Caveat: Poem #2549 “The limbs of verisimilitude”

A dream

i. A Necessary Thought

I went into a white house, like the Louvre
With the paintings hanging on the outside
French expatriate in shades of tired green.
Semantic darkness, stark, damp depth of soul,
Missing faces with angelic expressions:
The sunset ocean rising, pearling rose.
I saw stairs there; worshiping the dead
And floors and attics, and rooms for dusty
Beasts which lay around like old loves... and older.
And where I wandered to the roof azure
And arrived at a tower, clouds outside
Then stepped into a carpeted cellar
With moist, damp dust of calico gone sour
A cellar filled with love-worn, saddened exhalations,
MacBeth of brandy, apricot, old love!
I emerged in a carport damp with rum,
Poignant with Peugeot, crabgrass and my heart;
I watched the paintings on the outside change.

ii. Cats Will Yeowl

Down with gravel! Worn redwood grey, suffice.
Railings splintered in their christian Deus.
Grip of time relinquished, mist finding blue-
Green a neighborhood of houses--Bishop,
Knight, Queen, King, Rook, Pawn the Diabolic
Laid out for a game of chess, thoughtless now.
The suffering of orchards, I walked on.
I came to a window blocked by a rug!
Toilet seat cover, unnatural vision--
A privacy act, declared, which was red.
Rap, rap: the sounds of a fist grey with gloom.
I crawled silent silence, dreaming within,
To a plastic dinette set, formica.
There my aunt drank her tea: myself and her
Discussing the pit of cats, quietly.
Between us a bowl of fruit, Sumerian,
Climbing through ladder-like time without a name,
On window shelves carpeted with blackish.
Until a red-headed woman into
Jesus showed up: She never had a name.

iii. Dionysus

Observe: Theological discussion,
Debate of the banal formica,
Plastic babble babble, guarded plastic
Apple: I think she got angry, my aunt.
Or sanguine faith emptied into nothing
Of king Sargon stripped of Saskatoon robes.
Gently, so apple did she fall, to hate.
I cried, but my aunt loved me, she was nice.
The argument faded, melancholy,
To an autumn resolution, of truce.
So she got up and whipped out an extra
Special damp walnut glycerine piano:
With which to pierce ignorant angels,
And a Jesus X Super Holy Songbook
With illustrations and anatomy.
We began to sing, as my aunt played songs,
And dwell on the colors of our mythos.
A faded Toyota, or a chaplain,
His lonely generosity for naught.
Love gives too much! So he watches T.V.
And we sing on, truant, aquarian.

iv. Somata

Unfortunate, I didn't know the words
Drifting on saran-wrap wings, mural.
Drifting Doze-ward, frustrated with four-spots,
Dwelling on patterns of soft formica.

A lemon vision dreamworld unfolds:
"There before audience of conference
"Grey mighty to behold, a wonderment,
"A holy Jabberwok Jaruzelski,
"Shaded, thoughtful, totalitarian
"Pursing of lips: The scalpel's prophet.
"A doctor, you know, shorn of tomato
"The white sinister seeds protrude, menace:
"The grand doctor, parabolic master,
"Plays at inseminating carpet scraps,
"In a thrumming laboratory, with strength,
"In a white jacket, yellow beneath lights,
"He is creating food, the corpses, gorilla;
"Green in banana; mushrooms, fungi, moss.
"Life from components, and he eats the fruit
"Naissant from the suffering of orchards
"And the patterns on the rug: myself."

v. Weltanshauung

Withdraw the mighty gyre of your vision!
Back, back! To the extremities of space,
To the limbs of verisimilitude.
Abandon that doctor, the white Satan,
That glycerine aesthetic, to darkness.
To a starship orbiting a comet
Through that black carpet bound for Sirius
Magister Temporis, brightest savior.
Hurtling, containing blue centipedes
Of laser light; uncannily birthed,
Begotten white-coated hatefulness,
Angry at women, terrifying fruit.
In moldy starlight, the ship races on,
One senses the Presence, omnipotent
The ship's computer, named Elohim
This slouching, slumbering beast, tiger-eye,
Frames that doctor in mutiny profound.

vi. Iskandar

So the captain is told that Iskandar
That man who was a paper-boy in green,
The golden king of spacetime, an android,
It is he who has been in charge: "Pirate!"
While I watch stunned, in silkygrey halls,
Those vast neon corridors of science,
Iskandar paces the impatient rug
Of cottony falsewood, the stage is set:
I was on that starship--Sirius bound,
Shaded in those creeping florescent lights,
Which crawled across the polyester breast
Of Iskandar, with argent amulet,
Covenant of empire, the blooming rose
Mastermind in mutiny, the fruition
Of my unclothed soul: a darkling realm.
And Iskandar, a mere lonely robot,
Whose own lord (Allah terrible in might!)
Tripping heavily through the timescaped garden
Yes, Elohim, his master and his rock;
Rational savage, once soft of Eden.

vii. The Measure of all Things

With unfeeling precision I stumbled
Against that cloudy rock, I know not what!
Thick with the corridor, vague shadows danced,
My friend Dan showed up, the traitor, my judge
He sat in that cat-box, little pebbles:
Siddhartha in silence, beneath redness (knife)
An exclamatory advertisement
"Coke adds life." In my soul I feel its truth
So like the thirty shining tokens, yes!
And Dan; he grew an extra pair of legs
Which, I am told, belonged to Iskandar.
"Just remember Judas Iscariot:
"He burns in hell for you: melancholy flame."
(Meus Dominus! The wind! Raping trees,
 Tearing at my very soul! I'm sorry...
 The fire, the terror, the horror, the heart,
 Creeping rainpetals swing 'cross the pavement,
 Leave me shiver, visionary prophet
 Dwelling on the integral of hellfire.)
Dan and I, we're off for school, I'm sorry,
He seemed dull, even with his extra legs.
A teardrop; I'm that Land Surveyor, K?
Forever helpless in the matrix/myth.

– a long, free-form poem from my ancient past. I wrote this poem in Fall or Winter, 1983. I was in my first year of college. The poem is embarrassingly bad, both because of its ambition and despite it. It grew out of a very vivid dream I’d had, but it goes off on unjustifiable philosophical and syntactical tangents. The influences are transparent and poorly distilled: above all, Stevens, but also Burroughs,  Borges, Vonnegut, The Bible. Nevertheless I like the poem, and I’m pleased I (re-)found it among my papers the other day. It conjures fragments of my rich private mythology. I find it more interesting for what it says than for how it says it, although the bold syntactic playfulness (rule-breaking) is something I wish I experimented with more, even today.

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One comment

  1. Bob Gehrenbeck

    Wow–I’m impressed that you found the time and the discipline to write such a long poem during your first year (first semester?) of college. Sure, it’s derivative in some ways, and the whole is perhaps less than the sum of the parts, but there are individual lines that flash with a nascent brilliance of style–certain kinds of juxtapositions of words and ideas that, as you said, have remained central to your writing and thinking.

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