THE BARBARIAN QUEEN

Raving with brilliance and boredom
in a black lacquer chair in a white room
listening to crickets,
I want a fight,
knee deep in fractured jade or broken syntax
of Latin suddenly turned into Spanish by hard-riding Arabs
(or another tongue run over by Mongols).
I want brutal gold jewels on my neck
and a man in salt-cured ermine
to drag in sacks of delicate porcelains carried by camels
“Follow those camels,” I’d demand.
The whole Golden Horde
would track Bactrian camels
straight back to China –
history skewed into barbaric times.
Scythian gold, spectrums torn out
of Indian cut diamonds and emeralds and star sapphires
crash light together.
Beautiful (oh-wreck-this-politeness)
brutality.  I don’t want these French doors
and delicate Southern dusk with toy jet crickets –
I want kettle drums,
either side of a stallion’s withers,
and a tiny Hun pounding them.  The cavalry bounces
to the whole swirling concert of yells –
wild arms flying.
I want the glint of sun
on Mandarin blood under blazing blue sky.
I want a man to crush
in one fist
Ming cups too understated to survive.
In a black felt tent, I’ll roll in all the stolen silverware
and throw out all that didn’t draw blood.
I’m really tired
of being polite.  I am really tired of being bored.
I demand barbaric hobbies –
hawks
on gaudy carved bull leather gauntlets –
cheetahs stolen in India
to kill gazelles.  A sullen Confucian in chains
to explain star rotation and eclipse dragons.
Clever Europeans to invent giant clocks.
And the architects, captured in Byzantium,
force-marched to where I’d say, “Put it there, architects.”

Why not wish?
I’ve been a student of subtle things – wiggles of ink
pressed on papers – for many years – sword arm atrophied,
even the trigger finger.
So harmless.
I think any cricket I see
in the next five minutes is doomed.
I’ll yell at someone within the month,
but I don’t talk rough enough
or country enough for cock fight invites.

Crawl back in the mind and watch flaming arrows lash the sky.
In me I have the urge
to wrench things out of socket, to impress
the physical mechanical direct way –
not through slight thin signs, but
like an engineer throwing a dam at a river –
all gravity and brute calculation.
Yet,
I’d sit on that dam in a small
glass walled pagoda.

– published in Weird Tales, Winter 1990/1

 

 

THE FRIENDLY PAGAN ORGANISM VS.
THE BUDDHA

After 5,000 years of culture China said, “Fuck it,
let’s get these people something to eat.”
Rufflings
in a Giant Buddha’s stone skin in a photo
reproduced on a postcard.  Sandstone carved into a figure –
some time in the Buddha, so much more time in stone,
streaks move through it like wisps of smoke.
They were decayed and drifting in a liquid one day.
My dog deals with me from his angle, 20 inches off the floor.
He hopes I’ll lead him through my confused world and feed him.
What does he know?
Tiny devices – cells and electrons
bite the fingers – took longer to drift into their elaborations
from hydrogen than even all that stone from sand.
Reading
geography and buddha face with my emotions – Bach record playing.
Scratched already, what would the Buddha say?

The Buddha would say, “You are listening to impressions
of a harpsichord.
You just go for what you can get.”

– from 3-Way Split

 

TO THE MOUSE

New slash and eat back
my luxury dreams,
you could do it because made that way
with tiny teeth and huge appetite.
I saw what you did to the stone
in the telescope
so take the luxuries out of my mind.
Maybe then I can relax and think
less about you.

– from Mouse Works