To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Clayton Eshleman: For the Night Poem 8 Aug 2010

Looking into the telescope of the night,
with its vehicular cinders, its naked sea butterflies,
I contemplate the composted humanity
under me, or
of self, so latent as to be a dwarf lantern,
to realize what the male head means in my Sepik layers,
to kill so as to amass souls, soul strength of others,
and to dine on brain, and the cave-like
interior of the bone,
                                 at the juncture of Rumsfeld
     and Yorunomado, souls provide
supernatural power, immunity
                                                from death. So
how deeply is the worm of immortality
aghast in me, a flicker gourd, something firing in
my vegetal flavors?
                                  To bring all of this near,
so as to reveal and embed,
to be at thick with my self,

sucking off a 16 year old so as to become inseminated
  with maleness, I am 12
hangdog, hanging out behind the men’s house,
in world obliteration, caught up
in the piston of a drive
to wear a semen bone through my nose,
to be vermilion in a cloud of gnats,
a force amidst the talking trees—
how thin rationality and shoes appear
set beside animistic gore,
                                         soul-driven blindness to
the reciprocal, the “sane”—

inside the soul bone I munch, suck, and draw,
I am a kind of ant, many-legged, with a head packed with
   holy robes, life
grinds up in me, the silex between my fingers
cuts into bone my tweezered lust to
   live and to live and to… see women

as through a periscope, are they wrestling anacondas?
or moon slivers, metate-bent filaments,
                                   mothers of the peccary
   into which the sun ejaculates its lightning?

                          Paralyzed by finiteness,
I hover over the semen stored in my testicular vats.
Everytime I spurt, the trees flash me their vaginas,
   barked gates into soul racked realms…

So I am here, an old man stretched out under his belly,
while As If focuses and refocuses in the night’s
  magnanimous lens… Now or never,

to build into the poem a packed humanity
with cuts below the furnaces of reason
in which the 21st century, like a baleful shark eye, rimmed with fire,
gazes upon its hideous justifications,
feels warmth for its wounded, then wounds them again
as if
we men were, at the precipice of the cosmic vagina,
fighting, jacking off, and dancing, to impede
the feminine
from closing over us, so that we might face,
among the spotched karate of our contact,
the mirrors of immortality…
                                              into these cuts
   to plant imaginal spannings.

[N.B. Writes Eshleman of the poem’s origin & rediscovery: “This poem was written after studying Weston La Barre’s Muellos: A Stone Age Superstition About Sexuality (Columbia University Press, 1985). It is dated 8 August 2010.  It will appear in my book Pollen Aria, to be published by Black Widow Press, spring 2019.  After writing the poem I forgot about it, and would have lost it had not my Georgian translator Irakli Qolbaia come across it online. How or where he found it I do not know. But he sent it to me and I recognized it as one of my own.”]

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