I had been traveling for months through an unknown land; my only companion was a spent mule who talked to me in a strange language. Horizon after horizon came and went, and yet nothing ever changed. Same grass, same corpses erupting with flowers from the earth. Same sun. I had forgotten where it was I was destined for in the first place. Nameless town piled up and then swallowed under by the sand, so that finally when we had reached the gates of the great city my companion turned to me, nuzzled with his nose, and give me a firm kick through the gates. I am still waiting to land.
In the beginning of the story a mother and her two children are walking across a moor. We can tell from the scene that they are most likely refuges from some catastrophe and from the moor we can tell that this is most likely England. They are dressed in ragged clothing befitting of the period narrative. They are framed by a cloudless steel gray sky, it is not raining but has been recently and the dewy grasses of the moor have soaked the dress and petticoat of the mother. The children are blank eyed and expressionless. Seen from a respectable distance, one that lingers right at the edge of humanity.
Later on, after the rats have slunk back in from the bowers to begin reclaiming their stake, the mother will pass into a deserted city. She will clutch her children close to her and shield their eyes from the rumble and viscera. She will pass into the blank black eye of a crow and through the door there into something beyond. The children wont know it, but they will be reinvented as ghosts, as shadows flitting in between the threads of the veil. The mother will rock them and curse god for not having invented the love story.
I am the smallest mouse scratching at the ecclesiastical door. Everywhere there is rain and I’m pretty sure the church itself is compiled of corpses, each one more holy than the next. There is a preacher in the bell tower forecasting the hour of our return. “Hallelujah hallelujah, the bells toll, All is bliss all is bliss.” The layman lies like a dog, curled up around his rotten master. The air is filled with cries for vengeance, with cries for recompense; but Oh the stench, the stench.
Frank O’Hara. b.1926 d.1966.
Here’s a poem:
Meditations In An Emergency
Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious
as if I were French?
Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous
(and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable
list!), but one of these days there’ll be nothing left with
which to venture forth.
Why should I share you? Why don’t you get rid of someone else
for a change?
I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.
Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too,
don’t I? I’m just like a pile of leaves.
However, I have never clogged myself with the praises of
pastoral life, nor with nostalgia for an innocent past of
perverted acts in pastures. No. One need never leave the
confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes–I can’t
even enjoy a blade of grass unless i know there’s a subway
handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not
totally _regret_ life. It is more important to affirm the
least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and
even they continue to pass. Do they know what they’re missing?
My eyes are vague blue, like the sky, and change all the time;
they are indiscriminate but fleeting, entirely specific and
disloyal, so that no one trusts me. I am always looking away.
Or again at something after it has given me up. It makes me
restless and that makes me unhappy, but I cannot keep them
still. If only i had grey, green, black, brown, yellow eyes; I
would stay at home and do something. It’s not that I’m
curious. On the contrary, I am bored but it’s my duty to be
attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above the
earth. And lately, so great has _their_ anxiety become, I can
spare myself little sleep.
Now there is only one man I like to kiss when he is unshaven.
Heterosexuality! you are inexorably approaching. (How best
St. Serapion, I wrap myself in the robes of your whiteness
which is like midnight in Dostoevsky. How I am to become a
legend, my dear? I’ve tried love, but that holds you in the
bosom of another and I’m always springing forth from it like
the lotus–the ecstasy of always bursting forth! (but one must
not be distracted by it!) or like a hyacinth, “to keep the
filth of life away,” yes, even in the heart, where the filth is
pumped in and slanders and pollutes and determines. I will my
will, though I may become famous for a mysterious vacancy in
that department, that greenhouse.
Destroy yourself, if you don’t know!
It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I
admire you, beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It’s like a
final chapter no one reads because the plot is over.
“Fanny Brown is run away–scampered off with a Cornet of Horse;
I do love that little Minx, & hope She may be happy, tho’ She
has vexed me by this exploit a little too.–Poor silly
Cecchina! or F:B: as we used to call her.–I wish She had a
good Whipping and 10,000 pounds.”–Mrs. Thrale
I’ve got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my
dirtiest suntans. I’ll be back, I’ll re-emerge, defeated, from
the valley; you don’t want me to go where you go, so I go where
you don’t want me to. It’s only afternoon, there’s a lot
ahead. There won’t be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in
the lock and the knob turns.
depth is an allusion I can ill afford
like putting your hand in a fire
there is something romantic about it.
Late evening, the world gets up and stumbles around a bit…
I’m thinking of a girl I knew in Paris.
Was there ever a Paris? Brown eyes I remember yes, but a Paris?
There is/ where this all rings true/ no real light
Circumstantial evidence against the promise of an undoing.
Too much filament in the lamps
One gets dreamy around the edges
takes on new indistinguishable shapes
the heart of which pumps fuel like blood
through an already disappearing vein.
I’m better off then I was this time a thousand years ago.
Already the bones are filling up with sand
a sun somewhere overhead needs to be put out
of it’s misery.
I’m tired and need to unfold myself.
salvation gets tiring after awhile.
I just wanted to lie down in the bones of your memory, maybe walk around for a while
kick the tires
get some work done.
Thanks to this fabulous new Mormon underwear unexplained erections are down 30 %.
I am a silence that tunnels forever
or a forest in which all the trees have been replaced with Bette Davis lookalikes…I can never remember which.
I once discovered a skull in my back yard. I was digging a hole to China, and there it was tucked in the dirt and ash. I was 8 and it was ancient.
Four is too hard.
the world needs more Hindu’s
You should be prepared for failure.
It all moves under the surface, or is understated. Like that time you found yourself in Kansas for no particular reason. You knew you went to bed in New Hampshire, but you awoke in Kansas, and everything about you was Kansas. Your Kansas hands, Your Kansas thighs, your Kansas lips…Oh, how I did want to explore Kansas. But you know you, with your hunger for flying, and my fear, how you had moved on into deeper locals. everything about became legend, I couldn’t even find you in the book. So I stayed behind and thought about that night in Kansas city, after the disaster, when everything reeked of smoke, rott, and blood, and I found you leaning there like a broken tree, and I tried to put you back together. I tried and tired. Such a foul machine is love.