Sunday, December 30, 2012

Till Virgil Weeps


  Till Virgil Weeps

Breached not by midnight till midnight fails,
Beached, you wait the morrow’s little light,
Being first to hear the calling and the
Squalling and the bawling of the crazy
Creatures: messengers of night

Chaste at midnight till the escort sails
You chase desire through empty rooms
All leased by an elfin man who laughs
At the wants that vanish as you grasp
At maps of gray-green coombs

Awake at midnight till midnight sleeps
You keep your vigil till Virgil weeps,
Till lines of poetry waver and blur
Borne away on memory’s stream
Substituted by lush, deep-rooted
Water plants that wash your dream


There in the Temple in shafts of light
The crude carved face, the monster grace
The rush of sound, the sacred mound

There on the Highlands the ancient site
Where bartered power, rule and right
Hide naked howls of vanished wants
In galleries hung with warriors’ vaunts

There in the Jungle the wondrous taste
Of flowering sleep, the cactus paste,
The ancient brew, the tribal taunts,
The chosen few from blasted haunts

Enlightened so by visions three
All that the inner eye could see
Of chuntering chants and ancient rites,
Parasites leaching subsistence
For potent existence
From reason and right

You, human, run your human race
From the priest whose face
Twisted and sang,
Sanguine with grace
Puma priest whose
Mouth grew fangs
Who paid the price
Who davined thrice
Who said the Mass
Who blessed the rice
Who made the world safe
For sacrifice


Salute dharma
Mind intact
Body armor
Sealed like fact

Exchange birds’
Spirit words
Avian chants
For monkey rants

Now forswear
Walking on air
Masked elation

Walk on water
Honor matter

Biblical delusions
Like Medusa’s raft;
Captains of lost illusions –
Found –
Pilot hovercraft

On the beach
Bright as song,
Lofted wings
Nothing wrong

                                                     On the deck
Silences requiting
Break of day
Letter writing

Letters sent in envelopes
As red as the blood
They would have had
For the greater good


                                                     The Galactic News

“New Prometheus
Steals Tomorrow”

“Minotaur-killer Theseus
The RNA of Sorrow”

“Accidental Tourist
Has Fun on the Sun”

“Providential Purist
Takes Time on the Run”

“Accidental Tourist Says:
Run, Lolita, run”

“Run from Bankers and Jurists
Run from Fathers and Suns”


That old roll of film in your pocket
Is undeveloped Truth
Evidence of the life you lived:
Incontrovertible proof

Proof of life
A reading
Of your vital signs:
Your part in earthly
Joy and strife
In breeding
And in the seeding
Of destiny’s designs

Your uncontrolled life
Made testable
As the hypothesis of any experiment,
However rodential its subjects,
However detestable


A rush of wings,
Time’s Jaguar now
Roars in the Future with
Future Perfect in tow

Not the only time
Your shoulder is brushed
By wings reviving signs
Of the cults time crushed

Cults of men who deify wily wives,
Turn girls into princesses
And give small boys too great a prize

Making legends of their lives
Mothers they idealize
Mothers whose rippling shadows –
Thousands of slipping silken shawls –
Gently fall
                   Cover all
Darkening the deepening pools
Of young girls’ wondering eyes

But all unworthy of sainting
And disregarded by sin
Singing or writing or painting
Doors swing wide when you walk in


You will keep your wits about you
Life won’t want to live without you

You shall

Own no rooms
Nor mirrors of slate

You shall

Survey coombs
Invent your fate

Leaving magic spells behind
You shall
Free the captive mind

You’ll turn away
Just in time

From winking Madonnas
In their prime

From soldier priests
Whose names you know,
From crumbling walls of Jericho


Emerged at last
From the tortuous maze
You’ll set aside your
Book of Days
You’ll gently close
Your Book of Hours
Breathe the air
Smell the flowers

Freed from mental flattening
– Barely affected –
From pacing right then left
Through a linear maze
You will find yourself
To see your full blown image
Vectored and projected

Not idealized:
Lively ascension
In three or four
Richly scored

As Life uncoils
Like the time-lapse tale
Of one glorious humming
Blooming Rose
                                                     In amber-hued
Ambient light

You will need
No Special Training
In Insight


Anthony Bulloch said...

Love the title! But even more love the rich interplay of sounds (literally - the way the words, and whole lines, weave in and out with one another) along with the flow of thoughts and images forming a texture like a whole piece of cloth. We all read poetry slightly differently from one another, of course, but my advice to any reader would be to let this poem flow over and under you - don't try to puzzle it out, just let the many connections emerge and gradually present themselves. (Yes, there are hints of mazes and labyrinths, and even minotaurs and minotaur-slayers, but they belong inside the dream - the key is to be found in the experience of reading and listening itself, as always with music.)

linda colman said...

Thanks for your suggestions. Your idea of how to read this poem, which is somewhat Xanadu-ish (though not drug-induced) is likely a good way to read a certain subset of poems generally – rhythmic poems, poems about dreams, etc. Probably wouldn't work for reading a poem by Wallace Stevens, or indeed, T.S. Eliot. What do you think? You seem to have a good sense of how this poem works. Sometimes readers notice things that writers miss.