Sunday, January 14, 2018

In The House Of Dead Skin On The Planet Purgatoria - Notes Elegiac Written During A Searing Illness

[photo of Warren, Easter 1960]

for Josef - tightrope walker, dancer, eye glancer where I once and forever fell continually onto soft landings. My demands are over. I find you now in clover beds behind the Metropolitan, Temple of Dendor overlooking our search for the rare four-leaved still-common flower. You are uncommon to me always. I am the grateful commoner once supplicant at your heart's many chambered door. I am content enough.

Also, this piece is dedicated to Cafe Orlin, that down the alley place where for 35 years I long sat allowed my solitude and soups beside books and notebooks stacked, my sereptitious longing glances at the servers and chefs, the scrap-and-crumb-removers whose dark eyes lit fires and fueled at least a million words and imaginings (how much the breaking heart can bear astounds and resounds through the bearer forever) . Orlin has recently closed its doors for good or, rather, to go with some imagery in the text below, has folded its tent that daily featured the myriad circus performers of the East Village and Manhattan and the world...this place, one stepped down from the street to enter it, is where I once wrote my millionth epitaph:

'We shod our feet against what long loss of motion,
eyes downcast or boldly returning the stare?

Beneath each eye there's some familiar look we refuse.
We map our way to sleep in the palms of shy or frightened hands.'

Cafe Orlin, years of moments glad, sad, and in between, coffee spills upon expensive pages and poor ones too, uncountable and unforgetful smiles and jokes, aspirations and dreams, inspiring and aspirating as do all hopes seize re-size us all these that go all in with spice, grease, with Meditteranean glad tongues daily ensouling cycles - crumbs in beard and lap, breakfast, lunch, dinner - I will miss you as I-the-thinner become foregoing more than peasant repasts of sour dough endless dull knives of butter slathered upon, sprinkles of salt flung over shoulder for all
my spills, mindless drippings, and breaking the trembling china. SALUTE!

And to Jean Genet: "So once again begins the three−cornered life in the garret which looks out over the dead, the cut flowers, the drunken gravediggers, the sly ghosts torn by the sun."

Please pass through this poem but be not "torn by the sun".


Lectio Divina

'There is no other source of beauty than the wound - unique, different for each person, hidden or visible, that every man keeps within, that he preserves and...he withdraws when he wants to leave the world behind for a temporary but deep solitude.'
- Jean Genet, from The Studio of Alberto Giacometti 1957

'It sounded vaguely like the kind of thing
Christ might have said if Christ had a sense of humor.
The empty bar that someone was supposed to swing to him
Did not arrive, & so his outstretched flesh itself became
A darkening trapeze. The two other acrobats were thieves.'
-Larry Levis, from Elegy with a Darkening Trapeze Inside It



Sweep up the nightly flesh harvest, macabre then
when flush "I" silt down toilet with blessings to underworld deities -

by me be them nourished enough to grant
(O grant me please)reprise and sundry other
wants I'll blurt here, and bleat your meek hurt
lamb shorn to nerve, skin no longer but what
sheds cell by cell, I am to Hades, Dis, Sheol,
Inferno, returned, all too real no matter the Name,
perhaps Dessication's the better.

How strange
wake up in these
sheets feel my
grain surface-me
forced out and
off by what within
seeks to free,
move about,
perhaps as mulch,
into the world of
the living, or so
is the appearance,
legs, arms fill
my street.


The Night Watch

...all night tv, Catholic station, I awaken
in hallucinations Roman. Father B. and
me giving commentary run on in Latin
upon "revered Saint John of the Cross
imprisoned by his very own, the worst by
Deity though remaining Lover-at-the-brink, "
ward walker feet first into the world one
clinched fist wishing to reverse to return

repair placenta
there drift umbilical
in potential always

on-the-way but
glad-stalled in
no-think little fingers

pink spider-curl
thread blue veins
do sift am-me-not-"Ich"*1

Lover, I'll struggle to rise for the proffered
Drink, Real Presence (from whom? I live alone) .
I shudder feel mystical urge forge Dark Night
again that purgation that emptying out of
once was meaning bereft of all the striving
after earlier seeking almighty rafter upon
which to hang keep above the fray

but wins the nights and days sandpaper skin
when knees unable to bend ache elbows too
too raw-red oozing each move a pain a prayer
of sorts in what now is lair the old tv set
lunar stares stark blind into monochrome
rearranges furniture, books on the shelf
myself too dismembers reassembles

(kingdom come
will be done and
all that which is
not nothing but
some thing is the

Church bells near do ring the hour, or half,
hear them divide into parts that which is
more than me now strung now quartered




between chimes

dust is

can be


one finger cuts in

in traces

a thought last minute or sooner

soon, soon god willing I'm a goner



I wake to Rome

the most handsome African face scars a startle on the screen,
in St. Peter's attending Mass for Prisoners, a final mass to
conclude the Year of Mercy inaugurated, a year's worth,
by kindly Pope, to him I nod nap between Latin the mass
and those masculine faces, prisoners leaning forward on knees

I become dirge itself as Demi Urge reveals voracious lust
for exaggerated masculinity in full flower in agony, in humility,
what hands have done heat bidden to others remains a god stain
for the Mass the mess it is - that it is flesh and blood that is eaten
at the Table we're unable to escape the animal nor the perambulating

spirit that crawls lurks lunges leaps toward some integration
once transcendence is given up, the hope of it, on one's knees
at last or, as I am now for a year, on his back raw meat-ed hairy,
winter's lion caught out of season in insistent and urgent corelatives.

Awake again a face pleads a kneeling prisoner the camera adores
as do I, O Face familiar much, Saint Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers*2,
from pénitencerie France, more than once sprung, the redemptive
narrative there from his artistry

that mysticism of The Abjection

articulation in underworld the excoriation alienation
unimagined but experienced agonies primitive infantile

such must be inexorably conjured emerging unsought

but fated seizure

upon gut
soul eye
roll him (me)
inside out

why/how appease impersonal
deity hiding behind cold bars

doors demanding merger
love to flesh metal?

In answer perhaps in
bed stunned into sleep
by the question in beatitude,
in dumbstruck,

a most beautiful boy,
Beatitude Itself, in Vatican
choir rapture, soprano

sing crystal sing plaintive,

virginal to prisoners,
holy, pure, such singing

O replunge each criminal
kneeling into further exile
into further Glory and me
he weeping abyss returned
to skin and nerve endings
sheering cell by cell raw
my raw hands long nails
bloody matted hair on belly

is that smell the smell
of animal me captured
not the Unicorn but the
winter lion lying on sheetless
mattress gray yellow,
gutted self opened who
would be once again
caught in those rafters
whose only crime is to
live anxiously for church
bells ringing the here

to hereafter.



A Probatory Reprise

This mid-day surprise. Freed!
momentarily, of course;
in self imposed imprisonment,
in flesh, no divorce is permanent, final.

Evenso. I am less brittle, a little, enough
now, to take myself, Crustacian Man,
masked of course, the plain man, wall
and sidewalk shadow scuttle into

HUMAN world.

To brace myself, to soothe, I take Genet
with, him devour him consent, yet forbid
tears for the tightrope walker astounded,
his last lover, Algerian, a circus lad stretched
blooming in spotlight emerging into

and man-falling
a falling-man willful

imolation leap
luscient eventual
inevitable pale



Coniunct io

[]_______________ ____Le Funambule____________________[]

[] __________________The Rope Walker__________________[]

such are attempts (transcend via ropes and swings and rafters)
upon Palomino's back upon which balances urgent youthhood
in tights holding a gay umbrella over his concentrated head, his
bluer than blue eyes fixed upon some other-world-anywhere-but-here,
not hearing the blurred masses crashing against him-the-projected

that they need
and so feed upon
him torso
him balance
him stillness-dance
on the haunch

him unreal unseen
as real so him peel
down tights to
skin moon-white

each gallop each
bounce portends
him rope and him
fall at last into him
past which refuses
memory itself nor
need for recall (or
fall)especially when
the bereft remainder
the loverpins him
past to now-agonies

tender pinner he
remains reminds
him splintered
one to sing and say

of him splendour
of him acrobat
him ropewalker
him child/man
of tents
and stray
grave but
gay hints
there is more than a year
a moment in Mercy arms
legs breaths twined till twain
and pain doth them part,
lips forever parted mute

too stunned in loss to sound
the repetitive moment of
him legs and him white
arms flashing down

there is no sound then but

him thud

just one

more than


to end

all that


Contemplation - Stations of the Cross

Down the brief street almost Spanish in intent and shade, I/he, Crustacion
Man, read Jean Paul Sartre's book, Saint Genet, a difficult read though
well written, dense with rich thought, his own transcendent language
tightrope inspired requires a specialist in both levity and gravitas to ken,
but one reads as one chants over, now, the opening sore, or soar from
rope into fire, discover there the landing is soft once the breath puffs out,
shoots through the tent, remains some depth and sanctity there or near
or above ascending past circus, past tent, in the air close above but also
close behind the ear last breath a prayer between eyes closed and thinking
finally shattered...such is the rarer art, soul's the cost wrest from cauldron
lad/man beneath the rope taut, hope wobbly on all too human wings which
would be mind heart sinew and sole, the drunken circus band honking on
and on such is gaity and play staying crises while the tent is secured enough
the elephants slow motion sway and the lad dances raw on horseback or
pony, pennies tossed beyond him to gold the center and hope-us-give
that the living's more than the stumble-and-stale but the rope walker

attempts, tempting us into presence-enough even as skin dries
from raw red to sand-sundered self-dust lying-abed, shelter in place,
how much more scrape to get to essential bone?

my thoughts alone at a round table dark scarred of fork and knife,
how many lives in the alley to table taken to meals and books, lives,
mistaken harlequin moments turning the page, turning the ruby,
the color at least, in the glass?

How can this reddening world not be loved inspite all glimpes ahead
forward to the last page, the backcover closing within a clover there
pressed, and the paler lad/man upon the prancer, its mane long and
flowing in spotlight glow, in overflow of ecstasy, the moment the
movement illuminates, now and at last, until the circle is swept at
last, the flung pennies gathered.

Rehearsals unseen begin anew before searing noon topples
morning toward concluding shadows, the band practices another
tune but always in the end a stagger, evening's adagio waiting
the curtain pull-back, the neighing horse and band when the
standing lad/man balances, easily it seems, glad upon the tigher
rope or the cantering haunch, centers the miracle in the sky-blue
tights what lights the motion-maddend crowd-now-all-one-child
screaming - no wobbling! no saddle!

the tent walls tremble,

for us he

pretends the miracle of never falling.


Lectio Divina - Sacred Reading - Read > Reflect > Respond > Repose

["His defeat astonishes and overwhelms him, but he claims that he has doomed
himself since childhood... submerged in a ghastly present, he leaps, at the same
time, far into the future, turns to look at his dead life and finds it exemplary. He is
himself and the Other, as always; and, as always, the Other is imaginary...

...Hopelessness is its own hope. He creates a way out by himself; he is even the
way out; and he knows it. He knows that he is being observed by an invisible witness
who will come and lay his hand on Genet's brow and whisper gentle things to him:

"You would not seek me if you had not found me."]*3


The Sacrifice - Misericodia*4

him Jesus

(the secret can
be told, him was
a believer after
all despite the

executed between two prisoners, thieves of
lavender, appropriate much, thieving grace in
a graceless human world, Genet on one cross,
violets violently blooming from his feet, his
hands, and the scarred youth a pastel still,
is thrown from his circus mare, unstrung from
the tightrope dashed, is hung stunned to be
fallen, is raised upon the other, each thirsts

why must thirst be hidden when it is thirst for
an Infinity beyond magic and illusion though
acrobats accomplish much with their bodies
illuminated in beams of light but even they, as
all/us/we, are incomprehending of the word


needful things all three criminals we too crave
the vinegar sponge for drink, which prisoner
serves us, and who shall notice a last blood
wink with Him eye to a setting sun.

Year of Our Lord and all that, still another
lad climbs the height in darkness before
the beam hurts the eyes a pledge to stretchedness
between rope and ground, but for screams
- delight or fear - with balance the end is
easily near reveals that each step matters,
each breath emboldens defiant walks or
rides upon a pony's hide, or the horse's,
the rope is straight, the course curves to
trace the trotters the ringed romp is all
design and mirrors dividing centered magic
from the masses crammed in the risers
the beggars convocation of clocks unwinding,
dark birds flock the near horizon, the
ecstasy at last beneath big top bent on
distraction and redemption though there
are some most in need of the latter

(but not
the ladder
to rope
and swing
where clowns
times three
ascents by
the all
too ordinary)

such rarely think upon any escape actively

still again

they do need
and so feed upon
him torso
him balance
him stillness-dance
on the haunch

him unreal unseen
as real so him peel
down tights to
skin moon-white

each gallop each
bounce portends
him rope and him
fall at last into him
past which refuses
memory itself nor
need for recall (or
fall)especially when
the bereft remainder,
the lover, pens him
past to now-agonies

tender penner he
remains reminds
him splintered
one to sing and say

of him splendour
of him acrobat
him ropewalker
him child/man
of tents
and stray
grave but
gay hints
there is more than a year

a moment in Mercy's arms


*1"Ich" = German for "I" thus "am-me-not-"Ich""is word play with "amniotic" turning into
"am me not I [me]

*2Jean Genet,19 December 1910 - 15 April 1986)was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but he later took to writing. His major works include the novels The Thief's Journal, and Our Lady of the Flowers, and the plays The Balcony, The Maids and The Screens.

Existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre wrote a book, Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr, 'about...Genet especially on his The Thief's Journal. It was first published in 1952. Sartre described it as an attempt 'to prove that genius is not a gift but the way out that one invents in desperate cases.'[1] Sartre also based his character Goetz in his play The Devil and the Good Lord (1951)on his analysis of Genet's psychology and morality.[2] Sartre has been credited by David M. Halperin with providing, 'a brilliant, subtle, and thoroughgoing study of the unique subjectivity and gender positioning of gay men'. - wikipedia entry 'Saint Genet'

*3This passage is from Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr, by Jean Paul Sartre, page 191.

*4 Misericordia = Latin for Mercy

Photo below of Jean Genet, author of Our Lady of the Flowers and many other novels and plays.  I do not own rights to this photo at all.

You may view the  Mass for Prisoners on youtube...just enter this in the subject line:

2016.11.06 Mass for the Jubilee of Prisoners

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Storehouse Of Treasures Opens By Itself - A Thanksgiving Day Reverie And Homage To John Tarrant

So the grackle wrestles with the tree top...

These pentitential psalms of David play while snow flurries out over the creek below, the spruce trees sift-sort out just which large bird will try their tips to rest upon...grackles and, yesterday, an enormous eagle regally perched in stillness as the tree top bent from feather weight still, a day after the grackle's heft, gently sways. 
No need to watch the breath here in Keene.
What is seen is enough to nestle one inside and out.
Cold feet. Too ensconced to move and search - sort for socks.
Upstairs a toilet flushes. Two year old feet clumsily thump
as David laments, 
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. . .My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?"
Meanwhile baking turkey aroma, and sage cornbread (NO sugar) dressing, wafts downstairs where I am beside the large plate glass door waking up, espresso cup full and steaming, taking in the what is seen. And heard.
Pondering this offering from John Tarrant, Western zen teacher who, I am sad to say, I discover online just this morning, passed in 2010 and, I am surprised to read, had been living in Jersey City just a Hudson River away from my East Village perch. Had I known he was so close by I would have gladly trekked over bridge and river to sit with him. 
I discovered Tarrant years ago via an anthology of American Buddhist poetry, Beneath A Single Moon, and fell madly in love with his poem, Poem To Be Recited While Banishing Loneliness (posted in comment section below this post) where I instantly memorized the phrase, "he does not shut out any part of himself." This is the essense of Jungian psychology, Jung's notion, or more-than-notion but arrival again and again to an authentic experience of wholeness (what I experience as hold-ness) which includes everthing (natch) and does not exclude or shut out or prefer/value one quality over another. Conscious wholeness, conscious being the operative word, is what Jung means as does Tarrant's line and poem entire. 
So the grackle wrestles with the tree top where I sit with fullness and grief knowing that a remote teacher has been dead 7 years and I had often enough entertained sitting with Tarrant and perhaps find some help with my own wresting a poem, my life's too big to wrestle with, the mind not withstanding, into some good-enough resonant holding/beholding (my frozen fingers just typed "begolding", thank you Mr. Tarrant).
This koan comes to me from Tarrant now, fitting for the present view through the glass, a black cat named Shadow now at my feet, news of Tarrant taking off "the tight shoe of the body" seven years now and now the word year means nothing at all, and while I sit watching the world is shaking off its dusty robe. And will continue to do so. Did so while I slept with cold feet and nose tip, the room being frigid inspite of a heater hissing away, its blue flame, gold too, somehow burns without any motion that I can see, my eyes trying to catch some fire to warm from the outside in. Evenso, in spite of discomfort up here in winter mountain cold is the thing, reminds me that I am heavily ecstatically (a rare event in older age) alive.
Having lived in a giant city for half my life now I wouldn't exchange my freezing toes and nose, these flannel sheets, red red, for all the miracle of its bridges and its parks, the mourning dove on my fire escape waking me to receive the noise of the all too human world mugged by machines and machinations, odd treasures that they are or can be or we must alchemize into.
From John Tarrant a fitting koan for Thanksgiving day:
The storehouse of
treasures opens by 
You can take them,
you can use them,
anyway you wish. 
I look up from this just in time to see a large black wing disappear behind a stand of spruce. What eyes and wings are for.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Brunch With Nietzsche - A Dream With Mimosas & Twilight

In a dream 10 years ago Nietzsche spoke to me over Sunday brunch where we drank mimosas which he thought were an "absolute delight," absolute as in "I spent my entire life in search of the Absolute without much luck but for the pursuit as an adventure of mind. A century later, a mimosa will do indeed." With several already quaffed he sparkled as did the drinks and without warning or asking he proceeded to make a long confession to me, "not you, well, yah, you but also to your century and this new one just born" and so he told me many personal things, joys, sorrows, sins most severe, and sheer moments of ecstasy in and out of the body...his heart always broken over the Death of God, the Western, Judeo-Christian one, THAT Twilight, its Star setting on the world horizon. And there was his suffering too for ancestral German gods demise, cue music off friend and enemy Richard Wagner. He also mourned for Dionysus whom he revered most of all, whose very name means "born again" - dio = twice, nysos = birth), his, Dio, being ripped/torn apart at the height of epiphany and of youthful beauty flush with passion and Eros (that cousin to Dionysus), "Little did I know that I too would be twained, my vanity too large to contain for I became identified with Dio and the Other deities and so such hubris needed to be broken and so it was I entered a broken world inner and outer and became, or was perceived to be, only a shouter, a town cryer, that "The End is near." And I was right, am right still, but what brain can sustain orientation in the face of that FACT?" 
He grew silent, held the champagne flute in his hand, gazed at it, then out of a sunken but kind self said,
"History and an inaccurate interpretation of my exaggerated, sometimes effusive bombastic style of thought and writing in my work has made me sound like I was a terrible man incapable of linear logical thought and exposition, and of bad temper and arrogance but that's not true. Irreverent, yes. And bluster. Bluster counts here as disguise for I was (long pause as if struggling for the right word, then) pretty. Not handsome. Prettiness counts for much in youth, in older age it is (sadly) sacrificed for Beauty.. A necessary assault in order to grow wise. Wisdom comes from loss and blood, always of the Moon.. Even gorgeous buds must go. Nature says it so. And we can and should protest their going but in older age one loses energy to fight so gives in to what is "just so." In sorrow sore, in broken mendicant hearts, having touched tenderly and tasted the binding buds, wisdom is born."
Thus I have loved Nietzsche the man, marvel at the archetype he was and has become but his life was one of tremendous suffering in the grip not only of a personal daemon but that one of an entire aeon, it's final centuries 19th and 20th and, yes, this new one here. He was, as was Mani, Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, others, an epochal man. All these men and women who turn the wheel of a culture, an epoch, an aeon, suffer. But let us not forget Nietzche's book, Beyond Tragedy, and the gist of his oevre as a whole, this being a sketch of our table talk over brunch, his talk, rather, me the glad partaker of the grand expansive intellectual/spiritual meal being fed me; there is little of contraction in Nietzche unless it is to step one foot backward in order to leap ahead on the other, an effort catch up to the torrents flooding up from the unconscious into emotions into mind, thought, words to be quickly captured in sensation and feeling laced/infused aphorisms. 
Whether sickly Nietzsche, nervous Nietzsche, or whichever symptomatic Nietzches was the ubermensch/overman, or none of these, he was certainly uber in perspective which was projective, far seeing into the next century (or three) ahead, of floods of blood and war, conflicts of mind and nations swelling up from depth into massive tidal waves of destruction and devastation. Such are not unheard of, are synchronous as the central value of a civilization and aeon begins to wane and die, in order to renew/transform into the new central value as yet unseen but showing up as hints, portentions, in dreams, hallucinations, free-floating anxiety and mania (as in the United States of Mania) via imagination via arts all kinds and, yes, harvests of mad men and women gripped by what is unseen but felt, what is building and fragmenting within fragile sensitive egos which preceed the destruction of nation, perhaps world. 
Thus spake Nietzsche, a kind of scarer/thruster in the face of the culture of what he had powerfully felt and intuited spewing forth, spouting, proclaiming only to be merely dismissed and interpreted as a pathetic sad man defamer of Gods, of inflated calcified society and so-called Almighty Reason (all in their twilight before a new light can begin to dimly rim the Eastern horizon though Nietzsche was a part of that unwanted/rejected prescient light) - Wisdom seeks continual birth and rebirth, always new articulation, fabrication, artifice, expression, culture, beauty all kinds, to meet the tempering hammers of present mind and fashion that we humans may be satisfied with existence, with life. Or life-enough, finally foregoing demi-urges of egoic inflation and projection, anthrocentrism overruling ontic participation with all beings known and unknown.
Nietzsche spoke of fashion and fashion sense but only in the sense and tension of making, shaping, morphing thought, the language of thought, the cultural productions therefrom in order to convey some new force(s) which might bring sustained attention to what is born of creative conflict, clash, the concentration of effort to bring out the right meaning, and with such rightness, as in finding the right fit, the fit image, concept, action, expression, all the right productions of human effort, 
that we humans might transcend or, if not transcend, transform enough into greater enough beings than we already are "but still, still we remain so very far from the actualization of the new man, the new woman I have clearly seen rising out of penitential fires, and by fires I mean PASSION fires which have driven, drive still, fires of mind for, what, 3000 productive years and more...yes, we have "reaped the Whirlwind" but that only reveals how far we have come from flint sparks and scratches/scrawls on torch illuminated cave walls. 
Now Whirlwind is the challenge of this age and it may very well be the end of the homo sapiens Experiment, all the sound and fury from primal ancestral grunts and shouts to shofars to later symphonies; but for lack or loss of simple human sympathy for all creatures great and small we people may conclude as brutes after all. Magnificent brutes, yes. But to bring ourselves and everything else to ruin.........(shrugs)..."
Nietzsche tsk tsk tsks quietly, a pained look, a hint of anger too, "What a species we are." He slams his hand loudly upon the table, the cutlery and plates jumping, the flute glasses swaying and ringing, 
"What a species!....Humility....if nothing else, humility may be our salvation. Perhaps I was a bit overwrought when I wrote of the ubermensch, the over or super man. It is precisely HE that has brought the Whirlwind into all our lapse, pun intended. And it is precisely HE who must confess that tired but persistent and violent sin of hubris, Satanic indeed. For that majestic Angel most sublime, dark and powerful wanted to run the whole show, go for broke and be God Almighty. He does so still. So down he flew, thrown down. And so here we all flounder, magnificently, makers all, such great things of power, might, sound and sight, but we must kneel here at the near end, bend the knee and take our penitient place and...and justly pathetic, confess to having too much fire for our own good, all force with little or no goal or plan but for immediate gain which when desired becomes the only absolute in town.
Have, or can, we finally understand that what we can do, what we can create is indeed innately good when adequately understood and known? So good. But we undo it by our self-obsession with transcendence for its own sake for we mistake such transcendence for power.
Whom have we served from the beginning to now (which may be the end or near) after all? 
Only our sad and presumptuous selves. 
We must take the knee, plead our case before Existence Itself and hopefully be successful enough in turning the inexorable Wheel, Its great momentum, of the Whirlwind another way, slow it, perhaps harnass it, whatever it may take to tame it, turn it as ourselves to the better for once and all. It is the heart, the human heart, that may do this if enough are broken open in the face, the grind, of what is overwhelming the globe."
Raising his his glass to me, gulping down the last few swallows of his mimosa, he smiled, eyes sad, kind, but then a flash of mischievousness,
"Well," he said, "let's get on with it, empty another glass and then let's you and me be all about this Ecce Homo-Ecce Whirlwind business, shall we?"
He winked at the handsome young waiter whom he fancied who seemed to magically apear at the "shall we?"

"Another last round, dear...hmmm....Adagio. Shall I call you Adagio?"
"Yes," chuckled the joven, "why, yes you can." He casually strolls away swinging his arms side to side as the ballet dancer that he is should, to the bar for our final mimosas.
Nietzsche's eyes remain upon the youth. 
He says softly, but to whom, me? himself? "Ahhh-dagio...more mimosas...more...more Adagios.....of sunlight....Adagios of sunlight. Yes. That the right thing for now."
He shakes his head to break the revery, says to me, 
"They" (the mimosas, Adagio), go quite well with twilight, yes?"

Nietzsche's musical compositions may be heard here:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Genet By Accident - Faithful As A Pigeon: Of Divine, Her Mythopoesis, A Tribute To Jean Genet & "Our Lady Of The Flowers"

"He may go far away, but he is as faithful as a pigeon." - Jean Genet

ENANTIODROMIA. . .best definition, or one of them, this by Jean Genet: "Her perfume is violent and vulgar. From it we can already tell that she is fond of vulgarity. Divine has sure taste, good taste, and it is most upsetting that life always puts someone so delicate into vulgar positions, into contact with all kinds of filth. She cherishes vulgarity because her greatest love was for a dark skinned gypsy. On him, under him, when with his mouth pressed to hers he sang to her gypsy songs that pierced her body, she learned to submit to the charm of such vulgar cloths as silk and gold braid which are becoming to immodest persons.”
Of Divne, such mythopoeisis: "Let her consent to be the frozen statue. But I know that the poor Demiurge is forced to make his creature in his own image and that he did not invent Lucifer. In my cell, little by little, I shall have to give my thrills to the granite. I shall be alone with it for a long long time, and I shall make it live with my breath and the smell of my farts, both the solemn and the mild ones. It will take me an entire book before I draw her from her petrifaction and little by little impart to her my suffering, little by little deliver her from evil, and, holding her by the hand, lead her to saintliness."
Searching for a passage from Jean Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers (having left the worn out novel at home) a-googling I will go (sung in my best Elmer Fudd voice heh-eh-eh-ehhh), I stumble upon this too too short marvel with said quote, not the full passage I want but will do...of desire there is much to say, and more say than do though do is a fit for another shoe (I'm hunting wabbits Heh-eh-eh-ehhhhh) having been bred a fundamentalist fool from Bayou Evangeline moss to barnacled Baptist pier-ology dour deity, all toxin and lace such is Protestant grace poisoned with too much imagination-for-evil everywhere-in-everything, to convince a child of this so early on is such profanity, unforgiveable....
...when at 18 I came across Genet by accident, a freshman in a Christian college, Our Lady of the Flowers, non-virginal this Our Lady, the pox within broke out as did, some years later, with good analysis, I break down and into Genet-ian cadences, unbathed though sprinkled (not dunked but dipped in good Presbyterian fashion shallow baptismal fountain, a silver bowl is all it wuz-y) (comes eventually unsought "was found blind but now I ssss..."
Jean Genet's deep pool inundation of feeling and evocation "a cadence of veils and sweet cakes"...I came to forgive King David his Bathsheba moment for he once in his youth had but lost his heart and soul to Jonathan, loved him, even exchanged his underwear with him, it's in the Bible true, passion will out so David who murdered a Giant murdered one of his own, ended his best general for what the promise of vision of Bathsheba portended)...what is repentence for - grace all the more - robed in bodies, wants, desires from which we'll all expire while turning such to prayer and dare to live, exchange underwear and more - breath and the heart, the human heart, to teach that divine one there's more to heart than aerie light [makes no sense...just a fun thing to say..such is wabbit hunting].
Sketch of Warren by Paul Brahms from some years ago
...Jean's a saint in my world inner and outer, hiding out in my tower dorm room, the sleep room (such is dormition sleeping) secret communing and whispers, fogs engulfing the tower for weeks at a time, odd in Tennessee wind howl and, again, airee whistle as I moan shut in, enclosed on purpose behind bedsheets and shower curtain, between Holy Bible and Our Lady of the Flowers)(and Graham Green's The Power and the Glory but that's another story to come)... angel visited my little carcair (monk cell) a month ago, palpable beside me as I slept/wept on the pallet on the floor. I could only see the filthy hem of the heavenly once was white robe now gray and stained making me marvel and love all the more...never one for silk and such my desire tucked away till the day of my glad marry to come, had been, had been a thief indeed (Genet's Thief Journal), me, until undone by Christ and Buddha, warriors and wheelturners (chakravartins) both, ensuing for me a redemption of desire and the "dirty world upon my shoulders [and more] (Basho haiku)" -
body full bore to Manhattan then I came, Spanish Harlem replete with Roses, Florida Water, Siete Machos (men's colognes found in Latin America) and more, Puerto Rican/Domincan park bench dominos I would bike by down by the Hudson 3 am bound for Wall Street and Staten Island Ferry some kind of quiet, not mountain quiet that I had in Carolina, but that of early a.m. NYC streets, me tracking graffiti scripture on every train and station wall. I needed what I got, but did not know it too soon but never soon enough, I needed Catholic Imagination, that of extremes, of heaven, of hell, even limbo where one's toes and more are singed but aroma of Roses, Our Lady, tinge noses, infringe upon our all too human suffering for re-evaluation. I found it soon enough in Harlem, in personal estrangement, the city kind, countering the country boy kind, which holds/contains/frames all estrangement, all extremes, a Catholicity most necessary where not only I am redeemed but by poetry and urban/machine sound and rhythm God is redeemed and enters, visionary company at last, once again, tracing, tracing (Hart Crane) into the broken world.
Catholicity and France and human gore produced Genet, the give-away grace, the reframe of guilt, blame, small favors of mourning, and such adoration as only parted persons, divided ones, can give. I was "not in Kansas anymore" unless it was a god and flesh storm tornadic with a froo froo instinct, little Toto, in the basket tucked, my anima/myself sucked up and away too into an Oz-y-man-dias such is an occassion for worship (worth-ship, what it means).
A black pentecostal church just next door to my basement room beneath West 142nd Street, the glad shouts, the sad earnest prayers, the tamborine and hand clap intertwine Latin beats, car horns, conga drums alive up the street on stoops all night, breaking bottles, tapping bottle caps on concrete sits young and old men bare-chested, sweating, cigarettes between drumming fingers or loose lips hand play/pound escape from day heat to river cooled saturation/inundation for me, no longer the Christhaunted South or nation for that matter but a passionate parenthesis
of so much flesh, perspiration, desire, ejaculation, celebration in-the-face of large Orange Sky, the all night comidas place lively with taxi drivers, orange rice, pork all kinds and cafe con leche only 40 cents a cup...a place to escape one's self p.r.n., all that grease and men....
Enough evocation 1980 Bway and West 142nd and near...the cadence of Genet 1971 in my hand straight to heart, then/now, and now still inwardly wear him, angelic robe all tatters, stains - "I would be a monk but for the dust of the world on my shoulders (Basho)."
“Her perfume is violent and vulgar. From it we can already tell that she is fond of vulgarity. Divine has sure taste, good taste, and it is most upsetting that life always puts someone so delicate into vulgar positions, into contact with all kinds of filth. She cherishes vulgarity because her greatest love was for a dark skinned gypsy. On him, under him, when with his mouth pressed to hers he sang to her gypsy songs that pierced her body, she learned to submit to the charm of such vulgar cloths as silk and gold braid which are becoming to immodest persons.”
"Do you know some poison−poem that would burst my cell into a spray of myosotis? A weapon that would kill the perfect young man who inhabits me and makes me give asylum to a whole agglomeration of animals?. . .Swallows nest under his arms. They have masoned a nest there of dry earth.
Snuff−colored velvet caterpillars mingle with the curls of his hair. Beneath his feet, a hive of bees, and broods of asps behind his eyes. Nothing moves him. Nothing disturbs him, save little girls taking first communion who stick out their tongues at the priest as they clasp their hands and lower their eyes. He is cold as snow. I know he's sly. Gold makes him smile faintly, but if he does smile, he has the grace of angels. What gypsy would be quick enough to rid me of him with an inevitable dagger? It takes promptness, a good eye and a fine indifference. And... the murderer would take his place. He got back this morning from a round of the dives. He had sailors and whores, and one of the tarts has left the trace of a bloody hand on his cheek. He may go far away, but he is as faithful as a pigeon. The other night, an old actress left her camellia in his button−hole. I wanted to crumple it; the petals fell on the rug (but what rug? my cell is paved with flat stones) in big, warm transparent drops of water. I hardly dare look at him now, for my eyes go through his crystal flesh, and all those hard angles make so many rainbows there that that's why I cry. The end.
It doesn't seem like much to you, but yet this poem has relieved me."

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Small Favors Of Mourning - An Early Journey, A Later Arrival (Almost)

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.
Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.
Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction...
— Thomas Merton, from the poem "When In the Soul of the Serene Disciple, from A Thomas Merton Reader

"A song to go with your image de moi now that Value is and will be internalized, integrated and is foundation for the further raison d'etre revealing first unpublished book of poetry writ in my 20's and early 30's, pitiful things with some shining moments of image, a musical phrase, an imagistic apt saying/conveying, is titled, 

Small Favors of Mourning.  

It spilled out one basement morning in Harlem 1982 as I wrote a dream for my upcoming analysis session (Jungian)...I had moved to NYC, it suddenly occurred to basemented-me, to consciously mourn the first third of my existence...thank god for William Blake, Rilke, Roethke, Eliot, Kenneth Patchen (a constant companion in my coat pocket always), Asian poets and the very many other poets, writers, artists, musicians and, yes, mystics and misfits of the church and Church (Thomas Merton, others) who ratified the mystic in me whose name, Dark Night, was given to me by an old Swiss-German nun smelling of soap and incense (but not peppermint) on a Greyhound bus crossing the nation east to west late '70's middle of and through the long straight highway night, she with her rosary praying/sleeping/counting an occassional bead between snores leaning in hard upon my left shoulder...I was reading Merton, the Thomas Merton Reader, selections from his then published writing and though I was not yet officially Jungian (but one in soul already) I knew it, She, was no accident...she was curious about me and my Merton book and the other, The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen..."vas ist dis Chournal?" she asks me in the illuminated spotlight cone of overhead buslight to read by, "dis Passion fellow?"  

I explain what I know of him, his extreme physical anguish from crippling arthritis, his prolific creativity of writing poetry, prose, and paintings, collages, his readings with jazz musicians playing along with him, his profound mysticism which does not escape the world of suffering but finds the mystical within that very world and its very suffering.  

"Ah," she smiles, nodding her head, pleased, "like Ch-esus, like all mystics, dis suffering renders us to IT, zee mystical, or ist alvays like dis but IT ist such sveetness dis...yah?" Silence. Her hands disappear into the massive folds of her habit, they appear to dig deeply into her thighs but then eventually a hand emerges in the cone of light overhead, opens, a handful of caramels. "So good," she giggles pulling up her shoulders joyfully partaking of a forbidden pleasure. She shares her candy soft and body warm from her deep, dare I say, mystical folds, a pouch, an altar in there somewhere with a crucifix, a scapular, and a bag of Kraft caramels. At her request I read her some Patchen:

"(In my foolish youth, beholding one noxious thing after another, I marvelled at the purity, the kindness, gentleness, sweetness, modesty, and essential goodness of mankind; the mystery increases within me. Right or wrong, rain or shine, I am a man of faith and good works. I no longer despair of the future; yet, having once more considered the matter, despair of it I must . . . 
I am hungry for a good, solid individuality...)" 


"JULY 17 - My window is thrown open by the rain; it beats in with the aggressiveness of liberty. Somewhere church bells peal out over the drenched fields--the eaves drip Sunday. There is something vulgar and satisfying about it . . .On the bed Jackeen lies, her arms flung wide and a perilous spittal on her lips. The hour has come . . ."

Sister, or Mother (I was not at all savvy to Catholic heirachrical designations), nods her head once, slowly. Silence. "I vill pray...I vill pray for zis Passion fellow. He ist und gut man . . . not too long in zie purgatory . . . I feel he has made some-zing beautiful in "zie Hell, from zie fire, for God who ist also fire, who may, I pray, throw open all our windows," she opens both hands and flings outward, "like vat it ist, a rain of liberty..."  

I stare at her incredulously. Wha'? In all my Fundamentalist Calvinist upbringing and education/indoctrination I had never EVER heard such a miraculous statement. Unable to fully comprehend what she said, it IS indeed a Mystery, I nevertheless felt it resonate deeply in my very being, my body being. This, thought I, is Grace indeed...and a chore for me too. Like Passion's, to render "sompzing beautiful from zie Hell." 

Dawn is coming on and in between her dozes and caramels we speak of Merton. Between her sleeps and prayers, bead, snore, by bead, snore, of mystical presence, snore, and suffering, snore, the meaning of an eternally suffering "Jesus" (or Ch-esus in her Cherman charming accented English) who refuses to leave His Cross until all creatures great and small in all forms know the liberating loving presense of the Father is gently suggested...she is the first to reframe my own suffering, "zie Hell" and longing in such a way as I had yet been able to feel was possible/true/accurate and therefore orienting, making meaning of the chaos that was my history and zie then present on-the-bus-in-zie-veeds me.

Just before she exits in Phoenix, pressing another caramel into my palm she quietly says to me, "Here [or was it "hear"?], dear Dark Night [I look around for whom she's calling Dark Night] , some sveetness for your chourney 
t-rough zie Dark Night...He [the mystical Christ, the Shining Stranger] ist sveeter than zis hint [the candy] but take zie Hint und you vill find zat Joy comes as a surprise in zie morning..." She squeezes my hand, full. O full by buslight, in cone light. Darkness yielding to just dawning light, an always everyday new horizon.

Moved, uncomfortable, but knowing that she is probably an angel sent to me at the right time, I accept her candy, her message, and ponder silently as exquisite austere desert expanse passes by the window of my inward-searching and yearning.

Passion/Patchen writes, insists:

"Do not overreach the sky; you will only have another world to contend with...

With the policeman in the alley's black lip. The approach to the inner city. Cats clawing the face of a slobbering drunk. We men at washlines. Chimneys stretching up like the red, pocked thighs of siphillistic crones...

The green tea being poured down the rough throats of the cabmen...

The head of the universe pissing into the gutter...

The great deal of slack to that little lady's churchly ways...

The handsome behind me eats an orange by the garden wall...

The wind blows out the flowers' brains. Not too dark, God. Not too cold, God. Not too lonely, God. What is the case against me?...

I plead guilty. (Get my heirs to explain this.) My parents and friends will attest to the solemnity of my deportment...

Was that a drop of rain?...

Lower childhood into the furrow made by a hurricane of birds....

Close the door on this cell . . . I lament for mankind."

Next stop, unplanned, mid-desert, past midnight, nowhere, further west, opens a bus door. Enters a young Native American youth, probably 16 or 17 years old, sits next to me...he smells of booze and cigarettes. And sweat. He shivers from waiting for hours afer-sunset cold desert sands. He too falls asleep on my shoulder. First a nun, now a young Indian youth, hair long, thin frame pressed against my shoulder/body, perfectly shaped tears slowly falling from his sleeping eyes, I wonder "just what is this bus I have caught for my journey to the west?" 

At a bus stop in another town he awakens looking a little frightened and confused...looks at me puzzled..."we're in ______," I say (can't remember the town)...He blinks, shakes his head, rubs his eyes and face hard and long to adjust himself, to inwardly orient to the moment in his hands, behind his face, and beyond it/them. I offer him a caramel. He takes it. He offers me a sip of whiskey from a small bottle. I decline. A large orange moon slowly lifts though his proffered bottle from behind a jagged dark purple mountain range

Is it
dawn shoe

the Orange

the old
animal heat
turns in on

beneath skin

the bone bruise
fuses out
against what
yearning once
meant in





We strike up a conversation...he tells me he is on his way to ________ to get his brother out of jail. What? his younger brother is in jail, I can't remember why. He's going to get his brother out of the jailhouse and then they are going together, he says staring onto some distant but present invisible map of a plan, "to leave the res..." There are friends and some distant family in California so that is the destination.  

He was orphaned, raised "on the res by the res", grandmothers, families...he is devoted to his brother whom he is very protective of, AND he also loves to dance.  


"Yes, pow wow dance, but," looks shyly out the window, "I want to be a ballet dancer."  

WOW. What?! (this in my thoughts, not said)...

"I saw ballet dance on my cousin's tv and knew that's what I want to do...I love pow wow dance, too, but that's a different thing. I want to fly like ballet dancers do. And I can learn to dance ballet in LA." 

I admire his clear vision though his daily vision is blurred by orphan light and deserted desert plight. He has had his "vision" though via television as have millions of youths now. And he is going to get his brother out of jail, get to LA, settle in, find a ballet school, and dance. Stunned. How much poignancy can I stand from this vortex of a bus ride, this waking dream? The Sister and the Warrior Dancer and me with my lost fartedness and nunfall of caramels, a mystic book, no, two, to eat/drink/think from.  

We connect. Daniel, his name. Daniel Eaglefeather. He thinks that I am Indian (I have some Cherokee from my mom's side and, then time of that ride, I have long dark brown hair and her (mom's) high cheekbones, I am thin with a dreamy but thoughtful look my head always in a book or a cloud reverie) and when he hears my name he exclaims, "Falcon! you Indian, man!" 

Whiskey bottle almost empty, the bus pulls into his destination for brother retrieval. We embrace after I buy us some coffee, some donuts, some peanuts. "No whiskey. Buy you and your brother a good meal then move on out toward the Pacific." I give him $5 bucks of the $10 that I have to my name. He grins, intense, concentratred eyes flashing, turns quickly toward his mission, he is prepared to battle and to even kill to set his brother free, so rushes out the door into the blinding glare of the too too clean streets the 

too too straight 

too too rigid streets 

their planned

murdering geometry

their belly laugh

their gut punch
and rabbit

that moment
of consent
with bridges
orange sky

and assholes
a cigarette
each hand a
bottle of gin

a back pocket
search for
quinine the
brine of men

the run-on
trousers limp
the cobbled
street where
a spring





Why all this recounting? 

All this recounting has to do with the sketched wings, I think.  

And Calling/Vocation, or "raison d'etre" which is daimon - the unique force that drives the stem of the flower, or life, and prayer even when I could then, though young, only "kneel where prayer had once been valid" (T.S. Eliot), already disconsolate.

As the bus pulls out of the jailing city I am conscious enough to pray to the "Mother/Sister/Angel of Mount Caramel" and Thomas Merton and to Daniel's ancestor spirits, the Elements, the Great Spirit, that he be successful in his mission to liberate his brother O Israel from captivity and to become his dream, his wounding into Beauty ("Beauty before me, Beauty behind me...that Hopi Prayer), a ballet dancer.  

I didn't know it then but I was already at my own work in my own way and with my own fledgling already molting wings - "what I do is me/for that I came" (Gerard Manley Hopkins) - what I DO now, who I am now...those early years of childhood/youthful mourning, by the time I got to NYC, not Phoenix, not at all rising, but deeply depressed "these my greatest sufferings (Duino Rilke), had begun to yield some small but signifant and signifying fruit and though the inner weather was despondency-much I began to find that hope, as Emily Dickinson sings, "is that thing with wings" a feather of meaning beginning to arrive from the alchemical sullenities the post-teen murmurs mutters smatterings which brought little surprises of grace - insights, aha's, what I found myself writing down in a Harlem basement room o dark dark as - "small favors" arriving from the big fissures and fractures already

much the

falls for
(One) love
each night
from the

of pitch 

avenue smells
of singed

a humming
boy hums

pokes bits
of scalp on
the walk

white thumbs
alone touch
the white
lattice kiosk

selling the
face again





- from "Midnight In Dostoyevsky", Norman Nightingale, from The Cathected Poems.

So, good news is - 

joy, new Value, new meaning, continually comes through the mourning into the new morning, the new Center, the new raison d'etre formed from/built upon the foundation of the earlier one(s) and always based upon transpersonal fundaments/dynamics seeking to be lived uniquely new life by life, person by person.

I am still, now more than ever 
"Madly Singing In the Mountains" 
- Po Chu-I (772-846)  

There is no one among men that has not a special failing; 
And my failing consists in writing verses.
I have broken away from the thousand ties of life; 
But this infimity still remains behind.
Each time I look at a fine landscape, 
Each time that I meet a loved friend, 
I raise my voice and recite a stanza of poetry
And marvel as though a God had crossed my path.
Ever since the day I was banished to Hsun-yang
Half my time I have lived among the hills.
And often, when I have finished a new poem, 
Alone I climb the road to the Eastern Rock.
I lean my body on the banks of white stone; 
I pull down with my hands a green cassia branch.
My mad singing startles the valleys and hills; 
The apes and birds all come to peep.
Fearing to become a laughing-stock to the world, 
I choose a place that is unfrequented by men.