[A Triptych for Arielle]
Egg & not kill,
hasten not pain
for the fiery murk
masking “the body“
garbed in menstrual gossamer, the sporadic life
through the agate gaps, all seeming
The lover stalked & staked out my woman as I thought of her,
the other lover then alien, radiant & poor
& I came from the camp where no one lived,
deep in suburbia as if suburbia had depth,
the split level, the wall to wall pile grassy,
my chauffeur at ease beside the greasy hearse,
the pile rippling into the dappled garden, the margin
rich in echinacea, as it kisses me, tongues aglow
Lunatic in burning day, as tinder, not tender, not arousing
but peeping at the fire anyway.
And the moon is as a penetrating fire.
Bright cold then blown gold & pallid
wall to wall, step after step across the pile,
the mysterious believers, personae beyond the pale
collect like condensation in a well of India ink
the inkwell being, being, & the lover now my lover
in the mine not woman & Mnemosyne my roommate,
a canary in each hand –
An astral wasp at the urinal –
that it would want, would will, sex, to have sex,
found wanting. You are very virginal
the lover said, I fear
for my maidenhead, for fall love fell me?
Of men’s bodies I am the cunt,
of wells I am the sea.
Lover, or letter.
Body, or self.
Armored, the amatory fool aloof, taint Parsifal peeling black armor from off him
at a revival meeting of Alchemists Anonymous, where hushed toughs squat before
the vegetable fire (bronzed baby shoes by the eggplant beachgirls) – husks suddenly
answer, tongues of flame do not feel good, suddenly nothing
but letters from the desert, the desert
full of Irish setters. The westering woman on her rosewood lap
table signs a tiny suicide note. Perish the color of my skin. Salt plum, catamenial color. Last night minted
a coin for Charon, a moon the hue of a crow, eating mille feuilles with her puberty tube, articulate desire hallowed, out.
& now we convene this meeting of Alchemists Anonymous, banal thunder; are aquarium acquaintances picturesque as your imaginary friends, lower-case Russias or Floridas.
A black disk or a record turning, read by a dead cat’s paw.
Do I now acquire supple lunacy again, in the shambles
you get adobe, abide, yar dark stones smoldering in a heady reign,
as aloof fool, fiery mud, adobe, abide. Guffaw of horror.
At what is beautiful, is below. Seed cake, poppy wallet, mille feuilles.
Some blindworm slithering up the spine between your (a)symmetrical daynight
preferences, perfumed like the man in the moon. It is like night & day,
the difference, & gone at dawn.
nipple bird/ as what’s called birds’ milk here, infectious custard in
unidentifiable fluff meant to be, mille feuilles, do néant (no answer
over at her place, & what would I say do
if there was, not wanting to destroy my marriage
for such tinge, noli me tangere
drunk off potable gold, dancing with
until the nostalgic prostate gland. To map
the next swirl devilish too akimbo to be bound,
outbound. I hold my tongue,
bound to death my wife in a dream
nipple bird flit among horse & gutted house/ rubble bird
house where I badly need/ to be impelled to peril
asperged this morning by amber water
& no lustration after,
though I am sure you are down there, queen of swallows,
sword swallower, bird feeder,
giving the gulls cheap fish about to turn
the tit back with the marian finches) your god a young girl
the tit the nibble bird hanging from a heliotrope felled last night
by the mocking wind,
no olive branch in its beak not even pimiento palimpsest or book
back from ocean before I had a heart to keep
beating & stinking of aureate liver, oyster aureole & turd
Fuck what we can’t, expict.
the tit flown/ nuzzle bird,
& as the light returns to the eyes,
show me the border picture again,
the one of the plane in flames, the orison
the horizon puckers to a cross, but more forms below, what I love snapped
up by them as love me, sipped, ô nozzle bird
by love I mean a different thing,
“one of those places that are hard to get out of,” someone said
A single track running along “what seems to be an isthmus” only the houses
Are fewer & fewer “no, a peninsula” & or anyway an island, a faëry terminal
At the end of it
“everything you have ever done to your body” – a diorama
Instead of the city then, the City Then.
Meaning hovering above a precious dream in a most hateful way;
Above the fish stands & the single currency stood a summary of your body,
The eyes & yours of it oft confused: steamed stones & a terrible history, friends
Come & you refuse to see them, tenses came to naught – it’s been a long
Day. We went drinking in the sun. Kleiner Mann, fear having become the stuff of death,
Stretched across Process. Welcome to the Fish Shack. Actually an aquarium
Where the hoary girls will spear your dish of choice, poisson du jour within you.
Somewhere was a summary of the body, culs-de-sac long avoided, they take these
Brightly colored fishes, bag them in clear plastic & transfer them to your plate.
Meaningful merely because oneiric. The sort of weather under which we wandered
With our mouths open. We were having an identity crisis. The woods were addled
With dry streambeds & trenches from the Great War, often indistinguishable.
Beach-goers be thin men redolent of oyster mushrooms, shielding their piebald heads
With paper parasols. In the next trench over, the brawniest woman of them all
Will boil the catch of the day in savory oil, just for you. Between this village & the next one
Over, garble, no-man’s-land, or – looked at later (once you are awake, once warm
Beer is served & the girls begin to guffaw) – looked at later, one of an endless
Series of waves where in the architecture changes & the dialect, slathered with the language
Of empire, shifted – it very interesting to tourist! Here the blood sausage had bits of leek in it.
We ordered everything at once. It was riddled with leak. Finally we got the fish, by pointing. The sun lasted
the end of sleep until after it began again.
We woke convinced that nothing (had) happened. The divers huts,
Staggered along the shoreline, looked to be arcane exhibits of spooky family trees. Weightless men
Were planting things of little nutritional value – flags, for instance. Interpreters huddled in the trenches.
Count your loved ones – there is a booth where a wayward soothsayer will add them up upon an abacus;
Four blind wenches you’ve never met will hold your hands in a dirty dream. Nights are nothing
More than shutters, & the stars are stunning only to you. The moon pauses in plausible tidepool like a little demigod.
A bridge across a gorge offers frequent sightings of the Devil. He still comes
Dressed as a German – nemets, the mute one, muttering gibberish. Ach, meine Mutter. Maybe he was merely
A visitor from the city, but everybody took him for the Devil, & to make matters worse
Many came to die where he had hovered. It is, then, an haunted place. Stare into the eyes of birds
Feasting upon the rotten raspberries, a herbal. A damsel disrobed to declaim an epic. All eyes
Were upon her. A few of us went down into the gorge. We looked like ghosts. We acted
Like some Untermensch in disco bathed in ultraviolet light, staring down at our own pleonastic starched shirts:
“You look like a ghost!” “You, too!” – but ghosts never visit anymore. If the Devil were real,
He’d be shod like one of us (in secondhand clothes from the Low Countries, even).
It was that kind of day
Where when nothing said meant anything – nothing sang. Even the epic fell flat. The damozel prayed
To the Devil, trying to hold our attention amongst so much tintinnabulating trash –
“everybody looked small compared to Nature”
– She, when compared to “Dame Nature”
you wanted to return
To your seedy hotel – but the voices
– her voice –
Had you gone
“…and the moon is as a penetrating fire…” See Emericus Casaubon, A True & Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Yeers between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits,1659.
“Of men’s bodies I am the cunt…” Robert Kelly, Kali Yuga, 1970.
“…the moon the hue of a crow…” Jo, Manas mīļās vārds,1998.
Pēteris Cedriņš was born in Chicago in 1964; he has lived in Latvia since 1991. Parts of his work-in-regress, The Penetralium, recently appeared in 10th Muse.