Clarion Vice, Canto 16

by Russ Sargent

Here I am, donning the savage bliss. Charging
my genome with metagrams before those mutant
maggots show up and try to teach me their genes.
Sure, while I sit here piddling with this epistle
the swamp’s a galaxy of bubbles under the rain.
Life’s a white flash on a crow’s wing. And someone’s
gotta keep this cloud forest standing till
there’s a cure for elephantitis of the soul.
I mean, I gotta find me a colony of cosmic freaks
where I can set up my loom and start weaving
azure into the zaffer, just warping and woofing on
about how this vice is my virtu and this
virtu is my vice ever since I learned how
the distances are so great and how you have
found me today when the sky is an
ugly grey cauldron I don’t want to think of
because I know we’re all just mystical mimes
anyway, choking on the laughing gas in the
end once we discover for sure the last
fraction of a second is the happiest and just
to think of you now is like sun under pines
when every moment is simply authentic and
so authentically simple and that’s why
time loves a deepfreeze and I’m gaff
rigging this schooner before I set sail for space,
merging my body into the profusions of my soul
standing in the gutters of eternity
knowing that first I’ve got to learn
to speak fluently in my own poetry, inventing
gutturals and dipthongs because the pain
of our idiocy is unspeakable and no one
can love me until they have found
their own freedom, so excuse me, Pure World,
for pissing in the lake but I had to
capture these sudden synapses to include
in the chain letter I’m sending to God.
Even if my only motive is the metaphor
and old age is a rusted can on which I barely
make out the word Budweiser. Even though
words are only shovels in this universe
where dirt becomes light and where
metaphors are just the burnt knobs of wood
I kept thinking were birds or just
some damn poet whose head is like
a dick you can’t keep down. Hey,
all I know is my heart glows like Rothko.
I’m a guest with no invitations in the selva
oscura after everyone’s gone home. I know
the eyes of my poem are ice. But I’m still
watching the few phoebes who are left
clasping their lonely points of glory along the
sagging curve of an endless utility line.
Everything I have is kept in a borrowed room
and all the bushes were bushes in this world
where I tripped on a porcupine breathing
all by itself in the moonlight
like the world’s largest bristling black tear
reminding me how the dead would kill
just to own my shadow. So just
call me Edgar the Lucky with the melted wings
because the Merrimack is a wizardly river
of Jack as I pace from bar to bar
following in the panther tracks, knowing
each day it’s my duty to recreate the anniversary
for the ancient Bestiary of Beauty. All
because I saw the dark side of the moon once
in a broken mirror. So don’t stop me now
Motherfuckers! I’m still listening
for the whispers of mice in the ground
with the insides of my eyelids painted like Monet
lily pads as I go on thinking about the spreading
Pagoda Tree over the whaling church in Edgartown.
We gotta go on driving these pistons of meat
because the gods still want to split us open
on the table of our dreams. . . .