poems and poems-in-progress

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Le Ballon

after the painting by Puvis de Chavannes

Where are you going, maraschino star on the rise as you waft
into amber pre-dusk russet as dark looms, chasing you
down, stepping up its pace? Maybe you’re the luminous defect,
O scarlet orb, the mythic rangifer’s proboscis that doubles
as his navigational implement, in which case I crave your naïve magic.
Or my speed-bag heart, my cherry aloft, the sacred heart of Our Lord
(its core a hearth), the tight early bud of a young rose on a new
shoot, my last ripe egg, my clit; the diminishing returns of my fading
succulence ascending expeditious into the thermosphere, the whole
pulsating ball of wax like the insufficient adhesive Icarus relied upon,
thinking he could fly like a god without the benefit of particle
collision or an envelope billowed with warmed bluster. Or
maybe you’re our own “red giant” adrift, with polar plumes and
solar flares. And why am I clad in black? How can it be that I am
bound in dark drab cloth, knickers, petticoat and hood,
lugubrious with entirely too much underwear when the bloom
of the mountains raves red and the amber sky is red and our star
burns red and I am spread open to the Heavens wishing to be borne
by hot air? Where are you headed, as you ascend like some scarlet
indication of elevated temperature through a tube drawn up into
the caelum firmum like diurnal Heterocera hunting for light banging
stupidly into what incinerates? Where, O, summer plum having
flown out from my hand like a cardinal transmitting sweetness
on waves of sound and light needing neither control blasts nor
regulators? Possibly you are a tangerine moon sharp and bold over
water observed, like film unfurling, through frames, hypotenuse
sectors, cables and girders of the Manhattan Bridge delineate,
sailing forth in search of a Navy backdrop, ascending in imperceptible
increments. Where, O commonly remarkable solar finale, raving
blossom of glory bleeding out in pathogenic metropolitan splendor,
are you going as you generously emit your deceptive glow of
methane luster hovering gorgeously over the Hudson? And who
travels forth in your vessel? Perhaps the irksome cabal of all
who have ever maligned me are assembled therein
gaining altitude as they make their way into
the ionosphere which might explain my hand on this rifle.
One well-placed shot to the globe …
Or perhaps it’s a basket of boys, objects of my fascination
those I can never take or have or think of taking or having
mingled with the ones who got away,
including the several I chased off with this mighty
shillelagh and a plethora of blarney: a motley pantheon
of curious jokers, losers, beauties and geniuses:
the quotidian team: the copy shop guy, the neurologist,
the teachers, the rabbis, the poets, the ornithologist,
the News Dissector, the Big Easy painter, the Spaniard,
the morose composer, the Peruvian Soccer coach,
the blue-eyed Greek, Vaj the Geek, Ravi the bodega dude
Stein the Medievalist, the good looking Fresh
Direct guy and firefighters who wink at me on Union Street
as if I weren’t old enough to be their mothers,
not to mention the schoolyard progenitors I ogle
discreetly, under the radar; perhaps they too float off
in the billowed sky-borne craft as I, pawn of depth
information and optic flow, watch the voluptuous
vehicle shrink, such that its diameter becomes
no greater than the longest segment my outstretched left hand
delineates as in my right I hold this farm implement,
broom, or spade — who knows which — as I wave farewell,
as, clutching my staff, my walking stick, sword, wand,
my rifle, I feel a fire rise — Maybe my husband is aboard
the rotund ascending object, clutching a bottle of Irish
and a couple of swimsuit models, searching
for a better wife. That wouldn’t be hard to find;
she’d keep the house tidy and fuss less over the spawn;
she’d cook a meal without trashing the kitchen —
Better that, than some pain-in-the-ass Calliope running amok.
Or maybe the kids are suspended therein, en route to
a better mother, in which case I obviously would
refrain from cocking this baby, I would contain my fire
in the hole, and abstain entirely from taking the dirigible down,
but under such conditions my firearm would be my only friend
and the enormous sadness as they rose beyond
the exosphere and limits of “apparent” and “absolute” magnitude
headed for realms where dwell Rogue Stars, Sundogs and
Spectral Freaks, would be more blistering than any sun,
would leave me entirely deflated with nothing left
to shake my stick at. Where I would go then hardly
matters; all I know is that I would walk
softly into that auburn haze, my eyes swollen red, my heart
like a meteor, which, plummeting earthward, crashes 

into the mesosphere where it self-immolates on impact,
in the end a great ball of fire
that devours itself whole.