The Language of the Birds

 

Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide
Return and back into your Sun subside

 

1.

All moments seem wondrous, all things perfect
In our simple journey across New York State.

Towards Brooklyn, the town of all America.
The place, now dethugged and safe for artists
To create their visions in sesame street homes
Where monsters, real and imagined are found
In the blue mentalities of their patients ward.
Where all languages are spoken, are dispersed.
Where the sprigs of long since dried out lilacs
Bake in the summers heat. It's July and scents
Of springs forgotten, remembered as a dream.

Here, taxi slowly passing, have a sprig of dust.

From the bridge I had no poetic thoughts, fears
Of falling down crumbling stairs haunted my
Hungers of what was to follow. That precious
red tug boat courageously dragging a black
sanitation barge from one great smell to another.

We sat in traffic listening to the war progress.
There are more dead. It's happening. We drive
By the gleaming UN. The barren construction
site of the World Trade Center, a carrion crater.

The Titan arum and stinkhorn mushrooms fake
the scent of decomposition, attracting insects
to aid in reproduction. In all moments we die.

I ask Ted if we are indeed food for scavenging
condors. He avoids the question and relates the
signs of heat death. The body bakes, the urine
changes from yellow, to orange, to black. Bodies
breaking down from the inside, ours waters stolen.
Left for salt, the leathery skin cracks itself open.

One can only laugh and hope for a kind aneurism.

Oh how my brain hurts from all that there is to do.
One is not required to complete their task, only to
keep at it, never yield, and even after mild pause,
return to work with a sounding vigorous thunder.

The body stronger and mind wounded by the three
Injuries of the wise. The abrasions of injury cutting
into the flesh, to the prideful self, wounds, to endure
The pangs of a memory that cannot forget, forgive the
evil that has been done, never to be undone, only
witnessed over and over in the darkening corridors
of the mind's midnight theater. The stills get stuck,
a twisted stopped frame, a black and white picture
of a cowboy in a white hat holding a rope attached
to a man's neck. He stands tip-toed on a barrel top.
The balance is perfect. The movie flickers, clicks
From the center a bright light, a bubble emerges
Burning bliss, blistering sun bleaches the screen.
And for a brief moment the man is saved, the cow-
boy still smiling, holding his prey ready to lynch.

Coming out of the tunnel I smelled roast chestnuts.
Not a bag of chestnuts from a street vendor, a smell
Of something that only slightly resembles Christmas.
The mystery water that flows on NYC streets reflected
The tallness our talented buildings can climb. Dragons
Whirling around as helicopters once would, touching
down to earth only to refuel on, eat more commoners.
This is the way of catsup, money and people; surviving.

I understand that Herman Goering ate cyanide two hours
before his scheduled execution. I often wonder about his
evil joy in subverting justice once again. I wonder if Ken
Lay, feeling his arteries clot, his heart attack; laugh and
embrace his kind fortune once again. I often wonder also
if there is real escape in death, what waits beyond, let it be.

And to be, is to be in Brooklyn. The globe lamps welcome
every staircase. The lovingly distressed reddish brown bricks
compliment the rusting exteriors of the man who sold me
cigarettes; the woman who sold us our subway pass, the
man in the wheel chair who asked for and received our
spare change; the punk rocker who ran from my camera;
the child, slapped by his brother for wanting more cheese.
Who knew so many have their own story, so many walk.

So many boxes moving forward, towards smaller boxes
Taking them to larger boxes divided into small cubes. So
Many coffins walking towards prosperity, not as family
But as single joyous coffins, hexagonally alone, boxing
Agony under the brand name of Joy.

 

2.

The contentions arise out of love in the assembly of owls,
the influence of the Troubadours, the vestibule of fancied
dreams conduct and secure hidden affairs under another's
guise. We bypassed a young page hauling a silver sword.
He was in the company of a stately white harlequin riding
high on his stalwart roan. His checkerboard costume held
up a motley sign waving in the putrid winds of car exhaust:
Giant Killers dot com; Avenging all father myths, gain
conviction or acquittal, sanction or reprobation, by the
sword, in particular cases though the jurisdiction and
judgments of assemblies of closely concerned individuals,
in our own manner ­ repair what your government fixed!

They said they were heading to Black Tom Island to fix
Deeds long since past, and for the cost of a coffee and a
cranberry scone, would relate, like a cantaloupe rolling,
la langue des oiseaux; the Troubadours secret language.

One is granted the gift of understanding the language
of the birds by magical transformation as a reward for
great achievements by the king of birds. Birds inform
the translator of lurking dangers or clandestine fortune.

Solomon's wisdom was due to his being granted an understanding
of the language by God. Francis of Assisi is said to have preached
to the birds. In Kabbalah, Renaissance magic, alchemy, and occult
the language of the birds is considered a secret and perfect language.

 

3.

Oh how insidious our beloved English can be. It tells us
Nothing of the seven gods of the natural world, who being
Right by our side, lay so far away, beyond communication,
Beyond all that seems holy, if holy has any meaning beyond
Intangible trinkets today. I bought a holy card at St. Patrick's
Gift shop for my mother. We celebrated mass there once.
The card was of St. Lucy whose eyes look up at you from
a plate. I have held a lifetime hostility for her and her icky
plate of eyes. She wanted to give her wealth to the poor,
be like St. Agatha; her fiancée wouldn't have it, Mother
said it won't do, so they called in the Roman Guard to
arrest her and force her to marry and renounce chastity.
They were going to kill her for her faith, but first force
Her into prostitution for a good laugh. But God held her
firm where she stood, even when they used a team of oxen.
Determinedly, they decided to burn her where she stood.
The flames would not catch. A torture they could perform,
Was to gouged out her eyes, yet was still able to see. In death
God presented her a new pair of eyes. And on a golden charger
keeps her old pair which she can see into your person, your art.

We went on further, down the city street gauging the real
Estate values of cardboard boxes in the darkened alleyways
And side streets, whose residents bolt in thunderous rattling
Clouds, scampering their trash can bank accounts of soda pop
cans and half eaten happy meals. I have cursed god for my ill
fortunes, but never has it let me slide into homelessness. How
context seems to clear the consciousness, absolve our fleeting
blue silliness's golden insights to the methods of red monsters.

It is not what we have but what we do with what we have!

I soon realized that our group had separated from us. We
were going to the museum, the house of waking ghosts,
art reverently separated from the dead artists hand, rendered
clean, free of the troubling anachronistic issues of anarchism.
The purchased work is free to live, live on within imaginations
Self image, free for all to appropriate the graded ink spots painted
on someone's old dinner table. What will they eat dinner on now?
Who went hungry? What occurred to this person to trans-mutate
table and paint; the moment when all things reflect into a brush
stroke, a lifetime condensed into a word that lasts a lifetime, what?
What magic stands between, my brain cannot comprehend.

A symphony of sculpture slowly began, a dance of iron
Steel and plastics spun from the center. The framed art
Began to float merrily in carrousels, while the media arts
Flickered the light switches on and off again to make a
Homemade strobe. Duchamp waltzes with Picabia, Tristan
Tzara jumps up on an excited chair, "God and my toothbrush
are Dada, and New Yorkers can be Dada too, if they are not
already." C'est mon dada, to create certain human horrors
it could not be more like a war than a high school dance.
Reason and logic lead us to this place and it is reason that
Undoes us all. A six foot plaster flower sprouts legs and
Cuts a rug, a ragtime jitterbug jazz. It shakes the walls.
The foundations wane, the windows snap, the old ceiling
Tiles creak and slowly, a small crease envelops to a crack.
The crack to a break, the break to fault, the fault to collapse
The whole of MOMA. Why, why would this art attack?
Lash out in such a way. It seemed to love me at first, caressed
My check the way mom once did. I gave so much. Just
Short of incanting a new name for a new age that is very
Much like the age we have already lived. Live TV repeated,
Novels, poems written 100 years before accurately inscribing
today. Describe a me of yesterday, knowing that today would
soon blossom, rally then slouch, then fall dead and decompose.

 

What the mind thinks must be in it, in the same sense as letters
are on a tablet which bears no actual writing; this is just what
happens in the case of the mind.
Aristotle, On the Soul


We were alone, Ted and I, but you were talking to
Someone just a moment ago. Where did Peter run off to?
To meet his wife? And Justin to meet his dealer. Jim
To look for lunch and Donna went off to buy jewelry.
Ethan was never really there in the first place. Jenny
Had to feed her fish, Mark his dog. Kyle and Forrest
Went to the track a bet on a horse. Marty and Dana
Are on Black Tom Island flying a purple dragon kite.

4.

Finally, I realize why I'm told the dead sleep so well.

This poem recounts the longing of a group of artists
who desire to know the great cantaloupe of Art. They
start a long journey toward the land of Wintermelon.
The artist cross seven valleys to seek the mad mirror.
One by one, they drop out of the quest, each offering
a reasonable response to the rigors wandering entails.

These represent the stations that any individual must pass
to realize the true nature of poetry. Eventually only four
remain as they finally reach the Hall of Cantaloupe. All
they see there are each other and their reflection in a lake.

This is not the mythical melon I dreamed about.

Dada is not external or separate from the mind, realize
the truth, reaching for the grapes of glory. Reality finds
no rest in itself. Blood pudding nothingness, sits limply
in a tall glass, quivering. Poetry itself cannot live, act,
or move! Coo coo ca choo!

Art is not art!

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