Madison Morrison's Web / Sentence of the Gods / Sleep


Madison Morrison



white diagonal lines
ravel without gathering
a shingled roof
flat gray cloud

fine funicular
saturated red
basin below

herringbone suit
mended jacket
back to the sleeper


“I know you’ll make the decision”
nothing imperative

l’embourgeoisement de la poésie

x = y

a row of bricks
at the back fence
alternating red and white


the “natural” world
child in his mother’s bed
a car passes up the hill
bedroom dormered


the road bent
pines above
branches touching
across the road

a gloved hand
maps of countries
in the sand

across the subject
light yellow an
occasional rose


the compass
black and white triangles
collapse into white spheres

the plane
carries cargo
through a Pacific mist

an early ’30s touring car
turns inward
waves of universal matter
beat against a shelf


“T” the capital of “the”
a sentence
the last letters visible
the middle repressed

thou in the meadow

’tis full of ant odors
a gentleman goes walking with his dog
fat lady steps from coupé

these are birds in bushes
nothing weird about that
monkey in the tree drops

TV set


the blond bond
glasses lay apart —

like legs on a
nineteenth-century pirate ship

draft resister to stand trial
dog hit in hind quarters
child starves to death
close relative dies

editor writes “typewriter”
sends back the poetry
young poet
can’t afford erasers



panty-waisted shepherds
big bloomer clouds

in the light of sadness
beating pots
into swords


air-conditioned moonlight
crackles the geraniums
a white pie
in your eye

military prudence
golden meanness
tit for tat

too much tea

I’m horrified
by these tissues in his arm


operation free
the body disappears
quick doctor

sea sprays
the reef
the map shows


“Chester has a lot of gall”

I see what you mean
lumps of sugar
in salt water




A mule satellite floats over Naples
hearing its own brays with rabbit ears.


Its radish blue, blue-black eyes are dotty.

Its stonily terrified reddish face

nibbles the tip top of Texas, bats at
the flat sear-face rabid inner head,

turning the motorized platform. Rabbit
eyes have it: raisiny, licorice, coals.


If eyes are large human eyes with lashes
(emphasis upon woundability),

over Broadway oozily secreting
needlepoint mist on the metropolis,

the globular excrescences are men.

They hint at taking on man-like movements.


But, they deliquesce, potent Cuban ball
players out on waivers of black sugar.



The blazing dog-eared rabbit ears are white
with black detached Southeast Asian markings.


The boots are on: Italia-Cambodge.

She said to hell with politics and did.


Vaginal Existenz exaggerates
her clitoral form in two dimensions.


Her fine-penciled line-breed is white; within,
shaky walls, crumbly with detumescence.


But day has the Mississippi levee
rising. Halleluja, edible blacks,

old Kentucky banks swollen through worn tires,
timeless plastic waters always flowing.


How’d she do it? Easy. Sculptural forms.

(Little Liza’s shore alive, shore alone.)


Through that center all the landscapes focus,
and the maid selects, the selection maid.



This is the essence of California
by California, see the mountain isle?


Orogenesis by God. It starts high
but levels into a form of notation

familiar in electric circuitry.

An amp, detention camp, an ohm, a home.


Existence bodes no evil (read “nothing”),
breaching black international water.


Nonetheless swarter fluids surround it

(anamnesis). Under the shelf, eyes lit,

vinyl shrouds entomb perfect astronauts.

The detail is fantastic, by moonlight:


aquanautic chambers luridly calked,
a missile hidden in the white wrinkles.


Soft purples poofing at the people. There.

Diagonality, the water tank.




You, aspirant, are
a radical revolutionary leader
who nonetheless attends regular rallies.

You are the figure of
peace in violence.


Standing beside the long table, where
liquor is served for soothing, you turn away
the congress to gaze into the late autumn
landscape with its lengthy waterless rivulets.

Your breast harbors its own viscous waters.


Three desperate lushes
have been driven in a pick-up
to the picnic ground. You offer each a glass of red jug
wine. Oblique afternoon sunlight glints on the rims
and reddens as you gather up the goblets.


By the time you return, bearing
cheap replacements, the evening is arid. Though serious
and sober, your type violence is out of fashion.

You turn into your house,
leaving the spoils behind.


An unseasonably warm breeze
is drifting through the screen doors and windows. As you
lie down, observing you, a figure
lies asleep in the living room. He understands. This
laziness must be conquered by sleep or not at all.



We are concerned about your age,
for you’re an unextraordinary thirty-three.

Some say you’re not typical. Your demeanor says
otherwise. You have squeezed until it hurts
but found nothing in the middle.


Despite your violence, you are
fond of your self, walking down a country road,
talking quietly to your “believer.”

The pebbly underfoot is shaded, the loam along the
roadside moist and cool.


Dense weedy bushes
hide the intersection. In your ear
motorcycles enter, more than you imagine.

They are tearing up the road, throwing
dirt upon the shoulder.


A fiat brings it to an end.

You wince, offering your crust in appeasement, but
there is no stopping. Another twosome
makes an entrance. One swings out
and misses. You say not to be afraid.


Nevertheless, two final figures
veer toward you on their vehicles.

Once in the shadow, they are courting in the sun.

They’ve dismounted and they apprehend you. There’s been
a “fire” in the “tank” back on the “farm.”



You have a hole in your head. You’ve been
apprehended, robbed, and shot.

“You” set the fire down on the farm,
they say. It was “you” beside the tank, you
who apprehended nothing.


What “fire”? What “tank”?

From the lane one can barely see the “farm.” They
grabbed you in the pits, but their authority
dissolves. Clouds are on the road
and bullets in the peoples’ armies.


In the lane the foliage is leafy and
familiar. The landing was in early summer.

It is 1944. The gas beside the road
is billowing. You breathe in
before the wave begins to cover.


He’s blacking out, you
finally realize. You see him
with his helmet off, his number 33. It
must have been in France it happened.

Heine don’t use that gook.


You didn’t see the hilltop
from the lane? Pass the matches.
But the lane runs along the hilltop!

Gas rolls over onto the plain. The sun breaks through.

The depot appears, surrounded by dairy trucks.



I’d recognize you anywhere,
your life in your belly — though I’m
only making fun of you, standing in a drugstore
by the rack. They must have dropped you off
a quarter of a century ago.


You puff a little now,
mustachioed, burping your aperitif.

In the store interior you leaf through
a plastic covered girlie mag, bulging out
again into the early rue.


The shelves are high and almost hide you,
indulging yourself to play a double picture.

Your prescription’ll be ready in a moment.

The magazine is tilted
till it catches in the sun.


It might have jammed. Across
the street, someone is observing spies.

You give yourself away. Peering
through the curtains in a creamy wall,
they take your gesture for a sign.


A pair of hands holds back the
inner lace and lets it drop. The reel
has recorded you. Your drops are ready. Though you
handle the composite puzzle map,
its five digits are too much.



Agents have arrived. Oh la!

What have you been up to? A woman
is accosting you in street clothes and
shoulder pads. She forgot her hairnet. You
hardly knew they had them.


Her cronies accompany you
through the lobby, pausing for different groups.

They bicker in their shakos and accuse you.

You’ve been giving signals
to the people on the second floor.


So there you are — deeply
ensconced in a velvet room. The camera
has been turning, out the window,
past a model on the couch.

There’s nothing sacred anymore.


Her skin is dark, the seat
is red. You’re ashamed of every pose.

As you depart, you make
these observations:

The lobby chairs are stiff.


The hotel is a prison filled with bunting.

Before they all come in to look,
you read a plaque above the glass.

It says, “A Warfilm Is a Peacefilm,”
which makes you even madder.


At the Heart of Seattle

Removing his yellow slicker, Bob Jackson leans his head against the pier.

The salmon out to sea, he fetched his unemployment check this morning.

Interest rates are too high for a boat loan; and the wife is sick.


up out of the water

leap the puppet fish

eyes are glassy buttons


Although the fisherman knows better, he imputes intelligence to the fish.

He implores them to solve what he knows to be his purely human problems.

Fish know better. Problems belong to the fishing community.


his thinking sinking
silver minnows
begin to twiggle by


One has the fuselage of a supersonic military aircraft.

Seattle is in economic straits, with unemployment high.

More jobs in the aircraft industry would mean more loans for fishermen.


on a blue plane
blue suede shoes
a blue plastic weapon held high


On a Reef in Tenerife

The graduated sands begin with caramel, then beige, off-white, and sugar.

Sandy has emerged from the water, washed up on the beach by the great storm.

She shakes her hair, takes off her suit, and settles down under a palm


sharks around
one has a red spot on his gum
one a white spot


Sunlight twinkles across the water, as Sandy falls asleep and dreams.

She’s under a sarsaparilla tree with bottles of juice on each branch.

A hungry black man saunters by and looks as though he might eat her up.


“Those are very pretty rings you have on,” says Sandy.

“Would you like one?” says the black man.

“Oh, gee, I don’t know,” says Sandy. “I must be dreaming.”


The black man points to his golden tooth. Sandy finds it very attractive.

He also has a blind man’s ivory stick and a crystal beggar’s cup.

Slipping off his largest golden ring, he gives it to Sandy with a smile.


“Thanks,” says Sandy. “But who are you?”

“I’m the son of God. Welcome to New Brazil.”

“Wow!” says Sandy. “This’ll take some getting used to.”


In a Nagasaki Bathtub

Home for a visit, Ig Nogu showers in the modern tub.

“Hello, any water?” he says. No there doesn’t seem to be.

A large black telephone has replaced the shower head. He speaks into it:


When I was young, I wanted to be a fence accountant.

Then I became esthetic. One day I ran away to Savannah.

I threw myself under a banyan tree and had a vision.


Christ sat in glory. The apocalyptic beasts surrounded Him.

The bearded face of God appeared, Who made the Savior a lesser figure.

Stern was His visage, but his leathern cheeks were likely, and He had liver spots


“So this is life in the clouds,” I said to myself. But a voice murmured,

“Life on earth is a temporary disaster.

“He alone is the Truth, He alone the Way.”


It should, however, be pointed out that Ig ignored the stenciled “H.”

And he failed to recount a variety of subsequent sufferings and troubles.

Still, one phase of his life had drawn to a close. Another had been ushered in.


no more busy signals
frothy suds
leans back in the tub.


a Tanzanian secretary      a New York photographer
mother      no brassiere
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Sommer      Mrs. Brenda Sommer
Mr. Peter Sommer      Peter Sommer, ’61
the twenty-first      badminton
a service      a return
a student from China      University of Idaho
The Rocky Mountains      sky
shrubbery      a yellow dress
scissors      petals
a cracked tooth      the bassinet
Joshua      Joshua, Jr.
tall grass      father
a spade      grass
an old man      sweat
dry pajamas      peeling paint
knocked up      my four-year-old
pants off      on her back
a neighborhood      car horn
horn stuck      the neighborhood
the old house      car horn
white bedspread      brown mattress
ten      zero
half again      vacation




Remember when you and I were two thugs out West? What puppets
we were! Can you recall those remarkable days? Writing
now I note how wrinkled has become the skin on my hand.

You also must look much older. How many the versts we have come
since the terrific days of Chicago! And the poor victim —
who we never identified. Nor, for that do I really
know you, my accomplice, you who, in your solitude,
have never come forward — despite I know your address by heart.


Remember how it began — a simple heist, a chemist
we went to knock over. The kidnapping was a second thought.

Recollect the victim! Such a clean-shaven chap in his Stetson,
so young, so nervous, an innocent bystander, his outfit
neatly pressed. We had no desire for doing away
with him, word of God! It only later became necessitous.
We thought hard of alternatives, but he wouldn’t be quiet!
As such a distance it is hard to recall our reasoning.


It started in Kansas City, but how we drove the machine!
We never pulled over the curb once until State Street.
Then what to do with him? We tried him in the rumble seat,
but he wouldn’t go. We were desperate, Comrade, with all
the passers-by thinking us madmen — which we were!
Then the drawstring in the back seat, and you pulling it.
You and I were friends. It makes me sad to remember
those days. Why don’t you come down to see me some time?


The string only turned him blue in the face, poor fellow! Then
was he on our hands! He refused to keep his trap shut!
No wonder we dumped him and took it on the lam. Comrade,
Al Capone and Chaplin had nothing on you and me.
Here begin the episodes I’ve always wondered about.
Whose idea was Central America? Did we truly think
we would cross the Gulf of Mexico without being nabbed, or drowning?
I struggled with my heart to go through with it — so afraid.


But we made it. Remember the beach at Pensacola —
salt water slapping up the fish and the seaweed.
You peered out and said you could see the other side.
Watching out for cops we stripped to our skivvies and swam for it.
By the time we got back our wallets were gone  — some bandit from Cuba!
But you with your speak-easy talk, you fixed it up for us.
Next morning we were bouncing together like bilge in a boat.
Soon we were strolling Nevsky Prospékt again. What a life!



This is my annunciation of two lives, of the livelihoods of two young girls,

one apocrustic, one apolaustic, one aging, one perpetually young.


I am the custodian of their orders, transmitting them to a feculent

garden of fine chive-like grass with a mothery bed of humus visible beneath.


The plot is in a small container yet is large enough to hold the elements

of an estate. I regard it as inclusive, a full-scale architect’s model.



One senses the outline much as one senses the form of flesh underneath clothing.

Below the leafy elm a circular section appears, built out of poured concrete.


The delicate fenestration’s Oriental; likewise the smartness of the plan.

Yet it’s Occidental — wisteria, casual reflections of the owner.


The white-edged container’s on the coffee table, held, slightly slanted, in the hand.

You’ll find yourself, as I recede, less and less aporetical of the contents.



The estate’s upper reaches were luxuriously overlaid with naturally

wavy, earth-colored hair. You recognize the girls, their locks beautiful though heavy,


by their combinations. The younger, as you know her, is the mother, the elder,

the sun. One has been deflowered, one seems safe. No one speak now of illicit love.


In the woven brunette tresses a patch of blond emerges. It appears to shine —

first as a mackle, then a mark of identity, an identifying mark.


Lean back now for a moment, please. I have a little story I would like to tell.

It won’t hurt. Yes, it is apocalyptic, but it won’t hurt for you to hear it.


As my uniform indicates, I am a nurse, taking care of these two children.

One of them is white, one is Oriental. One has freckles, and the other’s smooth.


The sunny day is windy here beside the sea. The coast is broad and rocky. We’re

out of sight. I’ve been watching the children eating lunch, and now I let my hair down.



I’ve been slumbering. Suddenly an accident: the boys have fallen in the rocks.

They must be rescued. I clamber down the rocky ledge, and in time I get to them.


They both are safe. We all are glad and smile. After we have played a while together,

I relax. The darker child is escaping. He teeters at the plateau edge.


Oh, he’s falling over it. His instincts, they’re no good to him at all. In fact, they’re

working in reverse — a tragic laugh. The law of gravity no longer functions.



The child is white with apostasy. His face in its black circus of hair stumbles

off the ledge. Rejected in space, he will be the silent apopemptic figure.


In my white cap and stockings, crazy with pursuit, I rush the earth until I’m red.

My veins are blue from running. My clodhopper nurses’ shoes force me too to stumble.


I reach him, like a black telephone, but he is callen. He falls a long distance.

Viciously his head has butted. Through rocks and faint underbrush the blood is visible.


Now let me tell you about myself, for I’m an apotactite and a gardener.

Listen to the words and listen to yourself. Don’t worry about identities.


You’re engaged in a conversation with another gardener. It’s a friendly talk.

His plot, hard by the alleyway, is narrow, grassy with fescue and bermoothy.


He also has a bedding out, mostly of petunias and impatiens, blooming.

He is an older man who smokes a pipe, he’s middle-aged, a man who still has youth.



Troweling a little in his spaded earth, all he sees, the gardener, is honey hair.

Such rich blond locks are charming in a man his age, despite the patches of brunette.


The season has burned his normal face a little. Some of his fine teeth are silver,

some gold. Some are white, some missing. A garrulous eye is brown, a taciturn, blue.


He keeps his shoulders steady as a pruning knife. He turns, and he addresses you.

About his sentence there’s a ring of wisdom. You were listening, but you lost the word.



Brushing back your tresses, you have found it though — in the panorama of the bay.

You assimilate the nurse, sun setting in your bay, and shade your eyes against the dusk.


See, the child is still falling. Forward, ledge to ledge, it bounces on the pointed rocks.

The sun is smoldering, an ambulance arrives behind the smoky pumice clouds.


It climbs along the curving coastal road, as nighttime falls. The lights around the bay

go on, as life goes on. It is chastening. We would leave it all in different hands.


Here’s the Madison Baptist Church in Madison, Georgia.

Those pillars and those bricks date from 1856.

I was born and raised there — century after they built it.

Don’t look it, but that’s where crime starts — when people
down South stop goin’ to church. You can tell
by the smell that nobody goes there anymore.

Ruby and I used to use their parkin’ lot.

So much for Madison — thought you’d like some background.


Hotel we stayed in’s next to the Greyhound station. That’s

Bucky there — headin’ out for sandwiches. Here’s
the window in our room, where we holed up
’fore we done it. We got tarred sittin’ around.

Went on down to Cinerama. Them white lines on the
street’s to keep the cars from runnin’ into each other.

Saw so many people walkin’ on the street!

Ask me, every one looks like he has a headache.


Pharmacy’s in the old LaSalle Hotel. We took a turn
out round half past three to case it. Ruby said,

Pharmacy’s on the corner, y’cain’t miss it. Well,
we had one hell of a time findin’ it. Hotel’s
got a thousand rooms — every one a TV
and five cocktail lounges! Couldn’t find a pharmacy
for all the cocktail lounges! When we finally did,
there’s ole Ruby at the counter, orderin’ pills.


So we all three sit down beside her, pretend nobody
knows anybody. Soda jerk comes up, Bucky says
he wants a vanilla shake. Boy says, This counter’s
been closed a year! You, Ruby says, turn around.

She grabs a fork — it was still sittin’ on the counter —
and sticks him. Bucky takes the register under his arm,
puts his raincoat over it, and we all walk out.

(Ruby’s got a cigarette and I’m reaching for gum.)


Get out on the street — gol-lee, our car’s not there!

(Bucky left it runnin’— with the keys in it!) Well,
a Dodge, an Olds 88, and Merc’re jus’ sittin’ ‘ere.

But we cain’t steal a car — we’re only country boys.

Start walkin’. Soon we’re down to State Street.

My, if the mayor didn’t have every dad-burned
flag in Chicago out! We take turns luggin’ that
register — forget about the boy with the fork in him.


Finally catch a cab for O’Hare. Then got no cab fare!

Register won’t open, so Ruby unbuttons her blouse
and settles it in the wash room. ( I thought that was strange.)

While she’s in there, Tucky, Bucky and I get nervous.

Leave a note for Ruby, ditch the register and
grab us a plane. Turns out it’s a Philly plane.

Spend the whole night there in the Art Institute,
till a guard comes in, wakes us up, and kicks us out.


’Round noon a buddy of Buck’s comes by in his plane

We fly all over Independence Hall and then
head on down the coast — past D.C. and on
to Florida. Takes us all night, but we sleep a lot.

Bucky, Tucky and I all take turns flyin’.

In St. Augustine we get to see Moby,
the pilot whale. Then we meet Ruby under a
tree where Sidney Lanier wrote “The Marshes of Glynn.”



Cause Bad Low Tide Conditions

SANTA BARBARA, May 24. In this small inlet village a creeper appeared today. Nearby naval station attendants had no explanation. A watchman was the first to sight it in the dictionary of his morning vase, an antique Han dynasty vessel supposed by archaeologists to contain cosmetic powders made from human skin.


The creeper is very long.


A matron on the shore reports having seen it from her housetop in the dawn.


Meanwhile, its forepaw hangs over the reef, disrupting traffic. One shell station, normally cheery and bright, has lost sight of its pumps, clean restrooms, etc. …


Housewives were understandably concerned. One says, “Me god, what’s if she come a-thumpin’ in the nigh’?”


The lint factory down the harbor say,” A red fool a green roof don’t make no news for me washing.”


Museum Personnel Confer

NEW YORK, May 24. Members of curatorial board today agreed the chip between Renaissance and nineteenth century is attributable to excess Chinese ware. “W-a-r-e,” they were quick to add.


Somewhere in the lurky galleries everything broke loose.


A new Perspective Spokesman could not immediately be reached.


However, one reporter see a fire extinguish fountain flex in his direction.


“What in the world do you expect?” murmur one observer. The clarification came with his finger in his eye. He wore a dapper soup.


The “Chips-in-the-China” theory, as the view has come to be viewed, was thought unaccountable as early as coffee break.


But scientists are now uncertain.


Sentiment Takes Dunking

SPORTLAND HOWLAND PARK, May 24. On this quiet Rhine-Wuppertal valley a major fest is begonnen.


Newspaper writers all oberdiewest are heute here concurred.


They is all over blue pencils.


And the good foosball players keep a-spielin’ and a-drinkin’.


Everytink ink paper.


Scores go up, scores go down. Twenty-to-nothing not uncommon, though is thought childish. Sixty-to-one unheard of, but felt better.


“Oh, for the old,” say one of the buddies, “what another goal!”


Spectators left their wagons on the banks.

A large red pair of lips. The lipstick is bright. A multiple image has many mouths open. teeth, at first substantial, give way, so that heads may be inserted. That something happen produced the viewer’s death (his surrogate’s) by car in the middle of the street. moralizing as to the island nature of the two sides (home separated from walking place by river).


Teeth. (Searchlights) configurate at the angle of the page. Back Creek Church facade leads, out a window down the road. corn tassels in the headlights on the way to the airport. Who would have been there but. the smile. a finely flat silver-gold rye-like weed. If militarism opens the shady brown bomb bay of World War II light bombers. Soldiers wear navy hats, peaked like boats. I wore my uncle’s. The peak in perspective. hard-edged. gray-olive, olive smudge with brown and darker stripes. Naval broadsides, two-dimensional cutter hulks, or postage, or plaques, for the dead, recently dead.


Encourage the rose pink bush against the ground. these striations give something to live for, streaking bombers drive their jet perfumed pink vapor trails out from the center. Bright red nodes at the points of combustion in the sky. How did white get in? on a stone wallet? Let that pass.


A very bright bulb turned on. Its location, believe it or not, is in the crown of the statue of liberty. but she is a little dismantled. The background blue is not sky-blue and the colors of red and white are heightened. light bulb has no frosting, and is ignited by the customary black switch illuminating points of the crown.


Off a gray, splotched, greenish canvas uniform — very realistic — rudimentary markings of an emblem into a biplane, a tail with a circle growing fast/first, on the orange and black circle on the canvas tarp. Then the wings and prop in orange. Black fuselage clear cartoon.


looking down the airport. fuselage, tail, though nose and wings are slightly out of range. menaces to become pregnant. airborne, at first concentrating on the aircraft below us, then the paramount flight. a particular dream, whammo! She separates and goes her way, returning into herself. Her liveliness/ loveliness a portion.


A failure of communication on the literal (or human) level, the circular window like a life boy, circle pale yellow on the insight, gray on it — outer sides embedded as they are in soundproofing fire door. Yellow is the clue to the secretary sitting in a room, typing.


Black dotties come all over. I do not have to go to that again. In Kenya, he played drums on his first night out. A very clean popsicle stick from the tip of the music stand, for a long instant in the artificial light. The underside of a black man’s undershaven chin. Stay out here, you stay out of here.


blue/red as dot/stripes cover a brown word base. Its imperfections are the drops themselves which, though painty, approach the veracity of versicles. Yes. The red and blue is blackened, though black does not discolor.


The town is all around. Take the shopping center. Several flying saucers have landed in the relatively soft crust along the interstate. well-designed outside, a broad band of white or cream with observations. Windows of the normal tinted glass. They sprout in threes alongside the road. This wasn’t their origin, but it’ll do.


You say the white is on the top of the cane. Trapezoids are lovely in the opening.


Finding the red granite sandstone, with pyrites intersprinkled, is one of the few pleasures. I turn back the curtains on this action. These must be Indian rocks. You in your plane — we hear the engines — and the rocks have become volcanoes. A lagoon, open ocean — not attached to the rocky mountain. The water and the islands — with their dim flora — sit in the bay, populating what you see. ripples in the tide, and grayness, certify the bread.


 bloodlines, or the plastic bladder of an outcast? Are we in the islands? There is no lagoon, except the one surrounding it. The outrigger brings us. No closer. Drag your hand overboard for sharks. The captain sits up on the bridge. A swan, its white beak clacking beneath a hat embellished with ribbons. These are dots of water, people and scows covering the page as the languorous muddy Mississippi covers the basin. The sun does not obscure the evenness of color. From the bluffs I will always look down.


nipple-dots. Only the curve keeps it from flowing into the bridge at Salzburg, the traffic identical. Lane curve —too many for an Austrian town. a tuft of gray feather, trout fly —a spot of felt maroon blood. An eye. An Oklahoma sunset escapes in the West and hangs above it for the western motorist.


The elephant has white black tiger stripes on his trunk and this is not Babar. into black sections. They water down the purest Martian soot conceivable. admit we keep back Jupiter. other planets. red rocks. His sooty trunk. Step on it and you come apart. That’s for levity. In fact your foot mushes through. and you are lost, the red no longer dark red. Its light piping covers Santa’s belly. His sweet confectionary arteries bleed their colors as an icing. His locks: snowfall cataracts. The chest and thighs have merged. Together, an alpine slope ascends into the mountains. so very gently now. even though he may be undercut and pass through his stages of redness like a fleece. Into the stream of images and nothing more: navel, a lump of coal, a black eye. from a distance, the top of a herm. As it moves, neither winding nor straight, one begins to realize the na—. the mother’s figure, her stomach wrinkled and soft from the aftermath of parturition. football players and their letdown, in defeat or victory.


Lisa Maryevna and her daughter Dunya made their way out the door of the roadside tavern to the Petersburg carriage. As the mother ever so slightly lifted her skirts, avoiding the puddles, her eye caught the driver, ever so slightly raising his eyebrows, as he contemplated his relationship to the upper classes.


“Mother,” said Dunya, as they settled back into their seats, “how is it that we travel thus, always coming, always going, never getting anywhere? We have now been on the road two days and every stop has been the same. I am tired of this life, tired of my life at least, and yet there seems to be no end of it. What is one to do?”


“Now then,” said the mother, feeling within herself the old contradictions, “now then, child, be patient. Things are as they are, and we have little to say about that, thanks be to God! And if we did, and for all I know we still do, what would ever become of us?”


Her voice threatened to break, and she turned her face to the window in order that she might avoid showing such emotion to her child. The great blocks of ice had begun already to melt in the river as they glimpsed it now from the carriage through the trees. The willows by the riverbanks, with their delicate new buds, scarcely hid the river here, despite the density with which they grew down to the water’s edge. At the turning of the road they came, quite unexpectedly, upon a narrow bridge, and all three of them crossed the mighty river, the river which at this point is little more than a brook. Crossing it, each harbored his own thoughts. The coachman, with his penchant for the parable, recalled the parable of the poor and the rich man. Dunya meanwhile occupied herself with melancholy thoughts such as only an idle and secure child could entertain. Lisa Maryevna thought to herself, with sadness, but with satisfaction too, “This is the way of the old and the new, yes, that is true. But it is also the way of the young and the old.” And with that her eyes brimmed with tears.



Is there really any choice? Oedipus kills

Laertes and Anticlea, while Odysseus
goes scot free but fails to solve the riddle.

Tiresias tugs at his tits and what does he get?
A palatial house standing at the water’s edge.
Life is a banquet aboard a creamy boat,
whose rooms are too big to be convincing.
Oedipus ages so fast he doesn’t have to
murder Laius, he was dead to start with.
Propped on pillows a young siren tries
seducing him, but he watches himself asleep.
In the children’s room, four bunk beds . . .
Antigone, Ismene, how would you and
your brothers like to study mathematics?
You know, even in a comic book, when
you meet your father, you ought to shake.


To be great is no crime. I know.
The law school was once my own house.
I dress now in a white light shirt,
roll my cuffs and go barefooted.
The shooting takes place under the trees.
(Remember the shady allée at Colonus?)
Skip the honeysuckle-covered wall.
take the shortcut into your father’s house.
The back alley leads only to Thebes.
They gossip in the house over the shooting —
the announcement, they say, drove you to fury.
Surely there’s more to it than that. Maybe
you can’t read. Still, you know your own
father, blind, looking around the room.
Polynices appears with Eteocles.
Antigone, naked, hangs back in the cave.



To the military tourist everything is right.
Aber einmail gab’s mehr Häuser hier, na ja.


Despite the brutal tragedy, everything is bright.

Waren riesige Obstbäume überall, nicht wahr, Papa?


The area was two-thirds destroyed by the allied bombardment.

So, bitte, setzen Sie sich. Haben Sie den neuen Playboy gesehen?


In the crotch of the wet apple tree an orange circle is ascending.

Also, die Ölkannen sind direct hinter Ihrem Apartment . . .


In the bushes giraffes advertise the Zoologische Garten.
. . . können beim PX einmal in der Woche aufgefüllt werden.


Vielen Dank’ . . . Also, wo wohnen Ihre Kinder in den Vereinigten Staaten?

Ja, in Californien . . . Liebe Oma, Grüss Gott! Daddy says hi. Love, Karen.


Two adjacent houses, two
figures, flowers of their fathers.


Silhouetted in the window
the Oriental student sits.

His head is old.
A book is in his hand.
The yellow light is gold
beneath a scarlet shade.


A young Occidental person sits
in a pure blue blouse,
her golden locks
half way in her eyes.
The element is fluted
green. Pepper plants are in the clocks,
their buds intelligent.


The petals
circumjacent, two, alone,
asleep together. Nine-o-three.


A yogurt moon in the hackberry tree.



She wore a gold heart in her hair and rouge
on her cheeks. The other girls watched
to see if she’d cry.


She wore small booties, a yellow sweater,
slack denim jeans. Her fingernails
were deep Madeira.


She wore a sweater with black arms and a
bracelet, leaned forward a little
and threw her hair back.


She wore the reddish, frizzy, natural locks,
standing out over her forehead.
They swept her eyes back.


She wore black all over, but her tits bucked
up like bull-points. Her flesh was gold —
no it wasn’t gold.



I was driving down the Avenue of Palms in Florida,

with my wheels on either side of the center line,
when a man got out of a baby blue Buick


and gave me a ticket. I began dreaming about the clouds,

wondering what Colorado had to offer,
and we passed by Bennett, the famous Western street.


I was thinking about nothing in particular, when I

saw the black Boothbay Harbor lighthouse beaming its
laser beam over to Squirrel Island, and I thought


of Alba’s Third Duke as painted by Antonio Moro —

what a get-up — lancing around about Seville
in his Buenvenista Don Quijote halberd.


Then I thought of Niagara Falls, her water running over —

it’s hard to think of it stopping. If you look out
over Prospect Point, you can imagine yourself


like wild flowers on the mountain slope in the Rocky Mountains —

many lovely shades of off-white and light yellow.
Even the rocks are happy, except in their feet.


I took a breather — my middle-of-the afternoon cup of

coffee. Saw the Indians getting their revenge —
Custer, wounded, with blood coming out of his mouth.


Next, in Cordoba, I saw the Mezquita Cathedral criss-

crossing shadows of light on her marble pillars.
That was a tourist event (I was a tourist).


By then it was getting hotter, but I didn’t dare get up.

The colorful buoys of the Maine coast were in store
and the famous Wedding Cake house in Kennebunk.


I thought of lobsters — fresh from the ocean, fresh from the pot — and

I closed my eyelids — sea gulls flashed over the wharf.
A Maine fisherman patiently mended his nets.


And I thought of many familiar sights in quick succession —

the Boothbay (Maine) Railway Museum, the Brunswick (Maine)
Air Force base with its sign, “Sage for Security.”


As I was beginning to think of how to get out of Maine,

I saw East Boothbay Harbor with its picturesque
steeple and Pemaquid Light at Pemaquid Neck.


Quickly I thought of Arlington, Vermont, with its covered bridge

(one dollar fine if you drive faster than a walk).
Still I couldn’t stop thinking of Boothbay Harbor.


Cézanne wouldn’t have liked this (if you think about his pictures).

I wonder if he ever thought of Tarrytown,
New York, with the Gothic Revival castle there?


I know he never thought of the nearby Van Cortlandt Manor

(at Croton-on Hudson), where Pierre Van Cortlandt . . . .
But he might have thought about the large, snowy owl!


I put up my feet a while so I could think of Amherst, Mass.,

as it really appears on a cold day in the
fall, two green cars parked outside the college chapel.


And I thought of Boston (almost as bad, if you think of it) —

with its famous Bunker Hill Monument looking
toward Cambridge, toward M.I.T. and Harvard College.


Every now and then I think about the new Boston Skyline.

In a way, it’s an improvement over the old.
But a little bit of either goes a long way.


I really prefer a look at the Rockies in times like these,

or at Goya’s giant, his brooding and somber
vision — though it’s not pleasant, if you’re feeling blue.


Should we think about Niagara Falls again? Too exhausting?

Perhaps we should think about art? Vincent Van Gogh’s
blue cart, or Matisse on vacation in Egypt.


You can look through the eyes of the artist, or you can see it

for yourself (think of Paris); or, you can see it
somewhere in between, like a toy bus, a red lake,


a chair, a white tea cup, or a stove very highly polished;

a bed made of funny wood, beyond a doubt, with
bright Chinese lamps and Indian fans; or a man


rocking himself to sleep, who opens your eyes on a white dream —

people coming to church with their best clothes on, or
the dark toreador rubbing sleepy eyes, a


“pique” coming out of his mouth, as the black bull furiously

charges the chair of Granada, of Toledo,
of Madrid, and in each of the regions above.


For it is in that place that you see the glower of the sky

and ferocious lions letting out all their spite —
into the fountains; or, in a macabre vein,


you can see the horrible things of the imagination,

for example . . . But I will leave that up to you.
We have so many horrible things without that.


Yet the quiet of the general life remains to be thought of:

the palace archway that lies in wait for women;
the suave inner garden dying into foliage;


winter coming on; the muting of fountains that returns us

to eternal verities; the dark cypresses;

the endless flower pots; the dracaena catching


the light, the tepid pool growing cooler in the August sun;

the formal garden, with its sandy shoeless paths,
its unintentional, unattractive grandeur.


And someone might say, “That’s a line of thought well worth pursuing,”

but I would think of Paris, Texas in the spring
and make you think about the little things instead.


Your headache (heartache) will be gone a lot faster, if you think

of Jackson, Tennessee and its Business Section,
the mercury soaring to 98 degrees.


And why shouldn’t it? The cadets are still marching to breakfast.

The little towns of mountainous Colorado
are still as pretty and poor as a panhandle.


You want to think of civilization. I want to think of

the neither ecliptic, and the sun, pausing by
the streams of Glacier Creek to regain composure


in the muted beiges of the late fall grass and the crystal

water, getting ready to go back home to help
you do a little serious thinking again.


This was only the beginning of the things I thought about.

I also thought about Fort Worth and her lovely
sights and people (and young girls!); and her fine buildings;


the tall pine forest in East Texas; Bob Hall’s Pier at Padre;

Zulu, Cheyenne Park Zoo’s enormous Gorilla;
and C.A. Johnson’s popcorn stand; and Buckskin Joe.


I even thought of the sheriff waiting for a government

assassination, the bags of grain as full as
the fake gloomy clouds whirling about overhead.


I tell you, it’s a lot better to think about the flowers,

the columbine, the iris, and even the bold
and bloody rose rocks in the Garden of the Gods.


And if thinking of that makes you want to give up thinking, then

relax. You know, it’ll all disappear whether
you think of it or not, so why not enjoy it?