House of the Deaf - Black Paintings

La Leocadia

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.

Al Aquelarre

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.

The Cassock

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.

Last Supper

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.

The Cudgel-Bearers

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.

The Dog

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.