Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rimbaud's Mirror

"He is love, the perfect measure reinvented, logic marvelous and unthinkable, an eternity: an instrument loved for its deadly qualities . . . . His body! The redemption dreamed of, the shattering of grace joined with new violence . . . . His day! The abolition of all noisy and restless suffering in music that is more intense."
                         -- Rimbaud,  Illuminations

Some men use their whole life searching
Others spend their days throwing it all away
What is a man on the road but time?
In the glass I see someone not there
As wood might a guitar, or ashes the fire
Does a sound feel for that which made it, and what?
Do I not love my god, and you yours?
Should we, each of us?
I look for another, the other
Whose face is the same as mine
Had it experience beyond the separation, both of them
If love is a joining, and death is (a)part
What then is birth?
A guess, approximation, a song
The best we can do, like god
Do roses miss the earth?
No, because they are still bound
Greater consciousness means lesser beauty
A cheetah slowed is still as swift
Because his speed is grace
A panther is the kill
So the household cats practice
And contemplate alternative notions of progress
In their dreams there are no lions
My litheness is half, my burden double
First the wasting, then the gain
I sold you contradiction, a two-faced god
What I most feared, the coin of the realm
What goes between: To know that you cannot find it
This side of the grave, and that from the other
You cannot speak it
If I should find him what then would you think of me?
When never have I seen the like rings from all your mouths
Yet I know I am two
I took the clocks off the walls and covered the sun
With tinfoil and every kind of glitter
Brought redemption in inarticulate moans of the heart
        and hosannas of the flesh
Though still we wait for miracles
A dead man owes no debts
A living one no favors
And is entitled to your consideration
How should I be lonely among so many ghosts?
What harvest laments its field?
In the western lands the sun never sets
There they never rest, and long for Africa
Where night is more inhabited
I'm afraid I'll go out like a light, just like I came on
Know what I mean, honey?
Each light comes only for extinction
Never bright enough, it gives others that for which it shines in vain
And is first to the darkness which it knows best
Poets end badly because that is how they begin
As do all who go in search of themselves
Or else why go

"He was like a mirror.  Whatever you were
looking for, you were going to find in him.
It was not in him to lie or say anything
malicious. He had all of the intricacy
of the very simple."
     --Marion Keisker (Sam Phillips'
                secretary at Sun Records)


What I Want to Sound Like

And what I want to sound like now is an old house, abandoned but not forgotten,  completely, haunted, of course, but glad for the company not just of bats, an owl,  raccoons,  and smaller furry animals, and spiders, some ants  and other insignificant things of which I am no more aware than a body its cells until the rot and multiplication takes control, an instrument for the wind and the sun and the night and the air to play on, with decrepit porch and worn staircase, a conduit for memories, some of things that may never have happened, a refuge for vagrant thoughts, things, and people, a little off-kilter, maybe somewhat out of tune, a guitar with broken strings, depending on how you hear or what you listen to,  a place so old it’s forgotten  more of the country than most will ever know, wishing for coyotes, like a prophet concerned less  with the future than with what has been lost on the way to where we are, and which makes what is to come inevitable, as the judgment,  playing an old song constructed of wood  and the damp, susceptible to trains and never drums, cries in the night, tales of hardhearted fathers, unnatural mothers, falsehearted judges, perfidious captains, meretricious ladies, avaricious lords of industry, lonesome Indians, sweet suicides, the gentle mad, spirits on the ward,  grieving citizens, the sorrowful and all the mad, poor wayfaring strangers on the American land seduced by beautiful words and their own faith and hope, bigger than  ours, rummies and dreamers in a bar, ruined nobles forever without character, in their ancestry and their progeny,  those who lived by their own code and confronted so many things bigger than themselves, the darkness on the land, the sea and the times, grand armies and petty schemes, ruling delusions, the urge to belonging, the sorrow that surpasseth understanding, horses in the snow, the poverty of sorrow, the sorrow of poverty, children hungry and mothers powerless, love betrayed and abandoned but never forgotten, rue and thyme,  poor William and Barbara Allen, death bell’s knelling, the red rose and the briar,  a blowing gate, gentle, accidental killers, the king’s soldiers,  yarrow beneath the gallows, Pierce Arrows out in the clearing where the WalMart used to be, birds in the chimney and shoes on the table, angels in the clearing, vagrant dogs, Leigh Ann’s laughter, her hope and health, and Anne’s eyes, gentle young men coughing in the rain, the rasp of Dad’s face against mine when he had not shaved, Brian’s hand on my shoulder (and he thinks me strong), dogs barking in the night,  the snowfalling all over the living and the dead, Aunt Mary’s unfathomed kindness and simple joy, unrequited love, a world of desire, loneliness in lamplit rooms, how hard we laughed, how hard we cried, every time someone died, hope always when an infant cried, all the gentle acts and love that left us so sad when the house finally emptied, taken and more abandoned by a bank,  every fatal foolish futile gesture with which you said I and I am here but this world as it is is not my home yet where else will we know such joy and beauty, so many days we have been out to roam, sure it must be we can find our way home,  our lies are so much more beautiful than theirs, all the lost homelands and houses, tiny grandmothers with piping laughter and heaving shoulders dispensing ginger ale, living so large, and so long ago, forever, is this not all we will know of eternity and could you not live it, refugee cats, flowers so pretty they don’t need names, girls the same, a child’s cosmology, fluoxetine if that’s what it takes and no shame because, one is always more than many, than  money, contempt for the counters and changers, tramps for whom it prayed, a mandolin, a violin, an upright bass,  an accordion maybe, a harmonica,  two guitars, all these imperfect things, dust and something that flows, Johnny Cash, a river, potter’s field and the wind blowing endlessly,  fear of God,  rain seeping in, falling leaves skittering across the pavement, dust on a hardwood floor, always in the middle of the night waiting for some tomorrow, a ghost singing in a haunted house that’s burning down,  Grandpa’s  pocket watch and Breton dreams, matchbox wishes and freight train rolling, the abandonment of dissolution and generosity, wildflowers, death before insurance, a radio that only plays in the middle of the night songs imagined and imperfectly remembered, the democracy and justice of the beggars’ graveyard because this land, this land, ain’t no one’s land, this land, this land,  is a burying ground, all things named, haunted singing in a ghostly house that’s burning down, without fear or trepidation, songs heroic enough to stop time . . . a cracked Irish American country blues of my own imagining, three chords are enough for the truth but three minutes are not,  for history . . . “all the lost causes of the human soul,” John Fahey, navigating by the stars . . . the real world but not this world, this world but not the real world . . . How can any melody be new, there’s but so many notes, and the world has had so much time to play them,  all real songs are old, born in the same place and time . . ..If it still doesn’t sound right, drink more than a fair amount of Rebel Yell, take a couple of Vicodins, stop working for a living, and read a real newspaper at 3:10 a.m. . . . shut the tv off . . . you’ll be allright