Saturday, November 28, 2015




I am almanacked by the sacred texts
of the liaison of all languages broken into pieces
& spoken now by the mirror of blue larvae

the kinship of formalism as heliotrope
the color of winter contemplating the sky
& its solemn halo cauterized by clouds

solomon's box of light burned through and thru
by the tidal wave's sapphire tremor
its blur cracked round by horse somnambulism

and this glass passport of the observances
of the ascetic consciousness of wayfarers
their clothes burning in ivory flames

a convulsion of the piano's wrist along the corridor
of colored inks dancing on the crown of my head
stabbed eye of wax and lead

& clairaudience of the historical dynamic, fearfully made
clairvoyance of the mother-of-pearl light
that is duelling with the river

clairvoyages of pince-nez fast as thirst
in a state of burnt spangle
my obsession broken loose from darkness

& in its blue glow of blue forgottenness
mangonels, pieces of the derangement of the senses
dissolved in an skeletal umbrella

& not least, reflective orb smoke of swirl
& lamp clusterdom, broken into pieces
of all languages


what do you see, she said
when you look into your gazing crystal?

* * * * *

I see clouds bursting as the wind
blows a woman with her face shining like a century
over the roofs and gardens
of the eminent jurats of the city

I  see a doctor hung with razored skulls
I see the ailments of naples cured by prayers of thread
myriads of stars and children exclaiming
and a dead dog strung with colored lights

I see ten thousand people perishing
and tents of paper brushed with digestion
an old card table dripping with saliva
and the smoke cacophany of pistols discharging

I see a penumbra of broken crockery
and letters spelling out "afterlife"
rising over the roof of the sun
and magicians pissing out magnesium

I see a cloud blue with lovers' deaths
a thick silver bracelet on a hairy wrist
colored jellies put up in colored jars
and thumbs tied together

I see the mummeries of magnetic songbirds
hopping on the branches of a tree of moonlight
flying crazily through leaves of iron money
pursued by a child with a stick of willow

I see the dim air of a sleeping landscape
painted with artifice the colors of jerusalem
and hung from the walls of the city of oranges
a knight with his arms and legs cut off

I see the pamphlets of dead weight roses
I see the books of eyes and elements
I see the infamous trade in peacocks
and the whirlwind of the earth voluminous

I see all these things this early morning
I see all these things when I look
into the gazing crystal

* * * * *

after a long pause, she said in a lower voice
tell me once again
what do you see when you look into your gazing crystal?

* * * * *

I see a pavement full of moving shapes
I see a glossy lake of shallow mud
I see the shadow of titanium birds
moving over your face while you're sleepng

I see the history of dead images
I see the history of forgotten lovers
I see the history of a people anaesthetized
and the peace of brutality sacrificed

I see a quiet wood and an earthen clearing
a fire and two children sitting
and the moon rising like blood
over their shoulders/over their shoulders

I see a marble palace
I see an open window
and a pool inside filled with clear water
and you and I in it, bathing

* * * * *

and after a pause, she said with a smile
tell me
what do you see now in the gazing crystal

* * * * *

I see you opening your robe to me
and your body shining inside
and myself standing before you
kissing your breasts with tenderness

I see my hand tracing the midline
from your hollow throat
down to your navel like a portal of circumference
down to the join in your legs, slowly

I see from your face as I touch you, you are laughing
I see from your face as I touch you, you are solemn
I see from your face as I touch you, you are shuddering
I see from your face as I touch you, you are groaning

* * * * *

and after a short pause, she said with a serious look


come here
come here and put away your gazing crystal


there are the dada suicides and there are the beat suicides
there are the suicides who loved life and those who loved windows

there is the lugubrious suicide of the toothache
and the opulent suicide of the frayed raincoat

the perpetual suicide by many small upheavals
the blurred suicide of notebooks and mediocre anger

the circumspect suicide of black bread in thick slices
the stupid suicide of wits entangled with wheels

suicide of cold hands warming themselves in the waterfall
suicide of loose lips and sunk ships and tight shoes

suicide by singing & suicide by swinging
suicide by razors & suicide by papers and tapers

suicide by cop
suicide by money

suicide by pockets filled with stones
suicide by leaving stones exactly where you found them

suicide by horses running directly out of the photograph
suicide by falling off a high vertigo

suicide by striking poses and ignoring the station clock
suicide by wearing the right clothes in the wrong neighborhood

suicide bombers and suicide tyrants
suicide by office coffee grounds

physician assisted suicide & chambered nautilus suicide
fashionable suicide & fissionable suicide

suicide that walks up behind you and puts a piece of paper into
your hand and you open it into flowers of delirium

suicide that wraps its arms around the marble column in the mirror
and holds on until all the door open and a newspaper bursts into flame

suicide that kills you
suicide that brings you to life

there are many suicides
and I recommend all of them at once

all the world convulsing and your hands on the wheel
all image and all damage going simultaneously

wouldn't that be suicide at its best?
going up slowly like the air rising in tides of sky

and all the suicides going off at once inside
flashing as they go


in a gesture particular to him, zorro took
the lovely dead body and the lovely living body
and blindfolded himself to see if he could
enumerate their differences blindfolded

the living, upon being touched lightly
with the handle of the saber
uttered a "quack" and the dead, unprompted
uttered the same "quack"

and taking off his blindfold, zorro
looked at his oscilloscope
and saw that indeed the two "quacks"
were virtually identical

and the dead sat up and said
"you know pal, if you cut a couple of holes
in that black blindfold
you could see everything without taking it off . . ."

and zorro walked out of the lab
leaving the bodies behind
and leaving behind the country of the vaqueros
and leaving the country of the ranchos

and leaving behind the sun and the moon
and the seashells made of fear
and the stones of blood
and the limp of the bull in the small corrida

and leaving the campesinos
and leaving the revolution
and the books about it
and the daguerrotypes of the generals

and leaving behind the nearby village
and its old fruiterer
and the young meat cutter
with his red-stained shirt

and the power outages on the coast
and the hotel lobbies
lit only by starlight
and the bodies locked in embrace

and he rode north to where his US cousins
tiny creatures
gathered around an oval table
every afternoon for supper

and listened to the old RCA radio
that was bigger then they were
and he stood in line at the motor vehicles
and took a number

still wearing his blindfold
with the two holes cut out

and that is how all the brouhaha began


against their colors
tamped down at the edges
packed with dreary light

their streaming airs
roughed of hesitant speaking
and watchover equilibrium

against their chemistry
of wits, feints, and sag
that cuts through bruisy clouds
to the top of particular static

the weight of flesh and flesh similarity
their rising, insistent pressure
and light of rotation, weak flexion
and small orbital burns from fingertip crucibles

against angels living, but especially against angels dead
their bones drawn up where muscle atrophies
ligaments dried
and that the body, what remains of it
grows another, perfect self
from the dry cipher
of its votive, calciniferous imbustion
and against this calcination
flamed in tissue of impoverishment

against angels, but equally
against skepticism we seize or inherit
angels’ plausible, redundant metamorphosis

but mostly against angels themselves
angels of no color
that move past rushing freeway drivers
as if they slumped at the wheel
then hurry, light-like, through shade, through sky
angels simulcast and monoglot

and when their minutes turn on an invisible axis
and the breath of passing birds is their echo
     against that too . . .

and so, against ourselves
the flowering, angelic, florinaceous brain
depressed in its brain pan
pushing out flame through the nostrils

the formulae of witness
to look
  not with with the eyes
     but with the tongue
and fire of the hand

fire of the circumference

to see, not with the nerve mass
but with toenails, coffins, telescopes

engraving memory
not only in the spine residues
and stone molecules
 of angel electricity
but upon searchlights, pinheads, papyrii

upon the carved sand grains
and boomhead skins
drumming now to alert us

called out of sleep
into frictionlessness

and against that too


Lee Ballentine had the great pleasure of knowing both Philip Lamantia and David Gascoyne and shared with David Gascoyne a serious interest in nitrous oxide. Lee's poems have appeared in Abraxas, Caliban, Exquisite Corpse, Mississippi Mud, and in hundreds of other magazines and journals worldwide. He calls himself a surrealist rather than a neo-surrealist, believing that surrealism, which is always and forever new, is already neo-surrealism. He notes,

Surrealism is important because it expresses the prerational impulse that is central to what we are. Science has its place but the magnitude of our problems is human and irrational. A logical, game theory analysis suggests that we give up and work on easier problems than racism, greed, and the endangered environment. Surrealism teaches us never to give up.

No comments:

Post a Comment