Three Poems

by Clayton Eshleman

                   Improvisations for Khaled Al-Saa’i

    Language breaks forth with alphabet demons,
    the divs and devas whose spiral
    nebular orgasms generated wheeling uncials,
    cursive minuscules. Ah the tongue wars
    in Cro-Magnon night talk, the pain of firewood
    felt by an erect iris voiced
    as vowels like aimless planets coursing
    the consonantal ink of libido carving outward.
    Language starts up below as a root
    discontent—as a human sphinx
    peers out of a maned cave,
    a queen force generates bags of letter fodder
    becoming the breasts of masked amoebic engineers!

    Al-Saa’i sees nature as intelligible word lore mortal scored rims
    or rhymes, a lingo ribbonesque with inner din
    (questers sounding themselves
    off stone in a darkness sparkling with
    ghoul-infested whirligigs, Sheela-na-gigs, the jig of the mind
    in torque about the bud of self).

    Through Al-Saa’i’s swervy, granular latticeworks
    I see the world of the Shah-nameh. Transport to rocks
    blushing with vegetation, peonies swelling
    with crimson joy, leafless twigs seething with bio-remorse,
    the oyster-fresh eyes of rocks, rocks
    pecking their way out of their shells—
    then I return to Al-Saa’i’s calligraphic airs
    in which light can be sensed praying,
    I enter its minty densities, its reptilinear interlocking sway,
    its alpha radiant omega drone. I witness the caravan departure of
    a great octopus rising from the waves,
    transforming the tentacle water shudder into
    a lacework of letter flavor cometary clover!




    I hear you close the bathroom door.

    An absence weighted balance lifts into presence.

    Is the source of human bondage the fear of loss?

    Now that you are showering, cables of water convert, ghost-loaded
         suds, Rabelais’ mane furls from Aphrodite’s thigh…

    The patter of my tattered tale, swirled drain. Rising like a sewer
         of precognition: Is the real death the death I am preoccupied with
         here and now?

    The sound of drying, the clay in the cloth, the veil that will reach me
         before I reach the end.

    To accept loss as it looms larger, to pull out the last part of myself
         left inside, to get all of myself born.



Thoughts of Gorky, Looking into Vermont Woods, at Tinling’s, October 3, 2004

    One stands on a creaking,
    October leaves like cobra hoods
    waltzing, wattled parasols..

    My eyes focus latrines—
    a putrification is under way.

    Warm bath of heart re-obtained.
    To inhale, to be in the columnar density of
       a warming
     that now takes on global contours.

    Leaves as reefs
    birch-white with amber pink
                             Atlas still
    the molten under-yolk,
    the sphincter of mayhem
    Gorky breathed in, staring at gnats adrift,
    grass entanglements,
    an ever-exiting bruise, burst
    flagellation of a pyre
    drummed on by ants
    possessed in elfin serenade.

    Cockscomb and marigold are thistled in
    a graphite legacy
    recalling Crane at Melville’s grave.
    Monody of a line
    picked up at Pech Merle.
    The supped russet totality
    eye-needled through.