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Whitman bought that we left all that stuff in Europe, called it priestcraft.
The shepherd's leather jacket has a wolf on it. The stylized chalice on the
St. Joseph's missal now pulped in their thousands, once ubiquitous
as Proust. Out from these to ice caves made of feldspar, only seeming to be ice.
Many feet in, the spars and rigging of a ship, dimly perceived. Merlin "at the
helm," the binnacle a crystal ball, The Cave Beautiful. By selective
polarization darken the feldspar. It is night. The Abbot sleeps in his
embroidered chasuble, clawlike fingers clutching dreamed helms. The city
by the sea is a cemetery. Citoyens, citadels, citandum. Abscit. Any language is
the dream of a language. Choosing to speak is choosing to browse is choosing to buy.
(Insert equals signs between the letters making up the word DREAM.)
Ritual crowns the work.
Rutilated quartz can look like masts or moss, or straw in ice.
Close your Montaigne, open your Byron. Apologize to the earth for humanity,
fibers in crystals, asbestos, tourmaline. Plums on trees below the earth are amethyst,
exist only for travelers. Pierced ivory shapes float inside shapes, or float like the kneecap.
The scarab's a beetle even carved in stone, like a South American toadshaped sacrificial altar.
Nouns and verbs are jewels on a lumpy rod bound with thin gold chain, chimpanzee tool.
The regularity of dream, what seems a "plot," is a directed random walk, how one
of our number, apparently talking at random, is offensive every time. Imagine a
flock of poets, a feather falls, "Flake-doves sent floating at a farmyard scare!"
Dreams are out of control, co-opt us, take us over, Mary seeing the mottled face,
dull eyeball under lid. She shivers in her sleep, moans. Turn, embrace her, murmur.
So many headstones worn thin as slates, unreadable, Sabbat fires in pits like wells
or the dugout parts under rockets to direct flame. To Turks English seems to hiss.
And yet this harbinger, habited in blue feathers -- not a jay, plump local variant
with bill to crack and pierce -- has something in its claws on the edge of our gutter,
hammers at it like a woodpecker and nibbles, bouts of fury and connoisseurship, the
dash of it fresh as business. It seems a long spiral shell, pale, hard to crack,
dead needles from our pine thrown up by it when it falls into the gutter.
This bird, far from water, is my swan. It does not cruise, is not aloof, and only in
its patent concern with things not itself symbolizes Christ my dear. The other's
too much a reflection of reflecting-on, Donald Swan in some Dublin canal, quack,
hiss, the neck snakelike by inadmissible extension. My blue bird. Otherwise there are
sparrows across the street, under the wing a flash of the pink to red-pink of a seashell.
Pseudo-viruses, degenerate molds, replicate in our cells, disease
that makes us magicians. This Lime Twig Bower, trap for philosophers.
Super glue for mesenteric tissues. The monosyllable binds by loosening,
inflected language become solute. Ideas don't stick; words do.
Avogadran prose achieves compression; Davy is diffuse.
Words are air, any poem automatically spaced. See
blood cells in a frog's foot, underlit. Bright's Disease,
cancer of the liver, colored by their stains, unlooked for
achievement of aniline dyes, pathology in lilac, fuchsia,
nephritic coils granular, attacked by whatever it is, bad
liver crumbling like a country paté, a woman's shadow
trapped like Peter Pan's under the Baptist's dish, centuries
of walk-ons, Macbeth's head carried by the hair
decline to longhandled velvet bag, a tassel under. The
swan trapped in ice, albatross made fun of by sailors,
are this. The water is poisoned, blood full of urea
like a coelacanth. Baudelaire wears me, thinks he's Poe.


Copyright Gerald Burns 1995-1997

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