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Athena, holding your hair, whispering in your ear

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For me a few are enough, one is enough, none is enough. This is not for the many but for you; we are a sufficient audience for each other

In this wine-dark sea, among the waves, please find : musical rambling, occasional original content, and piles of sonnets

For advice (occult or otherwise) ask over here.
For my original writing, look here.
For personal inquiries, ask here.
 

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10/21/2013 20:44:00

"When as man’s life, the light of human lust,
in socket of its earthly lanthorne burns,
that all his glory unto ashes must,
and generation to corruption turns,
Then fond desires that only fear their end,
do vainly wish for life but to amend.
But when this life is from the body fled,
to see itself in that eternal glass,
where time doth end, and thoughts accuse the dead,
when all to come is one with all that was,
than living men ask how he left his breath,
that while he lived he never thought of death."

--

Fulke Greville’s 88th sonnet from Caelica [sometimes numbered the 87th instead]

He was one of the least of the metaphysical poets, but I love this piece.  The text is from memory, if there are errors, they’re mine not Fulke’s

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10/29/2012 10:46:00

"Respiro la nebbia / penso a te"

Dead leaves and apples, cold and bitter wind
awhirling, howling as a ghost aghast,
this evening’s tendrilled spectral hands rescind
the summer’s laughing perjuries at last.
Six months or more of ice and frozen mud
Queen Pomegranate’s yearly taxes due;
men digging furrows watered with their blood,
in silent prayer exhuming her anew.
I pass a chilly evening blowing rings
of cancerous soot into the hungry air,
and watch the dying world go cold. I sing
between my draughts a bit, and singing dare
the winter come and freeze my beating heart,
and mock the fimbul night with hollow art.

— Another sonnet (from another fall), written while watching another storm and (like now) listening to P.F.M.’s Impressioni Di Settembre

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10/14/2012 02:10:00

"If travel is searching / and home what’s been found / I’m not stopping"

In rain-slick nights, I stalk, with head exposed,
down thirsty streets who drink my loping gait
as fast as it is pressed; and I suppose
ahead, beyond the mist, my quarry waits.
The endless search burns bright beneath my heart,
but wreathed in clinging fog my goal remains
to me occluded. No idler I, I start
each night upon my way, but wandering gain
no hope or information. Still, the fire
consumes me, gutters not, nor flags, and while
it shines, I seek abroad my prey, till tired
and broken, lost, by waking dreams beguiled,
I briefly glimpse my heart’s desire unveiled,
then wake to find it still beyond the pale.

— Written after a botched past-life regression trance, while listening to Bjork’s Homogenic (the whole thing came apart during Hunter, which may or may not be significant) [part of a series of sonnets]

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08/27/2012 23:50:00

"As far from god / as angels can fly"

And on that subject:

The skies above behold our small deceits,
'tis said, and punish perjurers with fire.
The open air lays bare our vain conceits;
the stratosphere will not abide a liar.
But heaven’s eyes must dim when meting out
its burning justice on the heads of frauds.
Its countenance opaque, despair and doubt
are sown in those who would betray the gods.
But when enraged the sky is also blind;
it cannot see and strike a man at once.
And praise be given for so small a mind
that wreathed in darkness, yet will cast its lance.
When clouds obscure pale heaven’s face and eye,
my lips upon the ears of god shall lie.

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08/22/2012 21:52:00

"Objects in black ink / fringed in white"

It’s been a while, here’s a frosty sonnet from the fridge for a soaking hot night:


Too much in love with winter white, I fear,
the months that offer even death a chill.
Forgetfulness, long sleep, await the year,
and, come the summer, sprawl and eat your fill.
But florid violence boils when blood is hot,
(vermilion streaks and puddles in the dirt)
in swelters cursing others and our lot,
we shed strange blood, our conscience, and our shirts.
The death of colder months is slow to start,
alone, long evenings hone our tangled schemes:
to still at last our own tormented hearts,
or finally kill the woman of our dreams.
True, winter’s blood is crueler when its spent,
but surer that the hand and act were meant.

—Written in the dead of a particularly ugly winter, while listening to the Banshees’ attempt at a Christmas song, Red Over White [which I’m pretty sure is about murdering Santa Claus].

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07/25/2012 21:55:00

"As long as your army / Keeps perfectly still"

Another sonnet from my cellar, for another miniature exile:

And stranded here ‘neath foreign stars, no means
of flight but feet. This alter-world, made small,
its only breadth the orbit of my dreams;
a miser’s grip of feet and miles in all.
Could I but find a passage home, I’d climb
my way inside nor pause to haggle price,
e’en though it cost me years or more in time;
a pain of fixed endurance might entice
the purchase at a loss. Nor need I team
and four to skirt the boundary lines of hell:
A single beast beneath me (it would seem)
could strain to serve my purpose just as well.
No suicide’s affection for this course;
nor kingdom here to bargain for a horse.

Written on a lost evening, years ago, while quite thoroughly disgusted, listening for the nteenth time to Tori Amos’ 3rd album [which will forever call to mind (with intense and almost olfactory urgency) rough sex and heartbreak, in that order]

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05/06/2012 21:40:00

"Wandering stars / for whom it is reserved / The blackness / of darkness / forever"

Here’s a sonnet concerning portents from my private stock (for an auspicious beginning):

A vagrant star disjoined the heaven’s host,
cast out no last sidereal glance; bright white,
for five or fifteen fleeting beats, at most,
the sliding lambent speck bescarred the night.
A vagrant star arrived today to beg
our eyes, to fix its place by wonder in
the sky; as if our gaze could put the egg
to rights again, send home the horse and men.
A vagrant star left us today for parts
unknown, unknowable, turned tail and streaked
away into the vasty depths, the dark
and empty folds from which no light may leak.
Fixed stars arise and fall in their redoubts,
unmoored they wander, founder, and wink out.

— Written while star-gazing [or VOID-gazing, depending on your perspective] and listening to Portishead

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05/03/2012 22:06:00

"Elephants forgot / forcefed on stale chalk / ate the floors of their cages"

Ill at ease again; here’s one from the archives for another long night:

Long nights, the burning dust, the hollow sky,
the sable sleeves adorned by cinders sown,
the firmament, the yellow moon, and I
will turn our face to greet the dawn alone.
The morning light will bring a carnival,
with music and the flesh of beasts still red,
and e’en though, like the moon, I feel its pull,
I shudder and refuse to leave my bed.
I see the tents collapsing into hell,
the animals run off and wild with fear
The jongleurie incanting darkling spells,
a festival of rust and blood and tears.
Abashed before the ill-starred veins of night,
a thing of beauty pauses and takes flight.

— Written during a particularly disabling period of anxiety, while listening to Cirkus, the first track of King Crimson’s third album Lizard.  Cirkus began its life as a poem (before it found it’s musical setting) so I’m really just helping it return home (as it has helped me so many times)

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04/21/2012 21:50:00

"My life support / my iron lung"

Apropos of our earlier conversation about making excuses to duck out of terrible parties, a sonnet from the archives about exactly that:

Exhale, draw long, draw deep and stub it out,
and tuck the heat and quiet cold away,
return to boiling crowds, sick talk, self-doubt.
My iron lungs, a bathysphere, allay
the fetid heat, the awful weight. Two fists
of air and smoke to hold me ‘til pin-lights
and faintness force me enter social lists
and beer in hand, knock down another night.
Pale morning spark, a draught, slow, still, and raw.
A cleansing air, burnt cleaner yet by smoke;
I’d rather swallow soot than think of law,
small hearts, bad beer, conceit, and awful jokes.
King James’ vile weed, my blessing in disguise:
A chance to walk away without a lie.

—I had fled a party (by “going to smoke”), and was home listening to Radiohead’s The Bends detoxifying (no better album for it), when I wrote this one.

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03/24/2012 01:29:00

"If you don’t expect too much from me/ you might not be let down"

Another old sonnet for a too drunk evening

I lost you there among the waves and wine,
the tidal pool of run-off amber foam,
and brown wood-liquor bottles-of-the-line
that always turned our ruddy prows to home.
I lost you there in ferment on the sea,
my slowly sinking hollow heart capsized,
and rose again, obscuring you from me;
Adrift and drunk, I fled, ignored your cries.
I lost you there and left you lost to drown,
and plied intoxicating seas alone;
all your best hopes for help in me let down,
down to the bottle’s floor atop your bones.
I left you there too drunk to swim by far,
still stealing empty hearts in empty bars.

This one was written when I realized (for the third or fourth time) that drinking more than half a bottle of whiskey on a Friday night wasn’t helping me make friends and influence people (and in answer to the Gin Blossom’s Hey Jealousy, which I won’t bother linking to, since I’m fairly sure almost anyone reading this (over a certain age) is probably hearing it in their head already at this point (whether they want to or not)).

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03/09/2012 23:46:00

"Right to the heart of the matter/ Right to the beautiful part"

One more (to fit my mood) from my original sonnet project:

Men seldom question Fortune when it’s good;
they pass through days with bright unclouded brows.
No will I? Can I? Rather, if I should?
Well-pleased and placid at their feed as cows.
No man finds fault in him when Fortune smiles,
but should the fickle finger point away…
How quick he finds his conscience reconciled
to fault all other persons if he may.
When much reduced we blame ourselves
and in poor conscience call ourselves to act.
We tax our motives, learn ourselves, we delve,
and find a form no longer found intact.
The mirror heart is flawed in this respect;
a glass that must be broken to reflect.

— Written in answer to Rush’s Emotion Detector after a particularly bad patch of intellectual dishonesty.

[Yes, I’m aware that liking Rush in 2012 is about as cool as, say, writing pseudo-didactic metric poetry; However, when the Priests of Syrinx take over (between now and 2112), I will be well equipped to engage with them in a battle of turgid, moralistic verse.]

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02/24/2012 20:43:00

"O Fortuna / velut luna / statu variabilis"

Another sonnet from the archives in honor of a spectacularly mercurial week:

Old Solon said “Judge no man pleased till he
is dead,” for fickle fortune turns away
her glist’ring eyes. Her favorites, fools to be,
becalmed upon a distant sea, betrayed
in foreign lands, or chained to their own thrones.
Inchoate joy, no joy at all says he:
true joy, pluperfect, found among the bones,
new men must tell my happiness to me.
I say, mistrust a man more than his fate.
Good men do wicked things in evil times,
brave men break ranks beneath too great a weight,
few hands stay clean in universal crimes.
Instead count no man good ‘til he is done;
few trees grow straight alike in shade and sun.

— Written in answer to Carl Orff’s famous adaptation of the medieval Latin poem O Fortuna;  I hope you’ll forgive me if my interpretation was a bit more literal (and more packed with grammatical puns and other detritus of a classics education) than usual.

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02/18/2012 23:25:00

"The need to grow / it takes you under"

I wrote a new “sonnet" this week (in quotation marks because I’ve been meddling with the form again):

Beyond the tidal pool into the sea
of stippled years and accidental hearths,
of lost hearts, halting steps, and muddled lees,
of unknown knowns, unmissed friends, ungrown growths.
Then light’s desire gutters, but still burns,
and casts its shadows farther than its rays;
with hooded heart and empty hands by turns,
with gnawing spasms, worrying my days.
Consuming and consumed, age-entangled;
the net of yeses past has closed: a choice
bereft of choice, both loss and glory dulled,
and guileless rancor swallowing my voice.
Though in at last from out the outer dark,
I fumble (still in darkness) for a spark.

— Written in answer to Zola Jesus’s Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake (and as a more general mediation on the theme of her album Conatus)

Although I’ll confess that some of the lyrics are hard to discern and there are no sanctioned lyrics available.  Which means I may well be answering an entirely different song than the one penned by Ms. Danilova, but sometimes misunderstanding art is a way of making art too.

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01/27/2012 20:37:00

"Hang up and run to me"

This was a week I wouldn’t repeat for love or money; here’s a sonnet from my private stock for everyone out there waiting for something (or someone):

“I’ll come to visit Sunday morn,” she said,
without a trace of guile, and so I took
her words to heart, and, Sunday, made my bed.
And when eleven came and went, no look
I wasted on a clock, of course she’ll come,
today, if not this morn. One passed without
a trace of bile, I felt a little numb.
No pressing business called to me, no doubt.
And I, still idle, found the hour of three.
I will confess, at five, I loosed a groan
but seven stole it back again from me;
and nine did leave me colder than a stone.
At ten I left the house at last; an act
that should have come ten hours before the fact.

—Written about Blondie’s wonderful cover of the Nerves’ Hanging on the Telephone after a particularly unsatisfying Sunday.

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01/15/2012 18:28:00

On that subject…

Another (unusually apropos) sonnet from the archives:

When low and small I learned the subtle Art,
the seeing beyond sight, the hidden hand,
unanswered distant action, cupid’s darts;
each little gain, Faust-like, my fervor fanned.
I spent my blood, my evenings, and my youth
in chasing secret potencies divine.
In time the power palled, and rather truth
compelled me speak the words and trace the signs.
In time my Art collapsed beneath my sighs,
for though my will be worked upon all men,
which fulcra and what pressure to apply
remained obscure, and fixed beyond my ken.
The Lesser Key of Solomon once learned,
cannot coerce the Greater Key unearned.

— Not (consciously) written about Force the Hand of Chance, but, on reflection, sums up my feelings about the album/project perfectly.

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