the canals of Mars

lowellcanals

 

I sail imaginary waters
On this other world,
Map your mind only,
and the avenues of western allegory,
But my craft is narrow, my way is clear,
And I am committed,
I believe in the artless unfolding of my journey,
Its logic, its unraveling, unerring purpose,
Of the richer, wiser man it’ll make me.

First Tharsis, the twin,
As good as any for departure
Ophyr, rock-strewn and stumbling,
Meninonia, lovely in remembrance.
Duedalia, twice Indian queen,
Icaria, bride of the fallen
Thaumania felix, oh happy, happy land,
The ignorant in bliss.

Argyre, the hungry, hopeful outcast,
Ophyr, beautiful-voiced,
Angelic choruser of otherworlds
Churse, the blissful unarrived,
Judas, cursed always.

Eden.
Paradigm of paradise,
Arabia
Acria
Hellas,
Long echoes of arcadia,
Ausonia
Eridania
Electris,
The ancient cast
shuffling past
the invalided clowns of
the masked unknown.
Thyle
Phaetontis
Memnonia,
The passion and the Furies
Hubris and Nemesis
The forgiven and forgotten.

Amazonia
Zephyria
Aeolis,
Clean winds over
green expanses.

Aethiopis
Hesperia
Amenthes,
And my cedar bow
bruises the banks of
Elysium.

Elysium:
The restless spirit’s
Journeys end,
Back where I began
prostrate with joy and tiredness
In the mind-straight highways
and the eyes emphatic deception,
returned at last
to lay at ease
by these,
imaginary waters.

enchanted

satyr-family
I should like to sail
with cargo of the dark-wreathed muses art
and come to that tree-shaded home
of sainted men…

– Simonides

You are my enchanted isle
my prospect of the southern sea,
light springs from you
like laughter from sweet water,
you feed me from dishes
of peerless vintage
among lustrous vines
in and out of season.
You call me in a voice like
swallows sailing in a summer sky
and make a place for me
among cool rocks for shelter
when the days eye burns,
when the night storms rage.
Your blooms open
in the ever-perfumed night
they will never pass away.

sacred allegory

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You too within this dream
of a thousand allegories,
you too upon the shining
terrazzo stage,
sebastian standing,
elegantly pierced
by love or lust (or both)
and watching, your accuser,
your torturer, your lover,
demurely draped
in darkest shades of mourning.

You too upon the warm fabled earth,
the gold-ochred ground,
and how the light bleeds into everything!
siennese light compelling examination,
forensic exegesis of hidden moralities,
even the burnt bitter dark
umbrian shadows,
where mystics hide
and Judas
and the uncertain satyr
steal silently away.

Venetian red runs through
your veins, your artful heart,
and the lake beyond this stark-lit stage
is flat and calm and familiar
as the grand canal;
the golden hills
are palaces for Arcadian doges,
and gentle is the breeze that stirs
vanishing elms
upon elegiac hillsides.

Illumin’d by love,
wraiths of lovers embrace
upon the far-lit shore
beneath the city on the hill
half heaven, half earth;
and children shake the boughs
of the darkest tree
and play with the fallen,
golden fruit
without fear,
or consequence.

au lapin agile

montmartre

after the ecstacy
au lapin agile,
the quiet walk home
in grey light;
after the gypsy guitars’
relentless joy,
after the chanteuses
and choruses of clowns,
after the poets and poseurs,
the painters and flaneurs,
(and who’s to say
who is who?)
pierrot;
dissolving like smoke
on the skyline
from brancusi chimneys
above the butte
de belle montmartre.