Fiddling while Rome burns #2

moon in a cloud murk

 

Venice, September 1998

 

whirling scorpions
in bursting half-lights

An endless pit
advancing in darkness

A bleak-twist ageing
beyond a sudden murk

Sneering and lecherous
Pregnant with doubts
and with morose love

Brimming with cynical pietas
Steeped in Christian hypocrisy

 

a satellite moon

 

it gazes and scorns this

in the gasping purple night

it scorns the endless prattle
of every unknown sad fuck

Ruthlessly tickling off
much like a bomb

it picks off the false
from every anguish

and casts it in its great chasm
an intimate Doric vertigo
of human sorrows

In a roundabout bend
the torn bulk
of heavenly light
is suddenly freed
and roars out

It waits it waits it waits

and then it starts

And stares sideways to examine

in its light

the chemistry of our being

the origin of our species

fixing its sunken eyes

to pierce us through

beating upon stultified brows

some Moth-Indigo Truth

the insignificance

of specks of our nothingness

shouting back, we hear howls
of age-old rugged souls

that suddenly shiver
and call out in pain

those frigid
buried people of yesterday

inhabiting
some half-mysterious night

who though living dead
actively stare at each other
in candid glassy torpor

looking for signs in us of
recognition of the rot

the rot of the perennial
philosophy deliriously melting

of polymorphous poems dithering

the nurture of commercial baseness

of dull dreams driven to dust
by a jingoistic Nature

jigging and mocking the intellect

beating it off the wall
with sticky cloudy claws

hence the fixed stars clash
with the unhappy planet
in celebration of a
most cruel April
and of the frontiers of
every ex-animate pleasure

Now agape
in wounded proud absinth
an amorphous Galathean
peers at the light-stone

from a lowly bed
from an humble Stygian

And in turn, the moon is
most vexed and unrepentant

it beams bitter tears
it asserts its irreplaceable
arrogance, its untamed
haughtiness

stuck in blue

the rest

the sidereal cytoplasm
is beyond
its sphere of numinous magnetism

 

Sketches on Treason #2

Scene: La Canea, a seaport in Crete

Time: Somewhere in the 1600s

Character: Lorenzo, some years on.

Basking in the noontide sun, I count off the false worshippers. There is a silent war between those who mean business, and those who cloy with much, pine for more, and account for nothing. I am a trader by ancestry, and we Venetians earned the right to opium solely by our wits and enterprise. There are those who mean harm to me and my shop, and to those I say – wait for my blade, because I will not be hindered. Or at least that’s what I say to myself on a day such as this, when the sun is high and everything is supposedly fine with the world.

After the shock of the storm and the shipwreck, I have changed. I am afraid. I didn’t use to be a religious man, but with age comes idiocy. It is the curse of my service to God and country that I should forever be transiently here and there. Death is close, and so are great treasures, hence we forget death, lest our troubled minds care.

At night, I stay up along with thieves and poets watching the moon rise and fall. La Canea is almost like home, but not quite. If I look across the harbour squinting with one sore-feeling eye, I can almost imagine that I am home. Those noble Venetian Gothic windows betray the mind, and the soul grows ill.

There is a big thief that robbed high heaven. His name is Time. Hail, Muse, daughter of Memory! With you as resident thief in charge, I forget everything. Every thing is only for a day. I forget the whole plot, everyday.

Every day all starts anew: every false day. That which remembers, and that which is remembered, are both beginning and ending with forgetfulness. Or so my true friend Marcus Aurelius tells me. I am a slave to my vessel. Much like my wares. My home is where my wares are, and so: I am home. I should not waste the remainder of my life in thoughts about what others might do or think. I am a man of action.

I so loathed to dwell in my native land, hence I parted with the sad prison, and came to silently wonder at the dim thickness of Greeks, and what their traitor eye encloses. If it were for them, we’d be betrayed for half a penny to the benefit of the Turks. And, I… mark my words… I am supposed to give myself up to Clotho, and allow her to spin my thread in whatever way she pleases. I think not.

I might yet die a pirate in this sorry excuse of a backyard, stuck in a past well beyond our means of survival. But now, after a good meal my comrades, my friends come to converse with me on this fine day, about the weather, the trade, the empire, and our little lives.

I curse the day we were born, friends.

 

 

glass bodies 351 360

Being together through long periods of deep-space silence made us intolerant of each other’s convictions. Thinking back on the Engineer’s new ways, the vanishing flatness of disgust. As a man of knowledge, he has achieved recognition from the Academy of Laputa, one certificate at a time. The radiant fabric of Steve’s suit is a stark reminder of our extinguished paths. When we last saw him, he had an ascetic aspect, and the only thing he said to us was that he was going to clean out the universe, one rubbish bin at a time. His back was hunched in an imperceptible fall, and his eyes were ray-less and stricken. Father back, at the end of them, was a mournful gloom tempered with the bitterness of living. As we sail on the mission to rescue Kyniska, we are diminished, we are so few. The spaceship plows on, swinging from side to side, an ambling gait picked up at the harbour, its self-awareness, a game of dominoes.

The Taoist, alone in the immensity of unstained light was ready to go out suddenly. A good south wind came from behind his meditation. The albatross of the mind did follow. His grief was centered, his anger in decay, and the noises in his head were many. They cracked and growled, his loneliness was vertical like hollow moon-shine. He was concentrating on shame, on the consequences of betrayal. An infection plagues us, and every cross-bow in every mind shoots endless arrows into the bloody sun. The light in his cell is all-powerful, because his eyes are closed. His copper eyelids are shut, and his legs are crossed; his back is hunched. He slumps forward, a hollow hiss follows forward into the silent dampness. A breeze does not blow, the furrow in his furnace-face deepens, white foam flows from his mouth. The poison in his mind is echoed by the dimmest gut gurgles. Through fog and mists he sees the farthest shore, a place where he knows he can find rest. The clock on the prison-wall keeps on ticking.

They made me watch.

glass bodies 341 350

the soldier debates

As a conscript, I have been a cruising yawl, snaking my way up the river in search of mythical prophets. What a failure I have been. What a scarcity of real teachers there really is. One of them is rotting in gaol, a false teacher in a false age.

At gun school, I’ve learnt how to shoot crack and feel my head bloat till my testicles exploded. They don’t teach you that in nursery school, but death is the best anesthetic. Scale a fortress, or a nunnery, or a book. I’ve learnt it all. Then I was sent to Enceladus, and I have been freezing my mind in God’s shame in the wonders of isolation ever since. Never mind my spell in the rebellion. I have always been a yes man, and now I don’t take yes for an answer. The tide has turned. The middle class railings next door make me mad. My neighbours want more. My window overlooks the well-built city. I don’t hear the sounds of the Albatross, but the faint flash of bomb-lightning reminds me that we are at war with the Eastern Empire. The Penmynydd Empire is in crisis. I’m bound down the river, along with the bodies. I could sit here, and debate the pros and cons of war, and I will, but I know you are pressed for time, and you need an answer. I will help you rescue the half wit, beg pardon, the half dead. But first you need to listen to my lecture.

The Empire insists on the mistakes in words. The lack of history is methodically researched. Cultural hegemony is imposed by the promise of the forever young, by the immediacy of communication, by the invasion, occupation and annexation of our minds. As a soldier, I have fought for the Empire in the West, for the way things are – for the way the things were. In the absence of limits, the public and the private merge in universal stream of consciousness, where the narrative is dictated by the absence of content, by structural enforcement of the fake. The fake is everything. East or West, the fake rules our constituents, and the soldiers are the theoretical application of cultural domination. The other side, is the complete and perennial uprooting of ideas by a tsunami of emoticons, an electric shock of enforced perception of want. Warfare is waged on the twittosphere, and the unconsciousness is forged one child at a time. I used to be a soldier, now I am an intellectual on the brink of extinction. My social order is brought about by fast riding Amazons in brown packages. The Tudors are down, seven times, the commotion caused is not more than a whimper. The Eastern Empire is looking for recruits. When Perseus learned of the conspiracy, the turned himself into stone on the spot.

Follow the winged horse till the tallest tower on Enceladus. There in the castle without a view, you shall find Kyniska sleeping in the power of light, scaly serpents overlooking her tomb. When the Eastern Empire comes, you rebels will have your heads cut off, snakes that we are.

“And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken


The ice was all between.”

 

Get thee to Enceladus,

fellow-student.

glass bodies 331 340

The nun accepts

I dreamt I fell off the ram, and drowned from here to there, in a sea of myself. As a child, I endured abuse. Quite the motivation, to become a nun, to cancel out the will of those would-be nuns, who cancelled me out. “They are coming to get you, Barbara.” And from that ghastly crew, I learned that there was no place to hide, and those that called themselves your caretakers, were in fact ill-disguised under-takers, prison guards with sadism as their weapon of choice. The higher the suffering, the closer to God, was the implied lie. There was a small nun, a smiling one; she was the most evil of them all. She’d come into my room, and re-arrange every single object in sight, and she’d smile weakly, and call me her baby, her pride and joy. She’d touch me with her soft frail fingers, and in a moment her iron grip would hold me still, and then she would let me go, with a long, languid look of hellish candour.

I was chosen to be nun, and I took my vows, and I did my best to pray and teach, teach and pray, until the day we were defeated, and I saw myself out of ordainment, and chose a life of unrepentant sin. I have embraced the science and the technology, I have two children, I have forgotten my vows. You come to me with this mission, and what you want of me I cannot give. I cannot go back to the spiritual life. I am too old, and too wrinkled for that. I have forgotten all the spells of light, and my sole concern is fighting the good fight as a medical doctor and as a scientist. My latest obsession is with vaccines, because we can never be too cautions, we need to tailor our personal genomics to our spiritual needs.

For this reason I choose to say yes to you, in spite of everything. The disease of our galactic society is microbial in nature, the White Plague that makes zombies of us all begins with the lack of spiritual vaccines. If we can save the entombed one, the one girl that has seen the other side, we might be able to develop a vaccination against this empirical malaise, which has us so haggard, and so woe-begone. The death of me as a mother is my vocation as a scientist, and the death of me as a scientist is my vocation for nunnery. I once was a superior mother, and now that my inferiority has become apparent in every way, I choose this one last mission with you former-student, to undertake what’s due before it becomes too late.

As a child, I swam the Hellespont in dreams of my own and I woke in a nightmare, and the sedge was withered from the lake, and no birds sang. I have fallen off the ram, and again and again I drown in a sea of my own.  Now, again… I have lost my name and purpose. As a child, I heard the tiger laugh at me in my sleep, and its most terrible sound, was the sound of possession and inevitable doom. The lamia sans merci… it never smiles but it kills the spirit and it owns you. It still holds power on my breath, as it inevitably sits on my right shoulder, slowing me down, hampering my every action, it will not cease to haunt, not even at my time of death. I will come with you, Student. You have my blessing, even as I am cursed.

glass bodies 321 330

The ghost of the student, mourning the present-future

I gave up the idea of ecology long ago. My graduation was both a failure and a success. Now that many years have passed, I still feel the shame of it. After receiving honours for my efforts in studying the rhyzosphere of Solaris, I went on to an adventure to the edges of this galaxy, on a spiritual quest, a young fool headed for disaster. And if that was the end, the process proved itself to be laborious, and the monster that was hatched  there and then overtook my mind, and my body. “I no longer I” became an irony and a crime scene. All that I could perceive after my adventure was that I was lost in a desperate galaxy, a knife cutting me open, everything was pain.

Now after many years, I have climbed that spiritual mountain again, and the view has changed. In fact, the view is nowhere to be seen. The higher you go, the less oxygen you fall apart with. I don’t have problems breathing right now. The edge of the galaxy has become its pivot.  There is no place for hiding anymore. As the ancient prophet Huxley observed, and his uncle before him, silence has retreated at full speed to a naked shingle.

Now I am faced with the same task I was faced with then. And alas many years have passed since Kyniska was buried alive, I have no idea of where she is, and at what fathom she lies. I have lost touch with all my former companions, and the rebellion has long been extinguished. I am determined to find them, at all costs. One after one, we all have sold out to the White Plague, to the Empire of fake reflections. And if my soul has red-shifted all the starlight in the galaxy, my blue core is more white dwarf than black hole. I will find them, and we will find her. And if she is dead, we will rescue her remains. I cannot let this pass any longer, if I were to die now that would beyond betrayal. That is my resolution from atop this mountain on Mauna Vesta, formerly on the vast edges of the galaxy, now 7.4 kilo-parsecs from Krishna’s call.

glass bodies 311 320

the baryons in the interstellar medium twinkle in a wide range of densities and temperatures. in her waking, falling dream, Kyniska burns with the ideas of the defunct. in her coffin, she wakes up and screams. Once the dead have died hard, they must take the place as they find it, for no descent can be in the same stream twice.

after the fighting, the soldier wakes up back on Enceladus, in the service of the empire. he walks toward the castle through endless corridors of ice. but the day grows darker and darker, and he knows he will never reach the front gate.

in her bed burning, Kyniska feels everything and nothing at once. she hears the pain of the outcast, who are not and never will be citizens. Yet Xin was once an outcast; she fought for her right to exist, for her identity, and now she is the commander of the anti-rebel army.

in her waking horror, Kyniska sees Arion as the antagonist, hiding far away, far forward in time, flashing back and forward with his photoionized lies, his mouth open with dense gas coming out of it, lies coloured by ultraviolet photons. in her paralyzing illness, Kyniska has chosen the path of spirituality, and the religion of fighting the white whale has led her to a faith in God which is intermingled with her hatred for Arion.

Trapped in a box, she is being fed fantasies through a multiversal screen of the kind once built by Xin. Her love lost fast fuels supernova explosions in her mind, and while she waits until she sees the sun… she remembers how it was to fall in love… to see the break of day of an emptiness so vast, so fast, and the feeling of taking off, soaring, catching shock-heated temperature drops, while connected to stellar coronal gas on time scales far greater than millions of years. and she once vowed that he’d be on his mind forever, that she’d cross the endless oceans of suffering, she’d for an instant exist without acting, that her bewildered mind should stop wandering, and arrive at the highest good.

At the time of love, the earth was rotating, and the interstellar medium was forming the stars, and the dominant source of energy was the yoga of action. the visible appearance of galaxies around her kept urging her to accept words there seemingly inconsistent, such as “I”, “love” and “you”. And as gas evolves to stars, some part of their love was ejected from the galaxy in the form of galactic winds. Upon a dream, she saw a preying mantis, she felt the hurt of loving, and in her illness now she hears a song in the background. What is it?

Young Simon, later the Taoist, while rotting in prison, meditates on his earlier incarnation as a life-luster. When confronted with his mother’s dementia he felt dead in the gut: to feel so much, and to be able to communicate so little.

Kyniska discharges fantasies of love while entombed, in the tight embrace of religion, she explores the myths and lies of her mind with open mind, like a soaring phoenix on her last flight. The regrets of lost love bundled together in the Icarus desert, the all-accepting character of the non-existent knight’s squire, the resentment toward Arion, the sinking feeling of abandonment.

The Nun and her only student left are eating in a diner somewhere in a quiet corner of the multiverse, eye to eye in a manner like some stars compressed into a very narrow space, white clouds dimming their spectroscopic minds. Or is it the soup that burns?

Xin-Angel has the makings of the antagonist. Looking over the burnt out shell of the rebel ship, she remembers the building of multiversal screens, she remembers the plagues that devastated the slave camp where she lived, she remember the narcissus flowers echoing over a dark pool, mirroring her life choices. She, too, has regrets of long lost love.

In the cosmic microwave background, the elecromagnetic radiation pervades the story, and spread-out characters are far flung onto stellar photospheres, gamma rays emitted in nuclear transitions touch the decaying souls of those non-existent people, and dark matter particles provide no well defined boundary to this story, to the fantasy, and the optical wavelength of its narrator.

now with his eyes closed the Taoist sees trimmed starry lamps, glowing in the dark. the inevitable doom that the rebels expected has fallen true.

the student in the philosopher’s garden ponders how one should know, how does one let the right one in. Doctor Firn calls him to dinner, and the large wings upon his shoulders are mine, and the dizzy sky is witness.

after the rebels’ defeat, the multiverse has grown smaller, the emperor expects that the unforeseen does not exist. this very evening, freedom in an unattainable prospect. and while Xin explores her identities in the forests of Solaris, an overnight truce has been called to cremate the dead.

The enemy must lie, it will betray you. It is in its nature. Fighting the just fight is a choice, but first drive your chariot in the middle of the field. From confusion, there is weakness of memory. Tell us, reader, where does your weakness in memory lie? What are the secrets you have buried deep down in the Solaris jungle? What have you restored to the jungle?