At the Witching Hour
My witching hour is not past one, or two, or three.
It could be any time of the night or day.
On a dark, moonlit, or sunny stage,
my contemplation unlatches a gate
through which each ghost or demon parades.
He that denied the visionary type of dream
little knew how we remain in our sleep awake
and commune with the dead, the living,
the little, and the great.
At the witching hour, I bandaged the injured arm of a friend
who lived on a different continent.
I saw the wave that galloped and gaped
to swallow the coasts of distant states,
and I prayed
in churches whose locations remain vague,
simply because they’re not replicas
of what my subconscious portrayed
of past events.
Lady Penrhyn“In a very ugly and sensible age, the arts borrow, not from life, but from each other,” Oscar Wilde.
I stand before Lady Penrhyn, the convict ship
and think of Turner and Stevie Smith,
of Joan transported into a sheet
on a no-return, perennial trip.
What would I find on Wainewright’s board?
Did he leave behind a poet’s scrolls,
some portraits he hid from the world,
or the poison he wore in his ring?
Would I find his victims’ ghosts,
or innocence appealing to a misguided mob
who loves to chew on human flaws
since slander has always been the mode
with which uniqueness is destroyed?
[Inspired by Thomas Griffiths Wainewright’s painting Lady Penrhyn, Stevie Smith’s poem “Deeply Morbid”, and Oscar Wilde’s essay “Pen, Pencil, and Poison”.]
They have terrorized the marrow of your eyes,
so you stream music to ward off the evil at my side,
your warning that no savior will arrive,
and we’ll perish, as we lived, quite wide apart.
Your firmly-closed lips
can never reproduce that characteristic smile,
which has made you immortalized
in a child’s mind.
The pallor of your face is the shroud
that will obscure the sun and every star
from my sight
for as long as I am alive.
I view your picture,
the electronic guide.
It will bear no fingerprints,
or a trail into the past,
just another mirage
in a life that was benighted from the very start.
I know now why the placid sea
brings into my eyes a wealth of tears:
that untainted blueness
is now what I cannot attain.
They have tarnished my heart
with unremitting enmity.
Their implacable hatred
has seeped into my brain
and forgiveness is no longer
my salient trait,
for now I abominate
their abhorrent names.
I admit that I have earned the epithet weird
for taking my little dog for a stroll three times a day –
a dog I adopted and snatched from a cage,
whose nose had borne the brunt of the penal cane –
when I should have been smoking the hubble-bubble with friends,
complaining about the vapidity of everything,
or rather flirting with a man who spits on the street
a hundred and sixty-eight times a week!
I admit that for you I must be very weird,
for befriending my inanimate books,
abandoning a species who chews on news
that specializes in slander and ridicule,
that reduces the living to hilarious cartoons.
Better be a weirdo,
the object of your churning tongues
than an empty-headed parrot
with a polluted mouth.
Wonderful poems. There is a mystic mixture of nature images, human feelings and unconscious dreams.