Dedicated to the memory of my best friend Georgina, (1942-74)and to her husband Alex Burns and their childrenNulles laides amours ne belles prison -Lord Herbert of Cherbury
In the Egyptian legend, Isis was the sister of Osiris. The cult of Osiris was distinguished by the expenditure of powerful emotion. Initially, Osiris was a king who ruled over Egypt in an idyllic order. This was broken by Seth, his wicked brother, who dared Osiris to lie in a coffin. The chest was then thrown into the Nile. All sources agree that Seth tore up Osiris' body and scattered the pieces. Isis seeks her husband's body, who is her mystical brother, and eventually finds all the parts save one-the organ of generation-and with the help of her sister Nephytys puts him together again. She is unable to bring him fully back to life. There was in Egypt, surrounded by desert, great anxiety that the earth be fruitful, and in the story of Isis's search for her husband's body this anxiety is given coherence and meaning. When Alexander conquered Egypt to found the city which was named after him, there came together Greek thought models and Egyptian practice, which gave birth to alchemy. Precious texts were lost at the Library of Alexandria in 46 BC when Julius Caesar set fire to the city. Thus we will never know the inner truth that informs the myths and the great pyramids of Egypt. Christianity incorporated mythic elements of the early religions while the rational Greek mode of thought developed alchemy into science. With the Enlightenment, and the elevation of reason, came the final blow to the inner order in which religion and the earlier esoteric forms had sought a correspondence. With the acceptance of verification through entirely objective means, an inner lack of wholeness became the hallmark of our civilisation. A modern Isis finds herself on the same search as her precursor in Egypt almost five thousand years ago.-----------------CANTO 1Mai non t'appresento natura o arte Piacer, quanta le belle membra inch'ioRinchiusa fui, e sono in terra sparte. Dante Purgatorio Canto XXXI
I climbed up a hill in TuscanyWhere illuminati set my seal in timeTo wonder at the spirit I set free.
I didn't know mendacity, nor crime-I was the innocent at Heaven's gateBeholding beauty, sacred and sublime.
My boyfriend with the powers couldn't waitUntil he was exhausted intimateAnd took from me the goblet of my fate,
And as he couldn't then penetrateThe mystery of my body, he grew jealousAnd spent his lust on me to perpetrate
Not the purity of wholeness in a zealousLove in tune with Nature and with conscience,But his own discourse with the entellus
Which split philosophy and science-Discourse which was pallid substituteFor my mystical experience.
My commune with nature was made destituteThis fragment of the wildness of my speechIs history's reckoning to its broken root.
The maid is waiting by the manor's reach:Betrayed twice over, she ran around the townNaked in the truth she had to teach,
And liberty is palsied in her gown,Her streeling hair betoken of the sinner-Her love has gone, the gutter shows a crown
Rolling in mire, a headless twin to win her-The centuries, a broken necklace in her handA marriage of life and death, Polyxena
In the bad-lands of myth, like cannedMusic making her dance bizarre, meetNo wings, find feeling has been banned.
Her true love is not able to greetHer when he comes, insteadA mossy paradigm under fleeing feet:
In the locker photo near her bed,She keeps his secret, unsayable nameAs the townspeople put curses on his head,
And she is left, as if alone, in shame.They tell him lies, lies everywhere the same-----------------CANTO 2The City is of Night, perchance of Death,But certainly of Night. James Thomson The City of Dreadful Night
The radios scream it must be raw to reach,But my heart's a feather, it's not made of paste.My lover was a lover, love's law to teach.
."Romance!." cries the vendor of the paper waste:Romance is the bread that's sold by chunk,A sailor's hoard of hard tack you can't taste.
A hero in chains like an honest punkBursts into manhood, not allowed to feel-Life is doled out in slices, hunk by hunk.
I dreamed of him last night, it was a stealStraight out of the morgue's ravening mawI found my truth in living dream of heal;
My own dream gone to sail the ocean rawOf eternity-he left me, his wife and sister:I had not time to read to him the saw
Of promise, to wake him with the glisterOf my tear, to re-member, to call him to lifeFor a proper leavetaking. The Twister
Stole an expensive myth-I, his wifeAnd he remembered me not. With outstretched armsI comb this world of the dead, so rife
With the unravelling of my charms,Who told black lies, I had been untrue?My love, you went to death with false alarms
But I will find you, so I can be beside youYou sail in your eternal boat without my truthI loved you, and I did not betray you-
I was faithful, lover of my youth!Among these hopeless faces I might findOne that is not a mask, that has some ruth,
Is guide to your spirit. I'm blindWith the constant search in rubble and cementBroken alleys, broken bottles, the unkind
Spirits throw down their litter to dementThe possible, they want to deny the brood,Railing and grating will not relent
This quotidian squalor in a dream of wood:A green tide, a seasonal faithful lurch,For your body is a temple of the good
Now I remember, your body was a church!A broken chancel lodges in my heartIn the broken glass underfoot, I search
The way of nature, the whole inside a part,And each part has its spin in history,The earth itself the sun god's loving dart
His eye the universe and full of mystery!Even these walking wounded hopeless dreamersCould wake one day to find their true consistory!
But in love's absence they're all screamersIn a dry silent land, and wastedLiving corpses who are their own redeemers;
Worse than that their rationale is pastedNot with ointment, but with blood, the spiritOf the living dead upon their heart has feasted,
Each breast canopic gourd, each union levirate,Devouring endless widowhood in boredom-Spirit's dead! What living world inspirit?
Spirit's dead, and all living is a whoredom!My husband gone without a proper funeral,A dead city remnant of his heirdom,
A citadel where love is corporeal,The holy centre's gone, the world a shroudA culture fossilised, supposedly liberal,
A winding sheet to re-collect this crowd!Yet, I loved you so, infinity like a glyphicEternity lay behind us-I vowed
To trace our passion in legend and in diptychUpon these walls the wording of our splendourAnd time will not undo my hieroglyphic
Art set down so the gods can wonder-That I win your soul back for this last farewellTo put the proper seal on what was rent asunder
And write the truth, as I know, in speedwellInk and lotus flowering, bellingNot only our story, Osiris, but to seed well
The truth, our love did not begin by telling:For before I met you, as virgin defloweredIn a lunar landscape, so my sad welling
Into womanhood, now with love empoweredI feel this pilgrimage just like my thirst,For my heart with meteoric stones is showered!
When you held me in your arms, you were the first.For this you're dead and it was my father's curse!-----------------CANTO 3Well, honour is the subject of my storyI cannot tell what you and other menThink of this life, but for my single selfI had as lief not be as live to beIn awe of such a thing as I myself. William Shakespeare Julius Caesar I.2
There is a pearl of water, that is wifeThat whitens laws and shops cold syllogismAnd grammar of love is wound with strife:
Like knotted plaited hair it is a blossomOf ordered wealth for viewing and for useIt falls down on the pillow like a besom,
And sister-wife carries in her looseGarment an amulet to revive the dream.A girl neophyte to the classics can peruse
In vain the lineaments of her scheme,Failing to find her true love's form-galling-(Not in the library or the football team!)
Her boy. His dark raven curls fallingInto the lake where he disappearedTo tap memory while his sister's calling
Out to him in dreams. It was weirdThe way she caught him in the alcove's lampAnd of the wall made a tiered
Wedding cake for her record's ampIn which the symbol swords announcedThe demise of love, the outlaw, and the camp.
Really, Isis. His head, severed, bouncedAs a ball between players, which she, soleGoddess, overcame and trounced,
But the schoolgirl vision sees him wholeAnd does not even notice his will to dismember-Through her life, gradually, a flaky soul
Whose chips are her own, will ask her to rememberAs each dishevelled dream hits the rocks,That she had loved this god, a dry ember
Now of her most rapt being. She washes socksAnd scours the pub, shakes the pillowBut he doesn't fall out. Instead, he blocks
Up the chimney where a burning willowSends smoky signals he is in particleAnd on the road to Amarillo,
Where a bishop's protests were branded with the sickleIn this small American town manufacturing bombTo turn the world to ash and icicle-
Form in the heart of the dove, a coulombStranger and sadder than brokenness, the sapOf a torn tree, a bleeding willow's maelstrom
In a desert of shame and guilt. Her lapHolds the one between-their child-Her apron forms the useful pap
Yet this girl refused the role. WildAs the last lament of Isis, pouredHoney on her throat and men beguiled
While she loved only one. He, hoard,Where image was the god, the all, the Lord.-----------------CANTO 4Come ye forthFallen fiends of heavenly birthThat have forgot your Ancient loveAnd driven away my trembling DoveFor you shall bow before her feet;You shall lick the dust for meat;And though you cannot Love, but Hate,Shall be beggars at Love's Gate. William Blake The Everlasting Gospel
Dawn. City of the dead. GraffitiScrawled on grey cement tell the legendA girl in headscarf, passing-Nefertiti
Without her consort. For a white secondPregnant, she is held among the givingBeautiful, and the Necropolis fecund
As a wreath at the funeral of the living-But they're shut in, hopeless, wry-eyedIn your artist's scrawl, write misgiving;
The only release, death. Dry eyedBorn into a broken myth, an onionWithout its rich interior, lye-eyed
As the happy somnambulist is disprovenIn the marks on his skin, now wornLush as the tale of some duped escutcheon:
And the delivery vans blow the hornFrozen nursery rhymes render to the deaf-."Green Sleeves."-the classics dipped in scorn.
How can he be punished, who left her bereftLeft her stretched, as if a preying birdHad fed on her heart, and her spirit cleft?
Her true love writing in hieroglyphic wordTeeming creation mastered the stylus gripAnd left neat decoration on the surd.
His cosmic humour, and his astral trip,One eyed king in the country of the blind,Is he hiding in a comic strip
Or pop song, this stripling? But to findPutrefaction, where living deadDie from pride of a bacon rind
When supper refused? Who has bledInwardly through the ages, word-boundOrisons in millennia who led
Sister search for his corn body, roundAs the men who walk now, chippedInto portions like each raw piece found
While he dismembered and his sister shippedOn the banks of the Nile, searchingFor trace and fragment, and her heart tripped
Each time a red corner showed, and she lurchingIn reddish sands for the real story-Her soul failed at melody, at churching.
Still, in the wincing fragments of the whole gloryOf the song that trembled on the still riverAnd when she heard chords darken, saw the gory
Field and seeping hut, their sundering, and the quiverOf herself alone in the almost ochreSoil, the song became cacophony and a shiver
Took hold of her, and lamentation. Some joker,He who jerked his wet dream of existenceInto fullness, tore her apart and woke her
To the separation of the night and the persistenceOf division and the eternal otherWhere one must choose love, or else subsistence,
And on that choosing, die for love of brother!So wept, and she a fragment foundAt each tear, and as a new-made mother
Is enraptured in creation's love and soundShe sang a song to Osiris, her true formedAnd only love, her half, her round
And in her vestigial tear an image firmedWhich remains now in the dream of every girlWho first sees her true love. Confirmed
By pop song and the dancing whirlOf a young imagination in a famine,He has the immortality of a pearl,
Just like pearls that drag from the stamenTo mirror microscopically the web of life,He is pearl, shell-pearl, and her man.
."I wept tears, the shape of my eye. I, his wifeAnd he remembered me not, yet his nodWas my eye, and truth and I were life!."
Vestigial intaglio of the golden rod,True love, first, only and last,He would be a fraction of a god-
For her God was broken on a cross and pastHis constancy she could see no diurnalThat was not filled with pain, so cast
Each mode into the day of eternalAnd imperishable beauty, rich as CreosusIn tingeing with the miraculous the kernel
Of truth, which lay broken into scintillating pieces;So the lovers' beauty drew the pieces inEach golden fragment was a coin for Jesus,
Or Jesus's poor: to keep earth clean, to pinA glance on healing, and beautySealed up the magic jar of sin.
Such pennies shall be given as a dutyTo kick the Devil, and to pester him foreverUntil he disappears from the cutey
Pie notions of evil, his dust must neverTouch us, he took down the treeThe fruit, and love and God did sever.
In the act of creating there was meBorn, and you. And we are since apartSisyphus is toiling to find the key
Under the stone he is rolling from his heart,Inscribed by Lucifer who once loved lightAnd stole from Egypt their good destiny:
Geography and astronomy, a test of sightNever inscribed on stone, and still he lurksTo render into ashes the alchemy of light
The arches of ages, and God's works.Until such time as he can be rolledUp, and made to do without his perks
Let him be sealed up, and as is toldHe will be cast into fire, forever burntGiving God energy for what is foretold.
So, the light-bearer loved night and sunburntThe hopes of young girls, and the iconOf love had to be painfully unlearnt.
Love in action is when he has his bike on,The will to romance can make good turn ill;Confusing love and the image is a Reichian
Dissonance, an addict's desire, in the mill-Race of being a sojourner is pertPostponing of the inclination of the will
To latch on to sensuous pleasure in the hurtOf being ground to nothing in an also-ranDrama of sex, not love: curt
Like a doorbell summons and the tables thenLaid, and forgotten, a hasty mealLeaving objects strewn outside the pen
Of domestic cage desiring what must be real.We never can desire what others can desire,We can never fully accept what they feel,
And so it ends when love dies in the fireAnd dreams a butchery of what is becoming,Because others fasten on the widow's pyre
Of burnt up useless love, in that summingUp there greens a dream of honour,Away from the useless history, the coming
Of those who hate women as lover,Who can only imprint their lust on brokenDaydreams, and stamp the seal of summer
In a hidden cache where sentiment is tokenTo take away a father's curse, a lyricFresh as her stress, unspoken:
As before her first kiss a rainbow empiric-al lit the page, put flesh on love's emotionOpen and tender, as if the Pyrrhic
Dance of the first explosion and commotionThe billionth, billionth, billionth second before matterFormed in the universe, and frozen action
Whose epitaph was beauty, and honour the latterDay saint of greatness before entropy set in,Spirit was. Before fusion and the batter
Of time and space stretched galaxies to thinSpirals of coruscating light, cartwheelsFizzling on existence like discarded skin
Of God's first protracted impulse and reelsOf love in His fishing rod and netSo souls are gathered into rainbow creels
So this moment before love began. YetThere was honour, resplendent, pure and brightBefore even the mind began to get
Drunk with pain. Forget, beget, plain get, the blightOf her father's curse a harpoon to inertia, the taskOf naming separation, discrimination, in dark night.
Still honour stood fast, in time, in galaxies to baskWith all the soul's intention upon GodTo tear from the soul's demeanour the mask
Of material being, to be a shining rodWhere goodness is measure, soleImpulse, measure itself, and pod
To hold the deeds in, like the wholeGreen case where peas bed down togetherSeparate, heads in a bed, yet whole;
As the certainty when the featherWas weighed against the heart, a universe-In Egypt a confident mood, no wether
Of imagining, but love, then, to disburseThroughout the ages infinite largesse.Between will and creation, came a curse
To fall upon the plans. Yet his caressWas sent to mend separation, and the nightThat followed day, a love to bless
Unite division between seen and sight,Man and woman, ugliness and beautyTo bring to creation a unity in right;
But such love depends on chance, is no dutyAnd when we see our partners, we may chooseTo love or leave them, mask our sooty
No. We may embrace, or choose the blues-Be dissident, seek husband, wife, whetherTo pour into one person our aspiration's cues.
In the hanging shadow of this tether,The preference for the real glitters,Constantly homeless, a desert tribe, rather
Like a sacred story whose bittersAre annealed as a rhyme into logus:And the cataleptic calypso critters
Who burn the texts and cry a bogusHoliness, who shirk the real encounter,Are more interested in gesture than in focus.
The curse of her father an old counterFlip side madonna, B side whore,Dropped into darkness, who would count her:
A physical being where matter was the core?Sweet form by the candle, true self by the door.-----------------CANTO 5Poi cerchiaro una pianta dispogliataDi giore e d'alatre fronda in ciascum ramo. Dante Purgatorio Canto XXXII
An eye of the all-god appeared on the tree,An eye of the all-god appeared on the date-palm,A powerful god was going to be.
A powerful one, who might subdue like calmA powerful one, he raged until he was burntYet supreme, his eye kind as a balm.
He created Time that darkness might be learntSlowly, he curbed the dark demonsWhile angels cheered the heart with referent.
Light grew like an orange, paled like a lemon,Good as a midge's belief in my mouthHis tongue blessed the real, the tough, the leaven.
."I am the spirit eternal, North and SouthEast and West, I make air to breathe and singMy soul is creator of the world, a youth
Loved by the other is my mystery and my ring.I create order by thinking that I live-Evil is underfoot, I do not see a thing:
Only the whole, and my order can giveLaw to the world, to shape realityOut of my mouth come images that sieve
The shape of genius it is good to see,The shape of goodness that there is no separation,The shape that makes perfect love of you and me.
There is no evil in the heart:No matter how small the flockI, the Lord, will care for each part;
But in troubled times such faith will rock,Be destroyed by those who do not understand:Bad men lived, and I cursed not their stock!
I would have destroyed the heirs by my hand,But my own seed! How I wept to seeThe evil of my own making the world bland.
I wept, for such sickening perfidyA whole generation came to harm, biddenThe real nature of things to break harmony.
Soon the clear river was a foul middenThe men of violence had a wish to kill,So goodness became secret, became hidden,
The constant shifts concealing in the millPrecious stones, waiting for bright waterWhen the banks will crumble, stopping ill.."
And the tongues of heaven crying, ."O daughterDown the ages we have seen you dark,The real story we would hear, so laughter
Can break free again, from the barkOf the hounds of hell, free from the abominablePain of centuries' silence, sail your barque
Into a golden age now past imaginable.We who have chopped our lives into token,Is it possible that this daily, interminable
Calling away of our images, to brokenDreams, is the brick housing of our spiritThe real pain is that we live in the unspoken,
Forever finding fragments only which inspiritUs, who search in the ruin of our past,Yet each finding asks the question, we inherit
What? We are heirs to plaster cast,Plastic molding, moving statue, neon crib,At each electric dawn we are enthusiast,
By sunset realise we're built upon a fib:A gloss on happiness, a pagan coin-opThrough which we stumble blindly, to ad-lib.
But imagine that every day is like an air-drop,Creation in a grain of sand a rhyme-The whole day a god! Religion non-stop!
Each movement of the eyelid a mime!And every action a sacred ritual.No one would ever dare to talk of time
Passing, but each word weighed and spiritual,And in each name hidden the secret soul,A holy name for all that is habitual-
Like the babe imagines the world entirely whole!Each casual sound charged with meaning,Mother a goddess, father no token role!
Each breath significance, no mask demeaning,Putting the whole spirit into creation,Making each though a very greening,
The secular world a poor outmoded station:Each person a mystery without name,But named, what spiritual elation!."
Reeling through space like a weird computer game,Or rampant satellite with nodes a quiver,The centre's missing, the feelings just the same.
So kids press buttons. But they never shiverTheir mouths turn down with boredom's shibbolethTheir elders have sold them down the river
Like Osiris long ago was sold by SethTwo brothers who became each other's rival:The soap opera of the Egyptian jet set.
Their sky mother, Nut, on arrivalAt puberty, no child for her predictedNaturally concerned about survival,
She felt her father, the god, had derelictedDuty, so that she should not bring forth.He dreaded being supplanted, was afflicted:
So rained his curse on her-henceforthShe would be barren to the end-odd.The resourceful woman went to Thoth,
The god of wisdom, and the moon god,Challenged him to chess, and won this:Five days of moonlight, five children in the silver hod.
Osiris, Harmachis, Isis, Seth and NephtysFive extra days to the solar year,Five days of silver for a golden kiss,
Five extra days, and the showy spear,The absolute crown, the universe, was shattered.The mother's eye began to shape like a tear.
She kept her silence, none of this mattered,The secret mime behind the veil still held,And not an ounce of holiness was scattered:
But five splendid beings the god beheld.He got older, he dribbled at the mouth-Isis and Osiris longed to wed
And have a child, but could not do withoutThe help of Ra, so Isis gathered up the spittleFashioned a cobra to warn of drought,
So when Ra saw the cobra not a whittleHe cared, so hurt with the wound of the snake,."Tell me your secret name, for marital
Purpose, I need to transfer the take.I'll breathe it to no-one,There's differ between the real and the fake.."
Down the ages fake children fool no-oneBut real girls often go amissLooking for their true love, someone Who will be lover and brother, who will kissAway modernity and the illusion of the human,Who will take them through the window, to miss
The cosy domestic life imprinted on the besom,The quiet coupling that is a quiet pain-The life that's dead to everything save the blossom
That promises the spirit eternal life again;But search too hard beneath the balcony,The wolf may find her first, in the dark rain,
And in her chordless virgin euphonyTry to kill her before she meets her hope,Before she can cast away the litany
Of fresh dreams, knitted like a rope,To help her over the balcony, into the realmWhere down below, he's dead from too much dope.
From the beginning, life is such a game.Bound to lose. Her mother was the same.-----------------CANTO 6Love bade me welcome yet my soul drew back,Guilty of dust and sin. George Herbert "Love"
Those evenings by the dim lamp of the street,She shored up what fragments might have bound her,And dreamt a future husbanded and neat.
The gangly arms of boys were not around herAs she studied Euclid (Pass) and convent lace,The gloss on happiness could still confound her,
For in the family's transcript from their race,A hidden beauty lay inside the dreamOf aspiration. There was distance in her face:
A possibility that could hurt the scheme.A frozen virgin by the window pane,A dent in 'perhaps' to blur the 'seem'.
Her childhood gifts of quickness, and a brainProvided she did not use it, quite a farce,Making her life troubled in the main.
No matter if she were the smartest in the class,The nuns made her wait last to take her prize-An honours student made for a pass-
In case she might be vain, the sizeAnd fount of every sin was pride,As the Devil is the father of all lies.
Reared with music, her father's sideWere bards, and prophets with truths to tellIn a country were faith had never died.
But the nuns punished under the Angelus bellConsigned outside the lavatory where each boyCould stick his tongue out at her. Spell
Words she might, yet she was their toy;To the fixed notions she must be sacrificedSo learning must be painful, not a joy.
She stood there, and eternity splicedAt the centre was her soul:She was with God, and she had diced
Against the formless shadow of the wholeWorld, and in its transient stateShe felt the terror of the flesh roll
Against each protruding tongue, and hatePoised itself on the windowsill of her heart,Begging to be admitted and be accounted fate,
To vindicate a child. Truth an artShe would not let it be, but insteadRefused the poison of the liar's dart.
But there was one little boy who saidNo. In her dreams he wore a kiltAnd cuddled her when she was sad in bed:
She would dream each night that he would liltHer favourite tune-."Lord Gordon."-till she slept.With songs like this her heart would never wilt
But kept her going through the dark ages, leaptLike a giddy phantom over the abyssThat was her youth, when she often wept
For ideals reduced to rubble, and a kissOf lust could turn her heart to ash,An insect king atop the anthill bliss.
And yet, her emblematic hero-no rashAnd token admiration-but daring to say noGave her the hope that truth was no lash,
But beauty, too. And she would grimly sewHer squares of cotton, token stitchesLike elephants' teeth-booty long ago
Made domestic. And the wild ditchesRife with blossom. She herself keptThe dark broom cupboard of her hitches
With the past. Then how she wept,For her treasures on the clothes lineOne night in a fairy gale were swept
Away. And the Inspector's two slaps, fineOn pitched domesticity gone awry,While other girls showed neat squares-nine
Stitches in a row, ironed like a cryOf suppressed rage, where the latchesOf information left many a why,
And neat thread bitten off. Her patchesLeft unanswered questions at the hem:The farmyard where the hen scratches
For food was closed forever from them.Ladies not to shrink from washing upWould be frozen in the requiem
That was history's verdict on their coming upTo flower in mid-century. They'd be wivesTrained to use their talents for the sup
History could pour on their heads. Quiet livesFor their ruler, undoubtedly male. In a fewOf these girl-children, though, the dream revives.
In church, Mother pinned her to the pewWith rough nails. Four red crescentsAnd the cross remaindered by the churchyard yew.
Throughout all this, remaining quiescentPraying for the souls on the brass plaque,Enjoying purgatory and the incandescent
And kindly rage of God. Mother's backBent in her new coat. It was 'forty-sevenThe famine's centenary. And the lack
Of love as a giant man in heavenEmpty and sick of what he gorged upon,Envious in the threshold of being riven
Between earth and hell, still a pawnBetween spirit and matter-the eternal tussleOf daisy, and grass, and sunlight on the lawn-
A summer's day where filaments can rustleLike angel's wings beating out a hymnAnd their flight in the magic and puzzle
Of being. So Mother's fists, the rimOf a physical whole abandonedSweet, short, sharp tears would not limn
A prayer-book with light. A marshlandOf exotic blooms grew inviolateAnd their lush beauties would be hard to husband.
Her young swelling breasts reprobateHer mother called the nurse, it must be cancerSuch growth of beauty in a girl, extenuate.
The nurse smiled gently with the proper answer:."Normal development.", and her smile benignLit up the darkness. A Spanish dancer
Making colourful dresses swirl upon the lineIn motion, yet stillness had possibilityAnd the nurse's smile, duende. A sign
Even when cowering, shy, a probandOn the verge of adolescence, limbs quite sleek,She might be a dancer. In the bath, a saraband.
But Mother forced the door open so she could peekAt the showing forth of what to her was leastThe putting on of womanhood, as if in meek
Acquiescence to Nature's purpose and her feastMother still felt the whole thing was vicious,Tearing women between the angel and the beast.
So fled from her who with meretriciousSleight of mind drew picture so repugnant,There was no meeting point between delicious
Anticipation of true love and this unguentWhich nightmare furnishes as she. UnnourishingYet she, became she, and what was tender, poignant,
In spirit, mind and body hoped for flourishingBut soul was condemned to hunger amid sweetmeat:In real life dreams, dreams ravishing and dervishing.
And so she sought the dark, ever sweetThrough a glass, a young man not so coyWhose black hair made her grind her feet
Inside her shoes, oh he was such a joy,A waif, born in freedom's evanescenceAnd she would dream she's love this boy,
Until time threw a figurative essence,A Greek vase with real flowers entwinedIn their hair and in their heart's incandescence.
But the factory hooter and the school combinedTo eke the dream out in darkness, stirWith a thick spoon of mistrust the lined
Calls of the popular song. And a blurLike a flame warmed by two handsLeft civilisation like a tamed cur
Inside the walls of culture, and bit the bondsOf love and friendship till they were a snare.Songs were forgotten. In the native lands
Maybe a snatch of melody, like a hairUnloosed from a headband, would lightly fallInto the spaces where once lived a prayer.
How can a dream of despair be all?Lighting is cigarette in the dark,He leaned, a Teddy Boy, against her hall.
In the flood of the future, he was Ark-definite refusal to acknowledgeThat learning was anything but the bark
Of mad dogs in the abyss, and that CollegeConferred respectability on the fakeConferred authority upon the spoilage:
She would have gone with him, gone underThe hill like the dancers in the songAnd he refused to take her. Torn asunder
Her faith in him misplaced and she was wrongBoth to love learning and despise its use,Especially to think, that for her the gong
And knell of history would let looseA chime of freedom in this underworld,When repetition of chilled fate was the ruse
By which the gods defeated innocence, and hurledInto the blood and thunder of the race.A flag to show that destiny unfurled
On grim silence. And face to faceThe words dropped, crumbs at a feastInedible, and poisoned with a trace
Of hope. All would turn bitterHer least twinge of liberty, palsied, stillIn the ravening maw of the great beast
Who swallowed the universe like a pill,Before the babe could stutter now: ."I hope,."Choking before he brought to birth: ."I will.."
So this dark young man, a smoky dopeQuenched by definition in his class,Boxed, strait-jacketed, couldn't cope
With the social strata. He couldn't passExaminations as she did, but could only feel,Like a wish disappearing in a well, a lass
As lithe as he in body, and he could peelThe layer of education off her like a shroudAnd dance. (At her father's wedding feast the reel
Had sealed up magic in the stamping heel.) ProudHe couldn't bend to undo her enchanter,Instead, he held her gently while the loud
Music told him he was king. The banterOf centuries' untruth sealed his lips. MeasuredBy the accretions of the ages, the last canter
Of the centaur on the hills, a treasuredPerfection like a fly in amberA single dance expression, and leisured
Silence the key. And the ruck and camberOf straitened maidenhood the faulty towerHe would not scale, and would only clamber
Among the rubble and the fern of her power,The intimation that the past was rebornWhen she was handed to the ancient dower
Of grace in servitude, what he could only scorn.Since he too was bound in space and time,The living out of love would be forlorn,
So he rejected her. Her crime-Intelligence. And her love for rhyme.-----------------CANTO 7Il faut de la religion pour la religion, de lamorale pour la morale, comme de l'art pourl'art: le beau ne peut être la voie ni de l'utileni du bien, ni du saint; il ne conduit qu'alui-même. Victor Cousin-lecture at the Sorbonne (1918) on truth, beauty and the good
So, spurned and virginal, she bounded off to greetA theoretician who saw dialectics as the key;That she should meet him showed that fate was neat.
He offered explanation, and she was freeOf love, perdition and the gargoyle hope:Instead of hope, endless cups of tea.
This Marxist expiator of the dopeOf history was a shrewd conniver,Trying for conversion, he would grope
At private parts. A professional skyver,He scorned honest effort and a job,A technicality like the Royal Liver
Of Art and Culture which were hocked to fobOff the inquisitors at the Gates of Doom,Poetry was the matter of the mob
And in his Credo there wasn't any roomFor individual vision, nor personal feeling-They were woven in the capitalist loom
And if she mentioned love, he hit the ceiling.Or rather, collapsed from the Bohemian bedWhere discourse of this kind was peeling
Like paint in a hothouse garden shed,Where plants wilted and were soon forgotten,And carried like shrapnel buried in the head
From which regular nightmares were begotten.And day turned into night, and year to year,And still they argued till the core was rotten:
The last egg thrown at an orchestra, fearRemaining to fill a vast emporium:A wasted youth that finally cost dear.
They had their last real argument in the ForumOf Earl's Court. Emigrants, they walked aboutAnd were roped in to make a quorum
On the question-what is love's doubtBut that authenticity doesn't exist?-a rapier thrust that ran in and out.
Some were amused, and some were quietly pissed,And she shouted and she ran away to the darkAlley where real lovers kissed.
She came upon jazz music-as a larkMight greet a nightingale in hell,She entered in: here she might find her mark.
Here all lovers gathered, before the bellCould summon them from paradise and showThe world the bliss which they could scarcely tell.
Café des Artistes! It was touch and go,Here was a place she might be herselfVestige of her first love would row
Her across the Styx where Marxists on the shelfOf history glittered with evil brain:Just for an evening she would renew the Guelph
Inheritance in exile, and this stranger to the mainFormation of her being, asked her to dance awhile.He was agreeable, tanned, and very sane.
He danced with her, and beamed his toothy smileHe asked her if she'd like to have a Coke,And spoke about the flooding of the Nile.
Concerned, a gentleman, and afraid to pokeAn elbow in the wrong place, he showed respectExpressing laughter when she told a joke.
He gently said that she should reflectCarefully before travelling home solo:He had a car, which she might like to inspect-
White and shiny, the maker's metal logoPolished and pert on the bonnet. She said. ."Fine."But if he had ideas, it was no go.
He understood, nodded: an imaginary lineLay between them as they rode the night.She remarked on the pale quiet moonshine
That was nothing in his face. It was all right.He was a gentleman, all she could ask,Given as she was to ravages and blight.
Then, as she looked, she perceived a maskIn the murky reflection of the glass:-a speedy exit then became her task.
He sensed fear, and put his foot down on the gas.The countryside loomed like a mad raven;Clawing the rope of truth to find it pass
Into the realm of the impossible. He stopped, craven,Outside a deserted house. There was no oneNot even a ghost of what was home and haven.
It was the place of rape. There was no gunBut the final clicking of the lockWhich said, ."the sooner over, sooner done;
And what will happen will forever mockYour dreams of loving and joy,And dances on vases will no longer shock
You with the idea of bliss. A toy,Trifle, thing-your inside, and your trustViolated for ever. Don't be coy-
You asked for it. You are a woman, mustKnow how things are. If you hurt,If you say you're wounded by my lust,
-I don't even want you. I'll be curtThis half an hour of painful sexWill prove woman is just a piece of dirt,
And I am here to show you that you vexMe, and all men, with your pretension.What good is learning, when you can hex
Us with your power-now in declension.Destroyed at the centre of your being,You might enjoy it but for the tension
Of your being degraded. Now you're seeingIt all happen like a strange inversion.Your love of beauty a fleeing force
But subject to my perversion.."Finally he crumpled to a tissueAs if he had proven his assertion.
He drove her to the Marxist,Who allowed it might be a catharsis.-----------------CANTO 8The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar,All now was turned to jollity and gameTo luxury and riot, feast and dance. Milton Paradise Lost XI. 713
To be in pain is to feel a differentMetaphor for the seeking of one's dreamIn anxious lands, like England, there's no referent;
So cracks the heart, and Irish blessings seemTo be exiled in the skiff of doomRunning downstream like a faulty beam
Cracked from a cathedral, and in the gloomOf the middle ages and the sanctuary bellTolls a truth where women have no room
So, brought up in father's shadow, who can tellIf paradise is meant for girls and daughters,When so many feel they're a present he must sell
To the highest bidder, so the dark watersClose around her head like a barque forbidden,Drowned in the miscreant time when she falters
And subterranean, she comes biddenTo erotic fantasy like a plague of guests,To eat the heart's wisdom in the midden.
A rape is her fault. Those pestsOf men knew she was putting out-Those blood wounds on her head-crests
Of the cockerel, who knew beyond doubtShe was his to master and possess,Be he Prince Charming or common lout.
Now she belongs to no-one, and a caressFrom her is the prerogative of manyAnd what she has left to give no one can bless
The next time she meets a man she'll be more canny,She won't look for a broken god between his eyesEven if he starts to act quite zany,
Her gaze will dart away, and a disguiseOf hardened liberation will be her attraction.She chooses no disguise, she can't tell lies,
And in her life account book makes subtraction,Leaves out like a black hole solemn giftsOf self to self, honour, and abstraction.
And so in her heart there grows a riftOf thirteen moons, a constant wheelingHers and not hers becomes a place where lifts
To the soul take place, for a kind of healing.Romance, capitalist romance, is the chief baitAnd from shop to shop, soon she's reeling
From lecture hall to launderette, consumed with hate:The most ideal child in the school becomesThe plaything of the furies and the fates.
She gets a buzz from scalding desert bumsWho mix up love and commerce, profit and work,Soon her life with material rhetoric hums
And she does not, she finds, shirkFrom tea, or love in the afternoon,Her self absent. As if her soul can lurk
Among cheap volumes of a reckless swoon,Where librarians issue volumes on a kissUntil the denoument of the honeymoon.
Lies, lies. Marxists speak of postponed bliss-Jargon, a currency to shape the worldUntil every truth was a dumb and broken hiss.
The story nestles with her makeshift herald,As a bird, headless, seeks to gather ruin.The rhetoric span while her cries whirled
In the air like tongueless feathers. To winAn absentee landlady with a penIs easy when false prophets pay to spin
And hate starts at home. Here's a denWhere stratagems poke like an own-goalieAnd new beginning a diviner for a fen
Of stagnant waters though life was holy:She was a vessel for her life's mission's sake,And she could feel the hurt of not being wholly
Human, just as the foetus swims in dark lakeOf amniotic fluid, and was blindTo the registry office, the wedding with no cake,
Flowers, nor prayers-a borrowed ring. Not a kindThought passed between the unfortunate pair,As spinster became matron, and the book was signed.
A pub like a long hall in the West End, the snareClosing in, a horrible noose. A peckFrom the vulture, and a missing prayer.
And so, the craft of herself is now a wreck,Spread-eagled on the future she has truckWith all the notions that a soul can speck
Before she yields herself to cosmic muckShe must refuse her honeymoon, try to wedgeHerself between the squandering and the luck
Of a divided goal. He had the edgeOn this, his father was from UlsterAnd had thrown the mother off a window ledge
Back in the USA. And he could bolsterHer in her eye's defiance, firmly fixDeath on her like a six-gun holster.
At the wedding feast, his cautious licksAt the cake would make it thin, and he fatter-In the rented room, there was a crucifix
And a decade gambolled in colours, the matterOf all the Marxist's scorn and use.She left the feast because she felt the patter
Of raindrops on the skylight to fuseInto a dance with the bandsman-a troubadour.He brought her to the sea, so she would lose
For ever her notions of matter and the uaireadoir.She saw the dance of Shiva in the sandAnd returned to the hotel as to a corridor
Of pain. They passed by a hot-dog standAnd she ate a sausage and it hurtThe rubbery meat was a physical band
That mocked her being. She threw it in the dirtWatched a dog devour it and felt sick-Eat or be eaten, the world's command was curt.
And when he asked her to take her pick-A life with music, or a ceaseless natter-Was there a choice? She left behind real quick
Her groom at the wake of spirit and matter.In the hotel there were waiters buzzing.Was this the happiest day, love on the batter?
And a new sound invented, here a dozenOf sweet Beatles' lyrics were to be heard,As if Bob Dylan hadn't been busy sussin'
The mood of the generation, and his beardAnd curls a prophecy of rage,As if the Bible could be writ without the Word,
So had she, as if he'd left a pageWatted like a cut-out, just from home,The name for the nameless hurt each age
Tries to pin on its artists, and despite tomeOn tome, the libraries of official truth,The miles of books, the authority from Rome,
The real truth, a secret transmission, uncouth,Which isn't spoken but is felt by youth.-----------------CANTO 9The atrocious crime of being young I shall neitherattempt to palliate or deny. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham
Being young is understood by Indians who followedMother Nature as goddess and friend,Letting good fall into the everyday hallowed
By intimate secret ritual, who can bendBack the dark as he is in the streets' guts,The virgin's paramour whose love will never end?
First love stays in her heart like the sleazy slutsIn big kitchens who nourish the world,Past the familiar, into the ruts
And lane-ways of the intricate wood,Where the pastures of clover are forsakenFor sweet drenching darkness and dry mud
And countless leaves reaching the takenFall, and falling into infinity as rottenAs the material barn where their shaken
History stops and cannot pass like cottonSeed into the testicles and generate new life-They must lie at the transverse, unbegotten
To the future, unremembered to the past strife;Sweet and infinite with the need of their existence;The ground below them is anguished and rife
With insects who burrow with persistenceInto the neat order of chaos and construeA meaning for their life's fall, an assistance
To the stone philosopher who will spewOut of his brain a web of wordsMost being ."I.", and sometimes, ."you.".
He is as closed to the transmission of surdsAs those leaves falling in a concrete well,He finds logarithm in the chant of birds
But stiffens his ear to misspellThe aural transcript of Nature's way,He's on a spiral, he's a dumb bell.
So her cardboard groom, love gone astrayHad left meaning out of the parlour gameHad levitated, because there was nothing else to say.
Hope was gone, and her auspicious name,A navel cord torn out, would give her trouble,She was the wild, who had become the tame,
Would she ever find her double?What twin spirit would love her with delightBe glad to consume this dream's rubble?
So she spun out existence like a nightInvading her soul in peerless squalor,And she gave in because she had lost the fight
To begin with. Put to the pin of her collar,Virginity's demise proof of her corruption,One sin too many, and no matter that the dollar
Fluctuated on the stock exchange, wealth's eruptionOn the carcass of society, that was no sinIn the ownership of people, the irruption
Into slavery, the buying and selling inOf women to men in matrimony,There was virtue, and virtue's prudent skin.
But outside the state of compulsory honeyThere was no redemption, blessing or boon,There is no value save the power of money:
Married, but having passed no honeymoonWhere was her real self, just to recoverHer lost soul, lost self, that still tune
In all the songs would be accounted for, discoverMale supremacy, stopping the power of women.She found herself completely out of cover
Craving affirmation, love in a famineAs food to the starved. If she was OKIn bed, she was a true feminine specimen.
But who would win her in an ideal's bouquet,A black hole in the universe of love?To say the least, it was slightly risque
What impeccable lover be allowed to shoveA delicious branch into her jet linerWhom she would call her only turtle dove?
None. So it came about this sad regina,Who had been dishonoured by a clerkBetrayed to the consortium she was no diviner
Of accident than that horrid jerkWho proved by force she was desirableBy the genus, man. Earned his trademark
And thereby showed that she was reducibleTo a body, who could view the motionsEven making the wind and rain impenetrable.
And so for thirteen moons, the salty oceansHeaved in answer to her silenced criesPain more of pebbles, and the notions
The man had, that he could win the sighsOf the trees, the sun's charioteering in the skyThe moon turned to stone with his lies,
And the music was a three-chord why.She lost early friends, deep in sensation,She blocked off dream with a loveless tie.
Mute save in the explosion of condensationOn the window pane which showed the heaving heartYou could say she envisaged compensation,
He was human, she was human, partOf the whole of humanity which should be knitTheir limitation was a form of art,
And art that reduces art, a life to witUpon, the dance and dancer gone berserkIn a ritual that was denial of the bit-
Part of romance-personal love a jerkOf the kneecap denying common good,And setting choral angels out to work
In the factory of immediate returns for blood.Payment was like crimson blobs in lightRevolving for not being what they should,
So angels wept blood tears, a sightGod the Son nailed on the cross envisagedWhen he saw the chalice of the human blight.
So angels turned their back on two marriagedOnly by skin and moon, owning no fearAre angels scabs, and love sacrilegious?
Have words reality? At last no tearDisfigured her as she strove the thing to finishHer heart had been deadened for over a year-
And why should I another sad tale embellishWith aught but words, when life itself is stopped,As cry is torn when cry is but a blemish
And life itself the illness and ovum droppedTo meet a spermatozoa it should not:Tempt the genes to mend a foolish slop
Of passion on lives' overkill, and spotHeraldic saltire with the get of lust,And block a human being because of a knot
Where there was no legal existence? StardustCringed in the heavens at the murder of a lieThat was not matter. Death is a form of trust,
That asks no creditor nor spancelled why-No matter that the wrenching of a manCan be predicted by astrology in the sky,
So when the child is unborn, the planets scanHorizons for a speck of life, disappearing, muteAs the stars falling in the silver pan
And shoals of asteroids, that comets shootOnly to discover what they miss is love,And children can't get born without a root
Of tenderness, caring, a creation-centred shoveOf gravity at the nipple of the worldA leaf in the mouth, and the flying dove.
When she left, his rage finally curled.He sold the story to the ."News of the World.".-----------------CANTO 10The first casualty of war is truth. Hiram Johnston-speech in US senate 1917
How often longing, and her dream, a bandAround her head, tears begged, shed us, let us goScorched without rain like a desert land
A stubbled cheek he could plough and sowIn her heart plantation's wildest griefOf human loss, her bitter task to know
Death. Death of one's child a loss, a leafOf a person never to be tree or woodSo she, that her head in a brief
Second signed a death warrant. MoodRose with the sun each day to damn the earthDestruction rained upon her, like the hood
Of the eagle faces the abyss. A dearthOf fear, a god-forsaking demurrageOn creation. And survival,
Birth of oneself. For with this marriageCame shock. Still, refusing to the dayIts joys, its flowers, to finally discourage
All celebration. Her heroes gone away-Dead, like Hendrix, Joplin, a hippyEthic. Scandal in the press. Who would pay
Informer's blood to redden the Mississippi?Who would befoul blue river with rag of war?Who would call peace lovers part of a recipe
For national disaster? And the slur and scarOf this innovative generation never faded.They stopped Vietnam. And the foreign far
Fields grew green again. But secret agents raidedPrivate intimacies for scandals about drugs-Public interest was avid, then jaded.
After My Lai, who shrugsOff a child's terror at a rifle?The pain haunts still. And all the hugs
Children give, each sweet arresting trifleOf human love, of courseEnd in a cry that will not stifle
Human cruelty. Every risk in love, and worseNightmare is part of loving one anotherPain and agony just par for the course.
The betrayals of lovers, all the botherOf unrequited passion, pale to lessThan a mouth in that child's scream ."Mother."!
And then, I am lacking. When I confessThat I am the child, the scream, the killerSuch tangled pain is not for me to bless
And upon the Byzantine pillarOf forgetfulness, wreathe my head,In the act's interval, life is just a filler-
A song in disarray can mean a thingBeyond believing, a sweet inheritanceTo puzzle out the secret of the ring
Of life and death, and love's munificenceIn denying to all but the most detachedAn understanding of its last admittance
Into the community of hope. WatchedBy the vestal virgin of incompetenceTrusting in Nature's blueprints hatched
From the first explosion's transmittanceOf quintillions of atoms ready for the danceThe human offer to creation is a pittance
For the lease we call life, and every chanceAttends a history of a feelingAnd every hope's a dust upon the lance
Of opportunity, or moving ceilingWhere death can wait, a figure in a balconyTossed on the human mob, and keeling
Over in the dance of life. Like alimonyPaid to the divorced-on a marble slabHe has the inscription and the testimony
And how he lusts at life. Like angels grabBack the curtains of the world on MondaysWishing to be human, wishing to blab
And touch, after the ecstatic SundaysTo go AWOL and experience skin,Go to the Zoo, and sip upon a sundae-
But they are angels, and they won't rush inAnd they often sit on shoulders, and they weepThey turn their faces away at a sin.
On the horizon of the mortal there's a bleepBut we don't hear, we carry on with fervourAnd a rustle at our elbow, a creep
Across the doorway. No human observerCan match with scientific test the lossOf an angel's presence on the favour
Of Holy Grace. A dialogue with the BossReveals a show, mutely sufferingWe are imaged in the figure on the Cross
And our materialist dream bufferingThe essential prescience of the soul,A votive candle, flickering, offering.
In itself the pennies of the wholeAs they thud in the brass box with a clatterFleeting golden moments in the role
Of truth, and jailed because in matterThere's no transference save in energy-Who is going to set the coins to splatter
Red hot globules of matter in synergyProving existence consonant with essence?A burst of flame, a raving liturgy?
A free expression in the right transcendenceWhere object, subject, matter and mind and spiritAre as one in a single splendid instance?
But history is slow progress. To inheritThe past is the burden of the dreamerWho must disrobe at noon: the merit
Of the character a cycloramaWhere one dissects the passions of the raceIn our bracing Western art, Karma
Considered unsuitable for mortals-to faceHead on, one's moral limitationIs in the interest of a story's pace-
The moral fibre and heartbeat of the nationFixed in the culpability of an imageA goddess face in a woman of poor station
At the barricades. Her lost lineageShows the inversion of a once proud peopleWho fought in hay-barns, with pitchforks-scrimmage
To defend the gold tongue and the iron steepleThe bell with iron clappers never muteSince Patrick banished serpents, archetypal-
Energy, source, and female power, to boot.But who has seen a figure on the crossWith breasts and belly, and a flower's root?
So write upon this page without a glossOnly an angel understands the toss.-----------------CANTO 11Set me as a seale upon thy heartAs a seal upon thine armeFor love is as strong as deathJealousy as cruel as the grave. The Song of Solomon
The broken chancel of her karma did not fade:She left the pad with its instant passion,Pinned a note to the mirror-'Gone to get laid'.
It would finish the materialist off in his fashion:She hopped onto a fresh landing, went to collegeFound mind food in conversation, just a ration.
The second day spat out the germ of knowledge.It flowered into a sheaf of poems, the ownerHad left it in a taxi with correct pollage,
His name, and number. Though he was a loner,His verses read like smiles in deepest night,A bird singing in the city said he'd 'phone her
And they met in ."The Catacombs." by night.Beneath the arches, their heads were put togetherThe old broken arches of the centuries' blight.
Now their heads were weighed against a feather,They went to the cinema, where they viewed a rapeTwo choristers who couldn't stand the weather
Of violent fact. They could no longer gape,And outside told each other the whole storyThe pain in their heads and hearts and nape,
How long they had been separate, the goryTrail of hurt that dreams were put on sale,Their cities that were devoid of glory,
So, like silver, their words fell into the pailOf their rapt attention, sitting on the stairOutside the cinema. A loud wail
Inside, the villain binding in his lairNailing faggots to the window with a hammer.She remembered she could no longer dare
At life, but had become a college crammer:And epistemology had made her body wince-He said he'd throw rapists in the slammer.
They spoke in silences that held the hintsOf agony they knew-no easy guess,And it cost them-new to love-what must evince
Signs of recognition so they would blessThe diligence of the Creation for the declensionTo human pain when life is such a mess.
For him, the years of suicidal intentionIn New York slums like a fallen king were fencedInto a life of poverty with no subvention-
The treasure hunt in books of lives intense,The unselective philosophy when the truth,Too real, had stripped them bare in rents,
And they gave away their precious youth,Perusing legend for a clue of honour,Debased and cynical and without ruth
Everyone they talked to full of rancour-Street corner merchants said they'd choose the doleRather than be big business anchor.
To be honest in a century when the soulHad no existence save in illuminated script,To love beauty, when everyone denied the whole,
The miraculous shimmer in the shape to shift,The luminous centre at what could not be heard.At the banks they rarely caught the drift
But dirtied beautiful rivers so the birdOf history sank below the tide to killAny possible becoming of the word.
They walked as dreamers into the beautiful dayThe hours passed and they were making hay.-----------------CANTO 12In the land of Egypt where we sat by the fleshpotsAnd when we did eat bread to the full. Exodus 16.3
Now, nothing could separate the pair:A blissful night together, when for everThey were bound in one mystical prayer
As their skins touched, as if neverAgain thread be boundary, or fieldBe mapped and still not sever
The golden rain that fell. They wheeledTogether in a sacred dance, his firstFaith in woman restored, and healed.
Who would think that next, a thirstFrom a patriarchal opposition would betrayThis night of tender loving, and burst
The skin of romance as a pecking jayWorries ripe fruit until he engorgesThe autumn's blessings in a single day?
Even a minute of complete love enragesSerpents and devils and raging queensWho in each encounter, masquerade forges
A hole in their balcony of dreams,Leaving prejudice on the windowsill, like crumbsFor stranger to finger as they hide their fears.
Such offering to the gods from sneaky bumsOf life, who despise talking, and feastOn the offering snatched away by thumbs
Of the agile boy whose laughter is creasedIn the ridicule of angel's heart-stoppedBlithe encounters when devil's tricks have ceased-
But to spoil a young love! Here is croppedJust after sowing time, to burnIts credentials, its flower head lopped
By diligent cunning, planted lies, to turnA young man's heart to cinder.First, get him away from the cairn
Of pebbles he has strewn around her tenderBreasts, where their sweet scentsWere mingled. And the breath of slander
To disturb the lovers, like the unpaid rentsOf the basement apartment pounding on the walls,Make them rise with guilt. Their clothes like tents
Confining the rash hang-ups to the callsOf love and endearment, swopping places,They surface in the sacred hall of halls,
Amid graffiti, tins, and tracesOf drunks, pungent, inarticulateAt the unspoken promises, and graces
In the air between them commensurateWith the time they have been given-Aeons and eternity never to obliterate
Every last vestige of one another. RivenNo more, their breath in their fire.They are one, they cannot in their oblivion
Ever go back to being separate, but higherThan earth's visible choirs they singQuietly of love, and self on the funeral pyre.
The motor bike outside, a chariot whose wingNeeds kicking to start the motion, she, astride,Asks him to wait until she starts the thing.
She sits, pert, on the saddle, her skirts wide,Hitched up and out of the wheel's way. She broodsQuietly on his past. Have angels lied?
Don't look back, but quietness is a moodThat begs the past, stay! If I am aloneTime is not consonant with good.
She brings her bike to life, why should she moanThe tear drop petrol tank, purple and shining,A good-looking exterior out to her on loan
On the contempt of the crowd, a silver liningWhich jealousy always has, she is their equalHer man loves her, and she's not resigning.
."Don't look back, our love must have its sequelFor the mob at my elbow, their dart must be of rueA destiny will be lost among those dreadful people
Or is it your voice, speaking of the Zoo?Therefore, my past, I call you! I felt blueAmong the animals, and talked of me and you
But I'm woman! And we nearer, too,Than animals, to angels. On the bikeI'll survey the scene again, to find clue
Of the only love I know, a human hikeOf arm and shoulder pressing, there! there!Woman or man, is it love or is it like?."
."This feeling is so strong, what do I care?Can a man love a woman, is it pat?Can the universe enter in, do I dare
Put myself into the world, not like a catPlaying with a ball of wool, but a manWho finds his half missing, and that
His all he has searched for. If I canLook into her eyes once more, I'll be sure.But how the past beckons. If I ran
Straight on to this bike, would I endureThe rat-traps of reason, leave purblindA world well lost for love. A cure.
I'll jump-reflection makes me blind.."The bike moves. He is left behind.-----------------CANTO 13All progress is based on a universal innatedesire on the part of every organism tolive beyond its income. Samuel Butler Notebooks "Life"
Catastrophe did not at first strike her.A sense of missing something far outAs she rode on through the beckoning psyche
Of the morning, and the sun shone out!Her frail wrist brushed her forehead, she was sweptOn with the traffic, and policeman's shout,
And through the lights, she could not have leaptFrom her saddle, as with a carnival of noiseShe led the traffic for two miles, and wept.
Finally, she hit the kerb, and kept her poise,As ladies' mags might applaud, by the nearby churchEndured the whistling and the shouts of boys,
And entering in, through the darkened porch,Saw before the altar, a groom, a brideReminding her sharply of her lover in the lurch,
And brushed her tears away. She could not hideNow, her sense of doom and despair,A crown of thorns on her head, stitch in her side;
And the space around her like a vanished fairWhere joy had disappeared and the sceneCondensed, in essential and eternal pain-
A transfiguration of what might have beenBecame the epitaph of pain and sorrow,Their living love transformed into a mean
Parody where religion and love borrowFrom stuffed reality a foothold on tomorrow.-----------------CANTO 14I opened to my beloved, but my belovedhad withdrawn himself and was gone:My soule failed when he spake;I sought him but could not find him:I called him, but he gave me no answere. The Song of Solomon
She was not ready for fate. Back into rainNow falling, she ran, leapt upon the saddle,She dithered dangerously in the fast lane,
Then, vroomed to where she had left him to paddleA lone fisherman, to strain the night's passion,Where he might be solitary, raddle
His Adonis brow in Grecian fashion?No sign of him netting daytime's truth,He wasn't on the pavement, in a session
Of post coitum tristum sunt, nor was the youthHarking at the bus-stop for the beatIn traffic of passing skin and ruth.
He had gone. Her acrobatic featOf leaving passenger behind, was a ruseOf fate, so destiny could clamp the meat
In the trap to accommodate and useAll the chimera since the world beganTo eat the fare of romance. Give their views.
Did the pterodactyl foresee the man?Did the trilobite give a shiverIn the deepest waters, where no light
Can penetrate? Did the protozoa quiverThat one day his mutagenic capacityWould be lost for love, in a river?
Man-made, by a mortgaged city,With banks and tower-blocks and railways too,Did they look forward with reptilian pity,
Or close pitiless eyes to the ZooWhere her lover had gone, perhapsAsking the original dumb animals who
Probably were more faithful than the chapsBustling around in suits and loving womenInstead of mating yearly, taking naps
All the rest of the time? Who saw her comin'As she twirled the motor bike down Grafton StreetDismounting, and pretending to be humming?
Truth was, she felt bitter-sweetWith mood and madness, meaning and moon,Drunken as a rainbow sorrow on a beat
Of wilful forgetting, her everlasting noon,Anxiety, that their love was over soon.-----------------CANTO 15What is honour? A word.What is that word, honour? Air.'Tis insensible, then. Yea, to the deadBut will it not live with the living? No. William Shakespeare 1 Henry IV V.1
In the recesses of the bar, the meanAnd tawdry acolytes of passion sippedAt drinks, took puffs from fags and keen
Inhaling of the fetid air. They dippedThe day's newsprint into the squalor of mind,Filled with last night's formulae. They kipped
Until the daylight raised the blindOn their anthill bereavements, to sow a sceneWhere scorn and impudence can find
Dull fiction. Internecine wars betweenThemselves and the shabby suits they wore,The elbows shining and the pant seats mean.
They looked forward to the coreOf the spectacle, young love being destroyed.When they saw her, there was a roar.
In the seamy recesses despair was buoyedOn alcoholic bets of poison liquor-Their dimmer on so hope could be annoyed.
So squander feeling in this tickerLove, loveless, a ripped and dirty knicker.
-----------------CANTO 16His honour rooted in dishonour stoodAnd faith unfaithful kept him falsely true. Alfred Lord Tennyson Lancelot & Elaine 871
It seemed as if the secrets they had sharedWere prised out of the oyster bed of pearl.He looked at her, too desperately cared.
."You are the first, and the only girlI have ever loved. And yet you went,Making me feel I was a foolish churl.."
The crowd looked on, amused at his keen vent,Their boring day transformed into a game.She knew the conversation should be spent
Somewhere quite else, but so deep her shame,It drew her into such hauteur, such finickTo deny her love, why it was just the same.
How to explain she must go to the clinic,For dangerous to love it was, if love they must,Yet rational planning made her feel a cynic?
And so right there love crumbled into dustBefore the paraphernalia, a wizardry fatedTo programme passion, turn it to plotted lust.
How explain she'd been with one she hatedHad wedged herself hopelessly in type,A granite child of probability, sated
On hunger that was nothing but a hype?Now, before true love, they felt their loss,The years behind so empty, how to wipe
Away the tawdry past and so embossOn their hearts the solemn pledge a monkFeels in his nightly sacrifice to the cross?
Silence. So he turned to her: ."I'm drunk!You left me, you rode into the sunset,You didn't show me too much spunk,
But left me, lying on the parapetOf my broken dreams, where the castleCrumbled, and you deserted, circumspect.
You left me with my veins open, a passelOf words to suture live my headAnd heart. This almighty hassle-
Life was easier then, in the bedOf NY heroin, now, there was calm,Cold. For five friends dead
This cold fear, live in Uncle Sam,A grave watery, and echoing, a feelingWhich manipulates the living in a sham
Advertising of life's extras, like a healingThat came with love. But this deathAnd five-fold dead!." Here he is, reeling
From pub to alcoholic taxi, where the breathOf ancient ritual is flayed to a dropOf cold moisture on the window. Seth
Expiring on the plains of reason, can hopOver an old grave and a sacred vowAnd he sees in nationhood a sop
To people's dreams, rather as the cowWorshipped in twilight plain could be in youthKilled by an old man any old how:
To find in drunken embrace, a truth,A twist of notes in a fingered pocketNightmares in taxis, and a sleuth
Host to interesting theories, rocketOff offending daydream, palatial lustsTake off, like the eye within its socket
Flies on the unsuitable love object, crustsOf admiration banquet where the dawnChorus sets a poem a-flutter with musts.
Such a youth, a blade of grass in a lawnOf broken glass. A beautiful formThat yet seeks to break his image, pawn
His soul in sordid sexual encounters. PornQueen for a lad, servant for a master,Whatever your fantasy, he's the norm.
But as they sat on the bench, the castorWheels of the drunks' table slid and glidedNow, shaking like reluctant pastor
Whose submission to the divine will elidedSelf, ego, ambition, whole lives' aim,Sheep shorn whom the mob derided,
He bowed his head. Simplicity. The sameHead had lain blissful on her breast,And in a tender moment breathed her name,
Now asks for severance. The testThat fate so cruelly set has provenCircumstance would undo lovers, of the best
Calibre, and love itself behovenTo accident, and counting its costAs if every minute, a separate coven
Of witches brooded on infidelity, and tossedIndiscretion before the lovers, a tourniquetIll-made and bursting heart embossed
For throwing to the mob, an ill-made bouquetOf faithless flowers, and indiscriminate affection,Each insulting blossom brought a soubriquet,
But she could only say his name, perfection.He turned pale, and denied the power of love,The past too heavy in a predilection
To deny the flight of the dove.A thorn in his ringless hand, hard to fit.No challenge to the known. Should she shove
Recent excavated feelings, spitOut passionate words which now were hollowBefore his personhood? Better split.
Why demean herself and stay? Would she wallowIn entreaties, imploring a second if.Her fault, the motor bike a shallow
Interpreter of space before they had a tiff.Like a gourd, cut into being, an idea miff.
-----------------CANTO 17His flight was madness: when our actions do notOur fears do make us traitors. William Shakespeare Macbeth II.3
The idea of a possible world where peek the givenInto the self, receipted like a quiffEnfolding the hair, like a cherished leaven
To all imaginings, and desiring liftTo Paradise, but remaining until nowIn a seamless garment where no rift
Occurs. But he, in the breaking, would least allowHe has been broken. In that breakingNow complete, self wrenched away, any how.
Despite the adjusted tears in her achingHeart, the parting was irrevocable,Fated, ordained in their forsaking
Of each other. He ran, as if unaccountableTo the door. ."If,." he shouted, ."you feltLike leaving on your motorbike-understandable!
If the feather in the envelope of your peltWeighed against my heart, did not make compact,If the morning sun crept in and dealt
Me a strange look, do you suspectMe after my wordless starRested in you, inviolate, perfect?
So, you deny the peace that followed, on a parWith the greatest joy I have ever known,Simply because we were not what we are?
Go then, go then. And betray the grownWoman in you. You feel so free, so freeRiding away on your bike on loan
From your domestic self. You left me,Standing bereft like the boy in Hamelin,Outside the magic mound where children see
Forever the Pied Piper of their ramblingNatures, and dance for charityForbidden their futures. Is it worth gambling
For the music of the pipes, posterityIs music that is revved up,To throw the same glance backward, for clarity?."
."I heard only the honking of horns. Fed upWith the screeching cacophony, I tried to stopBut was carried forward, nearly threw up
With the stink and fumes, emissions. A copWaved to me. Nauseous, I rode onFeeling like a sorcerer's dancing mop,
Waiting for the magic word to load onMy anxiety, jerk me to a halt.In the escapade, there was no code on
Which I could rely. Was it my faultI was new to the bike, quite afraid?-The makers' instructions needed a pinch of salt
I'm not an automaton. But the unpaidMotor bike sent into reverseLast night, when we two laid
In sweet possibility the tapestry in Erse.Language made easy. ConfidentWe could be different, we were not worse
Than those who make public commitmentAnd behind closed doors carry on charade.We were the fullness of ourselves, indifferent
To the sweet honeyed tracts of tradeBrandished in magazines in bright illustration-The surface only, and the smooth tirade.
What matter if I, the soul of a nation,A frozen out why mark, or connotation?
-----------------CANTO 18The watchmen that went about the citie, found methey smote me, they wounded methe keepers of the walles to away my vaile from me The Song of Solomon
Yet, as she looked askance, at the handsomeTearful face, she saw a shadow fall.An aged poet loomed, trying the air to sweeten
With his incongruous shadow, greyer than a pall.His ashen face with ragged beard looked cursedHe pulled the protesting Adonis to the wall.
Here is a way a she-poet might be worst,Here was a way her beauty be undone, warpWith feigned love a trembling boy, with pursed
Purple leprous lips give satisfied gawp,And quieten feeling with a drink of sympathy,Make hatred like the aftermath of agit-prop
Spike the young forms verging on fertility.Flowers in summer hurt him, he could coupA prodigal nature he hated so to see.
Glad that the worst was happening, groupedOutside, three women kept up appearance, a taxiTicked over for a ride on poetry, the muse pooped
For the night of the flesh carnival. A waxyEffigy, their common hatred of excellence.Their doll, to prick the pride of this doxy
Lest she bloom, have a lovely efflorescence,Become a poet of note and lasting fame,-Jealous of the beauty of transcendence;
While he, with five friends dead, was lame,Like the boy in Hamelin, and quite unawareHis destruction of himself held no shame.
For life for him had never been very fair.He lay still at the barque of his dark OdysseyThe old grey bard knew how to tap young despair
And on the polluted waters of life, he was freeTo embrace with drunken arm the wilted shoulderSupport him to the taxi. The three women's glee
At a young girl poet defeated in love was colderThan the embrace of death. Dare be dream QueenA crowd of three or four is always bolder
And the old bard, mocking, sang ."Dark Rosaleen."That Spanish ale would give her hope(while he could have the boy for self-esteem).
The magic incantatory song became soapOpera with his traditional martyr's whingeWhich sneered at her efforts to cope
Now that the magic love undid the hingeOn respectable behaviour, a patriot's probandFlourished in the drinking and the binge
Of sentiment and violence, that was love of land.The girl, flayed whole in her alcoveWas debased, as she saw the bard's wandering hand
Insult her lover with caress of mauveSuggestion, and away they drove.-----------------CANTO 19I charge you, o daughters of Jerusalem,If you find my beloved;That you will tell him I am sick of love. The Song of Solomon
His last shout: ."Witch! Go exchangeReality for dreams. Just get my message:In my pocket there is the loose change
Of the decade's debate, and love's suffrage.I'll go down to the quays to find a newLove, here there is no refuge.."
He clasped a whiskey bottle, scarf askewPeered out of the taxi. Stained glassShimmered as the smoke withdrew
And the fresh air let her passInvited guest to the evening's beauty,The skies of Dublin like the robes at Mass,
When the priest falls in awe and pietyBefore the transubstantial host, and praysFor himself and the world, a duty
Felt keenly by the worshippers. Her love paysNow, on the profane sacrilege of youth.He pulls his red scarf, and he lays
Two fingers on his cheek-no ruth.."Witch!." He stamps his foot, a mundaneGoodbye to years, greets varnished truth.
She sees him go between the hulls of painDarkness her face, and she can't believeWhat's happened. Plays the reel again.
But he's gone, and she goes home to grieveFalling asleep on the divan bedA tree in Spring that refused the leaf.
Morning comes like the silver headOf a stranger probing strange fears,She jerks awake, goes over what he's said.
She can find no relief, not even in tears,Pulls on her clothes. The bike is parkedIn the pub yard. She goes back amid leers
And jeers from men who feel marked,Who sip a hair of the dog, full of venomThat destiny has left others unmarked,
Squalor and bad accounts of women!They stare while she beseeches the bar-Was he really here? The love of my bosom?
She feels naked, like a vivid scarIn a young face, with promises life will mar.-----------------CANTO 20Quai fossi attraversati o quai catenetrovasti, per che del passare innanzidovessite cosi spogliar la spene Dante Purgatorio Canto XXXI
How keep the faith? The years a crescentMoon that awaits like the first hopeA light before the abyss, before its descent.
So, what is real? She doesn't know how to copeJoins a rock band, the first girl drummerAnd spins a fantasy of human life; a dope
Of revolution, Abraxus, and the mummerOf each false pendulum swing into barbarism-Making love a recreation-what a bummer!
I can no longer break myself, a prisonOf truth, beneath your wheel of life,I can no longer give myself a schism
Between truth and lie, and be a wifeAnd widow to the shadow of your promise-I can no longer run in the streets, rife
With the false truth of the mob, be remissTo my own true self, and to the tears,I can no longer love without the premise
That I need you too. The river weirsAre lapping with the footsteps of the holyWhile I spendthrift time, with seers
Who are corrupt as idols, are whollyGiven to pleasing, who smile when goldIs panned before them. I, solely,
Plant my graveyard and yours. BoldWith the stench of decaying liliesI crumble the yellow sepal, who told
You I love you? Not I. The endless tilliesPouring out, out of the milk churn at nightChange into nightmare horses, into fillies
Who canter forever to fill the blightOf time and space, the black voidWhere tenderness is off duty, where the right
To be loved may never happen. Best to avoidAll chance, hope. To rest undetermined,Resist to the end, undo Freud,
Throw to the raincoat brigade, in verminedCinemas for society's bashes,Aspirations for lips carmined
For destiny, who will not be outdone. LashesOf fate on sale, a cat o' nine tails-Who looks on lovers after car crashes?
Here in the pub, of Lilliputian scaleSordid limp lives, just going outOn the decade of synchronicity. A wall-wail
And a last curse (of minor doubt):Reason quenches love, when love's a sin.Honour, dimmed through the centuries, gives a shout
In the streets, just as if skinWere the gateway of trust. But it's a word,A name, how undo the curse, free her to win
For a short time again that quiet birdOf peace, between breast and breast, like a flower?How come their time was short, more like a surd
A mathematical possibility only. The loanOn her spirit increased its weightSo she waxed thin, forgot her koan
And the whole future was a skate-Board over the cliff. Her hairFell out in handfuls, for her mate
Had disappeared, and she went to her lair,A hut in the bottom of the garden.Each night she prayed the curse into a prayer
And prayed with mind and books and body's burdenTo shrivel the noose of a dark devising,And through her tears she begged pardon
Of every show of love, and revisingHer look at herself, she took some matchesTo set fire to the words, that were the baptizing
Into being the mood of good, and swatchesThrough which the hum of love had soundedShe burned her notebooks, sang songs in snatches.
She spurned philosophy; which her heart confoundedWith her disjunctured brain, all were set aflame,The hopes in beauty that tormented her, rounded
With the one poet who loved, who would tameCuriosity like a lamp a moth,Dictionaries that would largely take the blame
For confusing divination, and the behemoth:The web of reality, spun and discardedInto the tired shells of words, the aftermath
Of exploded experience were like dreams cardedInto notebooks, and were tossed upon the blaze-Thus did I dream my nights, Osiris. Recorded
Painstakingly in the tenebrae of daysWithout you, soggy remnants of city lightingAnd spectral shadows your eyes, your death stays
Even lonelier through our in-fighting.The half-developed structures in my jottersPin you into wholeness on my sighting.
Now, in flames, you are one with the blottersOf history, who wipe out legend with rationaleAnd leave us cultural desert, dirty rotters!
In this hot blaze my soul unites with you, specialMarriage of the contingent, that met the poets' ban-Take heed, flames, we are one! Who will cavil
Now that cohesion has this plan!Our formless foolishness will once more perishInto a perfect shape that loves to scan,
This genius of mine a dervishDance of the timeless brain, so burn awayThose who thought our love they would ravish
A cinder trace will form another day,A banished love the secret and the mystery,And they will never find another way
In which our private moments make up history.If they invade like leprous germs our passionThey cannot destroy what is our own consistory,
And if they try to decipher in their fashionOur secret wording locked into our clayA hieroglyphic conundrum is their ration!
Why did she not with him stay?Why did she go on the highway with her bike?Across the Styx I'll take you one fine day
And no remorse attend our pyre. To likeRomance impossible, now he was a goner;There was nothing left, no little tyche
Some months hence to be born. To the end a lonerShe tossed on the flame the flower of honour.