Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Marshes of Babylon, a marked-up poem

This is yet another poem written a long time ago. I don't like it. It started out being about seeking visions of Mary and wound up being about the demonic vision of a conqueror. Nice idea. Didn't work. It is shown roughly as it is marked up. These markups probably happened during the first draft. Such halting first drafts rarely pay off.



The Marshes of Babylon

To find a face
in a flickering screen
or knurled into the skin
of an oak--

and who hasn't found them her?
of all the faces what who has not found her face searching faces,
in warped who has not found her face
in the warped gold of memorial windows,
in the browned stains of ceilings
          deep stains of ceilings,
not found the soft cut of her jaw
turned slightly up and away?--

who can rest from this work?
Who can lie down and hold not search the pulse
of red and green on black
behind the eyelids,
not hope for a lifetime
not hope she will congeal there
and smile back at us in our before we sleep?

And then there's work against her.
Alexander, for one, marching with history,
naming cities "Alexander" in his wake his dust,
this hacker unlucky into opened Persia unlocked Persia
and locked it up infected it with coins
and littered it with Greek-coded coins
that bore his flattened profile.
And many remember him today.

And in the marshes of Babylon,
after the mutinies green wall of India and rapes,
after the green wall of India
scorned him turned his army downcast away,
he stared into the water and mourned
the his dead friend, Hephaistion and right Hephaistion,
                                                                      his loyal intimate, right-hand man.
He stared into the water
and his own blue eyes,
the curious blue eyes that wondered
and his curious eyes,
one dark brown, the other steel blue.
He wondered in his sadness
how to turn the eyes of the Persia blue.
In sorrow he touched the water,
the thick, malarial water.

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