Saturday, May 14, 2011

XLI. An Army of Yellow Horses

In the ladder gyre of the Age of Eichenblon's Crater:

One scanty quarrel wakens an army of yellow horses
While the flat ghosts of thirty slain captives unfold
Between the furrowed skin of orphaned wealth.
One known detail of a buried inmate's lost promise
Illuminates the harmony between earth and sheaf.

The tradition of giving shelter to the fugitive
Aids the aged deity followed by unarmed guardians.
False alliances will guide the hidden rescuers
Along a journey of avoidance and encounter.

Alone in a boat without oars, a swimmer
Carries to his ship a round portion of felt
Chased with the fourth eye of chaos repeated.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

XL. The Cinct Generations

In the gyre eclipsed of the Age of the Good Remainder:

Technological obsessions rule the cinct generations
While four times turns the cycle of Nousparltut.
When elections filled with distortion and fanaticism
Bring fatal strategies as incessant as monsoon rains,
A natal chart is drawn for a second birth in winter.

Grassroot forces hide three counterspies within the house
Marked by a golden thorn under spirituous water
And by the instalment of pierced casements uplifted
Over laments of oceangoing brides written in drawn wire.

The three are unreliably known, and laughingly,
As the Invertebrate, the Witness, and the Libertine,
In a common language of unlicensed supplicants.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

XXXIX. In orchards rough-handled by hope

In the hooded gyre of the Age of Eichenblon's Crater:

Descendants of Azargalatzin, known as the Pryoglau,
Court, love and marry like the native bees
Who overwinter in hollow stems of bamboo,
And house their families behind walls of mud
In orchards rough-handled by the hopes of spring.

A compass wall separates the northernmost hotels
From the city divided into schools and embassies,
Where nomenclature and mansions are never remade.
A boundary tower is a major landmark of atonement.

A nation of faith is slow to regenerate after plague and fire;
Treaties are secret and documents of science are censored.
A polyglot violation of sentiment and status brings upheaval.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Name of God

Ga-ukogomen asked me, while I was drawing the markings above, "What do you think they are?"

"I don't know," I replied.

"Ignorance never stopped one of your kind from thinking." That sounds like he was sneering, but I don't think he was. Ga-ukogomen has an ego, which is very evident, but I do not assume I am able to understand how his ego works.

I paused and looked at my paper for a moment, but I really did not need time to consider it. "I think they are the names of God," I said.

"You don't believe in God, you are an atheist," said Ga-ukogomen.

I know it does not make sense, but that's what I feel when I am drawing these things. Like I am writing the name of God. "Maybe I'm a bad atheist, or a lapsed atheist," I told Ga-ukogomen. "It is not an easy thing to be."

I had been eating peanuts earlier; there were a few scattered shells on the table. I watched Ga-ukogomen peck at them and wondered why he needed to feign a bird's inquisitiveness. "They might not be the names of God, but they are names, right?" I asked him.

"All names are the names of God," he said.

I tried to hide my frustration. "That does not actually answer my question."

"All names are the names of God," he repeated.

"How can you say that? You are a far better atheist than I can ever hope to be." Ga-ukogomen, Nihr Avna-attu and Tsitao-utna have lived and died untold number of times, and have never encountered God. All three angels are convinced atheists.

"When all names are the names of God, it is easy to be an atheist." Ga-ukogomen abandoned the peanut shells and pretended to be interested in the sugar bowl. "You can hope."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drawing angels

This is a portrait of the three angels of the Lorwolm.

Ga-ukogomen is the largest figure in the center. Nihr Avna-attu is the figure on the right, Tsitao-utna is on the left, and on the far left is a fourth angel, an entity named Yohrdith Eondhel. He is a faint presence in this picture because I have met him only once.

I met the new angel in the grocercy store. I was in the pasta aisle, gazing at jars of Newman's Own spaghetti sauce, when I became aware of someone standing close beside me, at least a foot taller than me. I turned and looked up into a face that bore a smooth porcelain resemblance to a young Paul Newman, as Nathan Hale perhaps, or Billy the Kid from The Left Handed Gun. A Paul Newman with long hair in greenish brown Pre-Raphaelite curls, more green than brown. He was the biggest, most solid, most human-looking angel I had ever seen, with the round limbs of angels in Italian Renaissance paintings, best described by the word "comely". He was dressed in a dull red t-shirt and worn-out jeans, and for a moment I thought, no, this cannot be an angel, this must be another shopper. Then I noticed he was barefoot, and his feet were clean and pale. I looked back at his face and I no longer saw anything like Paul Newman because that face was composed in a serenity I am sure no living human can achieve.

A feeling like terror clutches my heart when the Lorwolm appear, but it is not terror. It is a physical clenching; it is my body's recognition of an angel's presence. I felt this signal while standing in the grocery store beside this angel who seemed to be studying a dead man's face on spaghetti sauce jars.

"He wears a different hat," the angel spoke. It sounded like a solemn pronouncement of great significance.

"Who wears a different hat?" I asked.

He lifted the index finger of his left hand in answer and pointed to a label on one of the jars. His finger stopped an inch short of touching the jar, but the jar jerked and rattled against the other jars. The angel lowered his hand. The jars became still.

"Who are you?" I asked.

The angel turned his eyes to me. They seemed to be perfectly normal eyes, I was glad to see. They were clear and beautiful, gray-blue in color.

"I am your death beyond hell," said the angel.

That was a nasty shock. "You are my death beyond hell? What are you talking about? There is no hell, right?" Ga-ukogomen had told me there is no hell. It is not needed. Human souls manage to punish themselves more than adequately.

"I am not your death. I am..." he began to speak slowly and with empahasis, "...your...death...eyond...hell."

"I don't get it. You are not my death, but you are my death beyond hell?"

"No. No. My name is not "my death". My name is Your Death Eyond Hell." He peered at me with a look of bemused anxiety that made him seem quite human.

"Your name is Your Death--wait a minute." It finally occured to me why we were misunderstanding each other. "Spell it. Spell your name in English, can you do that?"

"Surely. I can spell my name in thirty-three languages and fourteen alphabets." His smile was beatific, his tone was supercilious. Until I met one, I never realized how much angels like to brag about themselves.

That was my introduction to Yohrdith Eondhel, three months ago. I have not seen him since.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Fourth Day

I "forgot" to put away Tsitao-utna's pencil. The next morning (on the fourth day), in the middle of eating my oatmeal, I picked up the pencil and doodled this on the back of an envelope:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Six Gackles, One Robin, Twelve Blue Feathers

I walk two miles to the post office every weekday and nearly every Saturday, to pick up my mail. Approximately every week, usually on a Wednesday, I walk the same distance (but in a different direction) to the library. On most Sundays I walk to a Catholic church a mile and a half away, but I do not go to mass, I just walk back, sometimes stopping for a bagel on the way home. That is my excercise program in its entirety. Last Wednesday I returned from my walk to the library and opened my front door to find Tsitao-utna strongly present in the house. Even though I stood only in the front hallway, I felt like she filled every room. Her presence oppressed me with urgency as I hurried to the kitchen, and I was so awkward in my haste I almost dropped her blue blowl as I removed it from the cupboard. As soon as I set her bowl and pencil on the table, she spoke. Her voice was harsh, hurried, and full of metallic clicks. She said a single phrase: "Siksga kelzwun rahben." And then she was gone, and the house was clear of all sense of her occupation.

Her abrupt departure left me a little shaken and I sat down in a chair, plopped like a sack of potatoes. I sat there for a while, staring at her bowl, thinking of nothing much. Eventually I heard a tick-tick-tick at the window and I looked up. A tiny gray bird was pecking at the window frame. It was Ga-ukogomen in his kinglet smallform. I hastened to my feet and opened the window. It is a peculiar thing to hear words of unmistakable clarity spoken from the beak of a bird. You almost feel you should look for a puppeteer or a ventriloquist. Ga-ukogomen spoke only five words before he flicked away through the Tecomaria vines that crowd the light from that window. He said, "You need paper and coffee."

After I made coffee, I sat down at the table with my mug and a piece of typing paper. I stared at Tsitao-utna's bowl and pencil, drinking my coffee, trying not to think about what I was going to draw. Messages from the Lorwolm are not meant for me, and I believe I might damage the conduit of transmission if I try to interpret them while I am in the process of writing them down for the first time. After I have written them down, clear and complete, a certain order might suggest itself, and only then do I allow myself to edit.

This is what I wrote:

I left the bowl, pencil and paper on the table. The next day, I added this to the first drawing:

On the third day, I added this:

I was staring at the page, wondering if I was finished, wondering if there was another line or squiggle I needed to draw, when a flicker at the edge of my eyesight made me look up. Ga-ukogomen was perched on the back of the chair opposite me, snapping his wings as birds do when they are setting their feathers into order.

He repeated Tsitao-utna's phrase, "Siksga kelzwun rahben." Except this time I heard, "Six gackles, one robin." And Ga-ukogomen extended it, so the whole sentence became "Six gackles, one robin, twelve blue feathers."

"It will be the name of the last Mesiok, " Ga-ukogomen added. "She will not leave this planet until the second gyre of the Four Wandering Moons."

When the Lorwolm use the term "leave this planet", I think they are talking about death, but I am not sure. They might be referring to a journey. To the Lorwolm, death and life are part of the same journey. They do not think of death as an absence of life, since they have died and lived many times. They regard death as a process of life, and fear it no more than we fear things like sleeping and digestion.

"Will she be an important person?" I asked Ga-ukogomen, but as soon as I spoke I realized it was an unnecessary question. Everything the Lorwolm tell me will have significance, some day in the future.

"She will be the last Mesiok," Ga-ukogomen repeated. "Her name will be a key to a locked book and a doom to a continent."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

XXXVIII. The bandaged cardinal

In the third gyre of the Age of the Nascent Vaunthald:

Poisoned battalions ride as if on the ocean, awed by cold,
Suffering optical storms of transparent shadows
Magnified by the fierce temper of galling suns.
This sleep of opiates stretches its illusion on all sides,
No distant landmark breaks the monotony of its fragile glory.

The bandaged cardinal, born in the delicate ruin of a
Narrow six-story mansion, a bitter man with little regard
For marbled halls, abandons his beggarly church
And succors the remote expedition to the Byalkakeyl Zone.

A new vital energy is found in this itinerant branch
Of an ancient dissolute family. With rigor and purpose
A disquieted soul proves its genuine worth.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

XXXVII. A flooded city falls diminished

In the ladder gyre of the Age of the Glass Council:

Where kings once toiled as goldsmiths and soldiers,
Where merchant princes financed poets and popes,
A flooded city falls diminished, its stout walls of honor
Shadowed by wet decadance, an ambitious mausoleum
Under trees with violet-eyed blooms and lush dark fruit.

Seven immodest artists challenged seven bullish judges
In laborous directions, two double-edged swords
At right angles to each structure of the foreordained body.
But they could not gain new force from the ceremonies.

Lost is the wealth of precision built by scholars
Who wrote their own fame, decided their own destiny.
Genius cannot collaborate with hierarchy.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

XXXVI. A plague of austere years

In the seventh gyre of the Age of the Immersed Desolation:

When a summer wind brings a plague of austere years
To snowy boderlands, ten thousand cypress boughs
Will freeze upon glass pedestals. This formidable threshold
To patrimonial fortunes of haughty merchants, unbound
By constitutional restraint, is overturned and cleansed.

The pale-faced enemy, who sold pies in the cast-down streets,
Sits on a broken turret stone, smoke rising from his clothes
Crusted with a red plaster of thick blood and wood ashes.
His sharp head is uplifted, his hair drips with black ribbons.

In the absence of liberality, all winds chasten bitter shelters
For the intact soul: houses gone, chimneys fallen amid
White wings of paper and floating particles of thin ice.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

XXXV. The Boar's enlightenment

In the clauted (cleated?) gyre of the Age of the Sinquel Memorial:

Ringing sparks rise at the strike of a sharp wheel
Against a charred crucifix sheathed in square iron,
Wrapt in the mystery of the swift-coming collapse.
A future shaped around nine days of storming fire,
Final proof absorbed in burned stones still steaming.

A barefooted visitor with red eyes, crouched shoulders
And coy palms disembarks from an enclosed courtyard
In a maze of shrines. At 36 years of age, this lone Boar,
Unfit for the purpose, is briefly allowed to hold dominion.

Unable to avoid unyielding strain after a sleepless year,
A necessary act haunts the Boar's enlightenment
As revelation continues in pages in the fourth part.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

XXXIV. An obsidian burl

In the ladder gyre of the Age of Broeudhe-bas:

Grimm's lawyer gains the heir to a corpse of hardened ash—
His first voyage of spiritual apocalypse will be undertaken upon
The tipping point of ten thousand tons of monastery burnt black;
His psalms of revelatory verse, lacking pain and fevered speech,
Grinned without color, discount his claim to lyrics of fire.

Brittle monstrosities surface in data from scientific journals,
From skeletal pages fragile, faintly yellow and nearly
Asymmetrical bodies, earthen and nightmarish, emerge from
Paper folded
In unquiet thirds, rashly unearthed from extinct sediments.

Disrupted small light begins to swirl within an obsidian burl
Separated from the good and secretly buried under soil
Once the ruins of a winter empire in the valley of the sun.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

XXXIII. Three Silences

In the second gyre of the Age of the Recluded Star:

The infected hermitage looms over exiled roofs,
An island in a sea of wide chimneys crumbling,
The heated metal edge of its the ridgepole steaming
In sleet rain falling, sifted by winds, while shadows
And doubted apparitions root themselves in water.

Three silences dowered with outside properties,
Three ghosts obedient to outside laws, each carrying
All their owned disbelief: a woman protected by a shroud
Of flinching caterpillars, her right eye is blue—

Two malign green eyes carved in the upraised hands
Of a stony saint—and a child prodigy skull-split
With ink-dark blood braided into an imperial coat.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

XXXII. The red-masked summer

In the gyre vaunted of the Age of the Tilpimultuk Truce:

Strife in the skittish beginning of the red-masked summer—
Several hooded, whispering devils appear on the eclipse;
They stand outside doors of imminent peril yet never enter,
While odd and discordant young frogs overrun all the land,
Crying loud and full-throated, for two hundred and
Twenty hours.

A wise and subtle advocate suffers a transformation on the
Fourth day
After the first volumes of his monumental work are published
By virtue of his office. He is led by a string of sudden and
Desperate crimes
Into brotherhood with pirates, abiding day and night in
Their ships.

Within a small empty village a white-soled girl hallucinates,
Her tears astir with joy and hope, dreaming from perilous
Winged as the sunbird, in circling flight above a twice-blest

Saturday, November 7, 2009

XXXI. A map of midwinter stars

In the seventh gyre of the Age of the Shielded Immaltant:

The eighth man laid upon a rough table is the largest object
Within a single niche lighted by wax candles carved
With a red crescent moon and a map of midwinter stars.
This spare form is dressed in ragged and torn cloth,
The raiment of those that are slain by their own hand.

His banner is a yellow sycamore leaf torn and caught under
The wooden haft of a knife sunk deep in a gentle heart.
His feet point towards a door low in the western wall,
Towards a destination that must be reached by discovery.

His head rests on clay bricks stamped with the edge
Of finger-rings.
His legacy bequeaths the stilled heat and light of day,
In four mismatched jars, to forty-four thousand children.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

XXX. The king's niece

In the dialected gyre of the Age of the Yequirthed Crisis:

Three sons and a daughter of a northern king,
Exiled in silence—
Nothing known of their unexplained crime and shame—
Are harassed by the fearsome army of the king's niece,
A warrior much renowned for her great malice, cruelty of will,
And the thick veil shrouding her forehead and left eye.

Pity her, this gnawed figure of strange vibrant power
Wrapt in clouds of catastrophe half like blood,
Half like fire, forever in the shadow of her white brother,
Who died at ten years, his tongue thickened with poison.

By cause and reason of pain, and by reason of guilt,
She will endure the continuous suffering of one accursed;
Only to strangers in battle does she ever seem fortunate.

Monday, November 2, 2009

XXIX. To the wife of Goats-for-Horses

In the fourth gyre of the Age of the Sinquel Memorial:

An interpretation of a wild dream half-remembered:
The stones of the pit cast out of your stripped grave
Will be trodden under foot by your foolish beloved,
Who will emerge from middle bones and other books,
Waiting for the sky to break over lost deserts, lost islands.

Your husband's spirit-stirring drums will speak fear
To a god in a crest of birch-trees on a gray-clouded rock.
He brings forth the roaring of the seawall taken down,
Decimating a becalmed population steadfast in its refusal.

All those who have come before will ascend soundlessly
Upon the abdomen's third mute breath. Thus cleansed
And lightened, they fly to the Dome of Intermittency.

XXVIII. A battered limestone head

In the clauted (cleated?) gyre of the Age of the Good Remainder:

After feigning death, the secondary wife of the white
Moth pharaoh
Provides part of the key to unlock the wooden shrine
Of the mysterious occupant of the Dessoae tomb,
The faceless hero with a battered limestone head
Sheathed in pearls, his skull pierced with a gold arrow.

The noble face on the unstained coffin had been broken
In the notorious century following its discovery,
Needlessly mutilated by the hostile scrutiny of scholars
Seeking clues without the holy quality of mercy.

Forty minutes before an unequalled storm of rain and fire,
Earthquakes and gravity halted the discredited work;
Two upper spans of majestic high-ceilinged rooms
Were obliterated.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

XXVII. The penitent coward

In the fifth gyre of the Age of the Middle Gohlguanarchy:

A bone-linked pair of poets die without heirs in year 13.
Their unrhymed words strike bronze upon a secret chamber
Beneath a vacant labyrinth: two royal monuments
Carved into the skull shape of mummified fetuses
With four miniature faces of goat, ram, boar, stag.

The penitent coward who was never a killer,
A conqueror, or a liberator, finds himself far from his goal.
He becomes the blackskin companion of a hired archaeologist
Whose knowledge of his monstrous subject is unique.

They unearth the abandoned book of a heretic coregent;
This burned and scratched object of temporal power
Seizes weak minds with dreamless sleep and early death.