Walter Ralegh Remix (a day spent with a $2 remainder-shop copy of his Selected Poems)
Bring America home and smoke it.
History's prizes flatout boggle—all this wampum in the loading bay:
ceilings of diamonds,
high walls of coral,
pearl bowers spritzed with the kind of quiet a child might scoop up in a scallop shell.
Graceland. Xanadu. SuperBowl.
You can swagger about and fill your barns with grain.
But the price is, pole to pole, scaled to the whole damned planet: blood’s the only balm daubed on a million million bodies; and my own life gets ended—scchhhwumpphhh—leaving wife plus progeny and nothing else besides. My dust is what she catches—only that—scrunched upon her body's bearing. Gunk.
You who will come along surviving afterward, chew on these four facts:
- Time makes Hope a Fool.
- The grave obscures invigorating sun.
- The Earth will blush before it suffers quake.
- The last heat in cinders spends itself on an exhausted fire.
So. Down comes a stroke where the veins all start and spread. My battered body, violently slain—no longer me—is just steaming like a pot.
It's come to this. The hardest steel gets eaten soft with rust. And moss mucks all unburied bones like ivy clogging walls.
Before events went bug-arsed and fugazi, out front of looming night, the gaudy things I've done were legion, full, and seen.
I won a thousand times. I left the losers all alone, forsaken, friendless, flayed with wounds, succumbed to my affection's bait. I made broken monuments of great desires. Despair deadbolted ten thousand unhinged doors. Windows nightly mistook the omen moon. Mishapped and misshaped. Against me, conspirators were slavered and sabotaged with self-thought. Others’ prospects sloshed in stintless woes.
I had a Queen. (Please describe her now as she appears to you.) And lush Virginia, too, was mine to stoop. I could snatch bright flowers from a grimy rock, pluck a dainty quill straight off a raptors’ wing.
Back then I was all, exactly, SWORD.
Sometimes I seemed to die. Sometimes I was distract. Some things drowned in Stygian mind.
Blood and shit flowed through my better years. (I mean other creatures’ blood and shit. I mean chunky ziplocked bodybags.)
The strangest minds would dodge the meanest parts. And gushy hearts apalled. Joy and Hope and Lust fell bleeding on the ground.
All kill, no cure—me—with force enough in mire to haul green from the ground. Limbs divided—them—sundered and incarnadine.
The whole scene was just cold offal all asplatter where I reigned and doffed at Her.
So, here’s the rub. If truth contained real power, the guiltless would not fall. But malice does win glory, and there's triumph in revenge.
The lesson? Die cool, extinguished well.
Thus are my joys expired.
Oblivion sprawls now on a modern hearse.
Wrap up private wounds in public weal. As if to salve fierce injury.
But know the scrum of headlines chasing me. I am these things:
a bastard born;
a beast with rage possessed;
a low-road scraped in error;
a temple flush with treason;
fevers flare forever in my mind.
Envisage weeping clouds that swell then run before the wind.
Can skillful medicine mend each kind of grief when fey yen ill-requited unsheaths a bloody knife?
(NOTE: a substance like cold pus is smearing now across the sun's grim face.)
Here comes misadventure. Unrest. Death. Winter. Hell. Dark shite.
Before the sixth day of the next new year, befuddlement in this kingdom will appear. Cracked bones will tumble down and up. Day and night: the tumult will not cease.
Diseases, famine, infamy.
Hordes of youtube madigralists donning gowns of grief.
All my poems—shit-canned in remainders shops
I am Ozymandias, King of Kings.
(ANACHRONISM: one more poncey thing they’ll seek to fuck me with.)
The Look of Revelations
Strive for an asymmetry that diddles with simplicity but doesn't screw it absolutely up.
There should be an austerity in everything. Naturalness too, so people perceive a gleam of the full gist and then skulk away a tad spooked by some subtle, cool profundity, a deep reserve or mystery founded on a shadowy darkness.
It’s best when doubt threats to do your head in.
For instance, look at that foliage over there: bright peppers jostling in the windblown leaves are really the quick beaks of two dozen mean little birds.
If once in a while you produce something like chaos—stopless, cool— which Emily Dickinson apprehended, then the zen guys might make those muttering sounds:
"Hmmmnn … 'Datsuzoku' " (freedom from worldly attachment),
"Hmmmmnnn … 'Seijaku' " (silence with inwardly oriented calm).
For instance, go back to 1975: haiku-master Seishi is slam-dunking kung fu utterance in a suburban Tokyo sports complex as he reports how pistol blasts bounce off hard surfaces at the high-school swimming carnival.
He doles out 17 sliced-up syllables. Then all you get is shuddup!
Recount ‘em on your hands and feet. And smell the manky water. Then flop the lid closed on the laptop.
After which, you can just kick back, all enlightened for a heartbeat,
& do nothing but