Friday, March 15, 2013

The Last of the Darjeeling: Strange Platypus(es)

Silent, stand the stones of Salisbury
Watching upon the plain
Joined by arteries and veins
of stone
That pass by hidden channels in the sea
Down to Taconic and Washinee

At the bottom of the cup the leaves lie
Patterning things past and yet to be
Black and white monotony
There to scry

I think
I think I will go out today and stand upon the Rock
With the Valley all below me:
Burning leaves of red and yellow, purple maple smoke
I will go and see
Eternity
The eschatological moment wrapped
in a snow globe on the mantlepiece
or a post card off the rack

Little brother, little brother,
When Hesiod the shepherd sang
Then the nymphs of Helicon came and danced
The rivers lapped their banks
as that bard sang
The Works and Days and ways of men
Who know the time for planting and the way to make a wheel
and how to sing a song for poor Athamas
Dead and gone

He is dead and gone, good lady,
He is dead and gone,
At his head a grass green turf
And at his heels a stone

Will you remember me in miller's town
When you have crossed the boarder
Where Dutch Phoenicians trade
a hatchet or a gun
Wampum and a blade
For a little girl or boy
The pastor's child

But on the third day out the woman died and
the crew tossed her over the side
to be
Food for fishes of the sea

I cannot trade
My hands are empty
All I have are these
broken memories 
Little fragments red and gold
and the scent of maple smoke
Rising from forgotten chimneys in the valley of the soul 
Who will take it
Who will take these wampum beads
Not coin of the realm for Phlebas or for Cuyler
I have no pearls for them
They will not grow in Montauk or Pomenauk

I brought the cup to Artaxšaça and he saw my face was fallen
It was the Lord who did this
He bade me go unto the land and build the walls
For his lovingkindness is everlasting
And gave me money from the treasury
Unless the Lord builds the house

Oh let my labor not be in vain.  
 

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