“Distrust the maker, oh first direction.
It seeks only to confound flight
Of the sparrow and the thrush—
What use have regal wingtips
For letters of four and five?”
So it was once written
In gold-leafed pages upon the mind:
Some called them memories.
No name, no language they remember,
Letters sealed with tongues of white and grey
Matter, an accumulation across centuries.
Letters left at the doorstep
Of ambition: Did not a single stone
Give birth to the tower at Babel?
Letters cast off upon white-sailed ships,
Servants to the irrationality of the wind—
Have they tried speech?
Letters docked at black harbors,
Endless in ink, waiting to be read.
We called him only ‘Maestro’:
Nothing as common as a name would do!
He would talk and we would listen,
Stars and sea bound willingly
To the thrum of his voice, and the infinite
Gorgons produced by that throated violin.
They say he died, somewhere
In the California desert of 1986;
But man says many things, and so I set
Out to witness his rebirth.
A body they exhibited—what clever replication!
Even the broken capillaries upon his cheeks reforged! And yet
Why did its mouth hold still? Where went
The air besides the nose? Abhorrent thing! You possess
Less than zero of His being. Can you reconjure
A boundless night from nothing
But the force of your belief?
Inspired by Alex Gibney’s excellent documentary on Scientology.
Stay a month longer, Jin-dynastied sun…
Too eager you signed unfounding breath.
Greeting came carcass-gifted,
Calamitous cause leaves unsaid?
Enlighten then your parapeted subjects:
Sixty-thousand they stand, suicide-shawled.
Where erred veneration,
When fell celebration?
The horsed horde at our gates know not love
(Their language lacks the rhyme).
At those hands
Are we to be skull-split,
Rent from family and form,
Rent for silver and sex?
It cannot be!
Your claims I disavow, your shapes I abnegate.
To my disciples I say only
Adopt, in final moment,
The butterfly’s art.
I often (re)write poems. A dramatized re-telling of the original.
The city golden loathes all maps,
Owing existence eternal
To that certain peculiarity of geographical magic:
It cannot be found—
And once found cannot be left. If ever
You find your feet upon its sand,
Stay a lifetime longer; listen evermore
To Celebration’s glass sound, morning lightness;
Marvel until tomorrow’d tomorrow at triplet guardians,
Horizon-chasing waterfalls, of stone and lavender marble.
Only that you forget.
There are no visitors in El-Fasaan:
Its language lacks the word.
He led an accidental life, paramour from first
To fortune’s fortressed crown. He dwelt
Within an indefinite age, its poetry penned not
In battlewon ink but long-rested silence. Nature too
Stood serene, famin’d word forgotten
With the passion of indifference. Thus fled madness,
Soul-shaken—what pauper throne remained
In world so luck-loved? Its faces, in four,
It cast through corners, uncertain curves
Bent straight for the blind.
His shadow stumbled upon one on the day of his death.
At dawn they pierce the walls,
Helmets dipped in dulcet twilight,
Swords masked in murdered song.
At citied center they gather: noiseless heart
Littered yet with too-stubborn cadavers—
Why do they not pass? Does hope
Require only fingers to be clutched?
Voice cries out, lists surrender’s terms:
Present annihilation, promised subjugation.
Older children cry. Babies laugh,
Too perfect to perceive. Vultured generations
Sleep in sky below. They choose
Only the choicest specimens.
Along shores of December’d song he voyaged,
Winterbound to house named Home no longer.
The first of four rooms He discovered
Immemorial passage black-walled, black-doored.
A chest it held with heart within—
But keyless its creator, lockless its liberator.
Into the second of four rooms He toppled
Sylvan circus dappled by dismembered masque.
Enchantressed shadows it held—
Shifting boldly from lines to limb.
They spoke to him, graved in sky his crime.
Upon the third of four rooms He stumbled
(In silence, solemn):
Dome unbound, unchartered, woven in cosmic dissolution.
Great beasts it held: earliest and unborne, caged
By starkissed sorrow. Amongst them he strode,
Unchallenged David, long-live’d David, fourth-forgotten David.
Inspired by Man and his Symbols, pg. 40