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CLXV

O D E

On The Soul, both Profane & Sacred 66
Bosch's The Seven Deadly Sins
Time turns, but does not fold.

Th'Antique's fine tantrums:
Oceans, fruits, chestnuts &

greens & Gold emblems
& outlandish [pyres

perish (who were the wise
like whispered nowheres in the Doom of Hush

yet creaking, weeping with hard emotions
like pathetic monsters of ice) Ideas

honk their noses up the sing-song
orange, of the ordinary streets

--their hot desperations of Inaction
drained into a darkness of secret deeds

in the mind --the Meaning empty
in its mass, yet moving & moving: Coping
like a creature feeding against its fight;

Sadness the infinite serpent passing out of sight
honeysuckled in the curls of light--

Sense stinking in the nostrils of Mankind ...

Reason like a grave blossoming in its disguise
(too human is the crushing): People refuse to believe
they're being lied to --Even if told straight-out!

A Doom so savage it almost reaches th'porticos
of life everlasting, but passing (the surmise)

like the leaves of sanity, deathless
newspapers from the blood of trees

in their murdered stance dragging themselves
over the breezeless bricks, telling,
across the beautiful] bells of memories,

pleadings like pledgings,
hailing the Suns of lapse

every morning of Patience like a new arrival
the hummed horizon singing each ringing dawn
its Bird there winging eternal over the mortal world

--Love, when you touch my flesh,
you leave such deep-painful impressions

(like trust
that titanic thrust into the neverafter)
for the hands of Love are fashioned out of

fires! glowing opportune & there are damn
few dainties that can withstand their touch!

O love, you soul too plausible,
you earth-bound dove, you sacred

Purpose in its multiforms mortal!
mute truster of the wildest tones

dressed in disasters, your hair
swinging upon th'winds like Glory

the moods of Man
in the glaciers of waiting: untouched

even by the stirring sacred rhythms
of our most hopeless stands

amongst the thunders primeval
unrolling through the Cosmos

the lightning yonders of Life
the immense Sense
that smothers Reality

our faithful wife... of beauty
like a blame embalming us

in the fragrance of Chance ... still,
Death the stink that makes sense
lies heavily over our submerged Mind

& we must eternally look for other things
to take away our too-keen concentration on such
things (as Thing), surrounded

with improbabilities too great & thinking,
always thinking that I think

although it feels as if somebody else is doing
my thoughts for me
(which when it comes time to collect them

they do not want to surrender them without first
getting the correct ticket, or some alternate
bribe)                                   
        ... Dear ice, my one, sole
indisputable remaining purpose
seems to be only: to believe

(the solemn unjustified, Dogma
the irrefutable witness of Man,

that immemorial iceberg
that burns th'World alive

with waiting): my prize... to believe
far enough only to sing & sing until

hum be my horizon... medium of Immortality
& then some!
But I am struck! with an unruffled fondness

for the earth that wears my soul,
refusing to take up Heaven's discoloring cares

or Hell's sweet carnal sacrifices, content to tend
my cage made of the bronze of gladness,

I cannot take the time to count the hours
of the Day, & if I'd try it: he'd mount away!

if only but the second best-known
commode-designer in America today:
I must sit down a while, & talk to him

& offer him a drink ... until
Day dies (too dim for me to think):
Opinion like a scramble all it owns

(that pale mortality which holds me up
like bones & clatters across that silent droll:

Youth)... like a maggot-- "Ah, but
the prince of all!" & yet
distinction is not quite enough distraction:

Dear Prince, I know I am being lied to
by All I Trust (indeed,

who can ever be betrayed by
what he holds always in distrust!),

although it's next to impossible to appreciate the fact
when it's myself doing the lying:
[sic]

Unwinged & waiting like some sacred & profane
wreckage, upon the empty stares

of th'air like the slave (forgotten
down there at the bottom)

who has nothing better to do than look
unquestioning upon the world his master,

soul like some lofty satire
above his head: dizzy in the loftiest
and [dumb in the heritage of the casual,
suspense in my flesh,
yet resignation in my limbs & bones,

preaching Th'Unknowns in arguments of Magic,
the abiding liturgies] of The manifest,
The obvious, The hilarious

& deeds of The tragic
where all is littling, ever-littling, et al
Littling & all the time littling

(to look upon really): even from up there
on my Question like a height:
down upon some sad elephant in a circus of Hell

perhaps sad because its Master has not seen fit
to ride it all the time; bottled silently

in its cellar like a trance, imperceptible
& impalpable... some apprehensive old slave

& perhaps apprehensive because its Master is
as much too much master as he's a slave no less

and the Master himself master maybe
only because he is a cat whose hungry look
embarrasses the mouse

& who has nothing better to do
all the day, than asking the scattered & mingled arguments
of dawn like some democracy, "What is this

singular, bright Soul?..." this beauty
like a bastion, miner of sunshines,
the hugging gold of the poor world,
singing like one resigned: "What is

the Soul?" (and all those other unfathomable
questions, like "Why is there soup?")
"What is the Mind?" but witless fallacies

of his loves & wars
spread out against the blackness
like fragments of fallen stars

made a flaking-off (plaster the hot dust
like a desperation), the bird-brained

who has nothing better to do than try to Think
with his golden wings folded about him
sitting dead, waiting for his turn
on the ground like a grave: "What is

Soul?" ... One writes it
on the clean piece of paper

& the word takes on the value of
only the cheap paper it is written on.
And then, what is the use of Soul
if the paper is burnt & gone?
mating the marvelous with its martyrdom,
a sign of pure paper (the metaphor so far)

God like an ever-turning gallows
& the Devil like The folding Light!
... Soul's but the all-empty mirror

into which Self looks
to shave clean the nightmares
of its waking into

so well-feathered a lunacy of plush
or Destiny the stark, monstrous Ditch:
"All of that empty paper, without soul,

is never quite clean"
(movements like murmurs silently through

th'spangled green) the tin-plated soul
rattling & rattling through the beams

of th'morning like brutes disarmed
of their rages, standing about (like sages)

dumb under the torrents of the dead
dropping upon that open grave

screaming at me: "Think!... Something is
always made-up (of two or more
more-than-nothings) which

have been made into A Singularity! ...
(Message unaware of its poisons,

so blameless, like some Promethean
murder... "And O, if) Something falls apart:

Why, then it's almost nothing
if anything at all..."
though Something always: no matter how small,

just because Human Justice applies
only in the slightest, in the least

of our contentions, after all, singular, unique,
whole... Soul remains something
drying on the wall ( Reality?

like some painting)
boiled down, bleak like the glance of destiny

upon the eternal eyes (the condemned
continual watch over the wasting

prize) of a bird come down to rest
his unending longings

upon the test of waiting out
his own unfolding demise
& withholding the terrible impulse to become
(even an empty motion) to take a turn

against Time's tempting metronome:
going & going, always... going &
going only back & forth is all of human action

sitting out eternity
upon a lonely rock: the grand drama

of humdrum ... while th'breezes
burn their hottest dishevelling

over his exhausted forward-bent back
as He spreads pinions open over the undelivered
desert dominions: like some doomed denouement

gathering allegorical lightnings
in its claws--waiting below the unmoved beginnings
for a hint of laws to cool himself under,

but The Children (who had been playing
in the oasis of gorged surmises
nearby) having spotted him: laugh & laugh

Time, the terrible trembling,
chirping & chirping
as they pluck Paradise's sweet melodious plums

--those untested children
start throwing rocks at him & chase him away

even as He had started to say, "The blood
of Paradise is your comfort ..."

although the Children never asked him
(savage in their afterwards)
what was it He was doing there
in the unsponsored Past and under their patron Sun

--Why?! Why did they try to murder Him?
What had He done!? For the sake only of their laughter?

Renoir's Madame Charpentier & Her Children
Or, perhaps thinking He was after their carcasses
scattered like the much wasted quick (only faster)

turnover throughout the impotence of their desert
like their loquacious rhetoric:

the inevitable Spontaneous [no-better-than
plaster fallen off the very ends of the universe

and kicked up thickly into a dust ]
biting in the flicks & licks of the breezes...

too morbid in his bloom, like an obliteration,
unlike Adam & Eve, nude in their contemplation

that Bird never could laugh
(indifferent in His black self-burning,
always threatening to fold
cloaks of the Infinite) keeping the faith
like an epitaph

--only The Children can do that for Him
at every turn ... & laugh & laugh ...
the clattering Soul

inviting madness for a quick dance across
The Primordial Sigh
& th'disavowing magics of the by & by

--Tomorrow triumphant in its impossible sands
over which slipping, into which sinking

(those children may yet still understand
what that Bird now understands, of Time

(ever so steady) in his watch:
that, in the end, they are only)
laughing at what they cannot catch...

Arms lift The Period from The World!
gone astray with Doneness ...
And love is well-pleased to find

April like a likeness, the Spring
upon the very brink of being
--Happy? Well, almost/perhaps

Reason (naked in its criterion
or not quite yet able to appreciate
that beings which walk
tightly The Edge of a World

bottomless... fall OUT as soon as IN
prologues despite their passing!
is The Miracle

Mankind! that imperceptible bud of the Moment,

those swans of the sunburst embracing
the brimming heart, too moth-mouthed

in midsts of the unsteady Day:
Unsuspected, Time turns, but does not fold
are the Lyrics to the melody

that steps like skeleton into his Sanity
dripping blood
,
and tries, desperately
to hold Him: upon The Wall

two doors down from The Museum of
Swoll'n Corpses: a creature's hung:
strange, quiet, opened-winged,

as if trying to embrace Reality
or always about to (or claim it
its offspring) ... or to shed
the somberness with which Eternity clothed it:
a weary creature, ancient as the human soul

& as unrecalled withal (almost at the bloodied
edge of Mankind's fingertips),

unmoving, brooding in the somberest pitch:
Thus exhibited that Th'Minds!...
[ passing & passing, source without end,

starkly prancing tiptoe upon the very verge
of Flight, but really not much more than

perching mindlessly, careless of where they stand
staring & wondering ... filling The Cosmos with

chitchat] can more readily
admire it, measure it, and

take its weight, & chop its head off if it wakes
perhaps (even into their understanding)
laughing & laughing (that it might thusly

better) fit upon THE WALL
pressed back against its peeling panic
like a shower of stars (is eternity)

... the undying desert ... the panic
of an ultimate wall beyond which

children cannot trespass) framing
framed a nicer--"Nicer!?"

And quite! "God,
what a sight!"

"--What a great span of wings!"

"--What teeth!" / "--What eyes!"

"--Was it ferocious?" Maybe when itwas
The Only creature in The Cosmos,

though now not so much ... "No more!"
Heavens, it must've been!

"If it IS: it WAS." Well,
that's only superstition.

"--Certainly it's not any LESS ..."

"Did it fly?" ... Why, He floated! gracefully as
a cork (from star to star)...

"And, what did it do?" What are you asking?
"That [All-Inclusiveness] on The Wall 'of our (all-

limited)' beyond which Will wont
trespass..." Surely, you don't mean...
"--Could it walk? I mean, when it was
... if it ever WAS..." You are looking right at Him!
Besides... Why do you keep calling him
It?...                 
                         
             "I mean: What was it for?"

"--I don't think it ever really served
a useful purpose..." He wasn't human!!

"You mean it didn't work?!"
He was something like a stork...

"And, did it sing?"
Stammering...

"Excuse me, my good man but
what did it eat?"

O, inhuman stuffs
now obsolete, of course

... "How coarse! Did He dance?" Once,
and thanks for abandoning It ...

"With whom would He speak?"
Only with its close-knit clique.

"And you say He could act?" But,
things too abstract (matter of fact).

They also say He was one marvelous acrobat,
a juggler of renown --And He even

fought for The Crown once! in
Madison Square Garden...
"How disgusting

--A Monarchist?" No, madam:
O, what's the use!
"At least
He fought... In whose behalf?" Lady, you're daff!

"& He could really think!?"
I'm told He was a wizard with arithmetic

--Look at'im blink! Aghhh!!! (Just kidding.)

"How many a day could He put away, do you think?"
Let's not be silly:                        

           He was as steady as a brick!
The Cornerstone of our Faith, foundation of

Philosophy... "Well then, if He didn't drink,
how come His eyes are so damn pink?"

I assure you it's but a trick played by the light.
No, sir: He was no communist--And

no to you, madam: neither was He adues-paying
member of your children's rink!
... actually, kids drove him to the shrink
( some fellow who thought himself
a Roman proconsul and could never bring himself to
accept blame)
                        
  

              "... He does look
a bit like some lunatic, don't you think?"

                 The Impossibility [sic]
never entered my mind.
         

"Probably riff-raff!"
Nonsense! He was King David's Staff!
"You say He could laugh?"

Lady--THAT was His epitaph!
"Well, if He was mortal enough to die:

where lies His soul!?"

Ha!... In the deepest, in the lowest circle
of Hell atoning for us all...

and not in Heaven having a lemonade
(not while you and I sin in this world
--Ha, Madam & Sir--And you?...

"We?... We're doing all right."

Amongst the unmastered extravagances
of Chance sat Prometheus in a corner of the room

left-over after the waves of eternity's dance:
Himself but a left-over reminder
of Time stilled at its Moment of tide.

But another one was there, also [because it was room
enough], but hiding from the poignancy of Th'Light

like a cockroach... who had just been told
by The Latest developer of slums: "You can't demolish
a wrecked house like this one without killing off

a number of bugs..."
(And Prometheus's offense was
in Offering the bugs their own insecticide

without being asked,

while the poor mortal took a bite
of his sandwich The Unlasting Changes

& shook with a terrible fright
hearing Prometheus groan all night
with all the Woe of God in the desert,

sweating under the sunlight, hurting
to find that the Eternal Keepers of Love the oasis

laugh & laugh at his weariness & throw hard rocks
at his thirst!) ...               
   

Horrified by the unholy sound:
the mortal suggested Alkaseltzer
(and that was what finally made Prometheus laugh

almost like a regular human being
... naked in the ridiculous:
the 1 redeeming merit of mankind)

flattering him with, "Buddy, you got-a-lotta-guts!"
and taking another bite as the unturning Titan groaned

a cry of anguish like a cosmic multitude,
the mortal shook in horror, terrified

of so troubled a God: "Will you be all right?"
And Prometheus cried again in pain,

saying to the impatient man:
"Here shall I remain
... long after you've eaten your fill

& died..." While the mortal, trembling
in his horror, took another bite
to steady his nerves. Then
the God let forth a thundering cry

that made Man scream & close his startled eyes
(which, Prometheus watching, thundered forth

in a voice almost too monstrous or too lovely
for human understanding): But,
to a mortal cockroach, any outburst from God

sounds as awful as thunder
trying to rip the universe apart!

so he took another nervous bite to try to
settle his stomach as Prometheus spoke again:
"And thus too will my pain be with me

even then ... It is my pain, and as such
it well fits me, my man!"
Something most mortals can't abide,

longing to be the pivot upon which turns
life, the whole universe, careless whether

it turns to the tragic or to the sublime...
"It is you, who (not understanding my pain)

are so terribly unsympathetic (to my pain)..."
and he did not finish, as Man stept forward

with his (always) handy comeback:
"It is you, O God

who can't grasp the language of stones
as easily as I, who cannot understand

their dull tongues writing the story of Man's
passions across this bit of Th'Cosmos called mine!
(your pain), O God... who is
in real need of comforting..."

and Prometheus laughed and laughed
hearing such ridiculous Man then telling him:

"Go, silly Bird, hide from the laughter
of children!" And then going on to take another bite:

Prometheus groaned an immortal cry
that sent Man reeling in fright

to hide from the Light of God's understanding
... ironically, it is his place to hide:

"O, leave me to my pain!" cried Prometheus
the slave of His Immortality:

but the lowly mortal could only faint in answer
like a proper vegetarian, and took another brutal bite

--Well, why go on about Man's appetites:
Prometheus will eternally weep in His anguish,

and Man (high-stepping it on the contingent
like some misguided plow-horse,
Master of all the low dirt he turns over)
will interpret it all as he likes.

Velazquez's Duke of Olivares
One day, shaped by the inevitables
of his given life, whatever, no doubt

that poor mortal will be through with his
questionable appetites, dig a hole of a grave

... and, allowing it its fill,
hang over that pit the following

for epitaph: "I hope you do not love me
all the more     
for being dead!"
(for a laugh?)

& as I've said: Time turns
but does not fold (it eats itself

instead), or else it watches quietly
& then, it's said ... one day

it just flies off, freed from the timing of Man
still unconsoled, still knowing (as He knew
of old) that despite the Soul

Time turns, Time turns, but does not fold:

Time turns, Time turns, Time turns
but does not fold, does not, for
Time turns, Time turns,
Time turns...
 

          et al
Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son

^{66} By 'sacred' is meant The Inviolable; by 'profane,' that which is 'subject to interpretation' ... 'Sense,' the mechanism of interpretation ... a 'Reason,' the system by which it operates. 'Mind,' the embodiment of that interpretation ... 'Will,' its catalyst.

Another example of structure taking precedence over rhyme. A simple twist around the metaphors of "light" as "thought" (and "dim" as the lack of light). A frustrating choice between living for its sake or living for some duty or cause --Either way the day passes on into either regret at its having gone or the regret of its having gone --is there any difference? If I concentrate exclusively on Time I will spend it in a meaningless succession of arbitrarily (humanly) determined lapses and spaces of duration which, after they are all spent, will leave behind no measure of accomplishment (the result cannot help but be a regretful sense of existence as all too quickly fled (self-consumed indeed)... since that which makes a lifetime seem great with fullness is the amount of time we spend doing things to forget or mitigate or to not become obsessed with the thought of Time passing). To be engaged in even the most mundane accomplishments is the antidote to waiting out time (thank heavens for television). To have done something (anything) is to have cheated Time, even conquered it (in a sense). I think Hell must be the place where & when we simply wait (watching all the time that has gone before growing commensurate with all whatever time we must still wait)[email protected]

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