SOLILOQUIES FROM A HIGH WALL HIDDEN CEMETERY
SOLILOQUIES FROM A HIGH WALL HIDDEN CEMETERY By Duane Locke
Differentia Press Santa Maria, CA
SOLILOQUIES FROM A HIGH WALL HIDDEN CEMETERY By Duane Locke Copyright © 2009 All Rights Reserved. Published by Differentia Press Book Design by Felino Soriano Cover Art by Duane Locke Except for the sole purpose for use in reviews, no portion of this book may be reproduced in any form, without the written permission from the publisher. Differentia Press Santa Maria, CA 93458 firstname.lastname@example.org
Differentia Press Poetic Collections of the │Experimental Spectrum│ differentiapress.com
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Two poems within this present book, now in entirely different presentation, had their origins in two poems originally published in Ann Arbor Review, edited by Fred Wolven. I wish to thank Fred Wolven for publishing these origins.
Table of Contents: When alive I wore a wild boar hair shirt____________________________________________10 The eternal return_____________________________________________________________15 Once, I surmised, I slept on a straw mat____________________________________________18 at San Marco monastery________________________________________________________18 The uncertain, but assured______________________________________________________20 We donâ€™t feel very securely at home______________________________________________23 Within our interpreted world,____________________________________________________23 If nothing dies in the everyday It is because_________________________________________26 in daily life everything Is already deadâ€Ś.__________________________________________26 Is there everyday Life--or everyday death,__________________________________________26 Scraps of White Rayon_________________________________________________________28 When alive my ardent desire was to travel,_________________________________________31 But I never left Tampa,_________________________________________________________31 Or was it Dublin I never left.____________________________________________________31 When alive I was an immanentist poet_____________________________________________34
I dedicated this book to a number of people who have contributed to the enrichment and expansion of my poetic and aesthetic life: Amelia, Alan Britt, Anna Donovan, Rich Follett, Antony Hitchins, Mist, Batgirl, Alice Parris, Paul Roth, Silvia Scheibli, Felino Soriano, Constance Stadler, Fred Wolven.
SOLILOQUIES FROM A HIGH WALL HIDDEN CEMETERY
When alive I wore a wild boar hair shirt I still feel the sharp Bristle points Puncture my skin, Tiny pinpoints Of blood Oozing to spot my red Chest hairs redder, then dry, To make what was Soft Stiff somnambulists, Although I have only rib bones, I still feel, I have flesh, ruddy skin, Overpopulated, street-corner crowded Like the planet, earth, where once I was alive. I feel my chest, a dump of upright steel spikes, Spray-can red painted by vandals, Each spike agitated with tormenting desire To tear its steel roots from my flesh, Become converted to be steel arrows To fly like strict fathers through space, Pierce The gutta-percha heart of every cupid, render Those overweight children who stand On fat tiptoes dead. Let the Cupidsâ€™ corpses rot in gutters, Remove love from the earth, If there ever was love on the earth. I never found love while alive. But although I feel all this, I now feel it more stronger That when alive and lustful. I now have no chest, No gonads, no blue eyes, no skin,
I‘m only a pile of bones in a grave. The flesh whose lust I tried to subdue By wearing a hair shirt is gone. I have been dead so long that my bones are no longer Arranged, No longer neatly ordered foundational Met-narratives, But disjunctive, Scattered fragments, not even signifying I was once A human being. Sometimes, I am tortured by nightmares, although There are no nights here. There are not any days here. There is not even a here here. There is nothingness, And even “nothingness” is meaningless here. In my “nightmares,” I feel sometimes that when alive I was Soren Kierkegaard. My bones feel that I was Soren Kierkegaard Because I have such an intense longing, Such an intense desire to be with Regine Olson. I am intensely, passionately in love with Regine Olson. The contours of her corporeality overwhelm. Yes, I feel this love in my bones, my bones Now haphazardly scattered, disconnected, I feel this love in each fragment of what Is left of me. Each splinter, jagged chip wants love. But, now in death, I wonder what love is I also wondered when alive. The living seem To never know what this complex And extremely rare emotion, love, is. For love, the living have many surrogates, Love to them is an illusion, a delusion, An hallucination. A mythos, a popular meme. Rarely has anyone alive known real love.
When I was alive, and when I was Soren Kierkegaard, I knew real love, her love, the love of Regine Olson. Here I am in the grave, a bunch of scattered bones, Pretending, substituting a fantasy life for a real life, Just as those who are alive do, but I am dead. When alive I was not Soren Kierkegaard. I did not know any Regine Olson. I did not even live at the same time These two lived, I was a scribe during The Middle Ages, who sat on a wobbly, High stool, and copied the Holy Writ While I sipped brandy made at the Cetosa di Piave. The dead when alive are told in biology classes When dead, the dead do not feel, but I feel Pain, The pain of a hair shirt torturing my flesh, Although I have no flesh. I feel the pain Of wanting someone to love, and having No one to love. At the same time, believing love, an illusion. But pain is different when dead, for there Are no doctors, drug stores, pain killers available. There are no psychiatrists for unrequited lovers. There is no hope The pain will ever stop. When dead, pain is meaningless, but alive Pain Is Joyous. When alive sitting on a stool as a scribe Copying with a pen made from a peacock tail, When I felt the pain From the hair shirt, I was happy, had a feeling of Consoling and life enhancing piety, I was secure. In feeling I was mortifying my flesh And subduing its deceptions. Temptations, as I prepared Myself to experience truth, the supersensible, By torturing the sensible.
Everytime I had a headache, I was joyous, for I believed The pain was assuring me A place in what was palmed off on earth as “heaven.” I was happy with pain when alive, but now Dead, pain is meaningless. Now dead, I am a nihilist, a nihilist Like all the dead. I was really a nihilist when alive, But the living live by lies. When alive I thought I was otherwise, Every living one survives life by self deception. All over the world now, the living are Deceiving themselves, living empty and false lives, Believing lies, speaking a language of lies. Once, perhaps a century or two ago, I thought when alive I was Thomas More, Had written a book called Utopia, Was through the chicanery of a king beheaded, But one day, or whatever it was, For there are no days here, I saw my neck bones Were intact, my neck bone was not chopped, So I could not have been Thomas More. I have faith that I was a scribe, but The dead can never be certain of who they were When alive, Or what they did or did not do when alive. The dead cannot determine what when alive They intensely loved, or intensely hated. I don’t think a woman ever loved me, All the beautiful, voluptuous girls became The mistresses of Bishops, or Cardinals, or Popes, Not an insignificant scribe, a nobody like me. When alive I might have been a good, unknown, obscure Farmer, or might have been someone famous Like Jack the Ripper. I don’t know, But I think I was a scribe in the Middle Ages.
Yes, I have faith I was a Medieval scribe who sat on a stool. Copying Down the Gospels. I was a spiteful man like the underground man To be presented many centuries later By Fyodor Dostoevsky, So when copying the gospels, I Deliberately Made Mistakes, Copying down a word that was not In the original manuscript. I felt my power, and thought How many would be burned at stakes When they by vote of committees Lost the debate Of what theological truth Was conveyed By my Deliberate Mistake.
The eternal return When I had lungs That could change the air’s chemicals, I could not see with my blue eyes Through steel, dirt, and a marble slab, But now I have only a lungless rib cage And empty eye sockets I can see Through steel, dirt, and a marble slab. When vision is most powerful As in death with its bones. It is the most useless. When alive with flesh, This wonderful cognitive flesh Whose cognition we destroy Through having faith In the lies of he learned and The popular opinions, folk theories, When vision is really needed, When alive with flesh, Our vision is at its weakest. We fool ourselves, our lives Are spent in self deception And in the deceiving of others, And we are not even aware Of deception and lies, When we are alive, have flesh, We think otherwise sincere, never realize Our self-deceptions and Our deceiving of others. I can see my tombstone: “Professor Of Philosophy, Werther Warner, Who brought Hegel to the French, Gave Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Sartre, Derrida, Deleuze, Levinas, Lacan, Fondane their start.” My inner forces in the bones Of my skull can recall after leaving My class in which I lectured on Hegel’s Slave-master relationship, I was So lonely I kissed a poster on a Blond brick wall. I kissed lips
Of paper, lips inked cerise. It Was Lola, the Blue Angel, an invention of Thomas Mannâ€™s brother. I gladly Would become a stooge And swallow an egg for her. I believe I had a wife. She always wore an opaque Long nightgown and turned Off lights as she entered the bedroom. Once I stepped in the bathroom When she was taking a shower. She usually wore a covering Because like the nun in Bertrand Russell She thought that God might see her naked. But this time when I stepped in She was naked. She quickly Grabbed a towel, covered her body, Ordered me outside. Blushed with shame, I cannot remember her name. Or why I ever married I donâ€™t know. I suppose I married Because I was one of the many, a They person, A slave mentality, a fool. I probably married because I was so extremely lonely, But when I married, I became more lonely. I now recall my past When these now scattered bones Were intact And were covered with that glorious flesh And its glorious neutral networks. My mnemonic aid Is the two bullet holes Surrounded by cracks That look now like Tiny twisting dark rivers In my time-browned skull. These two bullet holes
Are due to my wife pulling First the trigger, And then her lover, an insecure man, Pulled the trigger The second time To ascertain I was dead. I was still conscious enough To perceive Her tearing off her clothes And tearing off her loverâ€™s clothes After the shots were fires. They performed a number Of sexually acrobatic positions While listening to a tape Of Ravelâ€™s Bolero. I also recall the newspaper stories, When my wife and her lover, A junkie and Tarot card interpreter, Were guillotined for my murder. The papers said that while I lectured on the philosophy of Hegel, My wife was a lap dancer Who lap danced nude In a bistro near the Norte Dame cathedral. I was eulogized as being one The most brilliant teachers Of philosophy in Paris. On my tombstone I was deemed The new Abelard. One of my fantasies was that Heloise loved me.
Once, I surmised, I slept on a straw mat at San Marco monastery Savonarola is in a cell At the end of the corridor. He talks, in tones bass, bass buffo To a Florentine aristocratic lady With a purse, pig-skin string tied, Of much money. I mortified my then present flesh By the scrape of fish bones. It hurt. She, yes, she, who had unblemished skin Now has freckles, this painted Fra Angelico angel. I threw a glass of wine stolen from a mass Onto her erotic blonde hair and sweet, painted face. I wanted to kiss her hair, let a tuft tickle my tongue. I licked off the drops of wine That spattered over her flat body. Her pastel yellow dress is flat in front, Angelico Feared to give this angel breasts. She is flatness, no belly, legs, or thighs. No body beneath the bright cloth. I dropped on my knees to the bare floor To lick up the dropped wine drops Scattered between the broken glass, Cut my tongue. A few months later Savonarola would be burned In front of the Palazzo Vecchio Watched by the white marble eyes Of Michelangeloâ€™s faked Davide. On the floor, wine-sotted, I had a vision Of chorus girls dancing, like Saint Anthony Had when he stood in the hot desert sun On one foot.
The dancers all wore long-straight haired red wigs, Each had wings, finch-colored, like the wings Of Fran Angelicoâ€™s angels, but their eyes were glass, Blue glass, pale blue glass, pale blue glass eyes. All the dancers were blind, all the dancers Had two pale blue glass eyes. Their winks Were remotely controlled by an unseen, never-to-be known machine. Their dresses tight, long, spilt down the side To reveal long black stockings. The dancers had no knees. When I looked at the flesh of their faces, The flesh disappeared to display skulls. This was a long time ago, a long time ago When I was alive, if I ever alive. It is difficult to tell when you are dead. I am not certain If I ever I was alive, Or if what I just reported really happened. I am not even sure that Savonarola ever existed, Or that There was A painter Named Fra Angelo.
The uncertain, but assured
My bones, so well-preserved, appear pearl-surfaced As if a chamois-cloth polished ivory from an elephantâ€™s tusk, Mirror-surfaced, if ever dug up, One could see reflected their eye color and their countenance, But these bones are all mixed up, Not arranged to form a human skeleton. I cannot observe and tell If I were tall or short when alive. These bones so well preserved Were found inside a wicker basket Buried in the desert sand, near Nag Hanmadi, The place where the Gnostic Gospels were found. This discovery of my bones in Egypt Puzzles me, for when alive I never Was in this location. My name was Pimpinelli, A mayor of a city in Italy, a Bel Signor, Who left the management of the city To my less glamorous subordinates, I did all my law making with campari, chianti, And soubrettes, like Casanova, Every night a rendezvous, la, la. I cannot understand why my bones were Found in wicker basket, my tomb Was grand, copied from the tomb Michelangelo designed for Julius. But instead of a statue Of a horned Moses, there was A statue of a naked Venus, On the four corners there were Not saints, but naked nymphs All reaching with slender arms Toward my entombed body. Why, were my bones found In Egypt, haphazard in a wicker basket. Could it have been I was not
Who I thought I was when alive, When alive we are not sure who we are, Could it have been the same When we are dead. It is that We never know who we are, And spent our lives And our deaths fantasizing. But I recall very vividly the Naked body of a girl named Bella, A chorus girl, I poured campari Over her body on an eiderdown bed. But I also remember being mayor Of a plague city in the Netherlands, The white streets, scrubbed constantly By slaves were immaculate white. But when the plague came The streets, crowded with The pressed-against each other, Bodies of rats, The white streets became grey. I was not mayor then, but I Answered the riddles of the phoenix And the plague disappeared. I was the first blind man Ever elected mayor of this city Whose name I cannot remember. When I died, it was said In the eulogy my name Would live among the names Of other famous blind men: Homer, Oedipus, Tiresias, and Spider, The Anansiâ€™ trickerster god. But now I cannot be sure What my name was, Could it have been Pimperelli. Bella, where are you? I remember Bella. You were a Slavic-Teutonic blonde With the palest olive-colored skin.
My death certificate found With my beautiful bones in the wicker Basket said my name was J. Wellington Wells, a seller Of discounted occult books And discounted spells. I was Described as a charlatan And quack who lived in London. Thomas Caryle mentioned me In his famous tome on quacks. It said my son ran away from home To become a shaman In the south of South America, And discovered by collecting bones The theory of natural selection, Darwin stole the theory From my son, the South American shaman. Wallace knew about the theft, T. H. Huxley bribed the blackmailer To stay mute about the truth. The death certificate also said my wife Was an actress named Sybil Vane, Who spent her days in a white room Crowded with white orchids, while She drank whisky sours. She was Often heard to utter as she looked Into a mirror lines from Oscar Wilde, â€œBeauty is superior to Genius.â€? I do not remember any of this That is written on the death certificate. All I remember, Eiderdown, Campari, Bella.
“We don’t feel very securely at home Within our interpreted world,” Rainer Maria Rilke My bones felt that I had flesh, Had returned to gaze Through curves of a Schloos Duino window. On the outside real world, Upon the gorgeous gloom. The pale orange-yellow light That the Hudson River school Painted to arise up from The dark banks of rivers unseen Before a horizon Of pastel purple breast-shaped mountains. My shoulder bones felt tired and weary From my leaving my grave To dig with a short shovel In the cemetery for the bones Of Lou Andreas-Salome. In my aleatory digging I came Upon a pile of debris There was a lamp With human skin From the Hitler regime, Spots on the browned skin Were pink, like the jelly-fish pink color Of Lou Andreas-Salome’s breasts. Then I saw tattooed On the skin of the right breast A scene from Dante’s Inferno: Count Ugolino Holding up an ornate fork And an ornate knife Before a roasted human head At a banquet. No, I said, this could not Have been the skin Of Lou Andreas-Salome. I must have lived in the century
Of horrors, the twentieth, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Thousands of warlords in Africa, Asia and brutal dictators in South America. Perhaps, it was the Nineteenth-Century, I cannot remember. Or I might have lived during the age of Colonialism Or the Age of Slavery. What do I remember, I remember Chrome yellow massage parlors With short fat girls Who had to stand on stools to rub. I remember a pregnant girl from A drug addictâ€™s half-way house Who had faith that she was impregnated With the seeds of the seven tribes of Israel And would give birth To the savior of the world. I shared with her From a small jar Pickled, spiced small mushrooms. I think I had a Swiss bank account, I remember I willed my wedding ring To the National Rifle Association, Or was it the National Audubon Society. I remember eating mulberries, Our lips became purple, With a man named Sir John Davies Who talked about dancers. But he lived in the sixteenth century. When did I live? I believe my name was Dunner Morno, For was found Still gripped my finger bones A Florentine leather briefcase With the initials in gold, DM.
Why was I digging for the bones Of Lou Andreas Salome. The dead are never neurotic And do not need a psychoanalyst. After all, Lou was a student Of Sigmund Freud. Perhaps, I was curious if she had sex With Nietzsche and Rilke. I think I was her illegitimate son By someone unknown. The dead just as the living Are confused about everything. No, I think I was her lover, The lover after Sigmund Freud. I am not ever sure that my name When alive was Dunner Morno, For I remembered I was called By a number of names: Bartleby the Scrivener, Hunger Artist, Stephen Dedalus, the Artist Of the Beautiful, Underground Man, Steppenwolf, Philip Carey And Sam Spade. I donâ€™t know who I was when alive, But I always daydreamed I was Vermeer I identified myself with the Vermeer In the painting in Vienna When he made a public appearance He turned his back to the audience. I am going to keep searching, And since I am dead I have forever to search. I am devoting my death To searching for the bones Of Lou.
“If nothing dies in the everyday It is because in daily life everything Is already dead….Is there everyday Life--or everyday death,” Henri Lefebvre, 1981 I cover with my finger bones the holes In my skull’s side the place where Once were my ears, but still hear what I heard when I was alive, What I did not want to hear when alive. Hell is remembering what people Said when one was alive. I can hear still a tall woman, dyed blonde hair, Who wore a white straw hat With lasciviously twisted brim Asserting contralto “You cannot Stop process,” and she exulted In watching trees being cut down To build a shopping center That simulated Venice. I mean Venice, Italy, not Venice, Florida. She spoke loudly so she could be Heard over the bulldozers That were digging canals. But the statement I most heard was “Prove yourself a man.” It was repeated everywhere: “Prove yourself a man.” It was repeated as much As once upon a time The Gregorian chants were repeated. “Prove yourself a man,” Was repeated over and over Above my cradle.
No one seem to understand That I was born a girl. “Prove yourself a man.” “Prove yourself a man” I have been dead a long time, And since my death There is a rumor the world Has improved And phallocentrism is in Decline. My parents named me Charlotte Corday after a woman Who proved herself a man By killing a man in a bathtub. He was taking a bath To ease the pain of a skin disease When Charlotte Corday Proved herself a man By shooting a man In a bathtub With a sawed-off shotgun. It was shouted Throughout Paris, She proved herself a man. I never lived long enough To find out what the masses meant by a man, What the folk lies were. What was this “man” one Was to prove herself? I was born in a country Where it was illegal To have two girl children. I was a second girl child, And when it was discovered I was alive, I was given a lethal injection.
Scraps of White Rayon All the white rayon that covered Inside the steel box that is My coffin is now scraps And scattered over my bones As if snowflakes or the plucked Feathers from once-white chickens. There is one scrap that indicates The origin of the coffin’s white rayon. It has in print, gothic, “Made in Viet Nam.” I died twenty years after we Lost the Viet Nam war And made Viet Nam A capitalist success. I was a professor at A less-than-mediocre university That stood by a polluted river Where dead catfish floated belly up. I taught Middle English. Chaucer was the most musical Of poets, if Chaucer were read As I read Chaucer, in the London Dialect of Middle English as Derived from Kentish And Midland dialects. Chaucer imported continental Accentual-syllabic meter, Replaced traditional Anglo-Saxon Alliterative verse, and had A beautiful language before The Great Vowel shift took place. I always read the final e Not as a schwa, but voiced. The language when read aloud Is supremely beautiful, But my students never heard My reading for my students
Had Ipods in their ears, Ipods made in Viet Nam That could be concealed And not seen. They were listening to rap songs, Or old songs of the Fugs from the sixties. With these Ipods That can be concealed, A student can go through college For four years, And never hear a word a professor said. White rayon scraps, white scraps, scraps, Scraps is all my life has ever been. And now my death is scraps. My bones often struggle to recollect My teaching career, but I cannot Recall one happy or significant moment. I cannot remember the name Of any student I ever had, But while dead, I have nightmares, See them, all faceless, all brainless, Their hands gripping large stones, See them, a mass, running towards me, Trying to get close enough to stone me. These moments here in the grave Fill me with terror. Being dead Is as horrible as being alive. One instance I remember about My teaching career was on the day Of the Cuban missile crisis in Florida, An armadillo crawled under The College of Business Administration. While alive I became addicted to fantasies, But everybody in the twentieth century Lived by some type of fantasy. I never when alive met one person That lived by the truth,
I never heard one person speak A sentence that was true. There were some so dense, So mentally underprivileged, So lacking in imagination So deficient in making up fantasies, They turned to crack cocaine, Pot, or became rock music or sports fans. While I was lecturing On Piers Plowman or Gawain and the Green Knight, I daydreamed I was on a voyage, First class, to Cytherea Where gold cypress knees, Shaped like the knees of Venus Glowed from gold ponds. During breaks between classes, I would disappear into my daydreams. During the breaks I would Go to Paris, Da gehâ€™ich zu Maxim, I was with Lolo, Dodo, Joujou, Clocio, Margot and Froufrou.
When alive my ardent desire was to travel, But I never left Tampa, Or was it Dublin I never left. Sometimes, many times over the centuries, The waves and particle active in my skull And in other bones where there were once Activates like synapses and neural electricity, I am informed that while alive I was Called “Little Gallagher,” but at other times, I am informed it was Gabriel Conroy. But still at other times, I was told My name when alive was “Daminso Lopez,” Or “Decilio Lago,” or “Norris Benjamin,” Or the great writer of love sonnets, George Samson.” Having an identity, does not seem to matter now that I am dead. I do wonder if I were George Samson the poet, And when I wrote my love sonnets, Both Petrarchean and Shakesperian forms, To whom was I was writing this expression of love. It certainly could not have been my wife, Jane. I might have been Dante or Petrarch. It could not have been Beatrice or Laura, For Dante or Petrarch never knew the women To whom they wrote their love sonnets. It seems, it is all so vague, I believe I had an affair With the one or many I wrote about in my sonnets. I have a vague recall her name was Marietta, And she lived by a willow that grew In the waters of the Lake of Love at Bruges, Die tote stadt, or was her name Undine, Who lived under water at Lake Como. I remember walking down white marble Steps to enter her underwater boudoir. I really think it was Herodiade, but I Cannot remember where she lived. Now I could have been Stephan Mallarme, Longing for Herodiade’s nudity.
There seems to have been more than one Women I wrote my love sonnets to. One had long white gold hair, one Had reddish hair colored like coral, One had Slavic-Teutonic blonde hair, One had gold twists, another dark hair With auburn tints. Perhaps, my memories after death Are fantasies as are our memories when we are alive. I might not have been Dante, Petrarch, Stephen Mallarme, or George Samson. I might have never written a love sonnet, I might not have been a poet at all. Everybody thinks he or she is a poet, And I might have been fooled like so many. But I have one certainty, I longed to travel, I passionately desired to travel. But I never left my home In Tampa or Dublin. My wife, Jane, hated to travel, She only wanted to stay near her mother. I can remember dreaming about going To Key West. Marco Polo had told me about Key West. Manderville Had told me about Key West. Marco Polo said that one could look Offshore and see in the clear water The red cities of sea urchins. Spires, gold, would wave From pocked domes of red. One could see gold seahorses twist Gold tails around green seaweed. Marco Polo described vividly How one could watch Clown fish quiver in the arms Of sea anemones.
Marco Polo Never mentioned China to me, But he talked long about Italy, About great Italian wines, Brunello, Vin Nobil, Vernaccia, Tripa and veal marsala at Orvieto Where in the Cathedral There were Signorelli nudes And Marco Polo said: The Cathedral faĂ§ade Were so dazzling that he Had to wear dark glasses. The gold flashes of The angelâ€™s mosaic gold wings Would blind. He told how he Would sit on stones across The street, while gold angels flashed, And sip Antonori chianti From the Antonori cantina On the corner. I listen with longing to Marco Polo, And desired to go to Italy, But I never went any place, Stayed all my life In the dead cities Of Tampa or Dublin. My wife, Jane, hired Her brother named Beowulf To strangle me when I was asleep. He strangled me one night, And I never awoke. She immediately married Her lover, a missionary, And with her mother, All three went to Africa To preach sexual abstinence As a means to reduce AIDS.
When alive I was an immanentist poet When alive, I was a poet. My name, I think, was Walter von der Vogelweide, But I am not certain. I have a vague Memory of being called by other names, Werther, Thomas Warton, Issac Watts, William Wordsworth and Wozzeck. The intense pleasure I recall when alive Was dancing with Emma Goldman. The orchestra was primarily string instruments; We waltzed as they waltzed in old Vienna. Emma and I were in love, I think, But now I cannot quite remember What â€œloveâ€? is. It seemed to be some type Of relationship that produced Superficial cutaneous stimulations. Love was supposed, as commercially proclaimed, To be wonderful, but I am now not sure, For when alive we live by illusions. Now, I cannot remember which wig Of Emma attracted me most, the one Of white gold, or the SlavicTeutonic blonde hair. Perhaps the Reddish one, or the one with gold twists. Perhaps, it was not Emma at all That I loved, but a woman Called Rosa of Luxembourg. I recall our strolls through the Rocks and trees of Luxembourg forests. We would part the sticky stems of thistles, See large umbrella shaped mushrooms Whose surfaces were gold-speckled. It seems at the time I classified myself As an anarchist. In the evenings I would go down to Union Square in New York City, listen to communists Talk about dialectics and Professional beggars talking about how to fleece people,
Get rid of your hubris, overpower pride And you can live without working, Work is the opium of the people. I think it was Union Square or it might have been The nearby Waldorf cafeteria where anarchists Met to apotheosize Peter Kropotkin And Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin, Drink coffee that cost five cents a cup. Now, it might have been someplace Entirely different and far away, The Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich With a floor show of Hugo Ball reciting sound poems, Tristan Tzara doing the asana, Salamba Sirsasana reciting Passages from his poem, “The Approximate Man.” Or was in a section of the embalmed city, Tampa, called “Ybor City” where The living dead gather to pose, get body pierced, Get tattooed to pretend they are alive. Was it at the “Stray Dog Café?” A combo played simulated Creole music So loud No one Could hear What the other said As they talked about Their love and football bets. Only lip readers Had even a modicum Of communication, And usually This was a misinterpretation. It was there I went With my lover, Whatever love is. She had Modigliani red hair, Modigliani rich creamish brown skin, And always
Kept her eyelids Closed, closed tightly, Over her eyes. I thought we were compatible, Kindred temperaments, Soul-mates, our love made in heaven, But I was wrong. But we were exuberant In our conversations, Vivacious. We talked about J. Edgar Hoover, The Generation gap (I was eighty; She was thirty), We talked about Jimmy Dean’s sausage, Quetzacoal. As we sat there, her eyes always closed, We were waiting for Lefty, so the strike could begin, A big-bellied man with a small jet-black moustache, 1940’s brilliantine-slicked down jet-black hair, Who looked like a character in a John Held cartoon, Approached our table, asked her to tango. The combo played Astor Piazolla. She said, “Absolutely,” opened her eyes. I immediately missed the green paint On her eyelids. She went away With the stranger to dance the tango. I never saw her again.
Poetry collection from Duane Locke.