Friday, December 18, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Monday, May 18, 2015
DROP A LINE
A slight reflection noted as sound
Upon water, then an uplifting of wings
That slides into the shadows over some
The evening had just settled itself in
Gathering its collection of shadows,
Red-violets and wistful birds songs.
“You won’t be going there tonight.”, he said
Pointing toward the tallest stand of trees,
“There’s hungry animals out there. We can’t
Take a chance of losing anyone.”
But the moon will be out later.
The breeze is so gentle it feels made
Of dreaming and silk memories.
I pack my small bag and head for
The tall dark. “I’ll try to find out
What’s just over that ridge and be
Back by morning, if I am able.”
No one says not to go but no one
Follows At the edge of the light
I discover I am able to fly.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Before the shadows got too soft
There was a man who traded
In visions. He was a surgeon
Of sorts who barely left a mark
When he excised a perfect golden
Octopus that could sing ancient
Greek boating songs or slice
A Valentine of brightly colored
Birds into a strange collection
Of coins much desired by the
Herdsmen of the upper terrace.
He worked from dusk until dark
During the long Summer days
And during storms of any kind.
His voice was very musical.
Cats would be charmed by his
Soft whistles and his conjuring
Of small winged animals seen
Nowhere else in any moment.
Hs disappeared into the throat of
Spring when the child weavers
From the dark villages were
Bargaining with him over the souls
Horses had left with them. That
And the lovely skins of animals
Found by the children at the bottom
Of the cliffs near the great waterfalls.
There are those who claim to know
Where he has gone, but whenever
A particular wash of golden light
Passes through this place, one
Can hear his tinkling laugh and
For a moment be unable to think.
Smoke rises from the ends of our
Fingers. We are able to dazzle you
With words, the color of which
Is able to hook into our imagination
So completely we forget we have
The power of speech and find
Ourselves lost in the pure magic
Only seen in the best twilight markets.
Monday, April 6, 2015
I EASE THE SPACE
When the birds reach the place between
The house and the garage, where the prayer
Flags hang, they turn sideways, so their bodies
Are vertical. There is not quite enough room to
Pass any other way. Why they don’t choose
The fly above the passageway confounds me.
Perhaps there is a kind of horizon there
We cannot see, that pushes them, flashing.
The boards of the thing are gone completely.
I ask you why the snows continue?
A malignancy of phantoms devours
The space that has been eased.
In the Catoptric shroud within which
We dwell, time is stuffing memories
Into its pockets. Always looking over
Its shoulder to see if we’ve noticed.
I ask you, before I can begin thinking,
What has happened to all horizons?
You begin ripping up even more boards.
The passages become narrower and narrower.
I can see the prayer flags in the distance.
We seem to be traveling extremely quickly.
It was reported that in one village
The enemy gathered all the men into one place
Then shot them in head in the presence of their wives.
One of the women had shouted
“Have you no respect for life at all?’, to them.
They shot her in the head rather than answer
Her question. The passage became even narrower.
I am looking up at the stars tonight.
I can see that there are many fresh stars.
They seem to crowd against one another
Until there is little room between them.
Somewhere in here we will have to turn
Our bodies vertically and lift ourselves
Above the fluttering prayer flags.
We have only seconds to decide when that is.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
But I’m walking in the labyrinth
And the labyrinth begins to wander
Away from me. I have heard
About a ancient moon from Chaldea
That can decipher the climates
Of the heart and yet refuses
To do so until only the legend of its existence
Remains and even this is confined in a room
So silent it is said to exist only in a mirror.
I will go there and you may go with me
If you would like to see the
Kingdoms conquered, to learn to
Regret that the infinite can exist
In simple stories and uncountable
Rivers that flow through everything
We give meaning to every day
We forget or do not wish to name.
And there you may want to ask this same
Kind of question. Here is a personal souvenir.
It is a footprint toward the center.
I no longer recall where
I acquired it and since I am going
Out to sea again, I have no use for it
At all. Perhaps you will make something
Truly memorable of this day without
Getting lost in it. It is not so easy to do.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
This page from Ilona Comes With The Rain is full of Mutis magic.
Life with Ilona was invariably lived on two levels, or rather in two simultaneous and parallel directions. On the one hand, your feet were always on the ground, you were always intelligently but non obsessively alert to what each day offered in response to the routine questions of surviving. on the other hand, imagination and unbounded fantasy suggested a spontaneous and unexpected sequence of scenarios that were always aimed at the radical subversion of every law ever written or established. . This was a permanent, organic, rigorous subversion that never permitted travel on the beaten path, the road preferred by most people, the traditional patterns that offer protection to those whom Ilona, without emphasis or pride but without any concessions either, would call "the others."
Woe to any companion of hers who betrayed the slightest inclination to accommodate to those models. Without hesitation she would cut all ties, all relations, all commitment to anyone who succumbed to such unpardonable weakness, and she would never again mention the person who had gone over to "the others," that is to say, who no longer existed. For those of us who lived with her for a time, one glance ws enough to warn us that we were approaching the danger zone. Abdul told a story that illustrates Ilona's principles very well. once, when they were traveling together, Abdul wanted to send a postcard to his associate in a venture in which all the advantages had been the partner's, to thank him for his hospitality in letting them use his house on the island of Khyros for the summer. When he handed the card to Ilona so that she would sign it too, d
she looked him in the eye for an instant and went back to the bathroom, where she had been combing her hair. She didn't say a word, but Abdul tore up the postcard and threw the pieces into the toilet. Te matter was not mentioned until several months later, when I met them in Marseilles. We were at the docks, eating lobster prepared with olive and garlic and accompanied by a modest Muscadet that was still reassuringly sprightly and direct. Abdul related the incident in a cheerful, mocking tone. Ilona laughed too, but when Bashur finished she sat looking at us like an angry Minerva, and her only comment was "This Lebanese was in very grave danger with his courtesy mal place. He was risking his head."
"I knew that right away," said Brasur, this time a little less cheerfully taking a long drink of wine to hide the fleeting panic caused by Ilona's words.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
I have posted THE CAPTAIN'S PRAYER previously.The Captain hands Maqroll "a paper in a plastic cover so smeared with the grease, mud, and grime that had accumulated with the passage of time and the touch of countless hands, that it was almost impossible to read the text, written on both sides of the paper in a haughty, angular, and defiantly clear feminine hand. I'll transcribe the captain's prayer as I wait for us the reach the rapids"
THE CAPTAIN’S PRAYER
from The Snow of the Admiral
By Alvaro Mutis
High calling of my protectors, those who have gone
before me, my constant guides and mentors,
come now in this moment of danger, extend your sword,
with firmness uphold the law of your purpose,
revoke the disorder of birds and creatures of evil omen,
wash clean the hall of innocents
where the vomit of the rejected congeals like a sign of
misfortune, where the garments of the supplicant
are a blemish that deflects our compass, makes our cal-
culations uncertain, our forecasts mistaken.
I invoke your presence at this hour and deplore with all
my heart the manacles of my equivocations:
my pact with man-eating leopards in the mangers,
my weakness and tolerance for serpents that shed their
skin at the mere shout of lost hunters,
my communion with bodies that have passed from hand
to hand like a staff to ford a stream, and on whose skin the
saliva of the humble is crystallized,
my ability to contrive the lie of power and cleverness
that moves my brothers away from upright steadiness in
my carelessness in proclaiming your power in customs
offices and guardrooms, in pavilions of sorrow and on pleas-
ure boats, in guard towers along the border and in the corri-
dors of the powerful.
Wipe away in a single stroke all this misfortune and in-
famy, save me,
certain of my obedience to your bitter laws, your abu-
sive haughtiness, your distant occupations, your desolate
I give myself completely to the domination of your unob-
jectionable mercy, and with all humility I prostrate myself
at your feet
to remind you that I am a traveler in mortal danger, that
my ghost is worth nothing, that those who perish far from
home are like trash swept into a corner of the market,
that I am your servant and am helpless, and that these
words contain the unalloyed metal of one who has paid the
owed to you now and forever throughout pale eternity