrier words,
  to sing, to burn, to reveal. New sounds
of the sea in my blood, next page,
  the way on. Tonight I will not drown.


******


x. Twined Paths

Hope honey me again tonight, crush
  between tips then fling me seeds
to the shadow & breeze—

The cafes & the woods are same for
  the chase I keep, toward answers
that murmur & raise—

a travel past the hustle of a man's
  deepest lies made law, music & tragedy
of a laughing boozy half-harnessed tit—

Hope hunger me again tonight, press
  toward one stream these hard-twined paths,
answers to release the beast & explain the blow.


******


xi. Prayer

Night flashes through me, an anxious
traffic, among human spillage from taverns,
raw from hours beggaring men for needs.
Dreams to come of hawks high on
empty arroyos, & babies a soft mystery
in my arms, of tomorrow's fractured news.

Universe, I am asking again for help,
& strength, for the best of what's left in me.


******


xii. Kryptos

Where the strength to elude the Beast
  & win the hour? Mend fractured wishes
into Beauty, slip through heart's hungry
  maze, blow up in new song? Neither
slave to a passing struggle nor a helpless
  moan blaming coin, king & cunt for defeat?

World blooms through wars, through every
  flesh's cry & fall. Blooms, waits, invites
each & all. Through the hours won, lost,
  & abandoned, world blooms, open hand,
a wish for each, no matter what
  I am, no matter what you are.


******


xiii. One Song

Someone sang, "Knowledge sums endless,
  wisdom ever gives way." He pointed
to the countless drummers & their dancers
  crying up the dust. Nodded, sang again,
just a word, "Beguiled," & fell into the storm.

As I followed him into the desert, &
  then ceased to follow, the songs left me
slowly, the apologies, the love chants,
  the cries against crown & preacher.

As I ceased to follow, & ceased to look
  apart from stars & mountains & ground,
I also ceased to care for the little mantras
  of man, let them go a flake at a time:

"Peace brings more rewards than war
  ever could." "Love over money."
"Power handled with caution, always
  looking at its effects." "Nationhood
a comfort, not an ideology." "The world
  does not belong to men & women,
but we belong to each other."

What remained, what I am, having
  ceased, what is until all is not,
is one song, sung by every man & woman,
  every rock & tree, every planet & star,
every insect, virus, alien, ant, & whorl,
  everything everywhere, one song,
I am coming in an unknown hour,
  I am singing every hour until then.


******


xiv. Sacred Trash

High on labyrinth
endless desert
to go


******


xv. Paucity

That dirtbag room in her lunatic house
where I sat by TV with a dish of
warm cheap food & a torrid crumbling wish.
Fate took its time, relaxed silent by
those many hours that I writhed.
Amid my hard wants, savage musics bloomed.

Whether yearn for a coupling or a coin,
the din of days is the tapping of a heart's
empty bowl for notice, for some token
it can keep, some pittance will survive
its miles, swathe its nights, complete
old promises of dear forgotten faces spoke
roughly on autumn benches in far gone parks.


******


xvi. Rant

Amid this curtained savagery, the lies
  explained as loyalty, discarding the man
to keep the idea, the hunger for orgasm
  even a full moon cannot sate & Art
will not explain, & tradition the praising
  of today's shit because it smells like another's—

How the spirit moves caged in a book
  read from a pulpit by a man who dreams
of adding his come to the flames burning
  down the heathens' village—

Brave talk of God's love as a mystery
  not a bondage. Brave talk of the world
as gift & game enough for all.
  Brave talk of another in question &
early morning curiosity. Tell me
  of a hope that does not rest dependent
on another, or a despair that cannot
  be cut with a touch, a barking, hungry
persistent word of empathy. Love's long
  blind reach into the dark.


******


xvii. Many Moons

If a dream of many moons in the sky,
  what else then? What more than sitting in
festive groups staring one another for the
  hour's favorite quip? What not men among
the roots? What new stars among ceaseless
  lonely want to fertilize the world with more?

Many moons in the sky, in dreams &
  otherwise. More than celestial formulas
or a guru's solemn named day, else than
  the heated bestial grunts of age picking over
youth's glinting bits. Waiting the foothold
  more luring than a new lover's thoughtful
recline among shadows. The first word
  of the song stars know better than men.


******


xviii. After Embrace

I watched them each part a life
as he walked across the street &
she hurried down the sidewalk.
Neither looked back, as though that easy.


******


xix. A Fable

A man smiled & leaned against another
  man, said, "this is my land, brother,
but I'll hire you to work it for me."
  The second man heard his baby crying
& checked his options, none. Asked his pay.

No freedom in working another man's
  land as he counts. Nor freedom in
striking him down. Freedom not found
  in a coin or a crown or a cross.
Freedom's hour come when none above, none below.


******


xx. Love Song (for K.)

What remains of the years I sing
  & call my Art. What salves my
suffering or sets it to a softer tune—

The need to fuck, the need to piss,
  the breathing, the beating, the fury
toward what beauty these autumnal hours—

And love, I can only think, is how
  my music protects & calms your nights
when I cannot do this for all.


******


xxi. Downtown Lights

When the dead return in dreams,
  helpless, breathless—or the lost lover,
never was a goodbye, a thank you,
  a shared nod of failure—

But there was my father, taxiing me
  to kin, & here I was in the back seat,
complaining I'd forgotten my notebooks—
  & again was that lover, left to me
a dictionary marked with cryptic directions
  to reach her, reach back to her—

He's awhile now dead in the ground,
  she's even longer dead in my heart,
yet reck this hour's ink spending slave
  to each, heart's deep bruises beating
this music in me, squeezing me out
  as once his loins squeezed me out too,
as once I cried & squeezed within her,
  till heat ran cold, & earth drank piss & blood.


******


xxii. Autumnal Fancy

Sage cry the truth & tend it,
you're traveling away from its moment,
now, & still. Feel it drown on the shore,
feel each new hour huddle near, chew at it,
its light crackling apart, but what
you knew, how sure! How sure!
And tell, tell, none need suffer without
explain again. Feel it going, even as
you tell others among the oaks, even as
you shape your speeches & songs. Going,
every day, wake up, it's going, let it,
it fed that hour, sated it, bloomed
that hour with hope, let it settle among
the rest in your heart, let it relax from
truth to faith, now a breath, maybe two,
what's left not sentiment let abide.


******


xxiii. The Midnight Cry

Tis said the beast's beneath the bricks,
  waiting night or distraction or an elixir's
    flash of something hungry—
Tis said the erotic coil's tight & getting
  tighter, now what will make it burst?
Tis said civilization's built, trembling, on
  ruins & bones, breathes & drinks with ghosts.

Tis expected, by many, this world of men
  will fall to a bomb some god's minions
    will—or rise to another god's return—
it won't last, however the end, at best
  a smiling recall to the stars, beauteous hour!

We do not know, Universe, our flesh hungers
  for each other, for light, for music,
    for answers. We do not know, our hopes
cloak pretty on the beast's shoulder, our fears
  that the beast is all we really are.


******


xxiv. Hereafter

I'll be the hungry ghost returned to snap
at clusters of tight skirts, snap till I hear
one who laughs & wants more, snap till
she cries out, till she's urging the rest—

Or the clustered thorn in the preacher's
golden costume, now burbling, now biting when
he speaks smoothly of God's mystery & suffering,
cramp his holy thighs when he lusts, when he loathes—

When the king raises his fist smiling,
would command not just armies of men
& machines but the woods, the tides,
the moon itself, I'll blind him a moment
& give his tongue a heated taste of his own shit—

When one man leans on another, measures
the world's worth in coin & commodity, when
he sharpens others to reck him with quicking breath,
I'll crumble his ankle & whither his cock—

When the lusty crowd denses round a single
helpless face, moves in with noose or cuffs,
I'll sweat each one with panic, choke,
& tomorrow your door, tomorrow it will be you

Lastly the child, with her new breast
blooming, with his questions shuffled toward
thick books & stained glass, I will spend
the last of me scrawling over young hearts:

"Nobody knows all! Believe, with every window open!"


******


xxv. Stench of Duende

It was in that cash-only motel room,
those furthest hours when I undressed you,
as others had, love was fucking's residue,
your young body long trained to be taken,
to clash & lick sinews for hearts, it would
hurt a little but he would say it, & I sighed
& held you lightly, for all the devils & violence
that had led you blithely to my arms,
& would retrieve you again by morning.


******


xxvi. Vintage Falls

World for consumption or partner,
  gorge or feed? Best send a camera
or a blueprint into the wild to know it?
  More gain in spearing salmon for trade
or squeezing the river's roar into a lit room?

There are angles in this world that cannot
  be braided into use, secret chiaroscuros
of morning, an empty shore, a quiet water,
  down river a mile the remaining bones
of a drowned woods, in the vague air
  an unhuman language croons from ten centuries passed.


******


xxvii. Distraction

If a preacher's wily words of other worlds
  or a fine ass on an evening avenue distract,
if the taste of meat or chocolate, if a snowy
  wind thrilling every tree in pathless woods,
if the sight of a fallen creature on an empty
  road, broken & going yet blindly breathing
on, if the stars weightless & some say
  portending, if the remembered laugh
of a loved one known only in earliest youth,
  if dreams drowning in sand, & those
when earth is impossibly viewed from above,
  if the preacher's blithe promise of someday's
answer for today's kneel & obey, if the rest
  matches in soulful beauty that fine, fine
ass, what then otherwise was the reason
  for arriving to this hour, you & I, the world
blood-wracked to blue, what was the reason?


******


xxviii. Breath Bewitching

What diminishes, in some hours,
  is not just the want to know,
but the faith anything can be known,
  answer not fruited of hustle or delusion,
the questions asked the skies on worst nights,
  & those glints nearly touched on others,
can sum, manifest, fold the world
  at last gently open, & what seemed
random horror of chance & limited view
  will reveal finely in music, a mystery
more beautiful because made plain.


******


xxix. Song to a Stranger

Some other night you would have moved
  me, did, as I sat lone & wanting,
in nocturnal cafes where sugar rushed
  my hungry pages, below stars that
could explain you no better than else,
  in dreams where your auburn hair
would come undone & I would lose
  within your body what my last hour
will never know in your heart.


******


xxx. A Lesson in Power

In the taking of a kingdom or a heart,
  a beast for its meat or seed for its fruit,
there is a push, a breath, an acquiesce,
  one world coming, another one gone.
A feed in victory by stars & firelight.

In the release again there is loss,
  for how her body tasted that mountainside
afternoon, for how thousands once
  bowed to a flag, its ideas triumphant
by gunpoint. A silence, a burial in breath.

Derive this lesson, then: neither
  the take nor the release will last,
& whatever drinks of power's thunder
  tonight will crest again fallow another.
What carries the years neither king nor kingdom.
  What carries not the singer nor the song.


******


xxxi. Dead End

I ask: wherefrom? No. Ask again: whither on?
No, worse. Ask: why the best of many centuries
but ghosts in books, their light & lives offered in
mere songs of endurance, beggaring to be remembered?
I ask: has anything changed but the slaves' names
& the kinds of toil? I ask, lastly, if the dust
blowing past is for burial or new spark?


******


xxxii. Siguiriya

When you begin to elude fear & doubt hope,
  heed what oncomes, despite.
When you nod with others in the amber-smoked
  room, avoid what pulsates, what lures,
  want unsated, these many centuries of men.
When some year, some quietly violent hour
  comes that you reck the trees new, all
  beauty, but no example, save endurance.
When those lean near who offer an answer
  in cards, coins, patterns of stars, the shape
    shit steams on the earth, what wonder in man.
When the faces cackle too many nights
  in drink, in waiting, in calling wisdom
    what tickles the skin, the rest is music.
When there is no solid ground, when
  not even music, old sure friend, then
    sleep, wager the remain in dreams.


******


xxxiii. When Nothing Else

I know I share with you that hour
  when you too were abandoned,
somewhere a nod, a phone call, a reason
  or two enough. You walked through streets
too, beneath stars, quiet despairing,
  the answer not now or ever to come why.
Time passed, new fruit grew, but always
  now that tinge of something, that linger,
that slim fissure of sad. Tell it in words
  tonight tells nothing. What you know &
the less for it, what I know & struggle around.
  Something else too, this nod between us,
this empathy we could brew like a tea,
  this breathing, this endurance, this crack between hearts.


******


xxxiv. Endurance

Dust, a violent hour, endurance. Crack
  between hearts, a silence, like a burial
in breath. Tonight trembles sweetly to one
  touch, salts blindly another's eyes. Violent
hour, dust, endurance. Tonight reck the
  remaining bones of a belief, of a love, reck
what green rides old cracks high. Endurance,
  violent hour, dust. What rises with the light,
what crosses the moon, what sings shores
  empty of men tonight, a wish, a riddle, a truth.


******


xxxv. Imaginal Space

What rises with the light, crosses the moon,
  what sings shores empty of men tonight,
a wish, a riddle, a sooth. A moving spaced,
  a moveable space. Call it imaginal space.
One music, many musics, the porous ground
  to any staying cry of human truth.

Tonight reck the remaining bones of any
  belief, any love, any fire not fed by
the hour. Reck what green rides old
  cracks high, what oncomes a torrent,
violent hours. Endurance. Dust. The dreams
  their caterwaul but who would listen?

Call it imaginal space, the shifting crack
  between hearts, a wish, a riddle, sooth.
One music, many musics. Asked what tool is
  this, say what needed? A salve, a meal,
knowing the tongue of the galaxies themselves?
  The challenge is to see tonight's glowing door

by the morrow's plain light, see, & step through.


******


xxxvi. Imaginal Space (ii)

Toward the morrow's plain light,
  the bursts of darkness along its hours,
the finely strummed gestures rent by
  a fumbled faith in mystery. A trip back
into the junk of common truths. Common
  truths, able to brick up a wall or
score a small rift of power. Common truths,
  bursts of darkness. When the lace is shed,
behold an easy wet cunt or a lightning to ride through?


******


xxxvii. Long Exhaust

If I had, because I loved you, because
you possessed, if I had, the night crackling
with your crimson scent, if, the year a leaden
one for men even as every youth burned high,
nearer, nearer, the mystery of that room
you slept in, plush & posters & icons to denial,
now hush as I do, & sweet that you are,
another room of voices as we, but call this
my hour, hush, no denial, hush, no lost
years, hush, youth most like the gods of men,
for a moment our hearts crack & time itself burns.


******


xxxviii. Tonight's Questions

Why electrify an animal with consciousness?
Why point his eyes toward the stars as he shits?
Why make fucking the stuff of grunt & prayer?
Why let him speak knowing in lies & truths?
Why the rift from nature, urge to know, consume?
Why the dread path to demise with dreams of escape?


******


xxxix. Electricity

Offered the elixir, you drink, & now
  the stars familiar & the trees shaman.
Her body living starlight to the touch &
  the farthest dreams close upon this petal.
This petal, this moment, this forever
  moment & the music consumes you.
The water she feeds you crackles with
  knowing, the grass is friend, the drums
every heart's glad yearning tongue. Come
  morning, the daylight of get & shove,
the hole in hours burned by coins,
  & explained by some men as penance,
as test, as deferred promise for someday's
  great, golden land of light. Come
morning & you wonder: "what is it
  for? Should I have drunk? Come
morning, something's missing, important,
  it was there last night, in her
crystalline smile, in the moment when
  you forgave all, knew all was well,
breathed, relaxed. Missing . . . missing?
  You've drunk the elixir, you are awake
now, walk the earth, sober or laughing,
  til you find it, or were wrong, & let go.


******


xl. The Stars, While Shitting

In desert, the far blowing desolation
  hearts know, squat in plastic box,
thumping sounds of immolation & ecstasies
  without, I sat with a puzzling book
& read its first lines. Suffer, it said,
  this is why you suffer, this canquer
of want in you, each of you, name
  it a god of devil, this is why
you suffer, that you live from first
  cry riven & crawl your years to be
whole, that you cry up love into
  myth to keep it a step away, that
you litigate desire for its blind,
  brutal wish, build great towers & temples
of distraction, cage your every last soul
 in discontent, in bitterest hunger,
this is why you suffer. My shit
  came sudden & raw & the plastic ceiling
above my head exploded, the stars
  fell in on me, I was a moment
so beautiful & dead. Yes, this is why
  we suffer, for the shattering moment
when nothing makes sense, & we finally nod.


******


xli. Grunt & Prayer

I moved inside her, a little deeper,
  a little harder. She grunted, liked
it hard, liked it to hurt, "yes,
  hurt, oh make it hurt, hurt me,
make me forget, love me, consume me,
  crush my tits, harder, deeper,
consume me, I want it, oh yes,
  oh yes!" I withdrew a little, young,
what had I loosed? What demons risen
  here, this darkened small room,
the dinner half-eaten on the table,
  the moonlight radiant & mad through
the single window, above the brick
  wall. What demons, I pull back
& she breathes hard. "Who are you?"
  "Just fuck me." "Who are you?"
"Just fuck me!" Ten, twenty years
  dissolves, thirty, forty one day soon,
& I still wonder who was she that
  night? Which she do I mean? Which
night? Breathe heavy remembering,
  breathe sad. I want it. I want it too.


******


xlii. Lies & Truths

The last time on phone, my father
  was lost to space & time, raving
in hospital bed, waving his legless
  stumps around while nurses murmured
& checked numbers. He cried into
  the phone how we'd fight them
together, the bastards, the enemies,
  the ones keeping us far. The ones
who had not told him this is how it
  would end, this drowning, this
ravaging despair, this freak tempest
  of professional eyes, this humiliation,
this taking & taking & taking. I think
  of him now, bones in the earth, free
of time & pain & all he loved. Were his
  life's truths any softness beneath those
last hours? The truths, the loves,
  the promises vowed to someday?
I wonder, & I wish I could have
  given him a warm hand on his cheek,
a word of comfort, everything is alright,
  & this is a lie, & this is truth.


******


xliii. Rift from Nature

There were moments, maybe three,
  maybe fewer, when I uncoiled
back to root, into soil, into sunshine,
  exhaled, & again, the world we
are drinking each other, the world
  we lay in wordless song dreaming
at night, the world, the wings
  inside my ribs, the web between
my toes, uncoiled through clouds
  when I rained, fruit I was eaten
& shit seed back to earth. Moments
  when the stars too were like fruit,
hanging impossibly from endless skies,
  & what was left of me danced & died,
& what I was, & what I possessed,
  & what made the world, & no reason why.


******


xliv. Dread Path

Tonight's hungers are new & old, every
  face wears them, & looks to another
to explain. Cities crackle by the sparkling
  crowds pushing shouting into taverns,
& those awaiting a last hour, & those
  fearing a familiar voice & its knowing
hand. Tonight's hungers range canyon &
  jungle, green sea & white woods, &
some fill bellies & some fuck whatever sweet
  they may. Tonight's hungers left us by
a combustible god, or molecule, or
  alien starparent. Tonight the taverns
ever more crowded, the rhythms beastier,
  the clothes tighter, the words exchanged
more plain. Tonight's hungers draw
  us nearer the end, by weapon, by evolution,
by the return of whoever let us down
  here, seeming bid to wonder & wait,
or by obscurest thought hurling heart's
  shadows that nothing's to wait for,
everything's to be done, we are the tinder
  that needs gathering, & the ignition.


******


xlv. Hope

To be gaming in dreamspace, ever,
  but not yet in this world or life. Mixing
the aerie hours with blunt whoring for coin
  gets little for either. What needs is
better transit through daylight's coarse
  simple rhythms toward escalating swim
in nocturnal waters. What's needed by day
  is hope & this needless by any moon.
Douse the world in it & ignite, if I could.
  Douse the world, let daylight & evening
finally merge together in a new glow.


******


xlvi. Despair

The worst of it was years ago, shitty bar,
  shitty jukebox, shitty drinks. A naked Santa
on the corner Christmas tree. She tells me
  the pills make it hurt less, with steaming
blue eyes, a soul of glowing auto wreck.
  She was young, she tells me, it felt like love
because it was so hard & so often. Panties
  down, against the couch. Her glass empties
& fills again. Feeling something's good, right?


******


xlvii. Imaginal Space (iii)

A moving space. Moveable space.
  Bursts of darkness. What tools & materials
gone at daybreak, what pisses blandly
  from dreams. What hope could douse
the world if any? Feeling something's
  good, right? Bursts of darkness, what
tools to work it over, what materials
  to shade & shape it new, moving
space, moveable space. What subtle
  flees from crowds of men, din of markets?
Tonight I do not know & bend like a
  young branch in cold sea gusts, listening.


******


xlviii. And If—

And if all these things do, indeed, exist?
Her frayed green sweater in that roseate
light? His tumbling laughter at an image
on the computer screen? What festers
& mosses between these floors? The man who
lived here a century ago, when this coffeehouse
was just a maze of dirty rooms, his long
nights of prayer for healing, crazed willing
to take his disease the faster if God
would just give a word back? Just one?
If all these things do, indeed, exist?
Then any blazing day of unity, any final
calling of all hands to one, any
let go & release to the universal music
must be rooted in the withering suffering
& sometime ecstasies of all who lived brief
or long yet fell a day or an hour just short.


******


xlix. Empathy

Love's long blind reach into the dark—
  I become one with your grief,
with your caterwaul, your moment's
  heated fancy—I call this empathy
& remember a story years back—

We were both close to homeless, him
  in a mobile home, me in a rooming house—
it was near Christmas, we sat together
  on a bench—we talked about love,
about what falls away with clothes, what doesn't—

The last time I saw him was a bookstore,
  a cold night, been a brilliant day &
now long disappeared—yet—I told him
  my fleeing beloved had written, had not
forgotten—touched his hands, we smiled,
  agreed all things are possible—

I remember now by your absence—
  by the vagueness of who you were—
I remember because most flakes away
  false—that beloved, no truer than
many others—but that hour, friend,
  smile between us, touched hands—
I am still reaching, too, for better and worse.


******


l. Betrothed

Had you known me as the sloppy wildcat
  of my youth, I could have explained
less & more. My love for you then'd been more
  like caterwauling blades than a dreaming's
ceaseless strange engine. I look around
  more often now, than up. You remind
me to look up. City's glare, heart's
  old noises, those griefs, keep looking up.


******


li. High on Labyrinth

How narrow the faith to forecast despair
  for all, call the world old, doomed,
explain suffering by one dead prophet's
  return or the collapse of all history
to one single ignited moment. Plant-eaters,
  icon-kneelers, hustlers of endtime terrors,
feel the doubt glare through you from
  chandeliered skies above, feel your thick tomes
& devilled costumery break by centuries,
  break by the long cry each new voice
echoes on, break by the hope each heart
  bears, no matter the darkness setting in.


******


lii. Counter-mythos

Dust a violent hour, endurance. This
  is why you suffer. Failure to feel your
suffering in my heart, breach the lies
  of kings & preachers, the market's easy delight
in slinging new ass. Strange need to call
  for love, for calm, as though a soul needs
be convinced to breathe, to sup. That man
  in tatters before you, swaying for a coin,
that woman crouched & weeping, armies
  praying tonight for a god's nod on the morrow,
dust, a violent hour, endurance. The many
  calls to despair, to gird better one's treasures.
This is why you suffer. Ignore the world's
  many fecund puzzles, the green oncoming despite,
despair & fall. Now down, nearly
  gone, reck that breathing earth, beneath
grass or concrete. Cry up a little song
  of hope in its rhythms, by your own beats.


******


liii. Tuning the Static

When passing water this morning I thought
  of you passing yours. Torrents of blood,
hidden waterfalls, the very key to the world
  found in summing all & dividing by one.


******


liv. Deep Space

One late night I will be gone, it will be
  hours or years later. My books have crumbled,
my deeds blurred. What I was tonight, writing
  as though never to cease, breaching my
heart for music to salve & share, become
  bones & dust, & the final opening of this
path from a few mad cracking years
  to what it feels like to dream forever.


******


lv. Persist

What it feels like to dream forever, undo
  hook of want in the blood, years' ache
of inner tides, push, pull, breach further,
  a sensation not yet flown in song, other
hustles among coin & ass, for the rhythms
  that bed bedding bodies, know, become,
the hand which tosses the seeds, what not
  taught or told, the map before the pathways laid.


******


lvi. Map Before

Would knowing help, watching that day again
  walk itself through? Remember: heart's unspent
music bound for colliding with that hour.
  The breath before, the decision to go. Laughter.
You came as one, left as another. Hungers so
  long held, long shaped, a new mold, now
perhaps a new stuff entirely! Nearing, yes,
  you are nearing, the word, the glance,
colors & breath mass into a name, a jacket,
  a vehicle. How God & dreams look to another.
You are young, the nights immortal. Even the talk
  of trifles excite you. Give back this hour?


******


lvii. Imaginal Space (iv)

It would be the same for any god,
  nothing learned in the hundreds kneeling
or mouthing the sacred songs. Nothing found
  in face smiling to face on the high holiday,
the cheerful choirs, the best-washed virgins
  smoothly singing of sin & penance & the fine
thoughts of each in his or her creased white
  uniform, blessed be, blessed be, blessed alway.

Fumble down into the mystery, the careening
  hungry hour, flesh gnawing for flesh,
& one god a thousand thousand miles away,
  & another near, so near, that hand's knowing
touch on skin, the laugh & cry in shedding
  clothes, feel that god as the breathing twins,
as sinews bind hearts, the few words,
  love, hard, touch, how the god would learn.

What rises with next light, stained & crumpled
  uniforms, blessed be, blessed be, blessed alway.
Was it sin or new love or a darling good fuck?
  The god would listen to the words as
limbs untangle, a breast to its harness,
  a cock into its sheath. Uncertain words,
because that moment, those sacred songs,
  the strange way each & all bind & undo so easily.


******


lviii. Imaginal Space (v)

Nothing unbinds again, space conjured is space
  real, no matter the bursts of darkness,
the diminishing years, how touch hungers
  & sates & mercifully forgets. I know
nothing & keep learning to sing. Nothing unbinds
  again, the lesson of drowned woods & old hearts.


******


lix. Blood on Canvas

Bells ring, little, nothing. Ring again,
  & a drum, & another. Something beats,
something breathes, there is movement
  if not yet dancing. I ask the Universe:
why suffering? Why music? Bells ring,
  & the drums, & someone speaks a word.

Bells ring, little, nothing. World bides its
  wicked, calls them preachers, crowns
them kings. Rings again, & perhaps an
  organ, a sooth where it hurts, where
the fist, the slur, the silence. I ask
  the Universe: why want when so many
lonely beds? Why hunger when the world
  bulges with stores? I ask, & someone speaks a word.

Bells ring, someone speaks a word, &
  begins to lie. Explain, & lie. Exhort
to principle & promise, & lie. Cry we
  are one! then parts the temple, &
its song. Bells ring, someone speaks a word,
  perhaps to sing, & now the lies are
crooned through music. Suffer, these
  strange songs say. In all glory, suffer!

I ask the Universe: why suffering, &
  why its glorious songs? Someone speaks
a word, as though to explain, & another
  lie. Bells ring, little, less. Kindness
most binds but many would not be
  so bound. Bells ring, all listen, clear air
ripples, sunshine plays out the minutes.
  Someone speaks a word, the moment again divides.


******


lx. Imaginal Space (vi)

I ask the Universe: why suffering?
  Why music? & behold this world my answer.


******


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