Excerpts from “The Hundred Seeds of Beirut”

1. The Pavilion

(After meeting the boy & the
aide he erects A PAVILION
by the river to shelter them
from the storm. When it is finished
he says:)

I was borne by comets
& shackled only to the wind
but now that you take up these chains
I feel coarse sugar course my veins.
How sweet the slavery to flesh
that wraps you too my masters
in a rope of stars
coil about me two snakes
warm from the egg a net or mesh
of born sounds whispered words
to catch the silence of nite
& when it is full draws up & tight
sink release swim fall
back again beyond the light
pleasure like song calls
a crystal out of chaos
a prism of basalt to reflect the face
huge empty golden features
of chaos itself the fires of space.

2. The Chant

(He strikes the pavilion & inscribes
a circle where it stood & says:)

The storm that has passed electrical
turbulence in your afternoon soft
white bodies which bent
the grass in our cirlce the evening
begins in your crevaces hollows
& splits in the poolgreen hedges
here in the forest hung
with your breath & the breath of decaying
warm flowers & wet leaves.
The fading thunder slapping
together of empty air
silence which opens with the rite
will surely ask blood sacrifice
to know them even to drink
from the necks of ones we love —
In a hall of mirrors out of
thousands approach the reflection
which is dark.

In the pearlgrey evening
in cypress shadows are forming
in the pointed shades of the firs
the shapes we evoke sewn
in place by the dark rain
resting on green shadows.
What can we spill from our bodies
to draw them near? The hands
of the wind the foxes & ermines
the night insects & mists
of the forest will drift to the rim
of our circle as if we had rubbed
ourselves with salve of lichen
nightlilies moss & aconite
the shapes will become more visible
cobwebs strung with rain.
From deep burrows in the ground
woven behind thorns under rocks
drift vapors of sound as from
buried mouths from the throats
of the evning stars from the trees
like women shrouded in blue
the unformed sounds float up
in a shadow chant
shapechanging calling & binding
both of children & devils
& songs for success in the hunt.

Now the moon rises the eye
disembodied in a dream
a pearl in the dark groin
of the forest a mirror for owls
& we reach out to fingerchange
the shape of the shadows it throws
on the ember grass.

There’s more to say about opium
the insect that brings you flowers
O P I U M
makes you think of doping someone
since flesh itself comes like viscous Pollen
floor is heavy couch in heavy
you could
consume touching with thick fingers
portions of the sleeper like fruit
soft, black pears round &
stained with opium
yourself the insect
warm & with legs of gold
and black nervehairs to brush
along sleeping petals.

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