My insomnia is getting absurd. It is purely literary. I lay in bed reciting lines of poetry from Keats, Shelley, Donne, Wordsworth, Hart Crane: “Insistently through sleep– a tide of voices– They meet you listening midway in your dream…” Now I know those lines by Crane are literal. My insomnia is like a poem being written in black space. It is like a poem that wants to be translated into light. It is like a feeling that grips my intestines with linked verses and won’t let go.
I am reading Larry Levis
With so few motel rooms
On the road to consolation.
Nothing but roses,
Nothing but kisses of red wine and roses
For a distant relative on a ship’s Manifest.
We’ll meet at the port when I depart.
A rose tattoo for your soul,
Bouquets of foaming waves.
Rose per Rosa, o comprato stasera…
Roses covering the deck of the Sicilian Prince
And roses in America.
My daughter sees a hawk feather on the road.
Just as I pick it up the wind picks up the face of the leaves.
Just as I raise it to the air the trees begin sharing ancestral words.
Just as I pass it to my daughter she’s falling from the upper world.
Just as she takes it from my hand I am falling.
Just as she offers it back to her father she is falling.
Such things are found on the road joining young and old.
Such things happen on the spirit road.
At the shadow line the storm’s grip is loosed,
Between a sea of light and a sea of darkness
It is beautiful and hallowed on both sides.
Rain falls from the sun and clouds glow.
Winds blow in place and yet we are moving
As though at the equinox of eternity.
At the shadow line is the peace of mountains.
At the shadow line it is the birthday of forever,
It is the anniversary of fire and night,
Sparks fly from the anvil
But the hammer sounds in the distance.
Last night I dreamt I was talking to Wittgenstein. It was a frightening dream, hyperreal; and later I thought, not only relevant but important to share. I was wearing a blood soaked apron, as apparently we were both doctors in a First World War field hospital somewhere near the front. I marveled at his remarkable sangfroid under fire. I was about to make the first incision into my patient when I saw that it was a young boar and then a fatted calf. “Truth is truth enough for a grain of sand to keep the earth from falling,” he said, while amputating the right arm of his own brother.
November, you are the urn of the seasons,
All other months are ash inside you–
Body without light, spirit-haunted.
Our waking hours
Resemble more a rainy dream,
Our dreaming, the mist of another life.
I hear an oboe in November,
An oboe drifting through the woods,
Accompanied by strings.
Are not those cellos and violins
Our desires dying even as they desire more life?
From the river a freighter’s foghorn
Throbs in the night.
The rumbling of a distant train
Beats drum rolls for the dead of November.
I dream them in gray.
Along the river’s mist I see the dead,
And then I see her
Who was once naked beside me.
How ashen her beautiful face,
How dead those eyes I knew.
She holds out a cold hand.
I step through to the other side.