The Seventh Day

 

There is spring thunder in the mountains.
Thiothew! A distant thunder of God, rolling thick
     Across the sulfur plain.
Brings westward in a fen breath air a shower of rain.

 

The east wind found me in a dry month deep in my dry hole
Counting. Minus five minutes and counting.
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready
     And four to go.
Minus ten seconds and counting.

 

And the green grass grew all around all around

And the green grass grew all around.

. . . .

We had a depression until we spent ourselves rich,

Listening to the voice on the radio telling us not to fear fear.

Not to fear breadlines being bums,

Or the PWA or the WPA or the CCC or the NRA

Or the Wagner Act or other tired clich├ęs, saying:

Fear not, we will feed you, only

Give us your souls, for that

Is Progress at its modern,

Most Liberal

Best.

But above all, you mustn't fear FEAR! damn you,

For that is upsetting to the ADMINISTRATION!

 

And then at the brown brink eastward sprang war,

And we had something besides fear to fear,

And that was progress.

 

Oh God give us VICTORY! Do you hear, God? Are you there

God? Our cause is righteous. We fight for right and Liberty,

And see, Lord, they are killing the Jews, gassing

The Jews and the ovens stink, Lord. Give us

Victory, God. Give us

UNCONDITIONALSURRENDER.

 

There was a new Jerusalem.

In place of certain unalienable rights we got

Four Freedoms, boiling out of the radio in an oily smear,

And one of them was Freedom from Fear!

Among which are the right

From each according to his ability

To each, life,

Liberty and the pursuit

According to his need

Of happiness.

 

In the land of the morning calm

We found a gallant war with ribbons

And some of the men flashing away into the dark,

Where the green grass grew all around.

And the East wind, raining,

Brings a fecal stink.

. . . .

Amid the cacophony God sits apart,

Numbering the leaves.

II

Lord of the Ladders

 

On the fifth day the void lay all unbroken

And no bird sang.

On the sixth day, the green

Saturday of creation, God made music, calling it man.

 

And the seventh day was eternity.

 

Oh God, God, what is Thy will?

What is

Thy will?

The corpse a husk in south-swept winter winds.

The forest pine black bitter blear.

The deaf dead face all blushes black.

Oh God, what is Thy will

Thy will

Thy will?

 

I have seen you turn

Against the yellow drapes and the

Curtains blowing against your face, knowing

That time is dead, that

In this dark life there is yet to be

A little heaven, a light

On the doorsill of a darkened room.

I know your ghost, your nimbus,

I know your sweat, damp on dry, absorbent sheets. I know

Your eye turning to me, knowing me, knowing

All, knowing all all all.

 

I know how the sun rises in the morning, at the street

Black aglint on brackish pools after

The rain and the night.

Asleep in Ramadan I knew Sidjeen and Illiyun.

I knew God. I knew man, created to be tried.

Would you then force faith?

 

Hallowed words I spoke, out of a hollow in the ground.

Out of a cave I clawed, mixing

Dung with a little spittle, and the clod

Was man, was sperm and ovum and a veined furry ball.

And there was Heaven and Hell.

And the cock crew.

 

Sparks bright as camels there were.

Man calculated and composed and tested and tried,

Cold in the gray November winds hearing the howl

Of the coyote on the prairie and the sod

Deep about the house. Witiin was the ghastly

Skull, creased and furrowed and lined with cracks.

I knew God, and am like Him. I am

A piece of God.

 

Classify then. Classify. Call me

A name. Give me a place in your scheme.

Test my acts, try my desires, my hopes my lusts,

My goods, my evils, my abominations.

Show me a standard.

Neither your standard nor my standard. Show me

Our standard. Show me

God.

 

Words are a bleak catarsis. Show me

An explosion of the bowel of the mind. Show me art

And mind, the Goodly Fere, Creation, corruption of the

Soul, the finger of God bright with a stifled cry. Show me

The hates of generations, their frenzied games played out in

Silence, buildings ruins, blocks

Bent, towers tantrum-toppled and rent

With the sackcloth. Show me the breast of a tender woman

Raped by the tread of generations, her skirt torn,

Clothes askew, hair knotted, her children dead.

Show me her lust, her temptation, her fall from grace.

Show me her body and I will show you lust

And lust and lust.

I will show you

The phallus that has begotten mankind.

I will show you creation and hate

Born together in a clot of blood.

I will show you

Love.

III

A Whistling and Clapping of Hands

 

On the very crest of a green year we hung

And walked erect, for we were men.

Our ears were full of love; not a man among us

Who could not find in his eyes the love of God.

Our women were fair, their lips lush, their voices

Melodious, their arms warm and their hands capable.

Our children were well

And obedient and delightful to us in their play.

A hard year we had of it who could not make war.

 

We saw in our valley a thing that contented us: a cow,

Black with white pipings, slashed with gold, a thing

We loved and esteemed, a thing that brought our hearts

Out in the softness of the afternoon. And we built

An altar.

The cow we sacrificed to save ourselves from hollowness.

By this sign we knew God. The cow

We strangled as we had been taught to do,

Ignoring the screams and the smell

Of the feces expelled in the death throes.

The cow we strangled and the blood we drained.

And when I struck the rock with my staff

The blood flowed again. And it was

A river of blood that rose to tint the trees

The leaves, the very sky, and God

Looked down upon us in our valley and laughed. It was

A sad laugh, like the cough of the jackal. We were

Drained and happy

And we turned to our women.

 

The song I sing is an old song.

Having to do with copulation and fertility.

        I am alone,

        Longing to touch you.

And the laughter of God.

The song I sing is an old song.

        I long to be near you.

        I hunger.

Bearing on joy bringing grief

And the multiplication of gods in lumps of clay.

        To be near you is not enough.

        To be part of you I must.

And deep turned eyes that do not see

The emptiness of the universe.

        Then how shall I love you?

        Shall I cast off my skin

And the vast darkness of space.

My song is an ancient cry

        So that you can enter me?

        Shall I strip flesh from bones

Of happiness and despair, a cry

Of the immortal in the mortal that must die

        And die and die and die

        And strip bones from bones

That must die at last and be turned to dust

Loosing the immortal into creation

        So that I am no more in the flesh

        So that we two can join together and be one?

It is a cry of desperation always sung

Before the second coming.

. . . .

Up the mountain we climbed to find God.

And God laughed

And climbed up with us.

IV

Floods and Locusts, Lice and Frogs

 

Through the close clutched seaweed thin light breaks.

The mussels, coral colonies and other thin

Cretaceous things that live their thin clutched lives,

God-driven rise and mount the ocean floor to shoals

And close cling bind the threefold night

Of shallow light that seeps abyssal depths

With calcined fine organic ooze.

The coward owl round eyed, God-driven to the mouse

With strings that warp the firmament.

No wrong is done, no right exists. Upon God's doorstep

Lies the blame. Rocks and trees and stones

Behavior numbered like the tides.

 

In the beginning was the Word. In the firmament was

The Word. In whirling night the movements of stars,

The warps of space, the planets wrenched by calamity,

Gutted by fire and explosion, catastrophes of birth,

Bearing the stuff of life, obeyed the Word. The Word

Shrieked through molecules and fluid things, bore

The Word to the utter ends of creation, gave form to water,

Screamed in the pain of birth, interruption of chaos,

Flailing of fire, shaping of horror. The Word sang

And shouted out of hollow dead things, and grew faint

With dying stars, gripped by fingers of ice, broken

In forgetfulness but not forgotten. And the Word

Was God.

 

Thrice blew the wind from the hinterlands,

Its number twenty-six.

And the tolerant earth, like a threshold,

Opened to the Word which faded in the memory of man.

 

The flushing wind that whips about the house

Is brown and sear, and dreary in the deepest vales,

Wound out against the soft green sea of grass.

Alas, what lives we live within. Who dies

From birth is born again from death.

Life is not an utter thing. The games it mocks and mixes

With reality, to lose in sorrowing the real truth.

To live is certain death, and God awaits

The outcome of the truth that lies in man.

To live, to die:

What fortitude is found in man who knows the worth

Of all his acts and knows divinity in every joint, who knows

Creation in the fall of hair, who sees no greater love

In parting waters than in human birth.

. . . .

What lies are these you tell yourself, these lies that do not

Lie within the rules? And yet you know

That God is full of lies like these.

You know and are

Afraid.

V

Fire From the Green Tree

 

Thrice spoke the gong in the marketplace

And there blew, in a bundle of air, creation.

Crenelated fieldstone walls, rafters of fir, lakes

And trees, rich furs

And other skins of soft small beasts, a roaring

Fire in the middle hall cast light upon the goblets,

Horns, the weapons ranked against the tapestries,

And female forms half naked in the heat and blushed

With brick red wine. The banquet raged

Into the night. The dawn was mild as any other dawn.

And though we gorged our satiated appetites our eyes

Were clear, our minds were hot,

Our lusts remained unsatisfied.

 

For this is

The end of creation, awakening to certainties,

Unsatisfied, with dew on the grass,

On the iris a faded image of God,

And in the urinal halls of public buildings

The sour smell of a thousand faded people.

. . . .

My name is Lotus Flower

        My name is Hope

                My name is Happiness.

I am called Fair-of-Moon

        Pain-of-man

                Birth.

My breasts are fair and I am loved

Among men.

        Though all the world dies

        I live.

                I am the fruit of love and the

                Sacred end of lust.

My lover is a mighty warrior

Who slays and slays

        Knowing man, but not

        A part of man.

                I grow from passion and from terror

                I grow from tenderness

        At the heart of all creation

He goes forth among our enemies

On a black steed breathing fire

        Created from the Word

                And from the grim and awesome

                Terror of catastrophe.

And they are afraid and fly.

        At the brink of the pit and in

        The very center of Hell

                I live while others die.

In my arms he is tender, and his love

Is the love of man.

        I hover on wings of bright pain,

        Transporting the soul.

                No matter how begotten

                I am good.

His is the little death and the sudden eruption,

        Carrying all on and on

        To a new birth, a new death

                The fruit of God and the beginning

                Of a new creation.

Carrying the soul

To the very skies and bringing

        To new and other realities,

God into our bed.

                I am God in a little seed.

                I bear the burden of eternity.

VI

The Dreadful Cry

 

Bombs fall in green valleys and hate

Lies sear upon the earth.The plains are watered

With the mountain's fruit. The cities

Burst and spill their plunder. Voices

Out of the ether order

Grains of sand in the bowels of the earth

And all things green and sear to listen

And obey. The spider curls

In her web, the fly escapes and falls to earth.

And monks kneel at their altars and beseech

The mercy of God.

 

And yet creation holds

Green things, an outward coursing seed

From some vast tourture-wracked galactic center.

And God will note and carefully record

The passing of a planet, bursting of a star,

Destruction of a galaxy, the end

Of a universe. All prayers

Are answered in eternity.

 

As there is God

So shall there be

The soul of man

 

November 23, 1963

Revised, August, 2016