Poetry - Hyssop and Hermetics, The Absinthe Literary Review

by Duane Locke

The Moths Have Eaten Holes In My
Orange Striped White Suit

Threw away his guitar,
Recited a poem by Jules Laforgue and disappeared.

I wonder where she is and what is she doing at this hour,
Clipping with a clipper whose handles are wrapped in blue silk
The decayed leaves off a white orchid,
Or she is floating like Ophelia in a stiff, green dress
Down the Hillsborough River,
Or she might be pouring brandy into a pan to cook
Filet Mignon, Piedmont style.

It is midnight, perhaps, she is asleep with the man
That has Bengal tigers tattooed on each shoulder,
The fat man who was baptized last week by being
Dipped under in the river that flows by her house.

If I were an Egyptian poet about 3000 BC,
I might say:
Since she is away
The night tonight is an inverted ebony bowl
That has no flaws
To mar it blackness.
There are no stars,
No streaks of comets,
Or falling, burning meteors, tonight.
Sometimes, I think the black bowl quivers a little,
But I cannot be sure
The overhead is so dark
I cannot tell what it is doing.

I cannot tell what the sky is doing, and what she is doing,
I cannot even tell what I am doing.

I think of my misdirected life, I once went to Palestrina, Italy,
Looking for the smile of the Gioconda, but only found
A patch of asparagus growing behind a white picket fence,
And a rooster that crowed as it he were singing the St. Louis blues.

I have a difficult time making a decision.
I cannot decide if I want to grow geraniums
Or collect Egyptian scarabs.

I remember when I watched her loosen her white-gold hair
I heard a funeral march.

The Night When A Carnival
Was Two Blocks From My House

Tonight, I started recalling ancient history
When gods fed on their fathers
After eating their mothers.
Zeus was supposed to end this situation
That if you were divine you would dine on your father.
Zeus substituted ambrosia.

These old gods had cobras crawling on their foreheads,
But I cannot remember when
The gods began to look more like the human beings
That Prometheus is rumored to have created.

Being anti-Industrial Revolution, I still use an hour glass
To tell the time, but I noticed the sand has run out,
But I could check my sundial clock out in the myrrh garden.

I do not need to know the time, because I am not
Going to meet her, or is she coming to see me.

I sit in this chair of one arm, and smell
The odors of the lotus in the next room.

I recall, entranced by the lotus’s perfume,
Old poets who wrote pantoums,
Her white-gold hair whose whispers were silver,
An eagle eating Prometheus’ liver.

All The Letters I Send Myself
Come Back Stamped “Person Unknown”

I have heard that saints are shining
In the orbit around Orion,
But what else are these saints doing besides shining,

Using their light to guide cargo ships of slaves or opium.
Do these shining saints ever read Hegel
Or listen to the squeaks of grocery carts in grocery stores
Or on Halloween give peppermints to children?
Do these shining saints ever fall in love
Or has their becoming light removed gender?

I don’t think I would like to become a dead saint,
Shine on filth, give transitory splendor,
Join the moon’s light in creating lunatics,
Have my secret life in caves made public.

But what other choices do I have. To see
You with the white-gold hair shopping on the avenue.
I walk by you, magnetized by how your hips
Undulated into your waist, and know
As I walk by and stare, I walk by unrecognized.
She always makes me feel as if I were invisible
And an unknown person. Once, I hired
A detective to find me, and he failed.
I got a fifty-percent refund on the bill.


© 2003 Duane Locke

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