Dharma Lion, for the civility or the experiment of it
rests on a Sumatran tiger black and orange, its whiskers the
white of table's top. Logos alter, Corpse's death figure
grayed on the masthead, Hells Angels backs merest decor. She
worried about professional for the Gulf war in Nirenberg, that
the term ousts value. Our poets' medical metaphors, Christ the surgeon
were that, middle management terms replacing propaganda, bad
words driving out good, shift in commitment. The language, the language!
was it Williams who said in Paterson, adding nothing, cry complexly literate,
sun so hot we froze to death, Burroughs a mouthful of alum. They seem
children because at play, committed to something unstatable in THE LANGUAGE
as it was, photo with needles and inhalers. The tiger's mouth is open a little,
lower teeth for holding, reverse canines. Ranunculus, rhizome, court
poet of Ruritania. Kerouac saw the Marx Brothers live in Lowell.
In this town I come to know what their prose writings meant, Ann's notes
to On the Road, Scott's son named Cody. "This living hand," scrap of Keats
I always thought was from a play, sentimentalized if taken as his utterance. The
waitress in Lena's cut her hand, a tendon sewn together, feeling coming back
to cut nerve, pain, the elastic bandage, splint for thumb a neat job.
And Jack would light a candle, burn his writing every day. Experience as specified
is not a base for the other, vines over Angkor, our lives as lived already embroidered
like Books of Kells, leaves part of the word, braided animals. The lion in
the glass of water is in language, its roar not a vowel. I stopped them roaring
on the circus floor by waving my hand about an inch and a half
back and forth, fingers together. They'd watch the hand, and stop.
Anteriority crossways, Lucretius explaining mirror-image reversals says,
Imagine a mask in a high wind blown inside-out, flow of air
in two directions his "explanation" along with cicada husks, takes your
breath away with tinted banners, sunlit, dyeing senators. In Pindar a
metaphor dyes the argument. That's gone, there are no metaphors
or images textbooks urge as adjuncts to words, taken as
dyed with them, the flow in two directions. A lake's a mirror,
cow-pasture pond with Lake Poets, in the air a dirigible like
a Chinese lantern pulled cigar-shaped, no comparisons either,
unnoticed like (as is) its reflection in the lake, by the LP's.
Write LAKE upside-down and inscribe above it SWAN. The hexameters
above Bridges' Testament of Beauty are centered, hard to see as lines,
invoke a blessing, swear a dedication. The swan and the lake
particular but not particulate. Seas of thought are stranger than
opaque prisms. I just met the man who made Interferon.
The dog, thirty pounds of animal, clambers into your lap, all limbs,
head like a snake or crocodile from the jaw hinging so far back,
inviolable lizard, sole pup not found in any litter. I found a stone,
cabochon, at first red set in a pierced metal medallion that faded
ice-clear, a few rutilations before invisible, the cord for the neck
too stiff, too thick, black, jewel lumpy as a drying cherry or
substance found on a freshwater lake, semitransparent, almost granular
yet cuttable, shaped as if it had been inside some animal. It lay
on sand, might have been the lake's own exudate, fibroid ambergris,
ambiguous as a skate case or bleached crayfish, the claws shell-pink
to bone (with a touch of pure cerulean), shore-borne debris.
Copyright Gerald Burns 1995-1997