UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Thesis : a collection of poetry Cummings, Stephen Foster 1967

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THESIS A Collection of Poetry. by STEPHEN FOSTER CUMMINGS B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f Alabama, 1965 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n t h e Department o f E n g l i s h We a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g t o the r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1967 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I agree t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s , I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Vancouver 8, Canada Department i i ABSTRACT The purpose t o wh i c h I have g i v e n my e n e r g i e s l n t h i s g a t h e r i n g o f poems, and w i t h i n the l i m i t a t i o n o f an i n t e g r a l framework, has been t o pursue t h e p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f the l y r i c f r e e d from the c o n v e n t i o n a l n e c e s s i t i e s o f rhyme and r e a s o n . To t h i s end the poems range from the pure melody o f " N a r c i s s u s t h e D i v i n e a t Bedla m H t o the B l a c k Mountain s t y l e o f " E l e g y f o r A r t h u r Goodman" t o the v i s u a l poem "Morning" t o the s u r r e a l " C i t y o f G l a s s " t o the seven poems i n what I can o n l y c a l l a "prose i d i o m " t o the p e r s o n a l s t atement o f "To T e l l a L i e . " ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS " i n h e r room, moon wax" E l e g y f o r A r t h u r Goodman The M e e t i n g The Hermit Crab I m p r o v i s a t i o n 2 Three Ways o f Knowing a Tree B e r y l Stone F a m i l y P o r t r a i t P o t l a t c h Canadian For tun P r e m i e r e P o t l a t c h Canadian Forum South e r n P o e t r y Review Tampa P o e t r y Review Form i v TABLE OF CONTENTS A b s t r a c t i i A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s H i F l e s h R o c k o f Change 1 "And t h e n t h e r e was" 3 D i s c o v e r y 4 " i n h e r r o o m i moon wax" 5 E l e g y f o r A r t h u r Goodman 6 9:00 p.m.; b e g i n n i n g : t o m i s t 8 V i s i t a t i o n 10 The M e e t i n g s 12 N a r c i s s u s t h e D i v i n e i n B e d l a m 14 T h i s Poem, a Sh a p e o f S i l e n c e 18 Dawn 20 M o r n i n g i 22 C i t y o f G l a s s . 23 The Empty C h a i r 25 What t h e O l d S c h o o l L a c k s 27 On t h e P r e s e n c e o f S a t a n 29 A f t e r b i r t h 30 The H e r m i t C r a b 31 I m p r o v i s a t i o n 2 • • • • 32 T h r e e Ways o f K n o w i n g a Tree.- 3^ W h i t e A s h 35 B e r y l S t o n e 36 The T r a i n . 38 Snow-bound ^0 S p r i n g • ^1 D i s c o n t i n u e d R i t u a l 44 The Gardener 45 F a m i l y P o r t r a i t / ^ 6 P a l l - b e a r e r s , ^7 To T e l l a L i e 1 ^ 9 THE FLESH EOCK OF CHANGE R i v e r s , the b r a i d e d v o i c e o f f o o t l e s s i n the summer g r e e n : i s t h i s a f e a r o f d u s t t h a t g l i s t e r s , o b s i d i a n i n the spawning p o o l ? I n t h e a l l e y he dr a g s h i s b r i t t l e hand a c r o s s the gr e e n and y e l l o w shadows o f h e r b e l l y , and tongues h e r r i g i d eye. O u t s i d e the u t t e r l y department s t o r e he begs, h i s song i s g o l d , s i l v e r , b r o n z e ; an i r o n c u n t , the c r i p p l e d mind exudes the s u b s t a n c e o f t h e r i v e r ' s f r o t h . L e t us b u i l d o r c h a r d s upon r o c k . But t h i s , t h e g a r g o y l e , the a r t i f a c t w i t h a l e e r . . . Of what use t o the s p e e c h l e s s when r i v e r s c r a c k t h e i r s k u l l s 2 w i t h r i m l e s s sand and s l o w l y r e v o l v e s the b l e e d i n g r o c k where a l l men d i s a p p e a r ? And t h e n t h e r e was the a c i d o p h i l i c p o e t - o y s t e r who w i t h a s i n g u l a r s t r e t c h o f the i m a g i n a t i o n opened h i s head one day and d i e d o f f u m b l i n g i n t h e b r a i n . DISCOVERY Mountains a r i s e i n t h e s i l e n c e o f summer, season o f w a i t i n g ; d r y l i g h t e n i n g beyond the h i l l s , a promise o f th u n d e r . Clouds have p a t c h e d the l a n d w i t h shadows. I n the c a v e r n s o f c h i l d h o o d i c y w a t e r s g l i t t e r & a b r u p t l y gush out t o c o o l the summer, season o f w a i t i n g f i n t u n n e l s o f s e c r e t l a u g h t e r two g i r l s t o u c h t o g e t h e r t h e i r b o d i e s . i n h e r room, moon wax down beyond the l a n g u i d flame w h i t e c a n d l e d ; s p r i n g buds & green, f e a r -f u l o f the f r a g i l e d i s t a n c e s she cannot l a y a s i d e i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g : as the r a i n - s p r u n g l e a f cannot y e t f l o a t i n wind b e i n g t i e d . 6 ELEGY FOR ARTHUR GOODMAN/THE SUICIDE ( a f t e r O l s o n the f a c t s n o t e d i n t h e paper, u n r e s o l v e d / i m p e r s o n a l t h e d i s t a n c e s f o c u s s e d i n t he r e p o r t f e b 11 when the phone r a n g & I saw h e r answer i t . He was dead, the boy no one t a l k e d t o , the t o y dopey dwarf o f t h e seven, t ho he was a Jew and u n l u c k y , as so many were t h a t r o t t e d o p e n l y . But t h i s one s e c r e t e d t h e f e a r i n duck t a l e s , s t o r i e s t h a t ornamented the h e a r e r , and c o u l d change i n mid-stream e n t e r t a i n m e n t t o an o b s e s s i o n w i t h the absense o f God. (she had l i s t e n e d o u t o f s t e p 7 how God was dead when the mountains no l o n g e r spoke) and toda y , c o n f i r m e d they a r e naked, t i n g e d w i t h p i n k , c l o u d s the ornament & n o t cover the d e t a i l s a c r o s s the bay th e y e n c i r c l e the peaks as the f o r e s k i n d r i e d on the n a i l t o commemorate an e q u a l l y absent r i t u a l dead the mountains a l l l a i d sideways from where he l i e s t h e g r i e f i n h e r eyes. 8 9 : 0 0 p.m.; b e g i n n i n g t o m i s t d i s t i n c t l y , the n i g h t demands o f t h e c i t y the i n v i s i b l e s t r u c t u r e i n d i v i s i b l e from i t s r e s o n a n c e . . . here on t h i s l ow bank the t i d e u r g e n t on the r o c k s we are the r o a d t h a t l e d b l i n d i n the f o r e s t o f r a i n and mosses p o t h o l e s o r d i t c h e s n ot even l u v - s t a r s Xed anonymous the f e n c e became the door became the glow o f the c i t y : what s t r u c k us was the s i l h o u e t t e , d i s t i n c t , i t zoned the s k y , 9 b e l o n g e d t o the s k y : the e a r t h d i s a p p e a r e d i n the mudpuddles the glow o f the c i t y r e f e r r e d t o the s e a : we a r e what beach was; the t i d e u r g e n t on t h e r o c k s . VISITATION o f t h e t h r e e something you c o u l d see was p a r t o f t h e s e c r e t as t o u c h t h e v o i c i n g h e a r t nudges i t p a r t way i n t o t h e v a s t n e s s between them s l o w l y t a k i n g c l a y I t formed t o mind the b ubble o f b l o o d y c l a y t h a t was a god t h a t was a god o f bloody:, c l a y ; t h e bubble I t formed t o mind t a k i n g c l a y s l o w l y between them i n t o the v a s t n e s s nudges i t p a r t way t h e v o i c i n g h e a r t as t o u c h was p a r t o f t h e s e c r e t something you c o u l d see o f t h e t h r e e THE MEETING She l a y q u i e t l y j u s t beneath the s u r f a c e i n t h e s h a l l o w s , i n weeds. P a l e c r a b s s c u r r y o v e r the c r u s t o f b a r n a c l e s . Her h a i r , l o n g and b l a c k , s i r l e d w i t h weeds t o the l e e i n the wash o f the s e a . At m i d n i g h t she a r o s e and w a l k e d : a mantled f i g u r e t h r o u g h m e r c u r i a l f o g . Under the naked t r e e she met him: t h e c o l d f i r e , t h e w h i t e f l a m e s . There the s o f t b l u r o f the moon-eye was p i e r c e d . Her eyes b l a c k e n e d w i t h l o v e ; h e r body tuned t o a w i r e , d a n c i n g the w h i t e dance i n f i r e . 13 A t dawn she s t i f f e n e d and f e l l , and was c a r r i e d a g a i n t o the s h a l l o w s . The c o l d f i r e f l a r e d out i n t o morning o v e r the marsh, s e a r i n g the v a c a n t f o g . White c r a b s t e a r w h i t e f l e s h o f f i s h . NARCISSUS THE DIVINE IN BEDLAM You, Love, have i c e d as w i n t e r your w i l d w i l l o w i n g w a t e r s , t h e deep f l o w e r i n g w e l l - s p r i n g w h i c h i s your d a r k e r h e a r t ( I have seen the blossom o f y o ur power o v e r submerged r o c k a t h i g h t i d e ) . You have s e a l e d y o u r s e l f w i t h s p l i n t e r s g a t h e r e d from t h o s e memories b e a r i n g the s h a t t e r e d g o b l e t where you were the n u b i l e v o r t e x s t r a y e d onto a s t r a n g e r s e a . I And a l l t h e s e t h i n g s were w o n d e r f u l and g r e a t ; But now I have grown n o t h i n g , knowing a l l . On t h e sh o r e s a r e sandy b o d i e s , r o t t i n g where t h e r e i s no t i d e : t a l e s o f s h i p s h e l d t o d r y r o t by t h e S a r g a s s o , on t h e unopenable v u l v a , i n the calm the s u n - b l o o d f l o w e d on. S i l e n c e o f noon i n the mind o f t h e mannequin M a r i n e r ( h i s manhood l i k e bunched g r a s s i n h i s e a r s ) engenders t h e t a l e he n e v e r h e a r d : "A dream p u b l i c , dream o r g i e s , dream speeches. But when th e dream word i s w r i t t e n down, i t becomes the t r u e word." I saw him w h i s t l e d down a l l e y s , a t h i s t l e i n a s t r o n g b r e a t h o f wind, a ghost o f e x i t s . I h eard h i s g i g g l e i n the P a l a c e as we g a t h e r e d c r a v i n g about a st o n e s i m i l e o f S o p h i a , w h i c h b r i l l i a n c e c a s t us as shadows we were onto the v e i l o f our d e s i r e : and we saw the s l a v e r i n g g r i n beyond t h a t was P r o s p e r o who r a v i s h e d h i s i s l a n d and p e o p l e d i t w i t h dreams. I saw h i s f a c e an i n s t a n t i n t h e f l a r e o f a match d i s a p p e a r i n the smoke t h a t c u r l e d i n the room. The c r a b - r a t s , t h e i r eyes a p p e a l i n g from the p i n b a l l machines, emerged from the n a v e l j e w e l o f Queen E x o t i c a and bore h e r beauty i n t o sewers: th e b l o o d gobbet I s p i t and f l u s h e d back t o h e r t h a t morning I f l o a t e d from the H o l y C i t y o f A t l a n t i s . L o s t c i t y o f r e a l i t y : even the newsboys a r e hob b l e d by a T i r e s i a n p o v e r t y . Love, I have s t r o k e d d e s i r e and seen i t s s t u t t e r i n g c o n f u s i o n . Oh Goddess o f N o t h i n g save s e a r c h i n g , know the c o n t a g i o n o f t r e a c h e r o u s dreams; know a l s o the t e r r i b l e f r i e n d s h i p s o f d i v i n a t i o n . 17 I I Here i n the l a n d s c a p e , h a l f memory, a summer-swollen a i r b r e a t h e s t h r o u g h q u i v e r i n g l i p s o f green s t a k e d heads o f t r e e s , as so many s o f t s k u l l s j a w l e s s , s o c k e t - s i l e n t , s t a k e d i n a c i r c l e , g o s s i p p i n g d e a t h . B e s i d e the highway t h a t l e a d s f o r e v e r i n two d i r e c t i o n s , I hear t h e s e f r i e n d s t h r o u g h the d i m i n i s h i n g r o a r o f a b s u r d p i s t o n s . The p a t h homeward b e g i n s i n t h i s l o n e l i n e s s . T h i s i n l a n d house I c a l l my own. P e e l e d as I am, I c l a i m i t s s h a t t e r e d p a t t e r n s and f i n a l melody: Beyond the windows o f t h i s s k u l l 1 a s e a o f g n a r l e d f a m i l i a r f a c e s and m u t t e r i n g s the wind b r i n g s f o r t h . THIS POEM, A SHAPE OF SILENCE I A gaunt g u i t a r i n m o o n l i g h t under the s k e l e t a l n e t t l e s o f p i n e s ; N a r c i s s u s ' s s k u l l s t a r e s up t h r o u g h b l a c k w a t e r s . An owl f l i e s up t o i t s s i l h o u e t t e . Pyramids o f p i n e u n f o l d t h e i r s e c r e t s t o t h e presence o f S a t a n . The n i g h t i s no l e s s a shadow, a f r i g h t e n e d t h i n g b e f o r e the m i l l i o n s t r i n g s H i s r i g h t hand b r u s h e s . He l o o k s t o the o w l , i t s p r e y becomes b l u e s a t i n flame and green; the owl i s l i k e the whitened r o o t s o f d r i f t w o o d . I I He moves from t h e f o r e s t o f changes i n s o l i t u d e . The a i r i s v i b r a n t under H i s f e e t ; the t i n y b i r d s a r e madness. I n H i s cupped hands the door o f the c a t h e d r a l opens, and from H i s f i n g e r t i p s spume c r i m s o n flames t h a t h e a l t h e f a c e l e s s b o d i e s b e t r a y e d by f l e s h : g u t t e r s c h u r n w i t h the sacrament. A p r i e s t I s shredded, becomes b l u e s a t i n f lame and green i n t h e whitened r o o t s o f t h e dead E a r t h . I l l Prom H i s hands f a l l s s t i l l n e s s ; i n t h e s t r e e t s s o l i t u d e becomes H i s p r e s ence r i s i n g from many l o n e l y f a c e s . No one i s a b s e n t . M i r r o r s cease t o c o n v e r s e . The f l e s h i s n o t h i n g a t t u n e d , husband and w i f e do not r e t u r n from the s i l e n t bed; a l l t h i n g s emerge i n t h e t e r r o r o f changes. DAWN t h e e a r l y morning f o g t w i r l s on the l a k e , the l a k e a m a d r i g a l symmetry o f b l u e p i n e & b l a c k wind the c a r r i o n s c e n t o f a b r e a t h o u t o f d r y l i p s t h e t a u t eye o f the n i g h t -t r e e s t a k e d l i k e a t r o p h y o f a b a t t l e f o u g h t w i t h g r a v e l a g a i n s t d a r k n e s s and l e a v e s . but the wind t u r n e d , d i v e d as t a l o n s might i n t o the b l a c k l a k e where no f i s h were; s e a r i n g the m i s t t h e sun \ 21 burned m i s t & myth, d e l i v e r i n g shadows from foam o f the t h r a s h i n g day. 22 MORNING nonsense, says napalm and j e l l y - g a s o l i n e t h a t b u r n  u n t i l t he body i s a b u b b l i n g "mother  s u b s t i t u t e s " f o r the homes w i t h f a m i l y boy r u n - c r i s e s U Thant i n g , h i s p o l e thought "no m i l i t a r y w h i s t l i n g as s o l u t i o n " f o r c e n t r a l he's s i n g i n g , the c o n t r o l c o n s o l e . . . u n d e r b r u s h a. mere m o n i t o r i n g c a r d i a c l a u g h t e r , h i g h & p a t i e n t n o t f o r c l e a r i n the o v e r e a t i n g , but a i r w h i r l i n g f o r a g l a n d u l a r f r o s t f l o w e r s d e f e c t making o v e r I n d e c e n t t e l e p h o n e messages c a l l s t o 6 0 0 l e g a l and l y i n g men who walked b e s i d e the d u s t y o f f t h e i r j o b s r o a d the r e a l s a i d t o cause f o r e s t l e a d s c a n n i b a l i s m among from some I n d i a n s . C I T I OF GLASS The day i s a f o r e s t o f g l a s s y t e n d r i l s , sawtoothed and c o i l e d as u n t o u c h a b l e buds. I n the c i t y , one blooms i n the mouth o f a dead drunk, g u t t e r - d a n k and w r e t c h e d l y r e l e a s i n g the g i g a n t i c s l i c k b e e t l e t h a t r a vaged h i s a n i m a l p a r t s . I t m e r e l y moves I n t o a l i n e o f t r a f f i c t h a t s t o p s h e r e , t h e r e , u n t i l i t f i n a l l y t r i c k l e s i n t o the busy p a r k i n g cave, w e a r i l y f a l l i n g i n t o t h e b u s i n e s s o f s l e e p . What s h r i e k s i n the s t r e e t s i s a god devoured by h i s garden. The f l o w e r s u n f o l d , one by one. The man w i t h no l e g s , h u r t l i n g down the ramp on h i s d o l l y , b a n g i n g h i s t i n cup and s i n g i n g t o the c l o s e d windows, s c u t t l e s a c r o s s the a s p h a l t t o h i s s t a t i o n . The c i t y awake i s a b e e t l e dreaming o f d e a t h , h i s p i n c h e r s an ozone a r c e n c i r c l i n g t h e g l a s s y f l o w e r s o f mid-day. Each i n t h e s t r e e t a busy c r i p p l e , t o u c h i n g and musing l n e p e l e p t i c sanctum, the f a c e s f l o w b l o o d - g o l d : the c o l o r s o f p l e a s u r e and wisdom as i n the p a r k young l o v e r s t a l k and,-.hunch i n worn bushes t e a s a r e i n v i t e d and a t t e n d e d the whole tawdry s p e c t a c l e expands i n the l o n g - t o n g u e d a f t e r n o o n , as each f i n d s h a p p i n e s s , environments t o h i s l i k i n g , u n d e r s t a n d i n g s , as•one by one the f l o w e r s l e n g t h e n i n the s e n s e s . U n t i l i n a c i r c l e t h ey hang as wind chimes b e h i n d the c l o s i n g d oors o f n i g h t , and i n each memory sways the shrunken day's head c l a n g e r g o g g l i n g out a peephole a t the busy i n s e c t l i g h t s . 2 5 THE EMPTY CHAIR What o f speech remains i n s i l e n c e b u t t h e spoken? I n my f a t h e r ' s c l o s e t a hundred nameless i n a s t a c k o f photographs; I've h e a r d him rage a l o n e when n i g h t i s unbending s i l e n c e beyond the b a d l y p a i n t e d w a l l s . Over the s e v e r a l v o i c e s and d i s t a n c e o f m i d n i g h t , h i s own; what o f sound remained was not h i s own as the room d i s a p p e a r e d , the w a l l s f e l l a p a r t from the scene, d a r k f o r e s t s s p l i t ; he f l o a t e d t o the edge o f mind incumbent, o f a v o i c e r i s i n g from the f o r g o t t e n t h i c k l y swarming on a summer n i g h t r i s i n g i n s e a - s t e n c h t o t h e bone-smashed s e a where the s p e a k i n g p a r t s o f wind s t i r the depths a n d : b r i n g r i d e r s to r e s t among h o t r e e d s . Was i t n o t you, my f a t h e r , and m y s e l f t h a t I saw? The f r a i l s k e l e t o n and t e x t u r e u n s h a r e d , u n g i v e n ; s e a t e d i n the t i l t e d c h a i r , w a t c h f u l from the w i t h e r e d g r a s s e s . Perhaps i t was m y s e l f a l o n e 2 6 I saw t h e r e , the b l o o d - f r e e d h i s t o r y o f a man come t o r e s t upon h i s t h r o n e and s p e e c h l e s s s p e a k i n g t o the swans I f e d t h e r e , o r t h e l i l y ' s g r a c e and symmetry. I t was n o t r e v e r i e t h a t e n t e r e d , s h e a t h i n g speech and naming, o r the h o w l i n g o f a sorrow o r dismembered memory, t h e agony machine, but l o v e t h a t l i f t e d and r a g e d w i t h unseen e l e m e n t s : i t was m y s e l f seen r i d i n g the b r i e f wave seaward i n a c h a i r . What t h e O l d S c h o o l L a c k s , o r The D e s e r t e d Bus S t a t i o n . We were l i k e b r o t h e r s , you and I : among the r i c h e s o f your tongue we found anemone & c r y s t a l & the blood-and-ruby cr e s c e n t h o r n o f n e t h e r gods. But I am grown o l d : see how t h i s hands shakes about the house & f o n d l e s b r o k e n t h i n g s . See h e r e ! I s i t my m i r r o r b l o t c h e d o r m y s e l f . . . o r j u s t my eyes? What t e r r o r l i v e s i n s t y l e , o r w a i t s t h e r e ! Or i s i t you t h a t r e a d s me t h a t i s t h e something dead? no m a t t e r I was d e s i r o u s o f young b l o o d , queer young f l e s h & s t u r d y bone, a s u p p l e symmetry & f l a g r a n t eyes t h a t c o u l d bear t h i s a n c i e n t r h e t o r i c o f moon and s t a r s and wonderous t h i n g s : I am I , and wear a n o b l e r i n g . what t i m b r e s p l i t my l u n g s and f a t h e r e d n o t h i n g b u t i n your h e a r t a s i g h . . . t h u s have I l a b o r e d & found you n o t h i n g l a c k e d b u t t e d i o u s argument and d i s s e n t . I am grown o l d and s i t w i t h l o w e r e d pants & f e v e r e d hand i n s t a l l I have come back t o o u t - w a i t you a l l ! I s h a l l o u t - w a i t you a l l ! And then what? On e i t h e r s i d e t h e s l i g h t l y b a l d s t i l l p a t t e r about t h e days when everybody p i s s e d - u p r i g h t . There's no one buses anymore, but f l i e s o r t r i p s o r l i e s down g e n t l e i n t h a t good n i g h t . ON THE PRESENCE OF SATAN what f a l l s t o the beaks i n t he n e s t a r e the dead p a r t s , where a l l t h i n g s f a l l t o g e t h e r g u t t e d , b l o o d y and swallowed whole. S a t a n has f l o w n w i t h t h e e a g l e c a r r y i n g i n t o n i g h t t h e c o n g e s t i o n s o f day. As the brood n e s t l e d i n f i l t h y s t i c k s w i t h f l a s h i n the a r c , f u t u r e s a r e n u r s e d w i t h t h e f e r t i l e pus o f Sa t a n , t h e mind c a r n i v o r o u s , p o w e r f u l i n c l e a r s k i e s . 30 AFTERBIRTH I t i s from the l i v i n g one cannot undo the dead, as t h i s p a l e c h i l d w i t h l i v i n g h a i r and eyes t h a t house a consummate h a l u c i n a t i o n i s s t e a l t h y among the dream-l e s s h i l l s i d e sheep. We have seen him s q u a t t i n g by the r o a d s i d e , gaunt and t e a r i n g meat; we accuse o u r s e l v e s o f t e n d e r n e s s . He e a t s i n t e r r i f i c s i l e n c e , d e v o u r i n g a l l who pass him by. He has been seen wandering i n r i c h p a r e n t a g e , d w a r f i n g a mansion w i t h i n t r i g u e , o r f i l t h y i n a slum s t r e e t w a l k i n g murder by the window. But see t h i s woman s t o p i n m i d - c a r e e r and breed w i t h him i n shadows o f h e r mind, j e r k i n g a l o n e i n a m a n c l u t t e r e d house no man has l i v e d i n . Or the B u d d h i s t - f i r e c i r c l i n g t he h o r i z o n . Or the s c a t t e r e d s m i l e o f t h e s u i c i d e w i t h a shotgun. I t i s who w h i r l i n the s t r e e t , the r e a l i s t c h e c k i n g h h i s h e a r t a g a i n s t the c l o c k , the l y r i c c h o k i n g i n a cheap c a f e , the housewife r e g u l a r l y b l e e d i n g he r e a r r a n g e s . I t i s who chews w i t h him the s t a g g e r e d r a t t h a t d r o o l e d and s n u f f l e d on the f l o o r , can c a l l him c h i l d and c a t c h him h e e d l e s s on the h i l l t o dance the b l e a t i n g b a c c a n a l ; i t i s who dances f u r t h e r , f a s t e r , f a n t a s t i c a l l y t h a t escape h i s crowded eyes. 3 1 THE HERMIT CRAB " h a v i n g s o f t a s y m m e c t r i c a l abdomens and o c c u p y i n g the empty s h e l l s o f g a s t r o p o d s ; " t o o , the c l e a v e d b e a s t t h a t c r a w l e d i n t o & a g a i n out o f a p e r f e c t memory. I t s comb-i n g s o f coming & g o i n g s c o u r e d o f f t h e s e a edge, foam f i n g e r s as s o f t & r e g u l a r as a c o s m e t i c b r u s h : beach r u b b l e , the chaos i m p l i c i t i n o r d e r . I have d e l i g h t e d i n h o l d i n g t o ear the r i c h s h e l l , i n i m a g i n i n g a walk down the s k i n p i n k s p i r a l toward beyond i t s b e g i n n i n g : an i n -f i n i t l y p e r m i s s i v e p o r t a l onto e c s t a s y , a c o r n u c o p i a o f Source. l i s t e n : t he c u r l e w - c r i e d , b i r d - c r o s s e d s t o r m above beach i s resonance o f c i r c u m s t a n c e , and c i r c u m s t a n c e o n l y : l a b y r i n t h o f f a l s e b e g i n n i n g s , f a l s e e x i t s . P r o p h e t s r e a d o f l i k e wings e n c o u n t e r e d i n dreams, whose c r i e s flame out o f the ap p a r e n t p e r f e c t l y formed e m p t i n e s s e s : l o s t l o v e , l o s t image, u n k i n d r e d Source. seasons g i v e i t magnitude; the s e a , a s h e l l : I am day I hea r d i t s s k i t t e r i n g s deep i n the s h e l l t h a t cups my b r a i n . 32 IMPROVISATION 2 senses s c a t t e r , here on the d i r t f l o o r . I am o b s e s s e d by my f o o t , t h a t , t a k i n g r o o t , b e g i n s t o g e s t u r e ( t h e r e i s no movement o f a i r ) , a deaf-and-dumb f l o w e r , such f a t p e t a l s ! I say to m y s e l f . i t i s autumn; a l l the l e a v e s a r e a g a i n s t my p i n k f o o t , e s p e c i a l l y , i d i s c o v e r i t i n p i l e s o f b u r n i n g l e a v e s , t e s t i n g w i t h the b i g toe t h a t t h i n k s i t s e l f a nose, the down-under s m o u l d e r i n g o f the l e a v e s . i f i n d m y s e l f h i d d e n i n a p a r k , c h i l d r e n a r e b u n d l e d homewards; on t h e i r cheeks the f i r s t f o g has s e t t l e d and r i p e n e d : some scream ( d e l i g h t ) out o f an energy t h a t may s p l i t the s k y . i t may snow toda y , i f i n d m y s e l f m i d d l e - a g e d , f o o t - s w o l l e n : the t o e s wave by t h e m s e l v e s , a g e s t u r e o f mute l a u g h t e r , even obscene, to the s t r i p p e d t r e e s . from c o r n e r s o f the f i e l d c r i p p l e s s t r u g g l e toward the game-boards, t h e y d e l a y , t a l k i n g q u i e t l y among t h e m s e l v e s , to g a t h e r around me: b r e t h e r n , i have dangerous t h o u g h t s , today t r e e s r o s e to the sky as t h e i r l e a v e s f e l l , the s m e l l o f t h e i r f l e s h s e t t l e s i n the c i t y , oh my b e l o v e d , l e t me speak o f the l o n g - n a i l e d f r o s t s , we 33 are a l l p o v e r t y - s t r i c k e n : happiness has s t a l k e d me and won. oh l o v e r s , l e p e r s of w i n d , mourn: i b r i n g you whi te thoughts from the g r a v e . the c r i p p l e s remained a t the p l a c e , t a l k i n g q u i e t l y : the murmuring vase from which s w e l l e d w i n t e r , snow began to f a l l , t r e e s f e l l from the s k y . 3^ THREE WAYS OF KNOWING A TREE •Cree the boughs without breeze, gnarled i n night that envelopes i t s e n t r a i l s , a husk; numbs r e s i n to f a l l downward into the earth opening to f i l l i t s roots: the water mouths indwelling, the heart, but i t s branchings sightless i t s patterns as the f l a t fan glngko le a f pressed so dead l n the book I traced two lovers on it...saw i t crumble & flake when I l i f t e d i t , the design become i n a r t i c u l a t e , scattered on the f l o o r . tree r i v e n by the dim-breasted moon: I saw i t f i l l e d with scavenging night fasten i t s twigs to the l i g h t ; i t s limbs hug the softness t i l l time snapped i t free. tree I f e l l your scrape & surge that instant the sun brands your green white-hot i n my eye. 35 WHITE ASH "before the f i r e , h e r f a c e o n l y h a l f v i s i b l e , s e a t e d on the f l o o r and l e a n i n g a g a i n s t h i s t h i g h . . . i n the f l i c k e r , o n l y t h e c a r e s s she s u r r e n d e r s i s i m p o r t a n t ; t h e f i r b r a n c h c r a c k l i n g i n f l a m e . h e r f a c e , r e c o v e r i n g shadows m i l d e r t h a n the b l a c k e n i n g dowels s c o r c h e d o f t a s s l e n e t t l e s , t h a t t w i s t i n the heat waves, and then sunder among the f l a m e s , i s dream-set, knowing he under-s t a n d s the d i s t a n c e she r e q u i r e s . h i s f a c e i n v i s i b l e , d i s c o v e r e d o n l y i n t h e t w i n g l i n t s from h i s g l a s s e s t h a t seem a f l o w o f m o l t e n g o l d o v e r a c o l d e r r e d : i n v i s i -b l e , knowing she u n d e r s t a n d s the d i s t a n c e he d e s i r e s . and i n the s i l e n c e t h e y d i s c o v e r the w h i t e s p i l l e d seed upon the hunger t h i g h , and the f i r ' s w h i t e a s h s c a t t e r i n g i n the musty a i r beneath the t r a p , and the w h i t e s c a r s k e l e -t o n o f the f i r b r a n c h , and the wood s t i l l s t a c k e d b e s i d e the h e a r t h . 36 BERYL STONE "... t h e b e r y l s t o n e was enchanted by o u r f a t h e r s t h a t i t might u n f o l d p i c t u r e s i n i t s h e a r t , and n o t t o m i r r o r o ur own e x c i t e d f a c e s , o r the boughs waving o u t s i d e t h e window." —W.B. Y e a t s i g a t h e r the personage o f the e v e n i n g , i t s wraps me w i t h a t i n y s l i t h e r i n g g r a sp as s t a r v i n g amoebas n e x t t o the s k i n ; c o n s t r u c t e d i n the c o n c r e t e & g l a s s s t r e e t , o f r a i n & neon, the s h a t t e r i n g m i r r o r o f m y s e l f , i n g a i t w i t h the rhythm o f the s t r e e t , on my way t o the p a r t y . the house o f the p a r t y i s r e c e s s e d , s t a n d i n g back, among s t r e e t - l i g h t shadows; i t s f e a t u r e s p e n c i l e d i n t o the d a r k n e s s : a G o t h i c s c o w l , i s t a n d w i t h the e v e n i n g , i n a c i r c l e o f s t r e e t - l i g h t , w a t c h i n g i t s s u l l e n mouth o f a door g a p i n g & c l o s i n g upon the peopl e b e f o r e me. thus 1 f e a r the house & move t o the r i g h t r a t t l i n g i n i t s s o c k e t o f an eye, & i n t o the window, i see me. & see i n t o t h e room & see i n t o the p a r t y beyond: i see upon the w i n -dow, t h a t i n the l e f t eye r a d i a t i n g outward, an anonymous r a k e d f a c e b l e e d i n g , c r y i n g , h e l p l e s s b e f o r e the h u l k whose l a u g h i n g f i n g e r s o f g l a s s b o t t l e a re d r i p p i n g , i n the h o l l o w r i g h t eye, upon the s t r a w p a l l e t a slow motion e t c h i n g h y d r a o f l o i n s . m f e r g e r s o n & the s t e e l h i g h sound, 37 l i k e t h e wind s t a r t l e d g l a s s chimes-of the house a r e o n l y s u b t l e t i e s o f the s t r e e t i t u r n t o r e a s s u r e my-s e l f w i t h . & r e t u r n i n g , upon the window t h a t b l a c k f l o w e r o f mouth r a t t l e d by winds i s u n p e t a l l e d as t h e trumpet s e v e r s them one by one. rhythms o f our f e a r , t h a t the p e o p l e d e f i n e i n t h e i r movements the columns & ca v e s , l a y e r s & c u r v e s o f the smoke: the f a c e i have seen does not f e e l the r a i n t h a t i f e e l and the f a c e beyond, t h e r e b e i n g d e f i n e d i n the room, b e l o n g s , y e s , t o t h e hand o f t h e e v e n i n g . t h e s e a r e the h i s t o r i e s . & l a t e r , the p e o p l e c o n g r a t u l a t e t h e m s e l v e s , p u t t i n g on r a i n c o a t s : b l e a r eyes d r o p p i n g t o membrane upon the f l o o r where p r a i s e w i g g l e s & seeps t o o b l i v i o n . i t o o , w i t h them, s p i t by the house, f e e l a g a i n the wet palm o f wind upon my back, i do not l o o k I n t o the window, i n t o the empty room; i do n o t s m i l e back i n t o the f a c e s m i l i n g a t me from the c o n c r e t e - e d g e d p u d d l e . 38 THE TRAIN an easement, t h i s mumbling to i t s e l f i n a v i o l e n t d i t c h o f w i n t e r mountains : the r a i l s merge e lsewhere ; always the b l a c k column under a f u l l moon, verges a t the v e r t e x of these whi te t h i g h s , undulant beyond heat waves t h a t sheath the t h i n g , but b l a c k t r e e s , sym-m e t r i c a l & d i s t i n c t , w a i t on the s l o p e s ; g e o m e t r i c a l a b s t r a c t s o f t r e e s t h a t on the p l a i n s were, each branch , s u b d i s t i n c t i o n s i n the sunset t h a t was d e f i n i t i o n of h o r i z o n . i n Chicago , t e n d r i l s o f s k e l e t o n s c u r l e d l n the w i n d , a human r i v e r w i t h a hardened f a s h i o n ; faces a g a i n s t the wind as d i s t i n c t as memory r e e l s on com-p u t e r s t h a t are gathered i n the banks: the carpeted computer room i n a bank w i t h s i x e l e v a t o r s , the cop on the corner s t a n d i n g i n a v o r t e x o f t i c k e t s to some-where t h a t t a l l i e d i n a g u t t e r . the b i r d f e l l , f l y i n g s o u t h , crowned w i t h a s u c k i n g t i c k t h a t broke i t s b r a i n , what to make o f t h i s c r y i n g t h i n g i n an autumn swamp, my gun i n hand, but b l a s t i t from the f a l l e n l eaves and mark the s p o t , and hope nobody saw? t h i s t r a i n , g l i d i n g through white mountains , i n t e n t on 39 whiteness, the abyss of white, on time and l o s t l n a distant and pre-wired brain. SNOW-BOUND Wherever snow f a l l s , t h e r e t o o the sun makes o f d e a t h a b r e a s t . The w i n d - h a r r i e d c r o c u s i s t he mind a t c r y s t a l i n e v e r g e immersed by snow i n s u n l i g h t — t h e l a s t i d e n t i t y f i x e d t o the a b y s s , t h e f i n a l j u t o f l a n d s c a p e between s e l f and w h i t e n e s s — Or s l e e p , and t h e g e n t l e downward s e l f i s c u t a - d r i f t where the w h i t e worms s t i r i n s o f t and s e c r e t d e p t h s . SPRING I Gold Snap Under the hack s t a i r s I found i t b r e a t h i n g h e a v i l y : the young S p r i n g , i t s coat m o t t l e d w i t h green . E a s i l y I i d e n t i f i e d i t : f o u r l e g s , g e n i t a l s eyes the c o l o r o f s k i n . (under the b r i d g e f l o a t s the c o r p s e ; a s t a r f i s h c l i n g s to the s h o u l d e r s , eats from where the head was) From the f r i d g e I took a memory and f e d the b e a s t . For days i t l aughed ; i t s s l e e k green mange t o r e the s k i n and a l l the r o o t s f e l l o u t ; I saw cancer I n i t s eyes where i t s tood at the low window l o o k i n g i n . And f i n a l l y , i n a f i t of foam, i t b u r i e d i t s e l f l i k e a bone i n h o t moss, beneath the b i t t e r , s t r a n g l e d f l o w e r s . I I S u s p e n s i o n T h i s morning I am l i k e a thought m i s p l a c e d i n a m i n d l e s s l a n d s c a p e . Snow h a s n ' t begun t o m e l t from t h e h i g h e r s l o p e s ; the s t r e a m i s s i l e n t . My w i n t e r s k i n has gone bad i n s i d e me; the meshing t r e e s a r e d r y under the sun. no r a i n , w i nd. t h i s d r y n e s s i s no t h i r s t . Something the sun has not drawn from beneath the g r e y s c a l e s t h a t l i t t e r my eyes. I l l The Sense o f I t The r a i n f i n a l l y v o m i t s onto the f r o s t , h i s s e s i n the ashes, th e l o n g s l e e k s c a r o f wolves d i s s o l v e s i n the sun where s p i d e r o u s f u n g i d r y s c r e a m i n g . On the lawns, women b e g i n t o speak between t h e i r l e g s ; c r o c u s and d a f f o d i l a re l o v e l y cups o f wind. I r e t u r n from t h e m e l t i n g s l o p e s i n the outward c u r v e toward s p r i n g , t u m b l i n g , s k i n n e d i n a mountain s t r e a m : c r a s h i n g seaward. I had thought t o c a t c h a f l o w e r would save me from t h e summer s a l t . DISCONTINUED RITUAL I t was a dream o f goat and mast e r , the s p r i n g we w i s h t o f o r g e t . The w h i t e bearded goat r e v e r e d because f l o w e r s grew from i t s s i d e s and f l a n k s ; one c r o c u s t o a n o s t r i l . But i t s o t h e r eyes f l a r e d i n t he s a c r e d flame and t a l l o w t h a t d r i p p e d from w h i r l i n g g i r l s . The ceremony was o b v i o u s . A p r i e s t l y eunuch w i t h a k n i f e , a goat made savage w i t h f l o w e r s . And a l l the g i r l s f e l l down fe c u n d under shaggy t h i g h s where the master l a y , h i s brown robe m o t t l e d by t h e b l o o d - t h i n g chewed from h i s t h r o a t . *5 THE GARDENER Commend t h e e , p h i l o s o p h e r ! Those c e n t u r i e s o f p r o d i g i o u s symmetries, the l a c i n g by dewy mandalas... S c i e n t i s t - s p i d e r , speak! F i r s t knowledge by shimmering: I have charmed t h i s w i l d e r n e s s w i t h i s s u i n g from the b e l l y a t n i g h t . W i th m a g i c a l c o r d s from the t w e l v e l e a v e s o f knowledge I have caught t h e sun; p l a c e d m y s e l f i n t h e c e n t e r ; a c h i e v e d i d e n t i t y w i t h S ource. I am i m p e r v i o u s t o the i r r e d u c i b l e metamorphoses o f maggots. s p l a a a t ! S o r r y , o l d f e l l o w . The Lady o f the House wants h er garden r e a r r a n g e d : your bush has t o go. FAMILY PORTRAIT The man d u s t s h i s son i n the d e s e r t . F u r n i t u r e i n a l a n d s c a p e gone s t a l e . The o b v i o u s sun r a k e s i n the sand. Dust the c o r p s e . . . l n a l l t h a t ache o f d r y n e s s o n l y t h e dead f l e s h sweats; s k i t t e r i n g v i o l i n s , c r a b - l i k e , c o v e r t h e r o c k s . Dust... i m p e r c e p t i b l y t h e h o r i z o n o o z e s . PALL-BEARERS Almost swamp, the sun i t s e l f swam i n your l i q u i d e y e s : F r i e n d s ! Why must I d r i v e hundreds o f weed-strewn m i l e s t o v i s i t , h o l d i n g us t o g e t h e r i n t h e s e d i s t a n c e s ? But i n t h i s d e s e r t I once thought i t m i r a g e — some s t r a n g e c a r a v a n beyond the hump o f the f a r t h e s t d u n e — but as the sun approached z e n i t h t h e c i r c l e o f p l o d d e r s became complete: d u s t y men, f i e r y - e y e d , bent under pa c k s ; each s e e i n g l n the back o f the man ahead a s m i l e c o n c e a l e d i n shaggy h a i r . Now, i n m i d - a f t e r n o o n , I can see t h e i r f a c e s — t h e y have a l l t u r n e d t o me and approach w i t h o u t s t r e t c h e d hands o f t h i s t l e d o w n . . . . S h a l l I p r a y ? f o r r a i n ? What r e p o r t s h a l l I l e a v e ? To whom s h a l l I say t h e s e f r i e n d l e s s men have come? How g a t h e r m y s e l f when each has a n o t h e r b i t o f f l e s h t o add t o h i s pack? How speak t r a n s p o r t e d thus t o t h e s y s t o l e , d i a s t o l e c l o c k - w i s e p l o d ? TO TELL A L I E And I f you gaze I n t o an abyss l o n g enough, The abyss w i l l gaze back i n t o you. I have r e a c h e d o ut t o t o u c h you, extended w i t h c u n n i n g my one t h i n f i n g e r o f d e s p a i r . . . and t o u c h i n g found a l i t t l e f r a g r a n c e , a t t r i b u t e s , t h o s e thousand l i e s I know you by: t h e r e i s n o t h i n g ; no t o u c h e r , n o t h i n g t o u c h e d . What o f madman S t e v e n s , h o w l i n g i n the sun, t h a t " y e l l o w grassman" q u i v e r i n g b e h i n d l i f e p e n s i o n p l a n s , v i c e - p r e s i d e n t t o a desk? Do you "accept the s t r u c t u r e Of t h i n g s as the s t r u c t u r e o f i d e a s ? " No t o u c h e r , n o t h i n g touched. I s h o u l d have been a p a i r o f ragged s t o n e s . No m a t t e r . L e t us walk where t h e sun i s most b r i l l i a n t , where t r e e s a r e bent and b r o k e n w i t h t h e n e s t i n g o f the b i r d s ; seduce o u r s e l v e s w i t h c h a r i t y , c o n f u s e o u r s e l v e s a g a i n w i t h tenderne And i n such moments c o n t r i v e the s i l e n c e o f f a n t a s t i c d e a t h . 

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