Song of the Dead City…with a caveat

August 14, 2008 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

  Bear in mind that I was around 36 when I wrote this particular poem. 




Song of the Dead City


crystal, distorted moments:

this young girl’s breast

for a moment revealed, and i,

twice her age, cannot quite

look away, though

i do not move to touch her.


and as a child, at her age,

i can remember watching, just so,

my untouched love by-walking,

unglancing: recording

each hip-shot sway,

each graceful curve’s allurement.


(in Alexandria, they say,

the Blind King parties, of nights,

in the ancient ruins.

ghosts and mad fancies:

i knew

the wise man quite well, once,

long ago.)


how many names have i called?

and how many paths

have i sought, yet unbelieving

in my course’s goal?…i have not seen,

i hope to touch

my Grail, my Other:


from some single

point, or focus:

to know all earth, the sky.

the meaning

of these traces, touches,



cannot be said nor bound.

that trickster turner

catches and passes, unslain,

unslaying, unsaid…




In the Dead City

i resided a while.

At first, viewing

the new buildings,

the gleaming cars

i could not understand its name.


But when i

approached you,

you could not

hear me.


Too many questions


behind the first admission.


…silent, stumbling, deathly

tired, i entered

the desert.


(as i scribe my poems

on the sand, the conscientious

keeper of the desert, wind,

whisks each line, each trace





Few words

have been meaning, most touches

have merely

slipped away: and have been,

on the whole, forgotten.


–When I first met you, i’d been

in the desert

some months. My lips

were cracked and dry, my eyes


were full of visions…

in the dead city, where

the madmen and the thieves

do roam and stray, you


tended my wounds, my aching


i fascinated you: ragged, long-haired,



but the wolves

or the madmen (i am not,

i confess, quite sure which) howled

and i left, unheeding


to your calls. (In

the Dead City, you

tended my wounds, and i

left you.)


i returned

to the desert and its

wordless teachings.


o, i say, do you

remember touching me

in the Dead City?




and once by a river

i saw an old man,



i heard the old man



“i would have silence,

silence and a dry crust,


and a dry crust


“i would come under

the shadow of that Rock,

that red rock, that

dry rock,

i would come under

the shadow of that



“but at the Hill

there was no answer,

i could not find

that open grave, i…


“i found no silence,

no peace, only plenty

and much

merry-making, they…


“they have all become rich:

in the sanctum

whited sepulchres, they

know not hunger

nor any need, they

have become rich.”


i saw his hands, too,

marred by scars, as if,

once, his palms

had been pierced…


his hair was long, and wild

as his eyes; no

salon would be graced

by such a one…


he sat by the river and

wept, sat by the

by-rushing and wept…


wept for the unborn

dead and all

the world’s sorrows, wept…


but his shoulders, bowed,

would no longer

support the world’s weight…


o, but having


heard the Man

and his sorrowing cry, i


can but search

for the shadow

of that Rock,

his rock.




In the city of the dead,

in that City, madmen roam

to and fro,

seeking for a god

whose name they

no longer remember.


(Once, i recall,

i saw one sitting

in the seat of an auto

long dead. That great

God, i say, was dead.)




These visions

are illusive, lending

little connection.


But once, bathing

nude with a girl, i think

she was sixteen, and beautiful,


made no attempt

to seduce her.



may be called

many things.


Absent-eyed, dreaming

in a fall wind, i journey

far straits, datheless voyages.




The winter, that year,

came early, bitter (ah, but

i remember

the summer’s roses, sweeter

for the cold that followed)…


each huddled each

to house, clasping

what need would call

one’s love…


odd, that the spring

should sunder so many! perhaps

we know little

of those mysteries, our selves.




o, yes, travellers have come

with names of their gods

and stories of strange visions, promises

of never-never lands…


the world remains. though

i name the thunder Thor,

and call the earth Urmutter

this makes the name


no less of man, no more

of the thing itself.


at the fane of the dark,

the nameless god, we gathered


to celebrate our mutilation.

(i have not seen the

light in some years, now)…

our habits have scarred us,


here, in this desert-bordering

city. (the blind boy, sitting

across the square from my door,

sings of sunset.)


fugitive dreams, vain fancies, thoughts

of an old man

in a dry and unsolaced

season. (peace, and a dry crust)




I saw you, last night,

dancing alone in your rooms,

half-nude, with

a slow and stately grace.


But when i called you,

you would not or could not



Passing one another on the street,

at times, we brush.

Though we’re near neighbors,


you’ve never deigned to

notice me or my

feeble gestures of greeting

(your beauty stuns me dumb)


–i should have been

a hermit, an ascetic.

rather, i hesitate


before touching or its lack

neither affirm love

nor gainsay it.


but, as you pass once again–

as i review private, midnight


at times i ache to touch you.




At times i ache

in the west wind, dreaming

of leaving. I

have been here

four years, now.


(I know these hills well.

Spring-green, summered

tinder dry; autumn-russet

and, of winter, again perversely

green…my memory

as my socks ticked

with beggars-lice…)


There is so much

i’ll never know, though

through all those

different countries i’ve known

there was really

all difference, small change…


At times, all the faces

i’ve known parade

before me…perhaps


i have had too many

friends and lovers.

dry man in a wet month,

glooming over following winter: perhaps


we’re jesters all. as i stare,

disconsolate, desiring

my untouched, unknown,

mysterious Other.



Entry filed under: poetry. Tags: , , , .

The Windows Updates Down For A While

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

%d bloggers like this: