Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ethnology (Mk2)

I don't write much poetry anymore, but it's that time of the year again, and this is a re-working anyway.

Circles within circles
(read it any direction you want)
Eagle and serpent
(circles in the air, circles in the earth)
Quetzalcoatl consuming his tail
(feathers on Jormungandr)

What day is it and
What hour
What month of the year and what season
All turns – all lives and dies and lives again
But are we dead or alive
Do we walk in spring or autumn
And is it dawn or dusk
Where do we stand in the ancient celestial calendar
(at the edge of the earth the seas cascade down and we stand at the brink and seem to fall forever, for the water is rising up)

Dante saw a sepulcher and Sturluson a wolf
(heretics and Fenrir)
In his father’s death each fashioned the turning of the epoch
(every evening is a microcosm of the end of the world)
But the child of the lion saw mountains beyond mountains
(and there’s no end in sight)

What are we saying and
Are we screaming or do we stand mute
Who has the voice and the power and the glory
Envy it or spit upon it
If it cannot be cast into the consuming flames
I or you – the man or the woman
Have I bound a rag across your face and
Are these words of dominion I speak
(there is an inborn tyranny here that I did not ask for and I do not want, yet if I loose my grip will I take flight)

The camel eats itself and lives forever
(the lion will bite his heel and he will crush its head)
And the child grows ever to the man
(look at your hand and watch it wither)
The call of the ram’s horn echoing again and again and again
(circles within circles)


  1. Do you write music?

    1. No. I do not. I would like to but my brain does not work that way.

  2. How doesn't it work?/How does it work? You never hear music creeping up into a poem or poetry creeping up into a song? You might have meant 'calendar' in the place of 'calender.' 'There is A inborn tyranny' might be better as 'there is AN inborn tyranny.' There appears to be a rogue 'it' in the 12th line from the bottom. Or maybe it's intentional.

    1. Well that was embarrassing. It seems I have been misspelling calendar since I first typed this up last year, though the extra "it" was a vestige of a more recent edit. It has always been my understanding that you use "an" when the next work starts with a vowel and "a" when it doesn't, but clearly I've been wrong before.
      How does my brain work? by being bad at proofreading apparently.
      I hear poetry in songs all the time, I find music without poetry a little boring and music with good poetry doesn't really have to be good music (The Mountain Goats). But I've never been a musical person. I can't sing, at all, in the least bit, as in I cannot match a pitch. I played the cello for eight years and by the end of it I could tell when I was not in tune, but not whether I was sharp or flat and I could never hold a rhythm. I simply do not have Gardner's musical intelligence.

  3. Which intelligences do you think you possess? Linguistic, intrapersonal, kinesthetic?
    How did you ever manage at the cello?
    Mountain Goats...good poetry?
    Proofreading is overrated.
    Which of Jack White's various projects do you appreciate most?
    How do you feel about concrete poetry? And the possibilities for its application to this particular piece?

    1. Not that i am anything like an expert on the subject, but yeah, basically. except not so much the kinesthetic, i've never been very athletic.
      quite badly - but seriously, high school orchestras function on the premise that you only need 2 or 3 strong players in each section, everyone else just follows them.
      The Mountain Goats -
      All of them..? The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, and his solo album have their moments but i think early White Stripes remains the best.
      In general I don't think much of concrete poetry, most of the time it's a useless distraction, but then sometimes i suspect that line and stanza breaks are useless distractions as well. I see why you would say that though, this is probably the only poem i have ever written where there is meaning in the actual arrangement that could not be conveyed with punctuation, and that might be conveyed better by a nontraditional arrangement. i'll have to think about this.