su byron poetry

 

 

Paris Poems

 

1988-1989

 

Poor Muse, alas, what ails thee, then, to-day?

–Charles Baudelaire

 

 

To prove that I was living I picked flowers and put them together to form a bouquet. But the colors were all wrong. Definitely didn't match. I had a large grotesque daffodil which I had pulled with all my force from the dry earth next to a perturbed half grown rose and next to all that a handful of savage screaming blossoms pretending to show real blood and regretting the day they were born, etc. Surrounding all this some ugly weeds whose aroma overcame all living things causing even the roses' thorns an inhuman agony. The first harmful bouquet of history. My sweating hands were thickly stained with the dripping pollen and semen and would have been with tears if flowers had eyes.

 

How how could I be holding such a bouquet? Was it really me who picked them?

 

 

 

 

What aroma do I now conjure up. Skip it. It's not my turn. There the world is before me. Where the world is. That's where I am. And what I smell. Covered in it from night to day. Feels like mud sometimes but sometimes not. I walked through the city in an hour of grace. Saw only the high churches and sleek mosques. Saw the white buildings in the sun, etc. And the inhabitants were all posed for my eyes. There lay a poor suffering near the embrace of a park bench. His fingers touched the garbage and pigeons. There were birds above him. Flapping madly to be his halo. With the hope of crumbs in their eyes. This beggar too, he swallowed a morsel. Do you follow? A piece of dry bread.

 

The odor was magnificent but now forgotten. Cars beeped and I passed in front of him.

 

 

 

 

I become no sportsman through this profession. It builds not healthy muscles. I spend my time dragging the limbs of well-oiled gods from behind these dirty curtains. Picking them apart, exposing every perfection for my failing eyes. The sight is going but my ears are still sharp enough to hear the hefty audience crying for more. One night I sell a tooth of Medusa for a ridiculous fortune, the next night, for a lower sum, the hand of an unknown god. It excites them, this cultured group. They stand in line to enter. Waiting for me to pull an incredible angel's wing from my sack on stage. Sometimes I deliver whole deities unto them. This always goes over well. The poor captured complaining in their secret languages. What curses I miss. Fault of knowing only my own tongue.

 

I must admit, that compared with the carpenter's task, my job is easy. I am no animal trainer. I try not to tame. The lion's mouth which I wave over the heads of the baffled remains as savage as ever. Roaring to the delight of all. I just close my eyes, reach into the weedy black and pull up the first thing I feel. Something of a fisherman, me. With no hook, or pulley, or painful cage. Armed with just a loincloth I dive into the close unknown and take what's there for the taking. Who owns the unknown? It's there for all.

 

 


 

 

In a very symbolic way I'll say that my feet smell. That they ache. That the nerve in my stomach, the nerve in my forehead, the nerve in my wrist is pounding. That my blood's running the wrong way, in crazy directions, and that it's hardly the color of real blood. That my limbs fold bow bend and burp in astonishing discord. That the alcohol on my breath stems from a hole in the gut. That the shit falls in indiscernible patterns. That the skin is murky and hard to see through. That the fog is a result of untrained eyes. And that these eyes have turned back in the head. Seeing only the interior functions of the master. And none of the wonderful landscape that must be just at his fingertips...


 

 

 

I'd never dream of saying what I was really thinking. White comes out black like photo negatives. I look into a cool stream and conjure up a burning desert. Luckily, when I'm in the desert I conjure up the stream and I assume, of course, that all around me are doing the same. The eyes of the mother become the worst enemy. A baby's cry is monstrous. A virgin, a whore, and so on. I walk into the jungle dismissing it as a poorly-lit illusion. Then, of course, in my room I feel inhuman. Every familiar object loaded with an energy that will turn against me. My pillow becomes so hard that I have to go out and find a rock to lay my head upon. It's absolutely ridiculous.


 

 

 

What do you want of me? To show my thirst, to beg for water? Should I look at the flowers and shut up? Should I praise your colors or keep it to myself? Should I get down on one knee or should I tower above you? Am I being extreme? I've taken the philosophy books and slammed them with all my might against the walls and ceiling. There they stick. I've taken to studying insects, especially the very ugly ones. Imagining every stain to be a crawling mass of heart and brains.

 

I try to harm not. Even the ants that seem to place themselves directly beneath my shoe. Avoiding them causes a tangled path. I lead myself through forests and wastelands with only one thought in my head. How not to harm. But suddenly hungry I pull all the berries from the branch and leave the tree bare. And then I begin for another land. With a mind as ravaged as the once-blooming bushes. But at least they're innocent.

 

 

 

 

 

Agony was on the menu. I settled for something easier to digest. The beautiful dessert. Which, I noticed, stuck in my teeth. And stayed on my breath. I excused myself to go to the ladies room. Surrounded by ladies there, I pulled the dessert, which had not yet travelled its inevitable long trek, back up through the tubes and let it all out there in the well-washed sink. The attendant let out a small cry which I immediately paid for. I splattered her dish with heavy coins. Enough to have her turn her head. The other ladies too, prepared to leave. They were afraid of being turned to stone or something, afraid that I was Medusa or something, afraid of anything I might do next. Yes, they took their leave. Imagine the clean, shining bathroom with its many private stalls, spotless walls. I waited for inspiration to come to me. Knowing that nearby the diners awaited me. I feared all eyes were rooted to the door. Watched the remains of dessert happily drip down the drains. And when that was gone I turned the water off, thanked the attendant for looking the other way, wet back my hair, dried my tears and headed back into the dining room. Praying that there would be no midnight snack.


 

 

 

 

I am the one who knocked on and down the doors. I saw them plainly. Large and brown and made of wood. I scratched harmless hums and hymns and thought of him. How once he lived. Like the others. Just. In his room. Behind his door. I decided there was only one door ,one way in. There I sat across his street in his street and finally in his doorway. With my skirts way above my knees I lay without a care in the world. Without a word to say. I was dead drunk and about to be saved. After vomiting who knows were I began a prayer. But fell asleep long before the finish. I dreamt of him coming to find me there. After midnight. He would see me there in the filth and carry me the seven flights to his door. He would lay me down and we would sing.


 

 

 

 

It's going to rain soon. On all my gleaming liberty. Soon I'll ask for your hand. In these few pages. Exit the shark from the roaring ocean to be my maid, my guest of honor. Tell us without biting. Leave our skins free from dust and blame.

 

You must realize that now am I numb. My words, my bonnet, my wonderful mask. Come Germans. In front of me now. How I do burst. In your lap, ma'am. For your eyes, sir. I will spill no blood. But enough of me. What about you? Sitting there in your chair. The five or six poets in front of you. Reading aloud a poem. I call for you secretly. Don't. Come in the middle. When I ain't ready. Ball of plenty. Ah, that's what you are. How can I describe you? Now the words should come. What's this about? Love in a foreign city. With just me in the room. I battle with my spoon and dream. I bang my nose against the wall. Where I slept. There did I drip real sweat. That much I can say.


 

 

 

 

This sensation of meat and bones is driving me crazy. I refuse to be a skeleton. To lie ten feet under without a thought in my head. While the living dance their dance. How ridiculous is the week-old wreath! A ring around a rotting neck. Struggling to swallow before I realize I have no more breath. The tongue is an ancient companion. Remaining in the head long after the guts have gone. It flies the coop at the last moment. As the heavenly cage descends to give you grace or not. Wipe away your snot if you still have hands. The last word is the last judgement. Thank god. That you will not have eyes to shut. To weep away thou ghostly daze. You're out like a firecracker. A feeble last attempt to dazzle. To scare away the gush of newcomers. The newborn and the earthworm. You're out at the count of ten. At the count of five. At minus one it's hard remembering what it meant to be alive.

 

 


 

 

After penetrating the mystery I let myself go. Collapsing down the road. An hysterical tic inflating my head. Swelling the smile 100%. Waving madly to the others who continued milking cows and changing lightbulbs. Fixing ceilings. In case of rain and other misfortune. Lights flashed, cars turned the corner, and I found myself in another town. Right in the middle of the junction with an impossible question. Avoiding the eye of the scarecrow. Yelling out words in the village language. Hoping to provoke the mayor who would take me to the dentist who would wash my mouth clean. Just begging to be seen. Of all the mothers, I screamed, which one claims to be mine? Let's start anew. Let's just say that I promise to keep mum. To keep warm by your side. To eat what you bake. To sleep in your sheets. To take over the farm when you die. You be the mother, I'll be the daughter. There's no mystery in that. I promise. Don't need another inch of mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite myself I wanted to live again. Therefore I spit in my face and told myself to go to hell. Straight to hell. Where all the wenches whine. Wrangling with the higher up. Beating his breast and covering myself in his armpits. Even the holy smell. In this damn desert. Even the holy are besides themselves. In tattered garments and outdated jewels. Tattooed up to the neck. Which shines from sacred flesh. Gleaming into my lost eye. I'm giving myself up. That's what I cried and cried. To ears that had heard it all before. Up to their necks in tears and threats. Go jump in a lake said the holiest with hand outstretched! Pointing to the shallow pool. Where I could stare at myself forever. Where? Where the lost drool. But they're all lost. Every single one. I'm going to buy myself a gun and shoot myself into humble tatters. Hark, the horizon calls. In black and blue. With a fiery sun that's trying to set. In front of my eyes. In front of my humble tatters.


 

 

 

 

Everything's just where it should be in my room. The photographs of the lost and weary wearing away my four walls. Map of the north pole in a lonely corner. Feather of a bluebird covering a hole in the ceiling. You already know that this hole leads to the sky. That just beyond this leak is an untouchable immensity. Yes, I'm sure you know all that. And this immensity is just above my roof where it always has been. The ceiling is above my head. And my head is filled. Not congested, just active. And not like a volcano but like a never-ending river. Because the river leads to the sea and the sea is all around us. There's no linear line where you say here is where the sea ends, no. It goes around and around in a circle in my head. Not to say that I'm dizzy. I'm just thinking out loud. Thankful to have a ceiling which is a roof which leads to the immensity which is above me.

 

 


 

 

The crack in the wall leads to the crack in the sky. Magnificent. Or anyway, in my eyes. How once I stood with a hand sticking straight up into what they call heaven. Yes, I parted the sky. There were three faces. Wisdom, reaching into the gut of me. And none of this surprised me. This is what I was born for I said. To no one on either side of me.

 

 

 

 

 

When it gets right down to it I have to ask myself if I'm capable of loving. Of course when the door slams in my face I cry. Could it all be biological? For instance, is it just the heavy wind, the change of atmosphere that brings tears to my eyes.

 

I admit that I'm crying. But look at the weather. It blows my hat off. It blows my clothes off. I turn round and round not knowing where to go. I search corners for shelter. It brings me to my knees. Logical. It's a heavy wind. It's just the weather....

 

 


 

 

I'm letting my food fall to the ground. And it's not because I'm overfed, full. And not even in jest of the millions starving. I tell you I can't help it. I'm trembling and can't stop. What succulent bones full of meat miss my mouth and slide to earth! What nourishing nectars!

 

Now even the words are spilling out of two astonished lips. Soon the tongue too will be hanging down. Struggling against gravity. All trying to reach mother earth. To be buried for once and all. No more is the head in the clouds. And I don't understand it.

 

As it all drops downwards. I meant to keep beating my wings to remain high up there. But the melting sun, the speed of light, and the lure of dirt are too much.

 

Too much for the feather falling!

 

 

 

 

 

I'm screaming directions in an attempt to be understood. As traffic builds up all around me. Chained to the wall I'm pointing to the mountains. Over the valleys and through the woods. I'm seeing over heads. Saying the heart is where the home should be. But who wants to live in that gushing mass of aorta and muscle? Seeing all red but trying to calm it down to a more peaceful pink. Trying to pick out clots with a delicate hand. I have a surgeon's touch and a lump in the throat. Leaning on the shoulders of this immense crowd. As we cross from first street to second street like intimidated pilgrims on our way to some shrine. On our way to where they say the sun doesn't shine. But in our own time. The priest's powered paw to direct us when to bow and bend. Like schoolgirls in the presence of a powerful cop. We feel ourselves at the crossroads stop.

 

And there it all does end. Amen. there's nothing between the end and the beginning. Just a lot of space and time. Where they say worlds meet and light bends. Somewhere there's no sin. Where bluebirds fly. There's no static. No million voices talking at once. I put my hand out. To stop it all. To scream directions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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