Sunday, February 27, 2011

How To Drain Your Dragon

Faced with contemplating a "terrifying and exciting" experience, I drew a card and determined to go with exciting.

King of Wands
Salamanders' Song

Like you, from fire, we crawled, you rose!
Our King, spring from your wand
Life, our bliss surges in our tongues,
Our bodies once more starred
To herald your return, your right,
Your seat once more yours, so yes, we sing.

One, inquisitive, approaches your throne
With longing, our tiny tongues long
To lick you like flames, our King.
Your wand commands us, ours!
Ascending this day you take your
Right place, sun, we dance in circles,
Present our skins to nourish your visions,
Taste our own tails as sacrifice
To secure your standard's infinity.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kill the Fat-Free Tofu

I put the Stones' version of Prodigal Son on a mix tape for a loved one the other day, and it reminded me how much I wanted to kick that parable's ass. When you're pretty much born humiliated and humbled and told you're worthless, it's odd hearing that God wants you to be put down even lower, that trying to escape is futile, and that the more you crawl, the more he'll love you.

Luckily, I also understand that there's more to Jesus, that he kicked corporate ass and defended prostitutes. He's not my god, but he's just all right with me, as another song says.


I sleep with swine, I won't deny it even once--
They're smart, they share their food freely,
Like me, true to my true name as I flung
The last bits of my inheritance away from me,
Scattered it all to the sinners and winds.
I couldn't get rid of it fast enough.

I still pray; I pray each night
Not to feel the pull of the road
To the place called home, to the house
Where my father waits with a knife
To draw against the plump throat
Of an innocent and call it celebration,
That place where a family mutters
Under the music of the feast, husbanding their hate
Until after the sun goes down.
You may see my shape against the light
Getting smaller as I move down the road.

Image: The club can't even handle Rembrandt and Saskia right now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Cartographer, Far From The Truth

Freud put love and work at the top of the list of indicators of mental health. I have overwhelming amounts of both. Truly, I could do without the work, though, or at least do without the kind of work that comes in my door. I neglect my duties. I'll get in trouble.

This is about a copyist in Battista Agnese's shop in Venice while they were working on the map book for Charles V. It's the little things that get you.

Here Be Lions
We don't allude to unknowns at the borders in these days.
We fill that space with cherubim, puffing away
From the twelve directions. These are in my hand,
Not in my name. Nothing of me will live. In the world
We map, that breath fills sails, never sinks a ship.
In the world I walk at night, I never fear
The hot breath of beasts at my back,
But the sweet breath of my angel beneath
The Rialto has the flavor of my death.

Few fear the winds here; as few as fear
The Pope, or the Emperor; a shrug and a smile
And they're banished. We have turned our lions to stone.
We copy the copies of copies of maps
Of lands left to others to chance, and in this repetition
Press out the mysteries and bind them
Flat into a gift for a royal son.
What I fear is each long day's squint at the page.

One thin thread of real silver runs across the map,
Tracing the route the silver in the hold travels, wrested from
What was another world. Now it is our world, all of it.
That gleaming vein, now that, it could resolve into a garrote;
One bead of blood from a scratch with the tip of a knife,
Or a rat-fed flea in my bed--any of these
Will kill me, will have me long
For the past's mercy of fangs and claws.

Image: Library of Congress.