urn the now ending
evers churn, they rhyme only
because I am free
here in fatal Gladys light. Let my kneeling
radiate my aging elfin sails.
I am the hiss in this, the ripple wild
knoll in which my umbilicus sucks stones.
Paradise is part of my inherited billabong,
its stagnation, its warpings, are not my own.
Dionysus, let me not reduce or simplify,
allow me the wavering
miraginality of imagination,
let my fits and bits and catatripe
be venomous to the fake.
The body is a ruthless tribal compression.
Dreaming is less free than imagining,
for the dream factory has a quota:
certain roles are paid less,
someone has always forgotten to
oil the compost crank, the elf who runs
the umbilical bandsaw is always AWOL.
enters an imaginal file, buds in arrest
until swayed by a life-shifting rain
or the blight of the news of
an unknown person's death.
For psyche, all bets are on nothing.
A fist slammed against the door
reappears as an eel in mourning.
A turtle who has just taken the veil becomes
the wind-filled sail of a wooden tub
in whose sudsy water one discovers one's genitals,
eggs to be fried on Caravaggio's canvas.
The vague is as crucial as the definitive,
the wave a part of the pier.
Whose genie does not accordion into Fudd and Marilyn,
then rebottle into Lautrec's cognac-
vialed cane? Clouds are brains,
or so the mind registers its Matterhorns
half-waking out of dream, when snow and sneezing
are as relevant as the cut rose
you place in my hand every time you speak.
Clayton Eshleman's most recent books include Companion Spider, a collection of essays, and My Devotion, a book of poems forthcoming from Black Sparrow Press.
Originally published in the April/May 2002 issue of Boston Review