December 21, 2011
nonsite.org - Poetry
Bazooka, Night Watering, and Admonition for My Children
BAZOOKA You hear a song, say, at the Ió-popoi festival holding that a new addition to the alphabet has been fashioned by the magus, Epicharmus. He appeared at court before the tyrant and his invention glowed, like smaragdus then leapt off tongues like popoi, dah! The other one—that Pindar—got his comeuppance when Korinna laughed at him: "One should sow with the hand, not the whole sack." Yet he continued to pour everything into that ototototoi to which he refused to give a false bottom: His "circumlocutions, allusive references, metaphors," not to mention his sudden curtailments and digressions, served a "highly artificial idiom." "Dissonance;" "big, long words;" "grand rhythms;" these made him famous, and his complex metrics gave his work the impression, as Horace said, of a rushing river, "freed from rules." An aristocratic nature does not like to be constrained to the fewest syllables. His subjects encompassed gods and men and horses, all victorious. As a dog rambles, its nose a coquette granting equitable attentions to the savory and fetid, I sift for truth among these airs much as I define necessary by the yardstick of my own pleasure: Cold weather sweeps down from the articulate clouds, thrilling invisible peacock feathers from goosebumps, and the dead man's fingers of a poncho as I stride across fields of live oak, catch samples. But with a fluency that derives from wine mulled with the occasional cicada hauled from buckets upwards of a ferris wheel, obedient letters with beating hearts fed on wild grass and perfectly capable of transmitting that wavelength angels blindfold make mockery of my attempts to scale contrapuntals down to a monody. Then stone wears me scintillant. Abroad, Epicharmus' device infiltrated papyri, and hid the truth that the zeta derived from a mark used to designate a weapon. Epicharmus turned his gifts to the writing of comedy. A story circulated about the Sybarites. They had taught their horses to dance, so when the Crotonites wanted to take them, they pulled out their pipes and danced the animals, with their riders still on their backs, into desertion. Just so—Epicharmus implied—this zeta. And went from festival to festival with his comedies as Celts take up their arms to meet the waves. NIGHT WATERING From the bushes corollaed with burn comes the smell of thanks: hosewater runs off the night into the packed earth barren even, it seems, of insect ranks. Whetted palmettoes catch at Cassandra, their hard shine like that of Achaean visors on the dusty Asian plain. 'Sandra as god of rain, whose totem sound's guttergush, not thunder from afar. 'Sandra running off at the mouth, writing with hosewater the epigrams her green hordes take to the arena of vegetable war. ADMONITION FOR MY CHILDREN Imagine the touch of shore after so long—; figure in windcheater clearing Hercules' spear aimed at pink Arcturus, the beating heart of Scorpio. Bear in mind the astronomer, amateur, planetarium volunteer who navigates you through this arcana. Along with swimming lessons, here! Someday you may find yourself on a boat, negotiating the zodiac: chucotage out of nowhere, ID'ing blue Spica caught in the hairs of Virgo's wheat-ear.