A poem by Jon Corelis
Here is a place to speak. These windy walls
and bleak escarpments, shed of all green life,
will make the dead at home
who come to take what little blood is left,
tinging our numb suspended selves with red.
Only the dead speak truth
or have a truth worth hearing: we are scars
that trace where a wound once bled around a birth
until the place was sealed
by flesh that tried and failed until it healed.
And what is speech, except to mold that moan
that always means one thing?
The world's dead end is almost void of presence.
With no embarrassment of flesh, our tongues
may paint this air. Listen:
The flower is there, but not the flower's design
until I sing its petals like the sun:
the nectar trembling in the flower's throat
is sweetened by the trembling of this string,
which links the purple voices carved from silence
along one single curve from then to then,
which is the flower's design.
The flower's design is what the flower is for:
it grows to fit itself to what I sing
and finds itself for once forever whole,
since in my song its bloom and bud are one,
moving in harmony.
These melodies hold nothing but its life.
The flower's design is what the flower is.
These cypresses and poplars have a motion,
a gesture, and a speech no wind instils:
my song reveals them as a kind of rhythm,
a flexing of their being, which is joy,
a dance existing only in my music,
as do the sky, the mountains, and the sea.
My songs are to the light as light to darkness,
uncovering the dreams enwrapped in day.
Without them, all our vision sees is blindness,
and all our utterance announces death.
He comes through the twisted guts of night
plucking sinews strung on his own bone
his eyes dissolve in tears of blood
the dank shore yields black flowers
there is blood on his mouth
he secretes the darkness into a hard shellac of light
his song is the silence without which music is dumb
who is he now
with his lying tongue the hue of the breasts of dawn
and who is he now
elucidating the architecture of grief
with the feral eyelids of a murdered child
and who is he now
his skull wreathed with a poisonous incense of joy
and who is he now
that tallies the iridescent wealth of cobwebs
to inventories of shadows cast on void
There is only one thing here
no king nor consort here
no bride to staunch the bleeding of the moon
Assemble! Skitter a face in his way
show him the turning mirrored in these lightless pools
fill his throat with the gall of the frantic worm
pierce his brain with the endless spike of death
wither his hands with the curse of the sun
O the tree of his triumph will shed bitter leaves
It's the warm surprise of spring
gives me that tragic feeling
that makes me wipe my life right off my face
to bare my naked mask
in the hills the hills where the pines
astonish the cool and dizzy air
fox tracks in the late snow
who would not dance in this dark brush
where the hare leaps by the icy stream
who would not laugh with the wind
where the berries burgeon bright as blood?
In the high hills where we first saw
his quick step as he frisked there
and your smile was my smile
while we laughed in each other's voice
and we all danced in the young strength
of his joy the pines the pines
as he skipped and pranced in the song that he was,
leading the playful chase along the ridge
It's the glance that means forever
under the stricken sky
sends your torrential blood right through my heart
to flower in my breath
in the hills, where the lingering chill
softly stings the stiffening buds
the hawk screams in the far crag
dark stream throbbing purple brown
under the earth shatters the sun
and warps the sorrowing clouds
while the mountain sways to the wrathful song
and he stopped short in the stern light
and his last strength made a blind leap
but cut off by the close hunt
he collapsed, and had nothing left
but to beg life with a mute cry
the pines the pines are stunned
Terror had taken his voice. His gaze
pleaded and broke. He knew that trouble was near.
The huge crest loomed above us, and when that roaring surge
broached its breathless peak and blossomed into silence,
we looked into our eyes, and the fusion rippled the circling dance
to avalanche that bound suspended power from every heart:
A girl fell on him first. She skipped like a prancing colt
from under a pine, her face suffused with a mask of glowing
joy, as her quivering throat gleamed at the sky and her hair
streaked pale fire on the breeze as she leaped.
Light as a leaf in the wind
she whirled to the poor thing there where they held him down
and grasped his mouth and jaw and ripped a rending escape
for the blind and bestial scream
that drowned in a gargle of blood.
Then one of the women howled and, taking his ankle and thigh,
twisted the joint till the gristle broke and she felt the twang
of the sinews snapping under her hands, and spinning around
she tried to dislodge the leg while fine froth flew from her lips
as she spun and her thick mane tossed
like a torch with a black flame,
but the skin still held, so the rest tore with nails and teeth
till the limb came free, and the woman,
swinging it over her head,
spattered the throng with blood and then released it to soar
and fall in a tumbling glide. That drove their frenzy wild:
then all those hands at once worked at the wound till it gaped
to his chest, and they broke the ribs,
and one hag clawed at his heart
till the blood gushed high, and gushed again,
drenching her breast
and ashen hair red as a coal as she gamboled away
clutching at pieces of flesh.
When it was over, they fled,
some to the gleaming drifts of the highest peak,
some to the steep ravines that flank the ridge,
and some to the broken hills by the wooded plain,
where they sank in exhausted sleep by the plashing stream.
The tiniest insect crawls on this blade of grass
an inch from my eye.
How laughing the water sounds.
The sun lies warm on our bodies. We must have been sleeping
Don't look at each other yet.
The sky seems somehow clearer now.
Let's not look at it.
You're all sticky too.
O mamma I'm so unhappy.
Yes, I know.
You understand it too.
No need to talk.
I've never felt so close to anyone
and I know your gentle hands would never bruise
this quite amazing pain. There, stroke me.
O my trembling dove.
How cool the water is. Let it wash away.
The tinge will fade before the town,
but we'll know it is there.
We'll never again look in each other's eyes
without that dark sweet secret echoing.
No, not forgotten, but drained from something we know
into what we are.
He is not dead,
nor have his sufferings been in vain.
in the love that lets us bear what we must be,
in the whispered joy as we walk hand in hand
under the olive trees.
His voice still sounds
in the wild streams unlocked from winter's grip,
and the rains that rouse the parched hills into bloom,
and each grain of our lives.
But many are my masks,
and many shapes are molded from my void:
sometimes I come as what you never hoped,
or what you hoped for comes another way.
This is what has happened here today.
The mystic stone and mantic bough
are mute and unregarded now,
the vocal fount is dry,
but still the sun and sand and sea
retain the ancient clarity
that saw beyond the sky,
and though no more the cyclic dance
of praise instils the cleareyed trance
that knows what is not seen,
the radiant darknesses that fill
the gaze his brilliance crushed can still
enlighten what we mean.
O blinding eye, whose naked glare
reveals forever everywhere,
whose luminous fury peels
the dark disguise from every blight
to stain it clean, whose ruthless sight
sickens what it heals,
since you at last have laid me bare
of all but what I am, my prayer
is only that your rays
of mortal truthfulness that bore
the answer to my being, no more
shall pierce my emptied gaze,
but let the endless sightlessness
that I myself embrace, confess
the crime which you have shown
is I myself, and let these halls
of silence shrine within their walls
the sin that I have known,
so others, whom your dreadful gleam
of vision wakens from this dream
that ends in death, may lift
their dazed and wounded eyes to me
and know that I was meant to be
a strange and healing gift.
Though what I am may not be heard,
yet I dare speak the single word
that makes this plague a cure;
polluted in my outcast night,
in blindness I declare the light
is holy, sweet, and pure.
It's late, it's late in the day: through these fair meads
speechless Echo cries to the shrill-voiced birds
what crime has made us exiles from our kind?
high or low? high or low? high or low?
the sea itself could not contain this sorrow
I have been torn, and so I must destroy
tear who? tear who? tear who?
tear who? tear who?
o song of midnight's broken tongue
bleeds from the mute wound
to speak is to remember
it's taken it's taken it's taken
it's taken it's taken it's taken
although she cannot speak, she still can sing
all rivers flow to Lethe
o no! o no! o no!
o no! no! o no! no! o no!
Mamma it hurts. What's done can't be undone.
Pull yourself together. Let death and silence reign.
where did he go? where did he go? where did he go?
where did he go? where did he go?
All material on this web site copyright © 2014 by Jon Corelis