Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Thomas Piekarski - One Poem

  Remembering Rimbaud

At the crack of my electric bull whip

Those Indians fled the ancient galleon:

Iroquois, Mohawk, Cherokee liberated,

Every one of them a delightful old soul.

My beard to knees, eyes lumps of coal,

I chopped down their glorious totems.

Ahead lay rivers mystic beyond pain,

Misery, murder—even nonexistence!

Relieved of that indigenous burden

Walls of wonderment shot up around,

Surrounded. They blocked the skies,

Everything but turbulent brain waves.

Rimbaud ambivalent although I pled

For him to take the rudder, someone

Who'd scaled nirvana's laved strata

And left his shield emblazoned there.

Flocks of floundering geese fluttered

Slightly above an automated horizon,

And witches with golden broomsticks 

Rolled past on diamond bowling balls. 

The vagrant stars went mostly blank.

I sung of mermen flailing, their scales

Erupted into vermillion flame. Surely

As light devours light they'd persevere.

What fine imaginings energized me,

My limpid skin, the atomized bones!

Rimbaud experienced in such sport

Nonchalant, offered nothing to import.

We skimmed the roiling Aegean clear

Of ghouls, Harpies, Medusa and her ilk.

I took a drink of hemlock as Socrates

Once did, willing to sink even deeper.

The door of perception yawned wide,

And from it emerged a fabulous team

Of harlequins, angels, hermaphrodites,

Icons for the hoity-toity social elite.

To stave off utter boredom I twirled

Jupiter on the tip of my index finger.

Mars grew jealous, Uranus retreated

As Rimbaud applauded my fortitude.

Ever penitent, my eyes steadily wept

Falls of molten tanzanite. Then Dante

Coaxed me to tour his torrid domain

But I respectfully declined this offer.

From every pore of my flaccid flesh

Sprouted giant redwoods, savannas.

I moaned at so much territory to map.

Rimbaud unshaken, simply guffawed.

Amid interminable tumult squirmed

A silver bugler sounding the classics,

Sublime Beethoven, Liszt and Brahms

That crammed my ears till they burst.

Whereupon thousands of tarantulas

All of three feet long began to crawl

Up the listing ship's side. They loaded

Its deck bow to stern with dead weight.

We arrived at the Spice Islands where

Unlucky Magellan met his Waterloo,

Collected much frankincense and myrrh,

Enough to fill the ship's hull with mirth. 

Then continued along the Ivory Coast

Dodging wooly mammoths and lions,

There to gather slaves whose resistance

Meant little to anyone who would pay.

I dressed a lavish banquet table, invited

Kings of continents gone many moons,

Served sumptuous beetle, eye of newt.

Lord, you should have seen them gorge! 

As if to prove that people aren't seasonal

Rimbaud read rime of questionable origin.

When I queried him how this made sense

He clobbered me with a French dictionary.

There were blizzards big as solar systems,

Electronic bugs crawling all over our faces,

And welcomed them because we ourselves

Could deny nothing in a transient dimension.

As we'd waft and wend unnerving hot winds

Blew at us in rapid succession. I knew then

Man's obliteration had already transpired, 

News yet to go viral on the worldwide web.

Beggars with empty bags, lepers, dilettantes,

Ravenous politicians, frightening skeletons 

Oared the vast empyrean in crystal lifeboats

For the chance to jump aboard that galleon.

Tiny Alice diaphanous moth flickered forth,

Nested atop Rimbaud's head, and threatened

To haul him along the yellow brick road 

By his hair, to seek absolution from Oz. 

Behind our backs John Wilkes Booth slinked

Aboard, invisible. He ransacked the captain's

Quarters, undetected, until with X-ray vision

Rimbaud spotted him, slit his stinking throat.

Back and forth between our hearts a constant

flow: black tulips, hanged saints, primordial

chants, revanchist sins, succulent cantaloupe,

insubstantial oceans, precarious cliffs, clones.  

I longed for an olden port, some cozy space

I could finally call home, yearned for a truth 

Born of beauty, while maintaining passage

Across unending expanses of pure ambrosia.

Slung from lethargy by a furious hailstorm

Rimbaud grasped control, steered us ashore, 

Out of the fiery firmament of sheer passion,

Onto solid turf where my spirit came to rest.

So I'll hail Rimbaud's languorous lagoons,

Thunderstruck archipelagos and planetoids

Crushed to bits by that manic mind of his, 

Reconstituted as rainbows wherein we flit.

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Quarterly, Literature Today, Poetry Salzburg, South African Literary Journal, Modern Literature, and others. His books of poetry are Ballad of Billy the Kid, Monterey Bay Adventures, Mercurial World, and Aurora California.

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