Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Abject Ones, Six Falling - Nightingale Confesses Into Straighter Teeth

[Poet Hart Crane before the Brooklyn Bridge which he lauded in his magnificent poem, The Bridge.]

The term Abjection literally means "the state of being cast off." In usage it has connotations of degradation, baseness and abasement of spirit.

"...descend and of the curveship lend a myth to God." - from "To Brooklyn Bridge"

The boys, six falling: Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg

"What does a man come to with his virility gone?" - Walt Whitman

"He sought for his beautiful body
and encountered his opened blood
Do not ask me to see it!"
- Federico Garcia Lorca*

"The Ballad of the Sad Young Men" [lyrics are below this essay]:

My Dearest Valdosta,

Even the pigeons on my stoop are silent now.

One mourning dove coos tenderly for these who have taken their own lives publicly on our behalf, for untold scores gone before them with broken hearts enraged, no more to engage the unpersuaded world which, one of them, one of the public ones, in spite of murmuring wharves, in spite of amorous dark alleys bitter in the pitch in the hateful American Twentieth Century, Hart Crane, wrote before his leap from the ship beside the phallic curve where Cuba meets the lisping sea, took his tongue away which sang to us of chill dawns breaking upon bridges whose spans still freely splinter light returning hungover from night wharves' grottoes and denim grasps, World Wars' industrial embraces crushing every man, and now another one abandons his fingers and fiddling, o scattering light, takes flight from ledges to edge close to an embrace no longer forbidden—

And so it was I entered the broken world to trace the visionary company of love... - Hart Crane

I am at the "Way of Peace Bistro," not your favorite place I remember—unkind to queens and "Miss Things"—but the server whose cousins are the famous Wolf Boys in Jalisco, Mexico, hirsute himself, gives me free double espressos for very large tips, of course, and it is not as populated here on Saturdays with the braying brunch crowds, their hammers for pinkies poised...besides, the server just yesterday came out to me in my confessional booth here at the perpetually wobbly table in the far corner at the cracked window rocking with Hart's un-confessed bones wrapped in soothing silt which he now dreams to be his silken pall. Life is indeed strange above the veiled bottom. I do receive confessions here p.r.n. ("as needed," in medical jargon) and at my other, now, confessional spots, the usual cafes I weekly haunt for chasing down dreams, waves, receding horizons...why, I wonder, is each window where I sit cracked?

I am the itinerant priest who sits at meager feasts. Suffering "congregants" (servers, busboys, cooks, regulars forlorn over their starfish and soup), when their fellows are removed to basement or kitchen or groceries, come to me, ask about a dream, confess to some anguish or other, ask what should be done or undone. I consult espresso foam, open the nearest book willy nilly to see what advice or wisdom might be gained from that Eternal Logos sustaining us all here straining after some meaningful thing to keep us going when Hart and those too recent others obey some impulse to place at last the final period, reifiying the punctuate though unrepentant ending of this too too long run-on sentence of hate. One hopes this period holds fast, that Logos/meaning is somehow, plates of starfish with fork and knife beside, true or truing, at least.

One serves where needed. And when. So come unto me you "sad young men...All the news is bad again so kiss your dreams goodbye."

Here at my confessional I can only plead mercy upon the gay boys of late who have jumped from bridges, hung themselves, cut, sliced, diced their sad and abused compulsive hands, exploded hearts, leaping dears, eyes ablaze in thrall of antlers, trembling flanks strong to fly decrying the violent hunt which always ends with a death, bequeathing these chopped bits to me and those others like me who remain at table, plates before, to stare at what is there to be later scattered, sown, those pieces in and for Love-without-name or, if named, is still a stain upon confused local deities, their wide-eyed supplicants, but there is no stain upon the promiscuous sea. The compliant sky is not confused, neither is all that is between confused, allowing birth and blessing, passing of all kinds in all manner of motive and motion. But in the human world, distressing, there will be more boys, more men growing up as from the very beginning where earliest enmity mythically grew strong before shoes, before hearts were capable of breaking before turgid theological floods spilled blood of brother by brother turning witness stones toward silence, echoing lamenting Federico:

Do not ask me to see it! I don't want to see it. I will not see it!

But I, but perhaps we, who remain to plant these petaled parts of these unwitting scapegoats whose eyes are milk now forever, we must bar sentimentality, must move toward genuine knowing which comes from the long hard stare beyond Milky Ways at the way things still inexorably are. Was it Fritz Perls who said, ''Nothing gets better (or changes for the better) until it is what it is"? But gay folk know what the "is" is of the is the others, too many of them, who don't (or won't) know, who willingly refuse to see "what is" in order to reach beyond the collective "Nazi/NOT SEE-solutions" of heteronormative culture/religion.

Perhaps even in the deepest fault of the ocean that very visionary company in league with stuporous pigeons, a mourning dove, me here who remains, not-yet-remains, tearful over my espresso looking for signs, finding only an endlessly fracturing rainbow, remembering, too, the murmuring secrets of wharves and co-mingled breath—that very visionary company traces all the sunken ones, the jumping ones, those with other means for departure by their own hands empty now of demands for love.

Here I sit with my arthritic living hands still demanding, remembering full of past and present griefs the Violin with a cut throat in a youthful suicide note I once wrote years ago, hidden, hiding out, refusing to shout my rage and despair to almighty "Nothing But":

Do not hear nothing but the cabin walls,
do not hear nothing but the late summer roses
petal by petal leaping from the still too white trellises,
leaping pinkly, redly, memory to breezes,
overwhelmed by trellises snagged with cut sleeves.

But not me. Not yet. I don't want to see it! I will not see it.

I wrote it all on the mute page—the Violin refusing to sing, in love with García Lorca, the goring horn of the Bull, the destined cornada, each and all appalling, commanding me to write during long nights working at the facility where the mentally ill wandered with me, the keys ironically in my hand, in the yellowing hallways with even more ironic EXIT signs brightly RED above the locked doors, silent companions somnolent but for the jangling joke of keys.

Still, I have now these better days in the Village, broke or near to it, with eggs and beans, cheap but edible things. An epicurean after all, I do luxuriously head to the Polish butcher shop nearby to gather meat but not any of the young butchers want to be gathered, too Catholic, for Poland is "passing strange" with bad teeth, fingers stained with nicotine. Or is it rust from cast-off Iron Curtains, or the Blood of the Acetylene Virgin?

...but back to the meat...I get my meat, cook my greens, have good-enough feasts for garlic and the right spice make grander the demanded abstemiousness of current coinage. I steal my pleasure during eats in my dirty yet happy apron with a good aria on the radio to salt my food with tears, a blubbering fool beside his one low watt lamp, darkness too too comfortable like a pooch or cat at feet. What is that bleating in the darker corner? I shall wait for daylight to see what it can be. And if I can, I shall free it from its trap and in doing so perhaps free me from all this, all this witnessing as life demands I must, of young ones setting themselves "free" because they are forced to do so by collective psychopathology now rendered even more effective and efficient via technology, via internet, emphasis upon the "net," where the ills set free from Pandora's Modem have only begun to be revealed.

But I shall use that "net" and my still goodly paper and goodly pen to dim whatever ill tides there are and to come, as they surely will in spite of low wattage. I'll jangle keys on the night watches, reading my mystic books, making my prayers with roamers of wards and wharves glancing up considering bridges, edges, silty bottoms. The tides are here even now. But right now I wish to sing a lullaby in protest to those hurting departed, even to those coming ills, that I may sing innocence dumbly back to those who may come ashore again more gently having forgotten enforcing depths insisting them toward resistant yet resolved embraces...

...So breech then, waves. Feet first. Heads in the brine. I shall keep time on your wrinkled toes sticking up from the sand, play peek-a-boo. Then while you sleep I shall harvest gently, place them firmly in that old woman's shoe with "so many children she didn't know what to do."

She may yet have learned what to by now. I haven't.

I remain bitter. Abject, too, from the senseless loss of cast off young men who could not endure the flame, the rust, no fault of their own, who leap blasted from bridges, forced by killing human edges, who are broken open within and by hateful, fearful others forgetting, if ever had, those restorative burning constancies of a Mother's loving hand upon them.

I have placed their names and images upon my altar beside García Lorca's portrait, and Hart Crane's young face, an image of a sweet Christ holding a lamb in perpetua, and the yellowed newspaper clipping from Spain of the Matador's death, all who have joined or will join Hart becoming ghostly visionary company. They now remain forever chaste not having lived long enough to be wasted, to be emptied loving deeply out into Love for more, endlessly bleeding out as Lorca, a corrida of laurel encircling his head no longer remembering but only one sound, guns exploding outward, extending, bullets, petals, one by one beyond the wall where he stood before the obedient squad stunned, "how young and handsome are the assassins' faces." Obedient to projectiles and projections he flew backward into the restraining wall, his brave shadow and blood, then fell, a last poem frozen upon lips but for circling birds, spirits, carrion or both, arriving after the blood wedding. I believe he fell hard, for life demands it as does death which will continue its duende.

Reduced to foolish whispers, restoring moments, patient hidden gods, human hearts and bodies remove themselves from the potter's wheel too early broken, too tired, too alone to try to shape love from Love from the tiny shard, the remnant bone of the ancient mastodon, the last one, dreaming within each heart of that Love which all Nature yearns for.

Inherited brood of brothers wherever you may sway remember to be gay for all the gray afternoons in this sad but forgiving confessional while not forgetting mine and the cock's quarrel with life in the booth by the cracked window near the corner of 7th and Second.




The Ballad of the Sad Young Men

Music written by: Tommy Wolf
Lyrics written by: Fran Landesman

(best version sung that I know of is by an aged Mabel Mercer, hard to find it now)

Sing a song of sad young men
Glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again so
Kiss your dreams goodbye

All the sad young men
Sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights
Missing all the stars

All the sad young men
Drifting through the town
Drinking up the night
Trying not to drown

All the sad young men
Singing in the cold
Trying to forget
That they're growing old

All the sad young men
Choking on their youth
Trying to be brave
Running from the truth

Autumn turns the leaves to gold
Slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old
That's the cruelest part

All the sad young men
Seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold
For a little while

Tired little bird,
She does the best she can
Trying to be gay for
her sad young man
While the grimy moon
Blossoms up above
All the sad young men
Play at making love

Misbegotten moon
Shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light
Guide them home again

All the sad young men