a lyric anthology
© Gregorius Vatis Advena 2016, Record L 6, engl. Word and Dust, june 2012 to july 2016, Oxford and Hampshire, free verse, 50 poems, lyric poetry, English.
My name is revelation, and the guy
Who wrote me doesn't give a toss
To me. I'm not a purpose, just a means
In his hand. Wherever people find me
They pity my lot and read in my eyes
Confusion: There will be no beginning,
No middle, no ending.
The guy who messed up with me
Hasn't got a clue of what he's talking
About. He was warned in vain,
The wretched man, for he will write
Whatever he thinks, and I pay the price.
You cannot sit and concentrate
In a garden, or park. Too many cars.
Some memories, it seems, are louder
Than birds and urban noise.
At school, I had a low opinion
Of her. Undeciphered humanity.
She gave me a book and told me: Read!
I never did. I will. I may.
I carry the mystery with me,
Dedicated to me. On my shelf,
A sense of shame: We vilify
In thought the world approaching.
I thought she was stupid. Perhaps in love.
And then the book.
Was it given out of friendship
Or just enthusiasm?
Enthusiasm is often frivolous, yes,
But then, I ask, whose fault is that?
I should have listened when she spoke.
I shouldn't have hurt her gift.
I betrayed myself and my words.
Of all books (and I read so many):
That once I should ignore, of all books,
The one most kindly given...
Too many cars.
She disappeared. So did I.
Seven hundred pages between us.
Schoolboys take all for granted.
During thirty years I breathed
The same breath as the murderer –
In thirty years I may still be here.
He was thirsty. Blood was spilt.
He slew his brother and the sun
Was still shining on him and grass
Was still green.
The world is so generous.
On that spot his brother fell
And the devil cried his victory.
On that spot a tree has sprouted.
During thirty years I breathed.
Then I walked among the leaves,
In the streets, in silence, at dusk,
And I listened to all the details.
Mine is a blissful breathing.
Democracy is neat and so is Plato:
There will be socialism, capitalism,
Ideology, they say, and pragmatism.
Left and right, the superficial
Dichotomy French Revolution left us,
And animosity throughout the streets.
And then there are elections, too,
That the party of rhetoric wins.
Oh yes (before I forget the best),
There is also the press, of course.
But more important than Aristotle:
Above all, there is group dynamics
Putting people's prophets in a pot.
There, the members talk and talk
Negotiating the birth of policies.
Principles are difficult – vague.
Negotiation is far more thrilling.
Though there will be lots of arguments,
Arguments won't prevail, not facts,
Not truth: These are subjectivities.
A more romantic dynamics awaits
Rhetorical heroes behind the hall,
So full of favours, full of promise:
Who offers what, who pays, who sells
And who's allied to whom and why.
Intriguing trade! Eternal friendships
Will fade in calculations of hours,
Friend and foe forever reconciled
And common favour over common cause.
Lo! Surrealism comes to light
At the end of hidden conversations,
When the just return to the hall
From the dark of narrow corridors,
So full of offers, so full of doors.
If once an interviewer asked me
What I mostly dread in politics,
I would reply with no delay:
The corridors of a Parliament.
That landed on my e-mail box
A trail of dust
Among the words and memory –
There was no time to say
I wish them all the best,
I love them all.
Life is quicker.
No night is left for sorrow,
Only time to foster joy
In coming stars to fall
And to pray for those
The cleaners gathered, three of them
Inside the chamber. They clean again
And wash and wipe and rinse and flush.
The silent cleaners.
A row of conifers still reminds
Of humanity, gloomy trees.
The cleaners have no time for hope.
What has become of them but cleaners?
Come the morning, the chamber
Must be shining, new as never used.
Three times they thought that night,
Each at his turn while the hand
Continued, laboriously blind.
– What am I doing here? – The first
Interrogated his silence. No answer.
Life appeared so full of purpose once,
And then this.
Years before, there was romanticism.
The second thought succeeded:
– Is this my duty? Is that right? –
But toil engulfed again the question
And sweaty arms continued cleansing.
The labour was physically demanding,
Heavy, a heavy room to empty.
– Just rubbish, this is simply filth
I am taking away, just that, what else? –
The third thought echoed in naught
And together they emptied the place.
There was so much to be disposed of,
A world to be dragged away and dumped.
But those were efficient cleaners:
By the morning the work was done.
The chamber was spotlessly clean.
No body was left in the gas chamber.
That evening I climbed on the boat
And the wind blew us throughout the lake.
I was hungry.
Many times I gazed at the blurs
And cast my net at the waves.
A table was waiting, empty,
And I gathered the lot of my net
In the void.
That evening I spent on the boat
And rowing and throwing and rowing and throwing
Further I navigated into further night.
The wind was angry and fought me.
I was nothing. I was simply trying to catch
A word or something worth my hunger.
Little did they know of France.
Are the Franks the fathers of France?
And yet they came, unduly dressed
And out of fashion, crushers of culture.
Despite barbarian burkas, culture
Survived. Some of it. Tradition.
Alas, the noble toga went lost.
But fashion is a funny thing:
The gravitas of burkas is closer
To Rome than jeans and baseball caps.
Oh yes, tradition bears oppression,
Beside the wise the women of Athens,
Of Sparta, the nun of Christian Corinth.
Freedom does not perpetuate,
It breaks tradition. Tradition is broken.
Tradition. Freedom. Tradition? Freedom?
Terror came, and death, proclaiming
Freedom, tradition, being neither.
They add their hyperbolic names
To throngs of urban banditry.
Religion? A prophet warns the desert
And yet the desert has no heart.
Violence is something pre-islamic.
The warning was our greatest luck.
Imagine how worse: Our tools of war,
Technology handled not by Muslims,
But Hamurabis, Nebuchadnezzars,
Assyrian kings and Ur and Babylon.
Terror is there, perpetuating
A pre-historic pretext of hate.
Rome was seized, and sacked, and razed
Again to the ground. And Rome is there.
Trading makes a funny miracle:
Life becoming more expensive
Every day, but never worthier.
I don't mind the price,
I don't bother.
Worth is only time
And words my gold won't buy.
The thing about life –
It's transitory, isn't it?
I guess it is.
A moment of joy, of bliss,
And suddenly it's over.
Flesh at least.
Let me pay the price of life
With my provincial poem.
Let me write a provincial poem,
A poem to melt away with rain.
The steps continue quietly
In the mist, the street light
Revealing a face and foliage
And tunnels of darker green.
There comes a point in the street
Where no word is left for life.
The judge will find it healthy.
Aristotle said that poetry
Is but a matter of enthusiasm.
I spoke, you heard, you know, now judge!
Who were you yesterday?
It rains. Drops on leaves, on drops
Again, the water against the window,
Incredible melody, a singing bird.
It thunders. The sky becomes the wind
And sweeps away the fallen twigs.
Then, there is silence. Almost.
A single voice pervades the endlessness
Of green, the unforgettable chant.
Wretched heirs of history, listen!
Or better listen not, but rather
Log in and check your posts and post
And leave behind, together with lovely
Pics and likes and pokes and comments,
Disgrace of lives and mental death.
Throw the news feed away!
Even the silence of birds is harmony,
Full of tears, disquiet of water colours.
A dance of waves will play with souls
And words will navigate in nothingness.
They will be searched and not be found.
That crown in the sky is greater than fun,
The golden sparks invading white and blue.
Light is something unexplainable. Always
To be and not to be. Dazzle everywhere.
When technology becomes a perpetrator
Of cultural levelling, life is lost.
Globalisation? Mass communication
Kills communication, a wreck of words.
O wretched heirs of wisdom, listen!
Take your Luddite hammer and hammer
Away this veil of imposture, the devil
Disguised as modernity.
(Love your neighbours, that's the fashion!)
Believe, oh yes, believe in the future
We missed a long time ago, for future
Dictated by the latest crap on the web,
The lovely app and ad and pad and pop
As worth as poo, is doomed to shame.
Yes, perhaps this end was programmed.
When science and its accoutrements,
Eccentric tools have nothing to add
To civilisation, then let us declare
And proclaim it: The world is disgusting.
Clear this mess and ditch these toys.
The artifice is vain and grossly vile,
Light is moving on water and moves
Away the image of things immutable.
Is it the wave, or is it the air
That leaves behind a scent of beauty?
Fragrance of freedom, cloak my boat
And let me pass in peace.
And let me not be sad and bitter
That I had so much to say
But I could not.
At night I sat on my own,
The world a distant star.
And yet, a friend was near,
A cat who brought me back.
He leapt and sat on my lap.
I ran away. He ran with me.
Eternity waited for all
But friendship never waits.
Praise the candle flame
That makes the meadow green.
As truth alone, the mirror moves,
The woman giving birth to shine.
How is it possible, god of days,
That such a secret mask your face?
There is no place and path
If an eye, containing the world,
Not look and bless my way.
Yet if I stare at brightness,
Blindness soon will follow:
No eye was fit for truth.
Although I fail to see the ray
Of life and self, I look around
At light and life is green and gay.
When you descend into hell
To meet Ezra Pound and his throng
Of lost words, pray tell him:
Remember the tree of beauty
In Babylon's Hanging Gardens.
How sweet and everlasting true
The fruits that tree could bear.
Yet Nebuchadnezzar, the king,
Demanded an answer from the wise,
For nothing but bile and poison
And serpent venom made the sap
And evil the multitude of leaves:
– The only man who truly lies
Is he who ever knows the truth.
But he who knows the truth and lies
Is wise and through his wisdom worse.
The fruit of truth, the sap of sin:
Is this a singer worth his song?
Burn those fruits, my king, and cut
The tongue that praises good and evil. –
Woe unto thee who knewst the answer
And chosest words as word will please:
Today the truth and tomorrow a lie.
In vain thine anger shouts and asks:
But who are ye to judge my crime?
I call thee Lord
Though thou be bearer of freedom.
Let there be light again
On my candle,
That I may see thy face
And know thy word
A blaze will blind
Mine eyes and burn my sin
As I gaze at the colour of freedom
And remain a slave
I shall lose no word on the world.
I shall light a candle
And close my soul –
There will be only thou and I
And fire between thou and I,
And I shall behold my Lord
As my Lord beholds me
At night. Ever.
Holy hammer, thou
That breakest the rock
In pieces, come and break
My house and dash it to pieces
And throw this utter ruin of mine
Into fire – let fire devour my words,
Invisible as truth
And everlasting bearer of mystery –
For only freedom tested by fire
Retains a holy breath of bliss,
A subtle scent of jasmine
At night. Ever.
I found a book
That nobody opened.
It was a strange encounter.
Though it be the same for all
The readers of everywhere and never,
Each of all shall find and read
Alone and none may help another.
My steps on the hay
Remind of many. I stop.
The dead were here,
I know, and many knew
The truth and wept,
For none would listen.
They left a book
That nobody opened,
The forlorn lives,
The lives of many.
The truest words went lost
And though I walk among the stars
Below the stars is oblivion.
The sun will shine again
As if the sun knew nothing,
Yet all is known on high.
Despite the sighs of death
The dead know better now:
The book that none has read,
The book of truth will last.
They die alone
And they will haunt the blind.
Thank the grass,
For grass is smooth
And you tread upon grass
And grass complains not.
Thank the leaf
That longs to fall,
That you may tread
On leaf and grass.
The world is there
To be trodden upon
And the world is yours:
The world is yourself!
Ye stars, ye donors of dust
Whose name I love and hallow:
Forget me not, oh shine on me,
Fulfil on my remains your will.
Not much, oh givers of destiny,
Not much I wish for every night:
I ask for bread alone and breath.
A life not worth its dust is lost:
I must forgive and need forgiveness.
Remind me always whence I came.
I gaze at you on high and know:
I must be good, I must be true.
A smell of fish
Pervades the chemistry of life,
Not meant to be perverse.
Apparent filth giving birth to beauty.
In search of life I stumbled – on music,
Remembrance from the dead.
Shall I call the popular shallow?
There they are, these hits of everyday:
Repetitive percussion, predictable patterns,
Very short – and yet I fear.
They may be mirrors of existence, better
Than that tremendous symphony,
Summer today –
For the second time I see
The pigeons copulating, as always
In the last thousands of years.
They keep their traditions
Well, and chemistry.
Music is difficult –
One thing ye have to accept:
Utilitarian hits are closer perhaps,
Closer to truth than
Catharsis, bombastic artefact.
To touch the end of the universe
Is vanity. After the curve,
What are we but dust?
The wise is aware of the past,
The vain is blind, contemptuous.
This they have in common,
Beethoven and Beyoncé:
They shun the ruin of harpsichords.
Or do I lie? Damascus shone
On one of them after the curve,
When cleverness was humbled
And looked back to counterpoint.
And sound was turned into music,
Agreeable to the ears –
At least to the ears of some.
Agreeable? Pleasure's another victim
Of pretension word-clad.
Through music is quite intriguing:
As sound is but a wave, miraculous
Gifts will pour themselves into the
Heart and make the humble cry:
– Art thou troubled?
Music will calm thee. –
Intriguing, I said? Intriguing:
That love as big as the world,
Compassion and tearful motions
And all that is deep and lofty –
Until a stranger stumbles on you,
Until the door is loudly banged,
Intruders thrusting themselves
Between emotion and music.
An eating dog is easily angered.
A man was saving humankind
By listening to Bach alone,
When granny entered the room
And shouted: – Popcorn is ready! –
She was immediately shot dead.
Oh the wonders, oh the gifts of music
Turning a man into a better person –
Salvation, bliss and moral elevation.
I gave up my rhymes on butterflies,
The breeze and the scent of flowers.
I was told they were kitsch.
From the ground
A blackbird's gazing at me,
But let's not be repetitive:
It's hard to affirm life
Through life itself and
Life-affirming poems won't work.
The blackbird picked some ants
(A couple of them) and off he went.
Or shall I raise my arms and sing:
– We are the world,
It's getting better all the time. – ?
He went to kill more ants
And affirm his life somewhere else.
It's strange –
The thing about mode and fashion.
Art is full of conceit.
It's smart to play the weary:
They write about death and sorrow,
Chanting gloom and heaviness.
They call it depth, it seems.
The blackbird's back, die schöne Amsel,
His family following. Spannend!
Plato said the poet
Should only write: hymns to the gods.
One thing he knew:
To moan around that life is shit
Is not worth a poem.
It's funny – the contradiction:
Life-affirming poems won't work.
And off he went again
Because it is raining now.
I miss my rhymes on blueberries,
The breeze and the scent of flowers –
An anthology is a talk about flowers.
God is difficult, they write,
But that's another talk.
I will neither affirm nor deny.
I won't explain,
I'm not a philosopher – not here.
But I must say
It's nice to be here – not there.
That blackbird keeps gazing at me
As I walk and sit among the flowers.
Of the mystery,
On the couch
Time is something ridiculous.
They laugh at Dowland's lute,
Would rather have a guitar.
There is a nasty way
To fill one's mouth:
– We've got a guitar,
That guy had none.
We're better than all that
We are the champions! –
But trees will teach
A bunch of braggarts,
Trees that never care
For lute and sixteenth,
Twenty-first, whatever –
Happy just to be.
Mille regretz de vous habandonner,
Et deslongiers vostre fache amoureuse,
Jay si grant doeul et paine doloreuse,
Quon my verra brief mes jours definer.
Then came the hero down the street,
Abusing leafs with high-technology,
Inebriated of vileness:
– Look at your kind,
Always the same!
We create and evolve
And get better, that
Now we've got a smartphone,
Social media and all.
But you, the only thing
You do is to be green. –
The scally couldn't hear the answer
When the giver of shadow uttered:
– Louder, darling, speak up,
I can't hear you from the pit
Where you wallow in ugliness,
Looking as I am at the plain
Of presumption, surrounding
Your kind and your cars and
Going to and fro and up and about
As if words were worth a shit –
Always longing no longer to be,
Be smart and vain and vile and
Drink and fuck and die.
You look down on me, I know,
As if you knew the truth
And had any value but money.
Speak up, my dear, speak up
Or shut up, for heaven's sake! –
The youthful drove away
So full of stuff and heroin,
Singing a hit inside the Mercedes.
Venite a dir il vero,
Se fu miglior pensiero
Servire al mondo vano,
O al re del ciel soprano?
Sì che ciascun intenda,
Apra gli occhi e comprenda,
Che questa vita è un vento,
Che vola in un momento;
Oggi vien fore,
Doman si more;
Who would have thought it?
Technology has fucked up so much
That, frankly, much is lost:
To gather that Homeric crowd
And muster armies of machine
Destroyers? The damage is done:
Flow, my tears!
Yet, in the garden, summer's night,
So late: The darkness of leaves
And cloudy sky and the flowers
And generous shadows –
The breeze and rain drops.
There I sit,
Eden's broken cithar contemplating
The irrelevance of being:
There I am.
We have to go
And late comers to come.
None will care, all pass
In their urge to reinvent
The wheel, as if we were
Nothing, we here. Every morning,
Children play of being more.
I look at these nurses of mine
On a hospital bed
(If I am lucky to get a bed)
And I pity myself.
"Goe, nightly cares, goe!"
I sit and meditate and
Watch the contest. To petty poets
Once a skill-seller proclaimed:
Give us a thousand, I'll make you great!
They pay to be famous
And learn an easy writing.
Thousand years, the Romans
Copied Greek patterns, Latin
Giving birth to glory. Who cares?
The mother-fucker's looking for some
NOVUM for the sake of Facebook.
I will make my words
In thy mouth fire,
And this people wood,
And it shall devour them.
Will come and strike
Your stage and thirst for pelf.
It will climb the ladder and shout
In front of the crowd, in the middle
Of the contest:
– You, and you, and you:
Know what you are!
Know you what you are?
A bunch of impostors
With no idea of art,
Of truth and of beauty.
You're staging lies
In the name of nonsense.
Look at yourselves and say
If you ever read Homer
(I don't mean translations)
Or Virgil, vernacular masters,
Before you climbed up the stage
To sell your show of words
Like dodgy dancers, ass-holes
Trying to fool a credulous mob:
Purchase just another, another
Cheap and vile creation of greed.
Yet I shall have no pity of petty
Poets, roll and set fire to lies –
Thus the thunder rolled
And I sat alone, beginning
To write a poem, so many lines
Beginning with "and" that perhaps
A new-age tutor in creative writing
Would mind my lack of creativity.
O bless, such a beggar of words
I am, but what am I? I am
A millenary lute
Of olden tears.
The smell of the stars,
Oh the smell of the stars...
We've come so far that
We've got a smartphone.
The greatest language
Had no word for art,
For there is no proper art:
Technique only. The rest is life
And dearth of truth.
I cry for those who first
Controlled the fire.
They tried until they had
The god of light in their power.
That day, how much humanity
Before, there had been love,
In common fear compassion
When darkness came.
Who on earth is going to care
For all this mess now? Let us pray
To the Ancient nóos: Do exist, Lord,
Be there for our wretched dreams.
Clouds enclose the roofs
And the world is wet
As if many had wept.
To weep. To die. Tomorrow
The sun will shine again
And further woes and sighs
Will prove to be just lies.
Between the clouds and roofs
A gap of sadness, infinite –
Yet truth is beyond. Tomorrow
A bird will sing away my sorrow.
How vain from this human kind
To thank the sun with tears.
To live is not to know.
Die, if you must, and go,
But leave my word in peace
And let the rain alone:
My life is shorter than joy.
How many times have I written
The colours I love and the wind
As though naivety were beautiful?
The more the light is happy,
The less I think. I think
My word is unworthy of truth.
I shall walk and walk and disappear
From the paths I leave, a stranger
Knowing nothing, feeling more.
I shall lay and wait
Until the flowers fall on me.
Send the judge my love
When you enter the court
And thank him for me.
I am the man who walked.
I remember the day of reckoning:
Trees were shining as never before
And never again; the way was light.
I longed to rest among those leaves
And yet the path was calling me.
I longed to walk among those ways
And yet the green was longing for me.
The less I knew the more I wondered
Whether to stay or to pass.
He opened the gate of eternity.
The path and the garden,
There they were.
The tree of greatest blossom
Was the giver of life.
Its blossom was true.
From a bed of daisies
The judge awoke. He was naked,
Not ashamed. Their eyes met:
– What you left behind
You will not miss.
The watch is broken.
Wool is no longer needed.
Do you know who you are? –
They walked together
Across all forms beyond.
No further word was ever said.
It started like this:
People just got fed up with all sorts,
Mostly with the flooding.
They gathered a bunch of bastards
Throughout the land, a huge gang,
And after wandering about for years
They settled somewhere, exhausted,
And uttered a bragging:
– Enough is enough, bro!
Instead of roaming about like a bitch
Let's build a building here just for us.
T'will be second to none, I tell you!
We'll work on that until it touches
The sky, the clouds, whatever.
We'll never need to wander again,
We'll never need anybody else. –
And so they started to build
A tremendous tower. It was a den of thugs –
Bigotry erecting a lofty altar.
From all over the land people came
Hungry and thirsty, on foot, by boat,
And once they knocked at the door
The bouncer answered:
– Pack your cacks and piss off!
Look at yourself! How on earth
You think you'll get in here,
You and your bunch of strangers?
Fuck off! –
The humbled went, wearied and homeless,
The building getting taller and taller.
Until God grew fed up with such nonsense
And proclaimed unto his privy council:
– Let's fuck up that tower of twats!
Mess up with that brothel now! –
Suddenly, a perilous swarm of migrants
Gathered before the tower, a throng
Of uncouth assailants, speaking boldly
With gobs full of foreign tongues;
It was a pretty hubbub.
When the builders saw the mass, the swamp
Unworthy of the building, confusion came.
They threw stones at the crowd.
They threatened with deportations and trade embargoes.
They called a momentous referendum.
Yet God's unseemly army went on, steadfast.
They sneaked into the building
In ungentlemanly manners,
One after the other. And there they settled.
The builders' cultivated court,
The Holy Grail was defiled.
At night, a mob of troglodytes
Gang-banged an innocent fair flower
Behind the sacred pillars.
She loved every moment of it
And it was a national outrage.
A carnival of vileness took place,
A grotesque assembly of elements
And languages fighting each other.
The builders carrying the bricks
No longer knew whence to go and whither.
There was no understanding of words:
A bubble of pride exposed exploded.
From then on, people got in and out
Like the wind, like a pimp in a brothel.
They look askance at each other now,
Bastards from all over and braggarts
Not giving a shit, not knowing
Who is who and what to say and how.
I saw you from afar, a piece of wood,
And I longed to be. They call you bench,
A friend I called you. Why is the world
So different when we sit together?
A truth from afar I saw in you,
Not near. Still truth?
The leaves I loved are now behind me,
But they were close to you when I dreamt.
I left my way and I was deceived.
All that is green and all that comforts
From afar in summer,
Ye coloured joys of a breath,
Let us part and never long again
Or let us die together, right now,
That with closed eyes we may see
A bench beyond a pleasant lie.
ὦ φίλε Κρίτων, οὐκ οἶσθα ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπιτηδεύματι οἱ μὲν φαῦλοι πολλοὶ καὶ οὐδενὸς ἄξιοι, οἱ δὲ σπουδαῖοι ὀλίγοι καὶ παντὸς ἄξιοι; ἐπεὶ γυμναστικὴ οὐ καλὸν δοκεῖ σοι εἶναι, καὶ χρηματιστικὴ καὶ ῥητορικὴ καὶ στρατηγία; ἐν ἑκάστῃ τούτων τοὺς πολλοὺς πρὸς ἕκαστον τὸ ἔργον οὐ καταγελάστους ὁρᾷς; (Plato, Euthydemus 307a-b)
If they pay.
They discovered a beautiful thing:
Xenon is an able messenger,
Conveying thought in pleasant fashion.
Is the truth of xenon better than truth?
They found it more beautiful
And they decided:
Xenon should de sold
In containers, displayed on a shelf.
An idea full of vanity attracted many
And many made their money
For xenon they pay.
Enjoy the art of thought
As gas. The wonder of metrics.
Let them buy expensive truths
Too many wish to share their
Xenon, so many that xenon
Makes it impossible to know
The truth and the xenon truth.
It is all the same and
Words are treated equally.
From the fashion of xenon
They made a fashion factory
Long ago, before the dead were
Born and bred with xenon.
How prosperous sellers became
Their xenon monsters were
Prize-awarded, all of them.
Woe unto him
Who thinks outside
And wraps not thought in xenon.
His word will not be shared
By factories, and what is
A word without the factories?
They bought the thought of the thoughtless,
They bought the thought of the thinkers.
Whatever thought is sold is sold
What is not, matters not:
It gets nowhere.
The truth is wunderbar,
And so is money.
Everything else is the bareness
Of word and dust, and flowers
Will leave no scent where nothing
Xenon and its best sellers
In a bubble, breathing gas
Until they lose their mind
And remainders of mind
Are flushed in the U-bend,
A greasy pipe, steadfast in truth.
Fate is full of envy,
But so is the world.
Tell me, Lord of mercy,
Whither my friend is gone.
Tell me the truth, or lie,
That I may love and die.
Light is trust of days,
But near is the night.
Let me hear thy word,
My friend, and how it hurts.
Tell me the truth, or lie,
That I may love and die.
Blood is cheap, and sorrow,
But wounds will heal.
Let me know, my friend,
How love became a lie.
Tell me the truth, or die,
That I may live and end.
A dream of timelessness – music
Everywhere. But time is deaf.
Once Beethoven sighed –
The space vilified his art, and Creation,
Devised to echo through the Universe,
Filled a concert hall and nothing else.
And Bach and Handel, Mozart sighed.
Love must become a treasure of all,
Not the privilege of few,
That art may triumph.
Radio came indeed into the rooms
Of everybody – but time is deaf.
The singers say that Bach is old.
My room is vile: The cloths hang around
And three or four times I played
Late in the night the Große Fuge,
Gazing at my tooth brush in the dim light.
It was loud – what a privilege
For my neighbours, Beethoven filling
The brush, the walls and the vileness
Of all, as if anyone ever deserved
Creation: the music and the radio.
Walking towards me he came, the planet
Mars crying out in ruddy mist:
Look at what they did to me!
They! Your people. From now on, dust
On my face will never be the same.
And I saw the truth:
A giant Land Rover crossed the desert
Of cold, a vile companion of man
On Earth invading more.
The trog traversed
The age of universes
Leaving behind the wheels
A trace of humanity:
Tell my finger
How to reach
The hand is blind.
No eyes can touch.
Such is the fate of us all:
Because I saw, I had to love,
But as my hand is bare of sight,
My touch will never see the truth.
The void of the roads
Reminds of time and time is this:
The sight will fade away and die
And leave behind a trace,
A shine, a tear.
They vote for the avengers of vanity –
The English garden is full of garbage,
We have enough of the dead and the living
Will die. Defend the flowers from damage.
Tell the desert to keep the seeds of breeze:
None is needed here. Should the shameless
Hope for the righteous' riches, let the roses
Vote for heroes and wreckers of terror,
For theirs is the answer, the safety:
Members only – CCTV in use.
Moon! Why did we lose a lifetime
In love of each other's face?
What do you have from me
Alone in your bluish distance?
What did I gain from you?
Many nights you knocked
At my window, when I left
My candle longing for light.
You fared on a journey to never.
Only I remained, a window
Beseeching you to be mine
While you were made to pass.
In the middle of the meadow,
The rain had filled a puddle
Where they gathered, Canadian geese.
Nobody saw them.
The drops were falling
On the lake, a mirror
Light greyish on white.
The sparkles became
The falling stars above.
Nobody came to see.
I walked with my umbrella.
The rain transfigured the earth
And I was part of the trees.
Nobody saw the rain nor trees.
They only see the sun and die.
The wisdom of the dead is our guilt,
A tranquil science of echo neglected.
Naivety betrays, a hideous companion,
Daily. Take your time and see that no time
Is ours. I keep playing my kitschy Chopin
As if the land of memory still presented
Dust with shelter. No music will last.
Yet a zombie may walk in the corner,
Asking shades to tell him leafy stories,
Here and there a miracle happen: That he,
In silent loss, discerns an image, loose,
A father of old, a truth – fata morgana.
Dresden, Munich and Hamburg –
It is good to requite evil with evil.
Celebrate the dead with a cake
And pray rewrite their history:
Ribbentrop and Henderson
Punching each other nicely
At midnight in the office.
The world must know how
Sublime you are. On the day
Of the dead, repeat your prayer
And fly the flag of the righteous.
Remember how perfect:
Your realm had nothing
Evil in common with them.
The throng of the holy
Only plotted against the foe
When he became a devil.
And he became incensed.
Good to know! Whoever is enemy
Is evil. Dash their children against
The rock! It is all their fault.
Thanks for saying something.
You won't be crowned for that
Unless your mafia network
Goes far beyond expectation.
Don't worry, boy, just carry on.
It's not about saying, it's selling,
But I'm glad you're selling nothing
And saying something.
It's better than selling something
And saying nothing.
No time is reading as much as this,
No poem is shunned as much as now.
Stars become hysterical about
Dreaming of celebration.
Getting hold of a hand in the club
Of cloying celebrities
Takes time and is boring.
I wish I cared less about eternity
And more about pornography,
The underworld of wasted sperm
Keeps dreaming of being born.
The best picture from my tour
Is lost – on my phone, it looked
More powerful than the centuries.
After leaving town, we drove through
This beautifully desolate landscape
For hours and often stopped.
Just to contemplate an image.
To think is an imposture.
The colour as extract of a whole
Is far from that immersion of souls,
The plunge into a certain invisibility.
I have just explained the world
In a poem unworthy of the world.
But photos can be frustrating.
I take pictures of things as if
I took a picture of my feelings.
The end of dreams is mediocrity.
I am a bad photographer
And all photographers are bad
And photography is bad.
No colour should be imprisoned,
Only remembered. Remember.
When vanity calls, I tell her:
No pictures, dear, of my emotions.
The hues of what we saw that night
The landscape reminded us of silence
And of a book I read as a child.
The joy of joys is once and for all
To see and not to see again. Remember.
Scattered wildlife near the horizon,
An ancient tor, and hidden somewhere
Sherlock Holmes watching the hound.
They say it's easy to recognise
The mire – the grass is much greener.
But I won't test the truth of colours.
We won't see the same nor cameras help.
I found between the sun and the moon
Myself, the earth so far from stars.
Yet hope is near and dreams in gloom
Arise, between my death and my self.
Of a place
Hath been said.
My words are thirsty yet for endlessness
Yet the moon is shining behind ugly houses.
In the death of signs, a soul's remains
May find in truth a tomb.
To someone's face I say, I must,
The words I write.
And I walked on the corn field
Alone, in the moonlight.
They put a tomato
On you and a carrot,
A cucumber also,
A scarf, that a creature
Made of naught might be.
The child made you man.
Your arms are the twigs
Of trees, clogs your legs.
They gave you a hat
And called you a game.
Snow became a man.
Will he still be there
Redeeming the winter
In the day of slush
When the carrot falls?
One more night he has.
He shall sleep in darkness
And keep in his heart
The secret of being,
Two tiny tomatoes.
Yet the day will shine
And the children play
With carrots and clogs.
They wonder in vain
If snow has a heart.
They will grow and know
Nothing, only building
Their image in white,
Calling snow a man
With tiny tomatoes.
The creature will drown
In the water spirit
To leave as a blessing
Cucumbers and carrots,
A scarf and a hat.
What a tragic death!
You made us all happy,
Never hurt a soul.
Your life will be loved
As much as a carrot.
What a sacrifice
And a cheerful deed
Of a heartless man.
He will save the world
By melting away.
Let us put another
Carrot on the snow
And tiny tomatoes.
Play, bambini, play!
The night will be cold.
Alone I see you all,
Ye dead, transparent
Flowers, from a glass
Where light is square.
I drink the world
From a broken cup:
No word to swallow.
My sin? My apple was
The poison of purpose.
A snake in Eden gave me
A pen to pity the living.
Let the phantoms approach
And see and drink and taste.
Words are made of dust
That never lasts, their stuff
As cheap as a liar's oath,
No better than breath.
A king of unknown glory:
Facebook accounts are full
And wear the newest fashion,
Life as a rainbow, fleeting, nice.
Think not, ye gangsters of now,
Your hand will harm my desk.
It gathered too many books,
Your strength will fail your will.
Technical sin and dream of bile:
Without electricity and cables
What remains of culture powered
By mini-bulbs and the web?
The heavenly pot
Will pour an essence
As fragrant as fire,
And spread a scent
Of joyful tears,
On earth a taste
Of love, tranquillity.
Cities of monarchs and managers,
Fluids of contradiction,
Aristotelian orgasms in the middle of all,
How I love you, tabloids and mannequins
Full of catharsis and imagery,
Stories impossibly true and perfect and deep and so new.
Fantasy! Exceedingly archaic pronouns,
Words neither uttered nor written,
Arise, grotesque empires of
Imperatives and negations,
Late Victorian scents and scandalous,
Sexual apologies of Socrates:
Behold the tedious freshness of time.
When a butterfly, dressed in cheesy jeans,
Meets a fossil in the desert
Of streets of feet and fashion,
Ah, she shakes her head and thinks to herself:
Yet once the colourful feature disappears,
Flying through flowers,
Spasms in the overdose of smartness,
The fossil remains in its revoltingly
Universally true serenity.
I shall spread my essence over you.
Come, harmonious confusion of seconds
And centuries, listen to the snake,
Be not afraid, oh no, of my apples
Imported from afar and tasteless here,
Yet not without the soul of a form
And freedom behind its rotten skin,
Where worms devour and worship beauty.
Approach, oh phantoms of midday,
And let us sing and sigh together, sun,
The day of flowers and fossils,
A fly who humbly falls into the soup,
A cup of tea by that closed window.
We should play golf again on the street
With the neighbourhood, in the slum.
Heaven's eyes in the dark
Look down so full of pity.
I smile as only children smile
And gather nightly jewels.
Where's my smartphone now?
I wanted to take a picture
Of what life should be
And where we could live.
But the truth is at hand:
You need money. Just to have a view
From your window.
In the port
I watch the waves
As a bird and a boat
Compose a landscape.
Originality and imitation –
Suddenly nothing new:
Repetitions lack originality,
Repetitions, always ugly,
Always mothers of reality:
Facing the sea
To see the motion.
I still dream that life
Is a dream. It's weird
To take a pair of books
And music to the park,
Where truth is revealed:
A book will represent,
Nature presents itself.
Music is but the space.
When beauty was defined by few,
The few appointed their heroes.
Poets sought to impress the court
Of patrons full of connoisseurs.
Promotion was never a worry:
The higher circles knew of all.
But who explains in a landscape
The essence beyond impression?
Judging from the tongue of eyes
It is trees and quantum mechanics
Remains unseen at dusk, beyond
Discovery the truth of pudency.
Democracy destroyed the patrons
Of Beethoven, of Turner and Hardy.
The sublime and its aesthetics
Were casting a shadow on vileness,
Annoying the popular passions.
Now, the cause of equality favours
Redemption through entertainment,
Mainstream dragging art through
A market of quicker fame and pelf.
That something passes
Where all remains
The present –
Rudolf of Austria, the Archduke
Is dead. He did more for art
Than all the twentieth century.
And yet – decay was overdue.
After Beethoven, Turner and Hardy,
Less art is needed – more justice,
The ugly face of what is good.
Does a tree reveal
The name of a year?
With this word
With this one.
Justice will not redeem the future –
The present will simply reach itself.
Beethoven beheld these very stars.
A wicked mystery between one second
And yet another awaits the slave.
The stars shall cast,
I hope, a shadow
Over my sword.
Business has taught us:
Gone are the heroes,
Berlin is quite impressed
When entrepreneurs call
It is right, however, to care
For truth – no word is but an accident.
While the greedy despair,
The genuine write again
And write as if they spoke:
Not what may be sold,
No, what must be said
A book for all and none.
© Greg Ory 2016, Nulla Dies Sine Linea. Website by Gregorius Vatis Advena, Flat 7, 18 High Street, Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 3JL, United Kingdom; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org