Saturday, December 27, 2008

You'll Always Come Back:

(Pete and Charles arrive:)

Curvilinear flats of mud
Laid under brine in unmeasured time
Crushed ‘neath the wheels of the unfeeling stars
In layers of eons and molecules

Piled to a hill you can stand upon, a
Hump of stone riddled with channels and holes
Clad in a blanket of root-woven clay
Laced down by the oak and the cedar spire

Wind that sings the living breath
Lifting flesh to toil and spin
Raveled threads into a tale
Awake the phantoms buried here
To stride new dressed through veils of death
Shimmering just
At the edge of sight
And show
Lips poised to speak
for ears pricked up in the darkness here.

But do not, I implore you, let
them break the silence of the past -
Let their presence
Unperturbed by all this fantasy
As is the stone,
The tree,
The spring.

(Voice X:)
Call me Exu, or the Cross,
Or the very Devil
If you must;
“I am the way.”
I am sign that spans
The inbetween us – to you
I am a demon unless I bring you luck
Nine times of ten you will not recognize me
Even then, be
Cause I have no shape
But those you give
At the threshold I live
malleable as clay
And forever your Elder
Outlining your
Defining footprint
In dust.

I give you your choice of four directions
And everything you need to know to go; There,
Here, Then, Now.
You picked your head;
so understand it.

Stage hands - interpret this play -

Show that it is August; burn the Dog Star
Over the knobs; have the night drone thick with
Insect songs, the cattle’s hooves churn paths
In dust. In the suspended air
Hang heavy heat, have nothing move
If it can still, but waves
Of a Mirage, and let this corrugation of the sky disclose
A man, Daniel, age 23 in 1845,
upon a horse, arrive
And climb the ancient slope
With two black boys, age six and eight,
Named Pete and Charles
In bondage from Missouri, brought
To Dutton Hill, to labor
Or be sold,
As slaves.

“De rocks, de rocks, sez Pete
When at last they see
The fields where they will work
One will leave, and one will stay -
And of the spring that bears his name
Pete, perhaps, will say; “If you drink from here,
You’ll always come back. ~
To be this very place, where the coolness gushes out
Clear as window glass
And on the other side and looking through
You’ll fuse into
A lingering spell
And may tell
The healing words that
Into murmurs on the stone.

Mirrored sounds
Speak inner thoughts –
Are we more than light-suffuse’d clay
Got up to walk?

(Speak, Son of the Seventh Son:)

“The Devil was flying over
this hill
with an apron full of rocks.
When the strings broke
And the load was dropped.”

In the details of proliferating chance
I dance
To your provisions, to
Your rhymes and reasons –
I am black. My wings, like unto a Buckeye
And a bat,
Beat thunder in midnight black,
Black horns, mad corkscrews of my horne’d thought
Twist reason to a maddening point,
Each night I grow black scales from scratch
My claws are black owl’s grappling
Hooks, where dangle gibs of meat
As black as sin,
As black as you, little men,
Who fear me crouching at the crux,
Holding one side of a black mirror up
To the nothingness within.

“Servants be obedient to them that are your Masters”
(And I will drop before you accidental stones – )
“That servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared
not himself, shall be beaten with many stripes”
(And I shall have a quilling serpents tail
Striped black and red
Tipped with vengeance whip
And my face, which mirrors yours,
Looks down from high
Scarred with grooves
By the god-set stars.
And you shall soot your groin like mine
Maleficent joys.)

Listen Pete, to your mother’s voice,
Before the sound recedes:
“De gwine take you fore the sun
You eber be de good man
And don’t be cryin fo
Things dat don cry fo you.”

The Sun, mute, immutable,
Beats down upon the stones and dust,
The little black cricket rings
His incessant lust in the weeds,
Scraping wing on wing
Pete and Charles descend,
Legs spread to an ache
And limed with horse hair and sweat,
To set their feet
As though at first
Upon the earth
And stand looking
At the blunt knobs who merge
Into the sun-stroked sky
Until, as the eye flies up,
They are two specks
On a vast
Rolling orb,
Flickering nights and days,
While the water pours
Out its song upon the dust
And signs of living land
Are lost in the tumult
Of stars
Whose cinders fall
And scatter
In the timeless deep.


Cathy said...

I'm still too overwhelmed by the rich, wild beauty of this to say anything.

The shifting perspective from the land to the people is very moving.

The rhyme scheme is so subtle - like an echo of water trickling over rocks.

The meter hints at a classical form, but if that's the intent I'm not literate enough to know which. ;-}

Very powerful. Very beautiful.

Dan Dutton said...

Thank you! I'm glad you said "shifting perspective" ~ I've been trying to put a label on that, as it happens.

The rhyme scheme, (& boy is it a scheme!)is nearly intuitive. I think it's come as much from listening to African music as it has from reading the classics. In any event I can't predict where, exactly, the next rhyme will fall, or which previous word it will rhyme with.

It is very singable tho! I tried it out this morning & found the tune easily. And the first 2 stanzas aren't so cumbersome when sung.

Cathy said...

The unpredictability of the rhyme is lovely! It makes its own music, and I'm sure it's even more beautiful when sung.

I like the way everything circles back to the impassive land.

Dan Dutton said...

My original idea (it started gathering moss during the Secret C. days of the 90s...) was to do a history of the land itself - what happened on it, rather than just a history of the people who inhabited it. The people come and go, the land endures. The goal is trickier now, but more balanced.