The Oral Tradition
Some things are better left unsaid
he said, he knows a thing or two,
about unsaid things. What,
I cannot say. I cannot say
why, either because why
leads to because, why, I don’t know.
Where is this place of unsaid things?
Says who? Nobody will
tell me, I’ve said nothing,
nowhere. They say what is
said is forgotten, I remember
hearing once, I remember he said
things are better, left unsaid,
I would not know.
They not only smell good, they’re a bouquet.
Their sweat is a passionate miasma,
a nectar, a syrup between the joints.
It is not a seduction, it is Zeus,
turned to a swan, taking Leda by force,
force turning to motion, potential and
kinetic, mechanical energy,
a cold fusion of pheromones. It is
not sex. It is a metaphor. There are
tongues on things, on their secret places, on
turns of phrases. They lick each other’s ess-
ence for glue to bond, to meld into one,
to seal envelopes holding odes for one
another, for the Gods of lovemaking.
They are body paragraphs expounding
the metaphysical exchange of ink,
not fluids, a fountain, a pen dipping
the tip for a sonnet. When they argue
they shout beyond each other to the trees
behind them that bend and sway to the breath
of God, or whatever. The trees are more
than just trees, they hold ripe pomegranates
heavy and bursting blood red juice on to
a glossy white unicorn, chained beneath
the boughs, corralled, surrounded by plants that
make women fertile. The unicorn is
a symbol for Christ; it is hunted down
with wit, seduced into the poet’s lap
for slaughter. The plants reconcile love
and marriage, the poets pluck and pumice,
to create the muse, to craft dynasties
of images, and then a pregnancy
of pauses. They are pretty flowers; some
are distilled in goats milk or mixed with ox
dung and treat gout, snakebites, baldness, breathing
problems. And yes, they can cure nausea.
Because between their poet thighs are rose
buds blossoming and quivering stamen,
pollen all over their faces, in their
mouths, swallowing it, breeding within them
little baby poems, the progeny,
the food for thoughts, concepts growing in their
minds, feeding on their vision, malignant,
trapped, written with a scalpel to the head.
I would go on long drives, the windows down, the air
louder than the radio, smoking and thinking
about all the people here that have died in car crashes,
and then about me dying in this car, and then about my funeral,
and how so many people would miss me, my friends
sobbing and reading out all my poems at the podium,
my father playing his sad French horn, my mother
silent and stoic with grief.
I’d think about black ice on the road, greasy and grim,
waiting to throw my parents off the road to their deaths.
I would drive and think about being an orphan,
finally having a reason for feeling alone. I thought about the piano,
who would get the piano. I thought about how I grew up
sitting at that piano, staring into it, the black lacquer shining
my reflection, getting older and older, the music getting harder,
more sophisticated, my fingers stretching and aching and I’d pound
on the keys and scream, my forehead pressed up to the piano, my eyes
raging at my black lacquer eyes.
One minute a man is sleeping, then the minute shifts
like a marble into a funnel
and descends, circling round
the empty bulb of the hourglass cavern
beneath his bed, formed over
hundreds of years,
a trickle of material
The slow void of the hour migrates
to the surface, to what’s left
of surface, the marble minute spinning
down the neck. Then all is swallowed,
the bed, the clothes, the books, the man.
Now I sleep as if I, too, am suspended
over the shape of a voluptuous woman,
each vitamin and mineral burning out
space, the bulb of the hourglass hollowing,
until I dream of perfect circles,
of open mouths.