House of the Deaf - Black Paintings
Fifteen years old, I lean into the wind of the house of the deaf,
bracing against the jag of amethyst I hold.
First words I ever wrote on news scrap,
I had to do it blind, feeling the gossamer-pull
of birch bark on my warm, peached cheek,
up against encounters with this certain face.
La Leocadia--eternity of nos in the supple posturing
of maja, mother, minister of grace or whore.
Who taught me to do this? To look into the heart
of a woman and see the vituperate blood of a god?
For a boy's ears, the tremolo's too bold, insistent,
a Missa Solemnis wafted across the meadow
of San Isidro--my backyard--where I discover
the matted hair of a girl after the rape is publicized.
So these Spanish tortures still titillate: lover
and mother and child to the painter slouches
on a hill of graveworms, the sleek ankle
pulled in to caress the soldier in the mind of Goya.
But none of this I would have imagined then;
I rooting toadstools and out-pronouncing
the poisonous ones. Her eyes glance over me,
to the gathering stratus-work above.
Here's tomb for Semele, smouldering out
charred plum-skin, slunk into the mouths
of those who live but no longer care.
Insurrection is surmountable--the fires burn along
the Manzanares River. The terraced hill
is mountainside for the earth-burnt fury
of a court of angels coaxing out early sunset:
melancholia asleep. A dog curls at the girl's feet,
just beyond the frame, fence, fever of night coming on.
Screech owls glide to the stars above the hillside
crucifix, a natural landscape for Inquisitional Madrid.
Her eyes conceal what comes of the hurdy-gurdy’s
sexy midnight drone, shivered out of the sepulchre
of rock: a sign of the magus that only the maja knows.
Thursday night: I'm having trouble breathing through my eyes.
In that northernmost corner of the world, Thule, say,
over Greenland’s steppes, the coven gathers to try
on fancy clothes and drink Madeira.
A cattish nun instructs on sloth and the sixteen sins
of the rosary. Lemur-gut lines every pot of boiling tea.
What can we hear of the landscapes of the luna moth?
Viol de gamba. Pestilence and bastardy, maimed
and cretin-faced at the city comedy--in Vallodolid.
The angle of the January sun betrays any notion
that this is farce: the projected image of a saturnalia
is enough to trick a mule back in to his skin,
at least in countrysides where Parisian soldiers
brutalize the girls and boys. These Carthaginians,
poor, sopped spirits to be bound and flamed
upon a spit and eaten slowly, will muse on the death
of god as if it was a lark. Bodies queerly disemboweled
jostle with homunculi, spinning a dark matter out
of this winter sky, into the spidery minds of those
who were the last to believe in... Reason.
I sit back as a cold moon rises over the park
where I write, rethink why I ever wanted
to look into the face of the Sabbath anyway.
Corn gods broken and abused, what's left is half
a crack of gin and my watery eyes. O modern wolfbane,
how to sing this, without perpetuating all the lies?
If I try to say this is a mother, devouring one of her curd-brained girls,
the world will shake and turn from me, so like the figure
of Cronos that she snuffs out--the maidenliest star
that ever graced the birth of Troy. At thirteen
I could've said it was him, a father pistol-whipped,
chucked-up into his auntie's clenching, out-pushed gall,
every fiber felt, every hamstring wrested from a throat
as it croaks first sound, the bleat of the tribe cast into a morass
of gloating, blue-blood heart and hands all spindled
into catatonic maw, all fire-storm mouth-wrenching spasm
of love and malediction, we kids the marzipan
he tongued at Easter. He's sobbing now--all the fathers are,
the whites of their eyes a froth of banana meringue,
the semen-lash across a pithy, hundredth house of history.
Not Blake’s Satan, not the choleric king of Planet X
with bleeding rings for eyes, not vengeant Marduk
as he gorges on his mother’s ribs; here she’s
the unhouseled slackless naked Yawn, hidden in savaged
thighs of azabache-stone. O salt-sweat caves of Altamira,
that first botched music of ouroboros, issue
like green phlegm from her loins,
each shell and coinage child of the single thrush-
note Spanish howl that Lorca knew so well.
Blind old Rodrigo digs his shit hole by himself:
this clay child is my father, son, and lover as one.
The underpaint reveals a wheel of fire which blisters at her skirt,
pulling the ox-cart herdsman with the ugly Neolithic grin
and castanets, scumbled and lost in the picture to the left,
of Saturn’s orgiastic brunch. As she baskets
the head of Holofernes, her scabard drips that foul,
wry breath across the plains of Shinar.
Her breasts, barely seamed into her peasant dress,
are already pumped with milk. In sanguine chalk
I always sketched her vindicating some city on a hill,
La Libertad incarnate, hatcheting away at fish-mouthed men
who grub for carrion bugs in the light of a warrior moon.
Here, in the ember light of my mother’s bedroom home
in Aragon, I paint her weaning a boy-king from the sword,
a pale kiss to unburden a world of endless molten maelstrom,
the monumental Shoah seen through the eyes of Shad.
Sluttish the man approaches her; she burns to make
mincemeat of his balls. Godoy, lover of the Queen of Spain
must pay for the cries of the guillotine again
across the Plaza Mayor. This Sycorax, one of my favorite
former selves, by way of Judith's wail can weave
one spell and carry it out as well; the cattle boys
at least will thank me for it; while poets
of the Andalusian earth carry his coffin
to the center of the city, where we’ll off it up to the gods
of Amazon and England. The greening smoke
from his bones will form the finest silt
for us to bathe in, lavender sea salts to singe
remembrance of last love’s loss, so delicately spent.
Where are the snow-white oxen come from nowhere,
hitched to San Isidro in the middle of a drought in June?
And those ploughing angels who showed de Vargas
this was no ordinary laborer? Here the haunted
rhythms of the night bathe in ochre every
solemn impulse to believe in afterlife.
Race car drivers look out at him across
their windshield rabbits' feet, all over Spain,
even as bare-assed acolytes scoff at a mummied corpse
and kiss its cartilaged, reliquary feet. Here's the lost,
arched bridge over the river to the Sordo,
where Isidro's only son has crapped in a moss-veined
well and doesn't die, fiftieth miracle of the year 1130.
But now, in linseed grass-stained ebonies
and lead-white moonlit skies we catapult
ladylike El Greco out of the globe-glass orb
of earth which is earth's mirror, when we sing
the saint's lolling canción of dawn, Cantabrian
bones of his wife stacked in parsonage, outside
the only river's crossing till one rococo church
walks home. The deaf-mute me is squelching berries
and radishes; sodden in lampblack we climb
to the top of Bruegel's hill, high enough to plunder
a kestrel's hair-weave nest of twigs and ibis eggs,
to stretch our warlock neckpieces and ready
for the ancient, ordinary kill of Job. Quixote nuevo,
Espíritu Santo, embers of flamenco fueling
the firestorm burning up the backbone
of the Guardarramas, second moonrise
two borrachos skimming black whey
from the Age of Reason, straddled by
carnelian nuns who scream pleats off their tatters,
into the fold of skin where Mary lies, dolt-like,
waiting for a second draught of oranged rye.
Picasso's henchmen slink past the sword of light,
some Tereze in Ecstasy, Ixion's wheel of ice,
freeing what music this chambered nautilus
of sheepfold bleats. The chanting sucks
at the sphere of the death of God,
beneath the foetid surface of this lake-pool picture,
one hidden egress to an aging underworld.
As a boy I'm one of those that fails to see the miracle,
bloody toe-stump and gaping craven mouth,
succumbing to wheeze and dropsy of the air.
My dead father has to carry me up
to where thin harlequins take leaks and slake
the privileges of fucking. The half-crazed,
lice-wigged, drowsy El Coco Que Habla,
with his two-stringed mandolin strums
the mudcake seasick urchins back to the skirts
of raven Judith, who still starves for love and justice,
blathering at dope heads just a step ahead of me
in this dance for the patron saint of Mesmer and Madrid.
Arc of the cane is the curve of the earth at earth’s end:
the ruined world, the globe burnt out,
a corpse by the pond at night.
Sing that crippled walk to maidenhead,
on the silk grass road to the fountain of Lourdes;
here’s stepping-stone mud-cracked path to
the marrow-cliffs of Envy, creeping
along a crest of the southern Pyrenees.
Punctured eardrums of the hoar-frost
philosophe can’t hear which Corsican winds
deaden the impact of the tempest on
my insides; we walk to the edge of coriander
and look up, to see two suns rise.
This bald-face Azrael could be my father’s
father the night he decides to pole
away from islands off of Florida,
in search of the ungreenable black jaw
of the narwhal. Or a boneyard of the last
capucin of Rome. Let dusk come, God,
for Schiller’s mausoleum opens up on fog-lit
dragonfly heavens: on what’s angelic still
about unmapped surrounds of the 38th parallel.
Black Magellanic cloud of trapezoidal light
at the outskirts of a city dump: pampas of Madrid,
where bat-men whisk about the one-legged lady
rooting molars out of the mouth of a garroted
hulk on the hill of La Manola. Volaverunt.
Metronomes clock the bleed, up/down
entrails of garlic and onion. The orb
of the head of the wave of the scream dissembles
as spindly fingers coddle the ebony cane
in fitful sleep, a marmelade, wall-eyed lynx
crying out for the honey incubus,
fathoms above the noise of corn,
the speed of sound ebbing out its force
or fortitude and fury. My homesickness beckons
the ferryman home. A snake-bone drum rattles
last chords of this choral fantasy, bewildering
every new-born star seen in the light
of planet Pluto, as the shadow of me takes
shape in a pool on the floor in a corner of the room.
Over the holm oak bench in the sala de comida,
the weyard sisters of Macbeth shuffle to
nab their toadies, while a crone
off a bust of Houdon's Voltaire,
gap-toothed and smirking
slurps the milksop brindled tripe
of slaughtered autumn veal,
to purge whatever's sanguine
in the bowels, where the artist
nourishes his trite lament.
Tongue in aspic, horehound,
kale and borage and wormwood,
they’ve mixed unique alembics,
nourishing and near-fatal
to the ones who sup on sweet
marjoram and rue: salve
for the clattering of kidney
stones or too much galantine
of turkey with buckwheat groats,
who cares! as long as there's a shuck
of anchovies near by. Better still:
just a consumeé of thin stone soup.
Sugar from Barbadoes, cream of nettle,
zamburiñas, tureens of matelote
with a glass of sherry port.
Aah. The ghost's said grace
and whizzled through my insides
and exited the other end.
Strains of Gaelic in the green hills, Ossian's
fen-sucked moorhen digs or deep Managuan lakes
rupturing out of Pleistocene,
fled over time through
a 1980s revolution back
to the shores of Spain.
This countryside, encyclopedia
of untoward accidents, a thin ice bridge
to circumvent the past, and
redesign the damask of the rose.
Here three Fates spin gauze
about a fallen matriarch--or is it
Priapus, fashioned out
of river mud and sneering--
who's got a finger in her cunt
to check if it's warm or ready.
Primum mobile again: no onanist
nor organ grinder's monkey, the Moirae
hold the image of her child apart and
stiff, pinched up on a potter's wheel.
But the Inquisition, not Lachesis
holds the shears to snip or
deliver this fertile birth.
And the river of the Duchess of Alba,
maja desnuda, deltas into a White
Nile isthmus of its after-image,
seen in the picture of the men at war,
the mind's Colossus, gulfed and fed
wherever there's quicksand enough
to hold us to our brutal pounding.
This is the garden where it starts,
a cornflower abode of aloe
and apple-of-Sodom, the only spot
of sun in this primeval woods,
here preserved and cherished, an Archimedes wheel
of sonnet-etched glass which spirals down
to what's below and rising, throttling
our zorrilla paradise: snow parrots,
goshawk chicks and a hundred kinds
of wheat fleas. The whole parade--
a romería--beneath the teeming surface
of the lake is rich rich blood of the artist's arms.
Pinpoint gash of Rubens red on her heel
is the soul of the hag, or hagged-out mark
of Cain as the painter's signature--
the ruby taint by which we feel
what's female, and alive, and possible.
Just the sound of an adz, hacking at a stump of cudgel,
thunked into somebody's shoulder-bones, as
an older man is pummeled by a stout, half-
trousered youth from La Coruña, a shepherd
with a Falangist cross-to-be, bashing guts
out here of a fellow cattle driver. Both are
slunk up to the hip in sheep shit, like
two of the seven that Cadmus jacked
right out of the dragon's earth to sow
the foundling Thebes, like so many Jacobin
inventions, sprung out of a jolted laboratory frog's
last quiver. Two cripples on their knees
in the quicksand isle Extremadura,
bludgeoning to pulp all that's left,
with benisons from a half-wit pilgrimage
of shipwrecked sots on their way
to St. James with nickel in their sacks.
Caldo gallego, rows of sulphur-colored yew,
guttersnipes crackling out laughter
across pockets of shale, hid in nettle
thickets or bat cliffs of the eucalyptus hills.
In the distance, a Dutch balloonist
tries to pass by Portugal without a stop
in Napoleon's Española, as Basque travelers
over the holy road make for whalers
in Cee, on the coast of Death, to put out
for the Phillippines or new United States.
Leek green grass silts sargassum of the sea,
so far inland now that saffire lakes
around Madrid ignite with every tepid breath.
As scud clouds rake the dark of sunset,
a scream is heard across the killing fields,
one single pore of light to aggravate the storm.
That rain now is torrents on the roofs
of the village of Cifuentes, as a father and his sons
study a scrap of liturgy or song. Shattering
molars in the cold, an oatmeal death's head
vaguely oversees. Mierda. Misericordia.
No smarmy palette of Titian indigoes.
Father Alcazar, like Lear, reads in chill timbres
to the gathered penitents of a devil's pact,
as the painter's muses--Velasquez, nature, Rembrandt--
supervise, the willowy Greek-eyed boy
gazing up to a leak that spits drizzle
at the huddle of frowning men intent
to hear every bit of the will of St. John,
Lope de Vega, love letters to Martin Zapater,
ones with the scribbles of a bovine eye
upon Josefa's smirched bunghole.
So the world is weary, each child a presage
of what we failed at, or hope to achieve?
The pelt of the rain's steadier, now that I write
of the only image concerned with words.
Perhaps it's simpler said, this hermit reads
these poems to the group--such explains
the puzzled looks and uplift of each brow,
one last script to be written in old age,
a glossy epitaph for one who's ready to be
taken away, but can't yet say with his heart:
bury me in the desert surfcast by the sea;
don't seek my name--it's written in too
many portraits, upon a tomb subsumed by water.
Pulling at the tender flesh between his legs, with matted hair of cuckoo's-nest,
in the stall behind the manger, stunk of the sulphurous bogs of Catalan,
the phlegmatic cat-head deaf mute jerks till he comes on laps
of the mockers, everywoman sneering through
clenched teeth to unbosom the Virgin Mary. He seeks
the G-Spot of his other half, in turgid cold of the
barn's mid-morn flood of light. Dry brains, hard-bellied
stomach of a ruminant, rat-pawed at birth,
the dimwit Yo will focus on... those of us who watch.
To purge his malefaction, an enema's sharpened
razor-tooth to dog shark, eviscerating pus
and oily glutens in a drop upon the cut.
And someone laughs from behind, unreasoned out beyond
the Piranesi daisy chains and mooning of the stars.
For another of the civil wars, it's sweat bacillus found
inside lovely tonal catechisms of the mourners
in scenes like these. We irreligious
climb Mt. Walpurgis, just off beyond
sierras of the charcoal-master from Madrid.
Opal eyes of the owl flood ague onto
the straw-green hair of the impostor,
the artist who imitates the deaf and dumb
in order to delicately step up one ladder
to the other world. Faithful and unseen,
the dog of the mocked man shivers
and suffers fleas, their tiny pock bites
the only vocables to mark what
he's doing, pulling at the B of bliss,
affirming the worth of what's left.
Pilgrimage to the Fount of San Isidro
Up close the cordilleras look like backdrop
drama props for the Neoclassical stage.
The stench of eucalyptus leaves, falling,
a quaff to save all this. Just one aliquot
of Augustine is left, nearly winter of
what looks like the last of the city
of unGod on a hill, as it just stands still.
Some sort of transubstantiation of the itchy flesh
in the mein of all these new unbaptised--
by fire, John, or the blindworm newt
of the long long caves below El Moro,
which spring from the Cave of Covadonga,
where don Pelayo splayed the waters forth
for us before. Cavern of mysteries, Eleusis:
here we find what so interests Inquisitors
that they travel with their pregnant vicars
to snuffle a clot of rouge upon one hanky,
because of some legend of a bleeding nun,
out of which Isidro's son and mother,
Maria de la Cabeza, gush forth unto world.
Here archangels resin their bows, unstoppling
flutes to chorus and bury this foundering
in the dark of being or not knowing,
not in the granite chantries of Asturias,
not in the crow's fly in from Oviedo, but just
below this verge of cliff, utopian idol
to a century yet to come, we picture-freeze
a moment, whittle the divining rod
to glance back at the opiate of what
the church once was. Spanish peacocks
prate beyond a halo of the precipice,
where prescience lives. More of
the suffocating thrall of the blind
as they ogle at the blind. Where pagan
joy is islanded, where one saint kisses
another to feel how cold his prick is.
Encore. Another cleansed one to inter:
bagpipe, musette; forget the use of organ.
From the throat of this grotto you can't see
a single itinerant member of the cross
of killing--it's as if you'd already
made a way to the city on the hill, where
the only language sung at all is rhyme.
Out of the mouth of button-blossom mescal bud,
out of the mouth of a burning, bat-lit Teufelsee,
out of the immense and sexual revery of the bayeus of the mind--
a frantic phenomenology of fire--out of a trembled
dream-state press of kiss upon the fonatanelle,
out these zirconium hills, crowflower steppes of Pinchbeck's headached
anitidote to perfect, scalpeled world--a thrust towards Zarathustra--
the Pleiades seen from the overhead vault of 2010,
out of the girdled undertow of one spagyric intellect,
out of the voiceless knoll that circles a Persian hell,
come riding on Appaloosas the gentleman prince of darkness
and his famulus, wrapped in a cloak of scarab-amulet,
come portrait of the artist as Faust's familiar,
through mephitic gases of the blasted heath of Zaragoza,
double-helixed War and Fury, wrath and rapine,
soldiers of Napoleon crooning to lose their bawd-queens
back in Toulouse, as the incubus sates the chaise
of cool-head virgins and lathes a crown of lustred
hymen in upon our newlyweds, a trickle of soot
down one crusty promontory so flushed with zoea,
trilobites, that to incubate the salamandrine candle-smoke
of dawn would burst the very seams of second planets.
I see you fly, and oscillate, to the querulous fizz
of my sweated lip, to ostrich in on every spadix of the lily
found upon this slackless frontlet of the earth.
I have to lip-read whatever duende's here to last
a lifetime--here quintessence of dust
spirals out the phlegm of the son of Lilith,
fish-breath brother to Leviathan--O Mahu, Modo
fallen angel Asmodeé, you cinch a man between your
pin-webbed trident feet and dowse about
for Ibsen's kingdom of the rose! Here on Castilian soil,
now that now is all there is, you cast your lots in
Noah's drunkenness, swooning in mull wine, yellow slippers,
to the witches of Echidna, self-doomsdaying
the only song a deaf can hear, the surdic cadences of ash.
You--black Aphrodite--the essence of the cur,
take my two souls (my flying skulls, two halves
of the egg of the new-parched earth) and rocket me up
to Thumbelina's moon, to the hilltop garden paradise
of bituminous effluvium, where the yes of the red eft
as he enters the lake of fire beyond the picture plane
will rant, rankle, crack and pitch, and then deliver me.
A tonic for the chthonic; for the loss of the dog I loved
some twenty-three years ago. Nightly she still
brings me to the verge of sleep.
But this is death knell for the ancient human fugue,
saying sorry then cutting up the mangled bits
of canine flesh caught in bumper cars.
This is the last aubade; the continent's shifting
and what's not solid or ethereal slips in
down beyond the angel of abyss.
Beautitudes from Hildegarde, tercets clabbered
out of Rothko's triptych of black
on black on indigo-black.
The guttural yap of pretonic Time,
my girlfriend. Her eyes are
Anubis, rekindling winter loves.
Stuns Philistines. The cão da Serra da Estrela
simps back on bloody sticks to shake
the world from her motherly airs.
Outside the cave, under the jackboot
corkscrew mouth of the sea,
the deaf adder shudders to see herself.
She guards the tinder box, she snuffles
at every door of pain. She is the frozen echo
of the silent voice beyond the grave,
which cries Nada. Hautboys in the hands
of Habib; the voiceless stop
of stuttering is what I remembered to forget.
Ear trumpet strums wholistically;
the shadow of St. Paul falls across the path
to Xotol's tree, where she has to pee.
Floods of sand the day David died;
we outdid ourselves at the burial of a mole
to hide ourselves inside of... what.
I drive and drive but I can't find the road
where she went down. Stunned,
I want to asp along the ground
where all the graves at night face Mecca.
She's looking up towards the well-formed
shins of La Manola, who also waits.
Last farewell--no Roman aura or simplicitás,
only the rank pelf world of id. Another
scherzo for Anubis, who loves the dead.