I called your name from the tower of Babble,
Where the old ones’ breath shakes each branch
And stone. A sweet country girl alone in the wood
By the silencing stream. My voice full of strain
But you gather it not, your head’s in a book,
You notice not fauna or fungus at all. Smell
Tied strongest to memory. Warm wood smell,
Smell of wet paper, of words spoke in Babble
When the sun sang and the grass bound book
Lay untouched. She reached above for a branch,
Pulling herself so as not to tumble. A small strain,
She was fit, have you not seen the piles of wood
She split with one arm, babe in the other? Wood
You were lost in. Wood of shadow and smell,
Of fern and fungus, and that odd genetic strain
Of lotus whose fragrance inhaled causes babble,
Stagger, insight and forgetting. It mixes with branch
Water to perfection when distilled. I wrote the book
I found in its midst. Sunlight, and resin, this book,
Beams of light, green texture and hue, grain wood
And static. Of the earth god’s tree your family branch
Has been removed. In its place: sap and the smell
Of scorched exile. No willow birthed the babble
That mutters her name. An oak of lie tale’s strain
Tells of truths you swallow, blending genetic strain
With sunlight and moss. Its all in the sacred book.
A little of everything merging in some organic babble.
The language of texture and scrape, the raw wood
Splintering each page, the freshest boughs smell
Green and lie smooth on the pages, each branch
A scratch and sniff reminder of her among branch
And thicket. Even as the dinner is served I strain
to remember it all. How do you translate “honey-book”
Into the language of thickets. Why do I often smell
Our mulch when standing in a stream? The wood
Ticks cling to the fur of our lost pets, and we,
Swinging from each branch, each breath a book,
Each thought a strain, and in every single wood
Every single smell – a rich must and brook’s babble.
Sit with me. Kindly untangle the threads of threat,
Filter my gasps through a splendid mesh of web,
And retire the urgency that is spilling into our cracks.
And let us at least embrace the sofa’s soft calling,
Where a sinner’s song is hummed low, hiding
Between a sorrow and a confession. Sit with me,
Toss your scarf on the lamp. You’ll enlighten me,
Please, with that tale of your knife-point threat.
I will never understand just why you were hiding
That cheap trinket in your shoe to start. Web
Weaves with web, and each word a hollow calling,
A siren screaming – pay attention – listen for the cracks,
The whip cracks, the cracker jacks, the ice cracks
Beneath the feet, the lake’s lack of freeze, and me
Now clawing upwards in a dog’s paddle, calling
Out into the endless white threat after threat.
You omniscient motherfucker! And a blue web
Of sky shatters the clouds. Where are you hiding
My ministers? I’ve no answers! No one is hiding,
Yet they all remain hidden. The minister’s cracks,
Both wise and regrettable, are archived on the web.
And there I was, looking out into the vast expanse. Me!
With no name or noun! Me! Honey, thunder and threat.
A slow, viscous, electric vibration. Humming, calling
Me a philistine as if I’d read the word of god, calling
My loved ones “otter bait” as if they weren’t hiding
In the local aquarium caves anticipating the threat,
That strange high pitched chant. “Step on the cracks
You’ll break your mother’s back.” And then calling me
“Otter,” and “potato cake” and “pumpkin”! This web
Is transforming into a macrame shield, this web
Will be the solace hammock that leaves them calling
For entry, hoping to share in my shimmy. With me,
Always, a sunray, a fish. a naked woman hiding
In my shirt pocket. And still you offer cheap cracks.
Your moonlight weaving, marble rye, brook no threat,
Beats no pulse in me, sticks like pumpkin-guts in a web
Of sloth and threat, like an inbred hound calling
From beneath the couch. Hiding, peeking thru cracks.
Behind you, alone or asleep, your sweetheart. A mirror,
A delicious cake knowing its own happening, unknown
In its own haphazardness, wildly running out for more.
More layers lead to elaborate vexations. Startling rumors
Begin to stack up and the dealers who shuffle the ordinary
Cards are replaced with seers and a fresh-inked deck
Spread out in a cross, an old mixtape plays on the tape deck,
With each symbol or sign, hit, stay or fold, a bronze mirror.
Then your song, sung beyond death and somehow ordinary,
The song yr HS g/f hated and lead to the break. Unknown
However is the next number, tho there were always rumors
Of its manifestation. A drag of a rag, sloppy and a bit more
Post-punk posh. A band of muppets, shaggy and maybe more
One hit wonder than the rest of quid and quim. Next on deck
The Three of Wands. And the layers peel and more rumors
Micturate on the truth. The truth not somewhere in the mirror,
The wands tell us of a palace, in/external, welcoming unknown
Derivations of yr shame, here it is all about the ultra-ordinary,
The “more than everyday.” That inside/outside ordinary
tune you whistle scrubbing that square inch feeling more
Itchy and dirty than the rest. A subconscious surreal unknown
Twitch requiring the sublime scratch. An interior poop deck
For the Shanghaied to swab, mired and windless. They mirror
The Fool, the next card revealed. Dispel any and all rumors.
Fool of a man, hung up on the world and hung among rumors.
Rumors of philandering and witchcraft, sins ordinary
And obscene. Pop star vanity and occult use of a mirror.
Scrying eyes and scattered tea leaves, then even more
Disappearances in the South-end. Standing on your frozen deck,
Afraid now of interiors, they’ve done numbers on you. Unknown
In name or in kind, that creaking out there in the dark. Unknown
In the crevices of greymatter, the sublingual howling, the rumors
Rising up to say – something, anything. Out on the ship’s deck
Catching rainwater in rusted buckets. In the crow’s nest ordinary
Horizons are catching fire. Peel back another card. No more
Interpretations. This is no longer a metaphor. This is no mirror.
Magic buckling under mirror and smoke. Lost in the unknown
Expanses, compressed more and more into tawdry rumors,
Exploits fantastic and ordinary, set to the mix-tape in the tape-deck.
They are on the rooftops and they have keys.
Though we are not under a constant attack
Per se, their theorizing often complicates.
There is an odor of salt, there is a train down
The river and it runs all hours patiently,
A cuneiform message shimmering in light.
The passengers squabble, decoding, light
Pouring from each carriage. The porter keys
The lock, whispers instructions, then patiently
Classifies each shift on the rails as attack,
Defense, or surrender. When much further down
The line an incongruent coin toss complicates
The timetable and route. It further complicates
The ambitions of a certain conductor. “Light
Another cigarette and by the butt we’ll be down
Near the start of the line. Divine train-womb! Keys!
Keys for the doors & then we will press, attack!”
“If she stay the course” sung in chorus, patiently
Pantomiming the shoveling of coal. Patiently
He fingers his watch-fob. That which complicates
The smooth-ride can add laceration to the attack,
A bleeding out over the iron rails. In the moon-light
A summer song adding to the crickets sharp keys.
What lyrics we sung over that tune each sun-down!
They are on the rooftops and just won’t calm down,
They won’t climb down, avoid eye contact. Patiently
The others tabulate, they codify map legends, keys
Indicating distance, time, depth, location, complicates
The fact we are on one rail, straight, and the light
From sun or moon or man – a weakness in our attack.
I saw her throw her arms in the air, “Ok, attack!”
She hollered hoarsely to no one. But then down
The line you sat with binoculars aimed at her light,
Swinging there on the back of the caboose patiently,
Gracefully swaying, a pendulum which complicates
the growing darkness. Opening, like conductor’s keys,
Intruding and unwanted keys, a malicious attack
Which for us complicates any hope to settle down.
The sun crouches patiently, holstering the ideal light.
It was the year they reincarnated Billy the Kid and the Sox
Won the Series again. I don’t know what they call it- forgetting
You know someone, forgetting their face, their eyes, their name.
It would’ve made the news, had I remembered to call home,
Just once. At first all the second comings made me squeamish,
My mind takes as long to settle as an old house, with rickety
Floorboards, with the slow rattle of a radiator against the rickety
Walls. That winter was so cold and the heat so poor we always wore sox.
The damn cold kept the meat frozen & now thawed, almost squeamish.
Same year they unearthed father’s uniform and reburied it, forgetting
To mark the mound. A piece of sandpaper to scuff the ball, home
Plate more of a concept than a target. Really, of all the pitches to name
It was the wild curveball I recall, the one I remember like my name.
I remember the snap, some distant echoing cry, a stretcher, the rickety
Ford, an aging country doctor. And for all that barely the scent of home
To welcome me back. That wasn’t the year I saw you bare, ‘cept for sox,
Creeping out of your bedroom as I lay on your brother’s sofa forgetting
The ‘whys’ and ‘what-fors’ that brought me there, you weren’t squeamish
There in the kitchen making breakfast, buck naked. I was squeamish,
Barely just a boy. That was then. It isn’t for lack of trying I forgot the name
You gave me. I’m surprised I remember any of it. Funny thing, forgetting,
Because I always held your words so dear, like the rudder of a rickety
Sailboat, skirting the boulders beneath cliffside shadows. Darning sox
Is how I imagine you now. Domesticated, despite the lack of a true home.
Now, cursed as I am – alien, stranger, drifter, not even knowing home. Home.
All my efforts to piece it back together in fragment, ethereal, even squeamish
at the thought of what it once was. Broken. Like the Bambino and the Sox,
Betrayals bequeath a legacy of defeat. Is there anyone here who can name
The anguish of a young boy who watched you disappear down the rickety
Steps of your brother’s cottage, left alone and somehow always forgetting
Where home was, or where it is. Forgetting its meaning, its heart. Forgetting
The smell of pie in the oven, or of the perfume you wore. And finding home
Again – the warm embrace of friends and lovers, the front door and rickety
Coat rack where your scarves hung like monster tentacles in my squeamish
Imagination. Let me be a reminder and somehow I’ll remember your name
And mine, the elegant curve of your calves clothed only in tight green sox
Those long knee-high sox, so often the cause of my forgetting.
He was only Billy the Kid in name, the real outlaw stayed home
quivering & squeamish, between her thighs, in bed, soft and rickety.
Side-stepping shadow-boxers with glassy intentions,
Into a waft of fumes that are no longer elegant,
Only to emerge, gun-shy, within a cat litter mine
Blown out over the two-tone linoleum. A sandstorm
Carpeting the bordering streets of a village oasis.
Fluorescent light obliterating each and every shadow.
“It’d take a nut-butter taxi,” said one obliterated shadow,
“To relax thee.” Surely misheard, though the intentions
Intoned clearly evoked the miscalculating oasis
– or was it miscalculated? Lost in these tapestries. Elegant,
intricately measured designs, then covered in sandstorm.
The external, all of it, (bird song, heartbeat, helicopter) mine.
Withholding opinions in the cloud of skin-flakes, all mine.
Blustering about the sunbeams lost to return in shadow.
Watched ‘em climb dunes to picnic just after the sandstorm.
Waiting. Impatient. Forever dancing around their intentions.
And there we were – knee-deep, greasy, and elegant.
Our crescendoed laughter shattering mirage and oasis.
With her stunning arrival we need loiter no longer at the oasis,
But found it challenging to extract ourselves, to mine
The cruxes from memories raw, to shape and fire elegant
Miniature echoes, pencil scratches against shadow.
She turns and we follow, phonies, raw with intentions
Blasting out and shuddering nothing within this sandstorm.
You cannot reshape me inside of this pedestrian sandstorm,
But if on occasion my travelling companion and I reach the oasis,
Please mow the lawn and inform your children of our intentions,
If you can guess. Even my fellow’s are obscured to me & mine
Shift and flicker in the darkness, casting an elongated shadow
Through these North African streets glittering, star-lit and elegant.
She spit spumes of mint tea into the bird-bath, once an elegant
Ornament, a bleached target to fix upon from within the sandstorm.
Donate just a moment to this silhouette of shade trees and shadow
One moment, beyond the daily tickity-tock, and find in this oasis
A dream, a breath, a concave mirror for the ten-thousand intentions
Held tight, given names to define always what is suppose to be mine.
So barked and banged intentions, oh, oh you elegant
Whores, bankrupt and broken. Mine is yours in the sandstorm,
In the mirage, the oasis. So come, sit with me, within shadow.
Early in the morning a radio breaks the night’s silence “Last night I dreamed
I was a child out where the pines grow tall…” Early. 4:32 a.m. The darkness
Of night tinted in the greenish blue of the alarm clock light. Clocks. Cocks.
The dying rooster in the Zona Maya, coughing it’s daybreak alarm, always
Two hours premature, I inevitably laughed, it resounded drunk and earnest,
And with no more hen-houses to invade, it lived to torment the conquistadors.
As you get out of bed do this – sing your song, sing a song of ruthless conquistadors
Spreading a plague, sing of toothbrush and toiletries, sing the dream you dreamed.
And afterward as you greet the sun, oh hallowed burning sphere, laugh in earnest.
How did the torchbearers occupy themselves in the hours before the darkness?
With song of course, blathered or chirped, soothing yet cautious, always
Deep in the pocket of an unwritten groove. Observe the iron weather-vane cocks
Spinning in the dawn wind. Squeaky, grinding, cast iron replacing ancient cocks
Crow, hardwired to our biology over thousands of years. Farmers, kings, conquistadors,
All woken by the proud foul. In your primal brain, woven, programed, always.
In sleep comes the home invasions, now I must even shut the cat door. I’ve dreamed
Of landscapes and implausible choreographies, someone needs to chide the darkness,
It’s become too full of itself, but then again who can blame a repository? Earnest
Dreams. Awake the vivid images twist in some surreal landscape. I fall back to earnest
sleep – or somewhere in-between. Dawn light through the blinds. What is it about cocks?
Half asleep, half awake, mind still in the dream place and I stiff as a pine. Off in darkness
A man crouches, blowing on sparks in a bird’s nest of bark shavings. Lost conquistadors
May soon upon him stumble, one kicks a pebble into a puddle or have you dreamed
That tiny splash that now echoes from the hotel bathroom, a faucet drip can always
Keep me up at night. I always search for the pattern. The Morse Code echoing, always
In every hotel, motel bathroom into the dreams of travelers. A message, subtle, earnest,
Through pipes and plumbing, sings softly, “Wake! See the world around you!” I dreamed
Less once I reached the cenote. I swam among the shards and bones. The cocks
Fighting behind the palapa were ownerless, there were no modern conquistadors
Tossing pesos on the dirt. The souvenir pyramid, visible on nightstand despite darkness,
Reflecting the rays of light breaking through the blinds, but within it a perfect darkness.
Darkness deep within its heart and in the few seconds of real of twilight, always,
For as long as I could remember – the echoing, horrified screams of conquistadors.
How many times have you met your oppressor, legs akimbo, arms spread wide, earnest
Smile? The light stabs the bulletholes in this allegory. The invaders and their cocks
Stab brown-skinned Eves, in Edens so golden it’s all you’ve ever dreamed.
A limestone bed so porous that we dreamed – dreamed of numbers and darkness
Like scared children holding our cocks, cowering and alert. Always
The sacrifices made in earnest, turn gold into lead for conquistadors.
by Jeffrey Enright and Laurence Lillvik