Cantos I-IV by Teg George

Canto I

 

Firenz sat in the lap

of Mars while he stroked its high

domes with his sword—

                        before sunrise,

            before sunset,

a river issues from Eden

like a spring whose waters do not fail—

where armies have been stationed

briars and brambles will grow—

            but Spaziani asks,

Tutto è già stato scritto?

Celucci found himself

            surrounded by his own

and they prospered—

true, and the god gave him a beauty mark

halfway up his thigh so that any girl

or boy who eyed it even in the dark

would fall haplessly into his world

Ihr Flugzeug brennt!

: about 1978

                        Tommy sd/ while Interarms

feasted the Condors

            “I warmed their wine—

                        they sat with their backs

to the windows and Angelo, a spook,

occupied himself with earplug and lavaliere …”

            Bobby sd/ “My only wish is that I could find

            a 10 µF film cap that would fit.”

the notion that something

                        transpired

there, to serve you as thrall, the lover will

commit any crime, seize any object

in order to force your will to power

through the coming age the god projects—

 

Cao Cao says, “An army is like fire—

if you don’t put it out, it will burn

itself out.”

            six years before

                        they had exploded

Bunny, then Edward S.

and W. Mark rifled drawers

or that ten years prior

            Billy Thruston went to it

lost his head

piloting a HUEY

Illinois sd/ “It’s almost as if these private

military contractors are involved

                        in a secret war”—

                        while pleasure

was swastika schnapps for the Walkers

Billy Keiter went to it on his knees

down Omaha Beach

so that Capa could snap

then himself went to it fifteen or so years

            on from a Claymore—

Ignoti nulla cupido:

Feb HBR article, “Getting It Right”:  send to It

managers and tell them, ‘We are ahead

                        of the game’—

but Tony sd/  “I am Curious about the Nature

of my own Loathing”:  wasn’t Cohn the one

who wd/ bury us if we told?

Cupid can’t be bribed—

            And Robert Burns went to it,

“This was the first time that I was caught

in a real firefight.  It was scary.”

: pack your bags:  you could win a dream

            vacation

            : connect with qualified

candidates!

practice downsizing

as political jujitsu!

 

libretto

In what circle of Hades will he pray for pardon?

In what burning grave will he end his days?

Pity him his long fall.

When a fiery asteroid blazes across the sky

does it awaken fear in his reptile brain?

Pity him his long fall.

Or does it remind this schismatic of the curse

to be torn top to butt as the prophet deep in Dis?

Pity him his long fall.

 

Tommy sd/ his grandfather worked for Brown

& Root—

Burn and Loot—

“Smoke ‘em if you spot ‘em”

: say it with fiber because roses wilt

: or as Wang Xi says, “… long military campaigns

are a plague to a nation.”

Celucci brought his brothers and sisters,

cousins and nephews, barbers, sailors,

shepherds, all for prosperity—

            a family circle that first,

                        last, always must

enlist and having served, join VFW

or Am Vets

: send back the breadbasket,

then stir paella gently—

            too late to make an aquarium,

so stir it gently,

doucement

: Be sure to include testing techniques

            Oct 15 Race at Campus Martius—

get a head or get behind—

            Mar 14 Mamurius Veturius—

get ahead or get beaten—

Enion replies, “O poor forsaken one!  O land

of briars & thorns where once the olive

flourish’d & the Cedar spread his wings!

Once I wail’d desolate like thee”—

            Old Rough and Ready—

                        Old Fuss and Feathers—

That the corn might grow,

that the green vines drop grapes,

that clouds of bees foster honey,

dogs shepherd flocks, men steer the plow,

and girls churn butter:  Lord hear us,

            for your mercy is great.

That cows might spew milk,

buffalo rustle calves, partridges flit

from brush to bush:  Lord hear us.

That soldiers avoid our fields,

tanks veer from our groves,

and Warthogs stop drilling our barns:

Lord hear us,

for your mercy is great.

MAKE the bonefire hot,

STRIKE with the agnus castus,

and BRING Dasius before ME.

 

Canto II

 

Dasius had a why, but we have

            no what

            : a ripped script—

Bassus sd/ “Things won’t be undone or golden’d”—

dust breath swirl swirl swirl

dry kiss—

This kiss is the clearing of spirit to spirit

                        who knows not the joining

            of male and female, yet his penis

is aroused—

“Thou art a man, God is no more,

Thine own Humanity learn to Adore.”

Is it or isn’t it a sacred BONE

to pick that poetry rhymes

                        too well with poverty—

: see how cartwheels

circumscribe cartwheeling adults

while children hold

the script pinned to ground

then branch out as starfish

circling prey—

Time-lapse camera—

courses circulating as wheels

upon wheels:  radio dials, thumbscrews,

jar lids, berets, French press, pound Sterling,

Puck, ashtray, eraserhead—

“You’ll never be a saint”—

The script’s spine has no confla

            gra

                        max

                                    pan

            tum

wha

            cert

 

Vieni, respirami vicino,

che io scopra la docezza—

 

            The script says here

                                    was Camden bound

                                                a faery—

            but isn’t there always—

                                    one evil faery

            it was workt night, with amoroso pleasing—

and this fair thing brought low

many a nectar seeking lad, curly tresses

and all

: boys being boys and faeries

being faeries only one boy

had the constitution

to resist said faery

for a time, a short time,

until said faery unhooked her fair tresses

and let them

drop daintily around her shoulders

and nether regions

at which point the boy

surprised himself

there by the Hummer

by the Ganges

by the Hudson

by the Mekong

perhaps a vision

or a few bits

of entreaties

to lay off before she laid

to no avail

for he, the boy that is,

had fallen

Q.E.D.

 

envoi

My baby daughter thinks us poor

because she sd/  “are we pure?”

and I sd/ “yes, of course we’re pure,”

but she meant ‘poor’

not knowing

we are all saints that way

 

: so come light a cheery fire

and bring wheel, bone, script, and breath—

                                    spill the wine,

                        crumble the bread—

                                    sing the dirge,

                        and dig the grave—

                                    sop the vinegar,

                        and sharpen the stick—

the alligators and the otters will listen

to our song

: great blue herons and snowy egrets will, too—

throw some scrub oak and redbay on the flames

: throw in the live oak, too—

weave with the palmetto and sable palm

: roast some cooter and mix the perloo—

boil stone crab and coquina clams

: meet us beneath the Spanish moss—

have some smoked mullet on your crackers

:  have some key lime pie, too

 

As the gods ask for power

that cannot be bought

                        for gold sprung

burning like incense

they know only the aroma,

as one inhaling an aroma is sweetened

: an outmost crystal a recumbent flame

 

Now, the gods give you rest—

to sleep is not a dishonor when trials are done.

May your dreams be peaceful,

and may lovely friends lie close and give you warmth.

May the gods wake you when the time

of challenge is near—

when wheel rolls downward for you to stop,

when bone turns deep in the mountain’s door,

when breath blows hard in your face

and script calls for players on the stage—

then meet, hang, and finish well—

for the bonefire is hot, Dasius,

and the birdsong you hear

calls you.

 

Canto III

 

As the wheel of words

sets language free

                        so the wheel sits as substrate

to break the man—

the iron bar the poker

                        applied to bone—

the pen hardened

: nib to ink—

                        against the substrate

to liberate the man—

so the wheel circles

with wagons full of turnips—

                        fiery arrows protrude—

Blackfeet wheel their ponies

back and forth until the settlers exhaust

                        then carry peaches and apples

into the stockade to celebrate their capture

: the wagon wheels protrude

                        from their great-great-grandchildren’s lawns

surrounding the faculty at Bozeman

who promptly surrender—

their hearts burn in unquenchable flame

as the sun sinks behind Nahsukin Mountain—

                        harvest the glacier lilies

“most delicate rootes that may

be eaten, and doe farre exceed

our passeneps or carets,” as Hakluyt says

                        altissimus gurges

wheel as round as my bloat

: you read a book a bit

(or a bigger bit)

you buy the thing to tame

                                    because “no room

left in the upper room—

                        always space in the attic”

Dasius won’t mount

the Lord of Misrule’s chariot—

                        wheels of polished wood

: spokes of hickory revolving transparently

: hubs of elm turning as film reels

: iron axle humming

as a coin operated massaging mattress

                        in Hoboken for the Poetry Editor

Beau Brummell who once dated

a girl named Patty O’Dasius

who hailed from Fort Lee

: her father had a seat

on the stock exchange from whence he bought

and sold Bridgestone before the Explorers

                        flipped,

wheels rotating crazily

like pinwheels in the funhouse

: terrifying to carry the whole isle

Moher to Shannon,

                        stone walls, standing stones,

or fallen crosses

: the dirt

in your knickers

and on them

citizens

one and all holding your hands

                        to drag you down

none to raise you up

to the clouds

as the sun sinks behind Nahsukin Mountain—

burn the bear’s skat—

: paintbrush, fleabane, fireweed, baneberry,

parsnip, hellebore, chokecherry,

butterweed, arnica, huckleberry

: embroider the winter count

Assez de cubisme,

                        bring me the wheelism—

Bronzino paints the medicine wheel

(or was it earlier, some anon. student

of Verrocchio?)

. . . Bronzino paints medizeischen Fürstin

. . . Bronzino paints Bigfoot

                                    playing with hobbits

who drink barley wine like water—

Bigfoot would rather listen

to Rodney Crowell than Verdi,

rather see Chagall than de Kooning,

watch Roseanne not ER,

play Wheel of Fortune not Go,

eat Wieners not paté,

screw Chelsea then Madonna,

drink Smuttynose then Old Nick,

read Dante then Tom Clancy—

see, Bigfoot has priorities,

has an agenda,

has sushi, maki, and sake,

has Kim Richey and Lisa Loeb

on the phone so would you care

for a singalong? a gong?

arroz con pollo? chowda?

salmon tartare?

Armani, Prada, Dior?

because the wheel spins too slowly,

the Fates weave too slowly—

the Condors have eaten too many angels—

and Jackson Browne seems empty—

and Ringo and Paul seem chary—

Clapton, tired, Henley, in the woods,

Tyler, saggy, Petty, wan, Costello, sacked,

so the wheel rolls over them

as though they weren’t even

                                    beneath its teeth

as though time spites them,

as though space emits them,

not even their souls fill the holes

in the centers of their records—

their works spin soundlessly

: blow wind, wrack and wilt—

your hair's in a tizzy and frizzy—

but the wheel’s not a windmill

driven by Satan’s wings

                                    wind beaten—

turned upsidedown—

                                    one wheel rolls

hither thither

                                    bone white

                        whetting

knives

 

Canto IV

 

The other wheel disappeared

                        through the skylight—

hands made the wheel from stone

                        only in the funnies—

really, hands made it from wood

then spokes and an iron rim to squeeze it shut

: no graffiti on the east side of the wheel—

                        tiny wheels inside larger wheels,

inside even bigger wheels inside one really big wheel—

The Great Dictator becomes the big wheel—

                        the rest of us are cogs

: Celucci buys Dasius a martini

and explains how the bigger wheels collect venture capital,

“Make your pitch around six minutes long

                        and try not to reinvent the wheel”

 

Michel Agnolo you’re loved by many more people

than could have withstood you alive—

                        even Colonna

bloomed beneath your gaze—

your happy hammer, magic, shadow, breath deepening

with each patron’s contract, each project wrapping

the utmost substance with grace—

                        Carrara mi fe

Eliot’s death by water, the P&L, the paddlewheel,

erstwhile protean paddle floaters,

Liz & Dick puddling in Egypt,

wheels of rotors, two cantilevered

on the CH-43 and the back hatch

half open

leaning out

rifles pointed down

and helmets fastened,

                        sitted ducks

for a turkey shoot like Gallipoli,

like Damascus, like Priam, like Akenaton,

like Horus, a few marines here, a few there

and pretty soon you have an eddas

not unwarranted we must say as the Queen says,

“Daphne with her thighs in bark”

and Mick Jagger’s fingers in her hair

: no despair,

eye see everyone’s here!

Whose midnight Revels by a Forest side

Or Fountain some belated Peasant sees

Or dreams he sees, while over-head the Moon

Sits Arbitress, and nearer to the Earth

Wheels her pale course; they on thir mirth and dance

Intent, with jocund Music charm his ear,

sight unseen, blinded by sack,

by scent and zephers—

: canst thou not simper

: canst thou not sitz,

thou Sister Sin—

 

Hands make RFIDs

                                    “Tag, you’re it!”

Clockworks swing the minute hand farther than the hour

can go,

                                    “where did the Sol go?”

Where faeries drink barley water like wine,

                                    “in the dying days of their profession,

cutting and shutting”

We have spun out the subtle ramifications ever since—

and like broken wheels careening from curb to curb

we break our neighbors until they swerve

and swivel like us into each other

madly busting back and forth over

sidewalks and into storefronts

                                    “America,” our neighbors scream

“America” over and over as we bounce off each other

then sprawl into Donovans or Elks Club or Amvets

and buy each other shots so we forget one generation

to the next what we’ve done to our

neighbors for seemingly no reason

we can understand anymore until we do

it again shamelessly our arms and thighs blotchy

                                    from bruises past and present

                                    all hoisted into position to roll

again like drunken barrel-chested

sailors whose only sin

was watching Hell Divers too many times

one Saturday night at the flicks.

 

This we discovered at the same time we found

                        pizza differed in many ways

from piazza—

                        best where pizza can be

a wheel while piazza a square

and a wheel cuts the pizza into triangles

while tiles cut a piazza into more squares,

“and, in the piazza we drank—

we sat at small tables and drank grappa

                        and forgot the wars”

we were dead, you see

(so) it was easy to forget

hard to get drunk

harder to swallow for all that

“we were too young to remember

the refugees”

                        Es war ein Traum

wheels of cheese—

We would race the wheels

of cheese down the hill,

but they would explode

: the wheels would hop into the air

at waist level and explode—

                        crazy dreamers we were

in a general way of course

because we were given to generalizing

about things

                        being dead, you see

even the Bosch generalized

when we’d allow them to drink with us

in the piazza, but that was rare

because they would insist on us all

wearing ties

                        can you believe it?

knots and everything—

                        so that was a once a week thing

at the most, and even then we’d loosen our collars

after thirty minutes or so and force

the Bosch to unlatch their

suspenders as well

before dessert

was served

 

 

Cantos I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX
X
XI
XII
XIII
XIV
XV
XVI
XVII
XVIII
XIX
XX
XXI