Category: Tribute


The Harrowing of Hell, from a fourteenth century manuscript, Anonymous

The Harrowing of Hell, from a fourteenth century manuscript, Anonymous

Upon a muddied road
long lost to the noise
and bustle of everyday
inanity I came upon
a wound in the land

from the bottom
of the ever deepening pit
he winks his brightest blue eye at me:
‘nothing in the wide world,
of which you seem so attached,
has any real existence’

ontological jokes
for the squeamish

‘I’m a figment –
pigment stain
of your wall-eyed,
lolling fantasies’
dancing as he heckles
my raised hackles

‘ogling my impish
grin gets you nothing
but sin,’ whispers
‘it’s meaningless din,
for all is naught’

with nihilistic glee the
trickster jests his own
dark thoughts
rhyme, don’t rhyme
on moral principle –

even the damned
need amusement

he laughs aloud
‘what gods are left
to damn me?’

there is no purpose
in the gilding
of my golden cage
and my resentment
may be stonily wrought

I’d be devastated
but remember
his existence is
nonexistent, another
prank on my sincerity
and so merrily continue
my journey unencumbered

Written in response to Claudia’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub to write a poem where character from a book intrudes. My character is Woland from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The title is the beginning of a poem from Eunoia by the experimental poet, Christian Bök.

Weminuche Wilderness Image Credit: David Chamberlain

Weminuche Wilderness / Image Credit: David Chamberlain

Sappho’s disastrous god
devoid of love and sorrow
wept not upon the metrons of her tragedy

His moonglow blindness
to her ornate melodies
rapturous abandon of polyphonic ecstasy

Her enduring wilderness
echoic lingering metaphors
gestalt harmony of a vision pale

Sunlit peaks preside over pulpwood coffins
effigies lit by Apollo’s fire-licked arrow
fed by the inexhaustible breath of Aeolus
burn filigreed epitaphs to her bright star

Notes: This was written for Victoria’s excellent prompt on patterns at dVerse Poets Pub. The poem makes allusions to Greek mythology, Christianity, the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado where some of the peaks include Eolus and Sunlight mountains, poets John Keats and Sappho, and patterns in nature in its exploration of the recurring historic theme of the oppression of women and their expression. Together these allusions create connections of meaning, explicate the contrafacture and intertextuality inherent in poetics and religion/mythology, and indicate a deeper layer where we encounter the patterns that undergird the psychological entanglement we experience in our engagement with poetry, religion, and culture. It also demonstrates a pattern of themes within my own poetry.

Cenotaph

Willem De Kooning

Willem De Kooning

poems like Snyder’s lost ponies
gallop down shining sand dunes
all heat and sweat and neighing
great stallions of imagination
humbled in embodiment
in motion, huffing, striving
toward the blue-dark horizon

frenetic birds flit at the edge of sky
stencils against the thread of clouds
unable to escape the picture
painting landscapes of loss
singing songs of lament
at the walls of the white monastery

within the hobbled monk chants
breaks the night with his strange descant
there is nothing to accept
prostrate surrender of an endless ritual
rhythm chime of an inner bell

words cascade, an avalanche of lost meaning
roaring down the scarred mountain
felling ancient trees, thundering echoes
through fire-kissed meadows
gods hover at Duncan’s margins of thought
here in the hinterlands of a long forgotten tale

An open letter to the Beats:

to you who are anathematic to propriety
constantly risking absurdity
killing our darlings!!!
ambitiously invoking a new vision
you monsters that dance upon our graves

in pyrotechnic hallucinogenic gyrations
scored by DJs from another galaxy
decked out in divinely comedic glow paints
you who dive bomb our discourses
like fuck is a neologism of your own devising

rattling and tearing down cages of perception
unleashing amphetamine pumped diction
cartwheeling descriptors of obscene nature
you who jump jive a dirty boogie
and get all up in our lexical junk

honestly, we, the venerated few of the dead poets society,
blame you for all this foul-mouthed, Piss Christ postmodernism
for turning poetry into a god forsaken jumble sale
in the name of liberty or revolution or adolescent angst
you killed Kenny and refuse to respect our authority!!!

please consider this your death threat, hate mail,
anthrax-laced, redacted funding letter from the NEA
your kick to the curb or the road or whatever
rock you crawled out from under, stoned,
because we’re not gonna take it anymore!!!

Note: I had a bit of tongue in cheek fun with Gay’s fantastic prompt on the Beat Poets at dVerse.

Daedalus & His Muse

Olivier de Sagazan

Olivier de Sagazan

for David Chamberlain, Jr.
(inspired by his series of
Labyrinth poems)

here in the wilderness
encountering my fierce nature
thoughts lignify into woodcuts
thousands of barren landscapes
inculcating a melancholic picture

odd trees with finger thin branches
veiled in snow, grasping at the sky
painting blue stars in an empty heaven
I mourn what is irretrievably lost
something raw and enigmatic
written in my cathexis of longing

awash in an inaccessibility of meaning
I writhe sideways like an angry cobra
forming chalk outlines of the labyrinth
liquid mind streaming in slumber
an emulsion of ether, untethered

sands around me shift, amnesiac
creating fragments of identity masks
that reveal dreamtime spent in a desert
chasing my Minotaur shadow

there in the darkness I meet a Seer
who prophesizes my true nature
chained, I walk with two spirits
sorrow and pain expressing
nightshades of unborn ruin

I am merely the center-point
King Theseus of this lost tribe
ragged wanderer in exile
painting symbols in blood
a sediment of iconography
upon the walls of history

until Ariadne arrives like a mirage
finds me in the dreamworld maze
haunting the zero hour, engaged
in games of ritualistic sacrifice
and deftly cauterizes my wound

her sacred arts of magic
secure my inerasable love
offering an orgiastic thread,
triune passport to paradise
a string of beautiful words
creating an utterly pure tale
to reconstruct the mythic life
of my glorious and terrible wings

Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia Commons

In memoriam for Dave King

‘I am writing a novel
in which no one speaks . . .
every one of my characters
moves like a shadow . . .
As of now, chapters ten,
and to a lesser extent,
maybe, eleven,
seem quite unpenable.’
written by Dave King, excerpts
from WAR AND PEACEfulness

I. Alasdair MacIntyre and Isaiah Berlin will engage in a civilized debate of moral philosophy and value pluralism in the divinely lit library of the hereafter

while it seems improbable
that the two will ever
arrive at the Answer,
hidden within the firestick,

their agreeable natures
ensure a kind exchange
and mutual respect
(as ours did)

II. Postmodern experimentalism encounters a fine intellect and a dashing wit

not only did he meet the bar
he vaulted it rather spryly

III. Anything can happen

unfortunately, it often does
cancerously and suddenly

IV. Stendal, Joyce, Hypatia, Riker, and Woolf toast his life by writing an eternity of allusions

words are like magic,
scintilla, igniting the soul’s spark
Plato’s divine spark longing
to unite with ever more
transcendent forms of beauty

Hypatia approaches the door
only those who’ve transitioned
may enter, opening a gateway,
releasing the fiery cries of seraphs

(I will meet you in the liminal
threshold between your faith
and my fractured metaphysics)

her radical eye encounters his pneuma
perhaps a whisper of which
will live a little here in the poem
as an act of remembrance

V. The consummate performance artist mourns the poet

you walked alongside us
desiring a dream of arctic skies
and ice floes captured in verse

now silk enrobed traces of your artistry
float by, a music, ever passing
as your gentle voice is lost to the wind

Book with Wings by Anselm Kiefer

Book with Wings by Anselm Kiefer

‘The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable
in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things
in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible.’*

I exist in the abstract vector (impure) space
between the mortal and the divine
within this night of broken glass
where there are no mutually exclusive states

in a profound paradox encapsulated
by a series of spectral lines
superluminal small heavens (within)
embodying the nature of light

restless remnant of a tattered whole
(oracle) of four dimension spacetime notation
carrying a universal wound of broken stories
in my native tongue, mathematics

imaginary world of leaden transformation
an enchanted map leading me on a path
between genius and madness
antimatter colliding in a book with wings

(space & time)/(momentum & energy)
coexisting potential alchemical matrices
uncertain relations in superposition
oscillating ash of solitude and union

*Paul Dirac

Radical Eye

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei

he creates an underground black book
covert artist communication device
white, grey covers with adventurous
distribution (psst- gallery goers)

‘wanna incite the subversion
of state power?’ only eleven years
in prison – hooligan tactics to
counter sanctioned criminal acts

Sichuan earthquake topples tofu construction
in a cover up of her seven happy years
child victims dismembered by indifference
mauled and devalued into a state secret
making mourning subversive

police beat propaganda into the skull
of a poet’s son who turns technology
against them – fuck the motherland
this revolution will be twitterized

in Beijing, Mao Chow the cat opens a door
but never closes it behind him
slinking through a surveillance state
exhibiting an uncooperative attitude

a ghost passes him on the street
whispering the names of children
in an act of remembrance

Transmission Lost

Fallen Angel by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1981

Fallen Angel by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1981

Music by David Chamberlain, Jr., poetry by Anna Chamberlain, and the lyric ‘all we ever wanted to say was chased erased and then blown away’ is from the Janelle Monae song, Many Moons. Hit play above, this is a spoken word piece.

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

I speak now to the audience in your head
not the voice that reads this line
(nor the voice that speaks alongside it)
but instead to the part of you
that observes the voice,
(hush now)
watch the unfolding theater:

here is an excursion of the artist into war
from the safety of the mind’s constructs
(you will not have to take a stance)
so you, the observer,
have assurances
double indemnity

Pina choreographs the performers
writhing masterfully among the corpses
wrap flesh around their toes
to raise on point
(incongruous)

upon a beach invaded
by the long dead
(whale song)
marching to the sacred shrine
(come away)
the listening shores rebound

hand-held spotlight illuminates
an iron triangle against the
politics of a graffiti sky
jagged edges slice the dancers
(to operatic pleas)

she stands alone
undulating arms
(come away)
frenetic, kinetic shapes
haunt in liminal space
(collapsing)
consume your ideas,
bury your children

confront the psychology of obstacles
strewn across a room within a world,
a café, a memory, a drama
(inextricable motion)
painting your psyche,
(behind the fourth wall)

bid the virtues,
bid the graces
(come)
daughters of art

cry your overflowing river of dust
a rite of spring granting muddied feet
to reclaim the earth of this stage

incursions into our perspectives
wormholes to exquisite pain
(as I write to you)
of this excursion
of the artist
into war

we close the door (castaways)
seaweed tossed by the storm
mimicking the dance
emotive intensity whirls
in the roar

violent intent permeates Nature,
from whom we learn not
seeing with closed eyes

you hear my voice, your voice,
the observer draws horrific pictures
for your inner sight
you travel, exploring this interior
view of war

at a remove that fans out
like a house of mirrors
dancers mime

(terror)

(exhaustion)

(bloodlust)

death

Pina Bausch

Pina Bausch 1940-2009