"... there will be time
to prepare a face..."
T. S. Eliot
from "The Love Song of J. Alfred P."

Bruegel's Dulle Griet
Breasts beat
velvet the elk makes

into whose unrhythmic musics eyes look in to see
that the most reversible trend
in History IS the irreversible...

a frightful lack of life the medicine

William Tell can't beat the camel's most casual spit

& the verse... What is there left?
if all the meanings were Revealed

peacocks putting on beauty pageants, bees
investing their whole community on a single industry

What'd be left? sadness th'sandals
(sifting to) softly over the sands

of the desert where there had been blooms,
a million years ago: Springs full of fawns,

the hermit crabs puttin' on new clothes,
wild wolves staging whole operas with their calls!

breath in the sun-bleached bones
stretching out to the wind-broke

hills of th'bleak (It-Might-Have-Been)
--How to define your being, O Man!

now lots of hollowness sprawling
out of the lips of youth: Fate

like some flirt upon the threshold
of each single Destiny like some residence
complex--Madness dotting the desert,

poisons the snake makes, the magpie mocks
as much, the chicken can be as brave...

frogs by the thousands make Love!
in moccasins dancing th'dance of closeness
& closeness, in the candle-corn
mornings of hopeful coolness, O

th'birds of Paradise can yet curse, dogs can pray
with their looks, the tomcat can be as late

eyes again renewed upon those dawns
of Nature the all-evolving,

seemingly so capable of solving
the dying & dying of days

those adamant daisies that Time can't abide
for ecstasy! is the tragedy of Man
in his moving trance

of Motion the mosaic high & dry, raccoons
can be as scrupulous & the elephant can work
for wages as miserable          

           ... (as Man's), trying
th'freshest crystal wells he digs on The Self (new-
gathered from his new Time-crafted shell)

th'Lizard spins his long, fanciful tails
singing the musics of the impossible

Vermeer's Guitar Player
& marbles the moderns cracked
What are we? What are we ( under the Flesh

endlessly dreaming of Paradise
's green valleys)?...
Is the Answer

in what we were?... out sneaks: The Past!
The Past! is it our mold (and do we know it?

[that flies can think--far enough to
flea: Who hasn't been tackled
by a tick?]

... have we known it all along)?
while the termites make formic acid

& beavers graduate from earth's oldest
architectural universities...

We are mad with all The Past
ever-unfolding from image to image

goats mow the lawn all day
& ducks dance the hot plate

demeaning The Future--because
of no better notion
than that we have seen many things

The Same over & over

done many things, over & over,
been many things, ever again:
known many things, the same,
things with the same sounds,
colors & signs, many things

with the same shape, purpose or plan,

many things with the same mass, value,
weight, contour, voice

--And it's not even that we've really
turned up many things different

anew under th'ancient desert
our marginal main,

th'croc treats its children with as much care
& th'sea otter spreads out tables for its fare

but only that in order to maintain
our diminishing Sanity at Same:
we have been going back many times over

many things the fevers of Chance
shivering its any least change

the pig knows all about Pain, the lark
can whistle at his mate with as much flair

in Life the list with one single item
that is constantly being renamed
from Evil to Goodness & back again

endlessly like a ghost fading in & out
of its firmament--Where Fate the footless
stalks the foolish, the unthinking

squirrels have many-branching banks, ants
join the army, cicadas can wait

into that black hole:
all Man's makeshift Moralities

there's always bound to be (as yet unmakable al-
though still unmade) some PREFACE

TO FACE, hungering so quietly,
almost amber in the thirst

of Sun dunking for degradations the hours

while circus bears ride bicycles
& parrots prate as mindlessly

their tumult distilled a timeless hush,
Pissarro's La Foire a Dieppe, Matin, Soleil
mules hang on to their own immutable
Principles, & jackasses to their dumb rules,

the Wind mumbling meaning the meagerest remains
yet hairy with finalities:
eyes marveling over the Dust
What is Man? (but some fleeting

gesture captured momentarily
from his own inner-space?

Cruelty the cat can play, & monkeys
laugh at the shocked apes

in some brief outer moisture
condensed upon
whose window-pane crashing down
what aimless highway of air
faster than the allowed pace)

the human FACE gets its every-morning face-lift
in the art of hands which know what they're doing

about as much as a face
knows what it wants them to do

next ... PREFACE 2: a face
yours & mine

like a bizarre mathematics
(th'too-brimming beautiful,

neither bone nor flesh ),
and dirty in the disputes of The Dust,
nameless & unimportant, blatant, blameless?

but always shaped to some outrage
against Th'Correctness
that's constantly reassuring us:

we are but innocent passengers,
we are traveling straight,

in some sort of justifiable direction,
well within the laws
of God & Nature, if not Man's,

we mean something
to (time?)... in order to maintain the stress
between Th'Living & the rapidly-getting dead,

Soul the eyesockets poised to fall
emptily to the enormous hence

... that Grave (some indeterminable Future
instead, the open ditch inviting us
to quit the race: FACE

suffering through th'plastic surgeries
of the everyday world

of hands inexperienced in their All-Promising,
wielding a savage Justice in the heart

of human shadows against the sacred
Sunlight, although only Surprise!

like a sword cuts through the opinions
harvested from their embosomed words,

humanity managing its sympathy
like a watercourse through th'nagging dry

eternities, distance like an intellectual hawk
high above Confusion like a quintessence

of Sense, sitting atop the grinding,
self-assuring gyrations

--Doom all its generations: Mankind
endlessly searches for the peaceful shade

under the surly Sun--that's where the World is stranded

(in the predicament of hands
which are skilled at Doing 2

(face) or doing IN The Face, 4 FACE...

but which keep doing: Something, or with
the face... as long as FACE remains
( incapable of knowing what it wants )

 HANDS 2    4          

IT: "Hands must DO something!"


FACE it: whose hands are THERE?

... mine attempting to impose on Reality
a face?
or, its own (trying to strike a bargain

between Will and Fate?) ...

Pride in its portrait  

& hiding (from the sunbeams of Shame)
its delicate complex-
ion: we kneel our unfolding Will

perfumes the muskrat makes

before that terrible manifestation
like a shrine: The Sun-
shine's revelations (skin-cancers)

in this duality of dawn we sing
Wrong the whirling to which we dance

emergence with our marvelous tolerance,
arrogance, temperance, irrelevance,
ignorance, elegance, exuberance
& high finance... but quickly running to hide
if there's a crash of too much radiance

(the invisible bright) if we spot
too many bleached skeletons

--though we be blind as a blessing
and always feeling so safe & comfy

(almost Sun-proof) within our enameled moods,

yet struck with th'most flinching terror
whenever we think it's still possible

for the latest to become th'timeless
(or the reverse)
& drown us in its boundless

instant: like rats abandoned
to an endless ocean by the sinking of our

& other this & that notions of Now

(sacred cow: a pile now of busted bones
desiccating under that so unforgiving Sun)

our human passions
those magnificent maggots that suck out
all the juices from our grisly good intentions

& Truth the disarmed, Kindness the equivalent clause,
and Loneliness the intellectual (vultures all,
pretending to be sweet artists winging it above

or those bitter connoisseurs of the last drop
all lost in their cauldron of watching
the suffering

& then) Fate! like a final touch
when we can no longer bear the broach

and rise up from the forehead
(of some foolish God, believing faithfully

--always! that we are the rightful heirs
of everything foolish about Him, naturally):


Hands not holding up The Good
are holding Evil above us

face it: maybe we DO cringe up
from The Primordial Mud-Puddle
surging with filthy urges PRE

FAZEd? The matter rests with what now settles
here ... to the dusts... but building up
between our stuffed-up ears, our
bursting hearts, choked minds: DO! ( At least
it'll keep you on your toes

... Love like a landlord
and the soul: an interval
between The Silence and the Hush

--laughs the lunatic his tears,
the silence, the hush
& th'stuffing of ears like a luxury!

th'wisemen always cry out "That's enough!

... We have achieved Enlightenment!

... We are at the pinnacle of Mankind!

... We are at The Most Crucial Instant
in Time!... Behold now our Ultimate Wisdom!

... Accept then our Judgment For All Time!"

And, after we had banged at the door
without any results, no answers
(more questions only, more questions),
blood & more blood, pain and more pain,

suddenly noticing it was some dried-up desert
so unfeeling, although so brutally felt!...

after we had exhausted our hands,
really messed up our fists,
then we tried our heads-- O What a mistake!

(I can hardly remember any further
... I cannot forget any less,

for all my trying) and yet
how fractured by the passing clouds
now seems the field of green once th'desert

where stands, inviolable, that bulkhead
against our frazzled feelings,
our twisted moods,
our murderous prejudices

looking like some lush, green logic
full of sweet, moist shade

... startling! startling ...
Vermeer's View of Delft
silk makes the worm!
in the prodigious Pause:

hands not being held together in prayer
are working to hold Mankind apart

the shadows (always under the Sun,
scared to death of the shade)
race across th'soul of us all
chased by a child of Flesh,

who forging forwards the chains
of change   

( Past without purpose,
Future without faith)

over the dales the rain never left,
th'comforting darkness never abandoned

to Perception's unbearable
laments as liquid to the deepest

oceans ... collect the centuries of Man:

there prevails the darkness of the moving Night
through the stilled bells of ripeness

which trick that moth --Man!
... our maturity (only longevity

going by a better pseudonym)
like stark bones dried out

out there in some God-forsaken, unnameable
desert comforting its bleached-out alone

with a well-dressed delusion

learning the prairie chicken's dance steps
or, how the sea gulls make planes

futilely here & there fluttering
The Impending over Man

deeply down there groping over everything
(the surging & subsiding mystery of mass
that's Reality)... There

little Modern Man

with all the sum of his insufficient
human steps: runs faceless

about the world like some Preface:
bubbles oval of blackness wambling off his senses

enveloping him in effortless sinking,
murmuring, "O, how the Darkness moves me!

Yet she herself ever unmoved by me"

... trying to self-form to a shape

(if not permanent, then memorably made)
... to anything that can hold:

his agitated destiny
sculpturing his Fate of clouds
in the lazy translucent, the im-

politely tolerated Beyond It All
--Man the irrepressible

luminary, the appalling Light
that discovers the Darkest,

the unsteadfast overcast
that lasts longer than
the whatever latest

light of brightness
off that instantaneous

Sun--Opinion his enterprise,

dressed in his dreadful inwardness,
in his uncontrollable numberlessness:

soldiers of the sullen O,

his scintillant tombstones travelling endlessly
through the unclouding moonlight

the spider makes webs, but gestures
--gestures are all we make!

like groveling gods before the twinkling stars
gestures are all we make, we men

whose most self-defining behavior
(the one talent we share
with none of the other beasts)

is tap-dancing... against all
the other feats of Nature

beat--Again, we try for laughter
when everything else fails

& every poet in every tree
the blue Night hails

this way:

The head's thrown back
as if to cry


to the sky so black!

but backwards falls
crystalled with starlight

& breaks on the grass:

a gasp of glass!
Odilon Redon's Crying Spider