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Lines on Dry Leaves.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Pale Shadow (The Fool) Is Ending.

Too Real
the Passage.

High Rushing Wind like Swift Pneuma.

from the Planet X Think Tank
at Bald Mountain near Rachel, Nevada

Wandering Fool in a dry December,
Descending the limestone ledge to a spot
Of no return, black spot on the mountain
Gangplank to death in the deep cold ravine
Of Dug Hollow, Dover, the Twin Towers
Too Real, the Fool at forty, alone.
(They say) he backpacked to deep Ozark wilds
To ponder the passage, away finally,
From youth — to disease, decay, corruption.

Nine lines were not enough
(in the first instance)
— that was his way of thinking —
but the Mistress of the Hacienda
blew lines four, lines eleven through thirteen,
outta the water and
off'n the page
she's acting like she's EP
slashing words from the story
I bemoan, then . . . .

(if it's fragments dey want den gibe 'em fragments)

. . . . respond — emotionally — to
V. What the Thunder Said
a chorus of poetic echo
as if I were the poet.
I am not the Fool,
but was the Fool,
trapped on the thin limestone ledge
of a journey, fifteen years ago,

       Fool on the gangplank,
       Fall to the salt sea
       Tut tut tut.

The something he carries on his back is
A sack of guilt for crimes of omission.

Two women on Martin King Boulevard
Stopped at noon, having heard the commotion
Like the murmur of a lamentation
Crossing a spirit wire (black crow's smart caw)
And prayed for the Fool's swift deliverance.

Now I tell you
I strapped my backpack
with a cord to a sapling,
and pulled the purloined
survival knife from the scabbard,
and gouged handholds
outta the side of the ledge face,
and scuttled up to safety.

       They rescued the two dogs, too,
       With the polar explorers
       From their crushed science station.
       They whirled away on rotors.

Felled by a bolt
from Thor, The Tower
became the sixteenth trump
of the Major Arcana of the Taroc.
Who cares if T.S.
didn't know so much
about the seventy-eight leaves
of the royal road. I know;
I'll cover for him. I watch
the stones tumble onto the avenue,
tumble like tales onto the stony rubbish,
like runes of a ruin onto
the oft-conquered Champs Élysées.
The victories fall
empty onto Desolation Row.

In the shadows where memory rises
From the dead land a Nazi riot squad
Is restless now it needs somewhere to go.

Thomas Stearns and Ezra were caught fighting
in The Captain's Tower
before the bloody fall came.
Occupiers in hobnails
and legions had not come yet....
Ho Chi Minh City,
not even Paris, Milan,
or the Palatinate.

The gyre like a top won't stop its spinning.

The bones are buried too deep
In the hoary permafrost
For the hounds to dig 'em up.
       In the mirror is a skull's face,
       Heart attack machine on the floor.

On the ridge side, saved, the Fool sought shelter.
Not enough rain falling the night before
Left drops in shadows on the fallen leaves.
       No water in the canteen
       Rock scissors paper water
       The Fool licks the dewy leaves
       And the sun sinks on a string
       His pale shadow is ending,
       Ending, and thirst, a deep thirst.

I lay on the decay of
the forest floor, layers of
leaves not trod upon
for an epoch
becoming my mattress.
No better than a flophouse.
I had to tie a rope round
a rowan trunk,
climb back down to
retrieve my backpack.
I had to move the sun
was setting fast but
there was no water save the dewdrops
on rotting leaves.
An hour's climb up
the south face led to
a bluff, towering
a hundred feet above a
wide hard ledge whose
edge revealed another ravine below
the precipice.
To an observer in the distance the bluff
could be
a woman's face or a lion's mane,
a bull's horns or an eagle's wings,
but dry
in the heights the illusion
was dashed by
hard rock, cracks, jagged edges.
'Neath an overhang I spied
a limestone drip, counted
drop every
seconds like
a clock tick,
and I caught the drops one
the canteen.

No campfire tonight, but bats fluttering,
Over the Fool's tent, tilted and awkward.
Ossified siren songs roaring in the wind.
       Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
       Water in the Fool's canteen.
When he awoke it was full, cold. Wet.

Having not a little patience to die
The Fool beseeched the One God: Break the Rock!
'Neath high green pines it cracked the solitude,
Sounds of high rushing wind like swift pneuma,
Streets of Rome strewn with El Duce's rubble,
The masterpiece broken when The Tower fell
Romulus, Uncle Remus,
Christ: It's the World (Trade Center!)
Too Real City.

for Michael, my teacher;
worthy comrade in the foxhole....

| ©2004 by David Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles |
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