Lee Anderson2 Poems >>
Prevailing Winds

I
The bland many-eyed walls
of skyscrapers and the modest
in-between brownstone houses
shall not bruise the thrust of his rapier spirit
rather the artist with the intensity of youth
the prophet's second sight the seer's vision
shall cause these buildings to shrink and dilate
lean askew into the ether relax like wilted rubber
stand and shine
as the lucent image of an all-seeing god within him

but never shall suave facade of church and store
ever divert an eye attending
every minute of every waking day
the amazing palette span
of dioramic grey
running the scale from brilliant sweep of cornice line
to leaden asphalt Avenue from arrowhead oyster shell
cat's eye grey of metal chrome
to warm maternal monotone in archaic gothic cathedral

grey is the dominant the dream tone
of the city of the artist
the way these chords and phrases
of shade and light blend and repeat
soothes and fires like music
like music swelling falling
the grey of a sailing barge and a gull's wing
of early pewter and newly minted silver
the grey that sounds like a loon's call
the ring of thin glass
and a smothered laugh in summer rain

grey is the dominant the dream tone
of the urge towards wisdom love and order
but under city clouds
design slides easily as if
what matter if old order hold
the mood forever

one alone moves sorrowfully along
the early twilight sleet and snow aware of confusion
numbing December cold insolence and hate
on high and the answer only the artist
can encompass and only
while wedged
like a plume bright flare
in the spiral shaped hour of making

the bland bonafide letter-perfect literal mind
and ample counterpart
on the cat-lipped distaff side
never divert an ounce of vigor
from getting and spending or the lending
of an eye an ear a hand
to grow beneath obedient kindred sense
responsive to the last nuance of tone
and color in tolling bells the blending
organ notes of grey in building stone
the changing mood and tense of the city
from hour to hour and day to day
they who out of step out of rhythm
react in kind with conveyor belt mind

they shall not snare the sculptor
in the plush thrall of the Avenue
for he is ruled by the systole diastole
undulating auguries of seven moon moved oceans
rather shall his hand cause arrogant square walls
to warp in the wind to curl and buckle
under furious thrust
under urgent upward fluent current
until the plume-bright spiral flare of the sea
rockets to a heaven of renewal remaking

every minute of every living day
touch may be talisman to a thousand worlds
beyond caprice of eye forever seeing earth
within the compass of horizon blue
for a hand may reach where eye is blind and know
as the sculptor knows the planes and lines beneath
the oblong marble block
the fourth dimension man
contained in three dimension stone

oh for a phantom hand at least as wide
as the spread of a city street a hand to trace
the Quaker grey cool clay model feel
of great grey monoliths of stainless steel
a hand to hold the smooth the rough
the length breadth thickness mass
and weight
... to know the tremor of wind stressed tower
on slow appraising thumb
oh for a mammoth hand
to mould cube and dome and octagon edge
into shapes and planes where light can play
on narrow street and hidden alley way
... for a hand to raise to half again
the stature of man in the image of master

but under the clouds of the city between rivers
spirit sinks fruitless barren sapless
from head to heart to hip to heel
soaking like rain on drought pocked
ground
into glinting piebald paving stone into
the metallic granite rock on which the city rides

above income sluiced to fumed altar oak
above sweating damp and nausea
blocked in deference to others
in sea swaying homeward bus
the only important are
the intemperate dream to evening fervent
the continuing beat of andante cantabile
echoing through all of a fruitless following
day

while Siphon Sahib is still astride the Veblen
thunder
search for immaculate finds rule of thumb
languid arm aptly draped on parlance
groping for homily when cornered
unconscious of undercurrent urge
gripping like fire an inner silence
the knowing old order holds defenceless realm

the bland parvenu
the wool and a yard wide dowager
of lean temple and February countenance
these shall not spit and snarl at the dancer
rather she with a sybil's gift of divination
foresees an Avenue empty
of preening idle women lor the dancer
shall cause this vapid furtive circumstance
of burnished leather luggage models of ships
mandarin lacquer for finger tips
of diamonds rubies perfumes furs and
flowers
and trinkets in trade for idle hours shall cause
the storms once wracking Lesbos
to shake the even tenor of tall grey buildings
like plucked bass viol strings like maddened timpani
horn and drum reeling in unison
with her every motion
it is as if she were afloat as if
she knew the quick surprise the arrow shock
of mountain lake in midnight moonlit May
the deeper warmer offshore current
tingling against her naked skin
in darkened ecstasy
around and about a closely anchored pier

oh for a hand high over roof and spire
to cup the flint spark stab from sidewalk
crowds
in endless ribbon strands
unmarked notes above the treble C
of carillon evensong
below basso profundo resonant G
of an ocean slugging the sand bar line
where city ends and sea begins

grey is the dominant the dream tone
of the rhythms of the city panelled shadow grey
in V-shaped diamond shafts of sun aslant
the bright dust laden air above the street
the grey of wire thin winter rain against
warm wool monotones of modest
in-between brownstone houses
. . . never shall suave facade
or letter-perfect literal
ever divert an eye attending
the grey that sounds like a loon's call
the ring of thin glass
and a contralto laugh in summer rain

II
over the hill's brow gazing south and east
on the whole brewing land there is
an aura of mystery like a moslem veil
as air for mastery limes mystic soil

from early April when the scillas rise
eerily in new apparel until the rose
enthralling moods of nascent auguries
ascend from vague wren trill to oriole aria

over the hill's brow the south wind blows
a strand of hair from face and ear
and with it dun brown furrows
of thought-bent thin blown sorrow

the teasing caressing southwind swirling
around a smoothly skirted leg
and wind-pink tingling cheek!
how glad we are to share the earth
with whip resilient reddening briar
and yellow willow how good it is
simply to be alive to see the last
reluctant bank of shadowed snow
give way to first green tuft of grass

to feel our throats repeat
the quivering tremulous beat
April rides prevailing winds

under the full bright moon in May
nothing sleeps nothing sleeps soundly . . .
from early April when the scillas rise
one Ufa her will step from rocl^ to rose
. . . under the full bright moon
with the odor of lilac plum and cherry
pervading all ...
as blossom after blossom succeeds surprise
a breast offers bliss exceeding praise
. . . like heady wine inhaled
every heavy moon burdened flower
becomes blood brother of spellbound beholder
until cloud sweep and pulse flare
sever bond neither could endure further . . .
plum nut apple lilac cherry locust
a plume night nipple full furry thou likest
. . . the mirrored light of the delicate opal
of apple petal on arm and shoulder
firefly glowworm and throaty note
of frog in eerie frenzy in the fragrant night . . .
the moon caressing an elm firm thigh
mons veneris laving in girdle free thought
... all through the night the passion white night
the pitch of life ascends higher and ever higher
from bolero spin of katydid
to meadow wide woodwind symphony
until a halo of light and the first bird call
bind more closely a mating world
with the sleepless lazy lid of hour after hour . . .
priapus in armour resplendent knowing
piety passes with the earth's renewing
it is five o'clock in the morning
in the merry month of May
the catbird mocks the bluebird's song
green grass hides bleak brown earth
every bush and branch wears a glad rebirth
and we sing we sing pollee wollee doodle
cock a double duty the live long day

and we loaf on down a wooded lane
for scent of grape our lungs too scant
to grasp the breath of June
we breathe-in hour-long draughts
of wet wild rose and spice wild grape
watch the big bellied sleepy cat
and balloon inflated cow

listen to the counterpoint
of wind on nape of neck
but an octave higher in the tree above
we think we hear the murmur primitive
perhaps the mystery of life within life
without end

over the hill's brow gaze south and east
at basket woven fields of corn and oats
see how soothed content the wheat appears
green against the buckwheat pasture
like a woman new to children stirred
by the womb locked growing seed
to shed an angular maiden gaucherie
and gain in June a quiet easy grace

. . . oh the fresh milkwarm smell of June!
with every slow and savored breath
drink in the day's perfection lest
in other time either lost in desperate aim
or fiction we have no memory
of merry haymow studded field
sun warm air above ice cold brook
of one like her who steps from rock to rose
breath withheld heart beat skipped
to behold rebirth all hurt escaped

III
with the harvest in we dance and drink wine
whosoever fails to celebrate the season
of gathered wheat and apples nearly ripe
that little man
or diminutive woman shall writhe
under hottest August ever
but blessings on you if in spite of letters repeating
"why must request for answer
remain forever unanswered" if you
far away are high on warm red wine
a dream astride the city wintered mind

abracadabra a b c
banish literal ale spill spell
and wine spur lateral

her husband's to Asylum gone
scotch and soda arm in arm
she shall come to no great harm
but I'll do and I'll do and I'll do

great apple orchard ardors wax
as he in shorts and she in slacks
in ambient attitude appraise
alternate glare and shade of sun
their tunics both now quite undone
for pillowed travel o'er meadow maze
and mimic dalliance with dappled light
as though endless days were endless night

at zenith now in state
the pleasing stallion mane appears
"darling, I feel so guilty and ashamed"
"you needn't, you're not to be blamed"
"it isn't because we are as we are
but for those who are starved and stunned and bare"
"your woman's voice is full of woe and war"
"I cry beware beware"

abracadabra
ale spill spell
literal is banished, "x - y - z - you?"
"nine by the clock and all is well"
"ten by my wrist and all too few"
when the harvest is in we drink and dance
and whosoever fails by chance
to celebrate without reason
this brief inebriate too short season
we "blast with the breath of December
and freeze in tumult to lifeless ember"

blessings on you if in spite of literal
you can and do assemble lateral

IV
this limbic pink whorl of an ear
assembles sound in double role
the thunder and rumble of the sea is heard
in duplicate ring as rambling ground swell
the muted music of waves off shore at night
and the lumbering roar of striking water
a northeaster ramming wind and rain on rock

either it is the mood of the storm
or eon-old instinct augurs the end
of peace for only a month ago
we dozed under hypnotic August sun
now unprovoked attack insult and rabid threat
leave hurricane and hysteria shaping every hour

here on this September beach with sting
of salt spray smarting eyes facing hidden horizon
we inquire
when a bullet finds a mark what sound
may lull the end what quirk of mind will soothe
the quick stab and slow ebb of encumbered breath

remembering
our humble and lowly origin who
could not hear the runic beat of song in speech
or listen to the first blind groping of life
as the race after cold brine breathes ungilled air
answers a sun not glazed by mottled green
but clear a haven beyond the weaving land line
the grey monotony of everlasting seas

how can one condense as war nears
to a month to a single day the unspent years?

from break of day to next day's birth
this star-shaped five pronged hand moulds earth
into contours of exquisite places
where five senses share with seven faces
storm and calm and mirth

under the cool black autumn night
with star shaped hand held pronged to light
the ear cups sound from distant suns as stirring
as tribal drums in dreaming as whirring
mountain blues in southern flight

in women's arms new chords are heard
echoing through breathless surds
uncertainly in exquisite places:
love like the track of light a star traces
following an echoing word

early October rain then sun
turning green to red is one
when this change rings on bone and muscle
blood hears the whisper and rustle
of leaf from scarlet to dun

in October when the breath is held on half
and quarter notes a large round pebbled hurt
wells up from deep beneath the smooth thin plane
whereon we skim like restless water skeet

over the spirit implacable fog
drapes a melancholy shroud of beaded mist
a damp that will not dry on neck or wrist
the whole wide world now moves in fits and starts
in the middle of the night men writhe and
twist
and ask if voice of dissembler shall again become
bayonet of disemboweller

brown hunters quarry a brown hare
a double shot
silhouettes a dubious quandary olive rookies
march and countermarch from state to church
corralled again within walled cities a man
is flayed by scourging sound
excruciating shrieks tear skin to shreds
the arousers releasing snare and drum of hate and holy
writ
beginning like the shock of sand on tongue
noise rebounds against nail-scoring stone
strikes flagstaff and belfry
endlessly echoes
to stoved ankle scraped bone scoured knee
so stripped slowly from instep to forelock
he stands quivering a weapon weirdly forged

remember our humble aim
for unspent time to seek for new horizons
in pattern and rhythm
the image of order in nature as in art
to walk the avenue of unspent years
by druid trees until the eye appears
to know a hundred shades of green ranging
from maple blue to locust yellow changing
as the light changes as the wind veers

to hear in the dance when the moon is bright
music and rhyme in marriage rite
the sound of whirling flame as dancers
like white moths seeking final answers
wildly welcome night
and never to allow a fear of thirst
or hunger well rehearsed
to claim the month of May until dying
a hand waves like swallows flying
to say Spring always comes first

in laughter and ribald fun to affront
by gesture rude and word stone blunt
peruke and mask of those whose manner
proclaims they carry the banner
for bishops who would but can't
for prissy pretenders thou and thee churchers
cadging to powers that be pulling the oars
for plenary purses and both our ears as well

thus zippered into khaki by quaint technique
of circus stage fife and drum hurdy gurdy
and apt phrase of sovereign
he learns the rub of sanded olive drab
on salted welt

countermarching
from state to church from gyp
to honky-tonk priest to prostitute
his mind under skillfully tautened winch
and vise on skull toboggans to medieval hell

in febrile nightmare a gauleiter resumes
fantastic search for gold in perfect teeth
as heat of auger hollows faultless tooth
this pinioned head trembles and vibrates
in idiot palsied shaking until temple
spurts in throe and blood streams like tears
a tendon jerks the puppet knee to navel
heart and lungs are clutched in talon grip of hawk
hands once whole bend and twist iron chair arm
in jagged broken gripe until at end
of eternal second embedded nerve explodes
bit rears eyeward to agony of more than mortal rue
when a bullet finds a mark what sounds
may lull the end what quirk of mind will soothe

mind's eye views through snow and mist
a dancer playing toe and wrist
in rhythm with word spoken
but with cadence and melody broken
by a warm laugh kissed

and the queer discovery made
when bud of lilac and apple played
tuning fork notes on hand held to render
to Spring the sign of surrender
in blind man's bluff parade

since October the breath withheld to half
and quarter note we watched the sober close
of Fall

now with wet red mark on first snow
we inquire what sounds are heard by those
seated in concert chair in bland white tie
and striped silk shorts

can the delicate shell of such
an ear assemble sound in double role
and catch the echo of andante largo
against the thunder and rumble of guns?

only to advance beyond this halfway stage
in time beyond the whoring hell
of constant war of cleric and sovereign
pimp and puppet moving in marionette obedience
to lust so deeply buried under conscious mind
they are unaware of how in turn they too
are pulled by hidden strings

"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord . . ."
but GOD
has become the recruit and partisan of death
HIS servant a horse-boned mental runt
whose flaccid jowl weaves in jellied accord
with barrel paunch is servile
stone blind a mumbling fool
a pacifist in time of peace
cadger to plenary power in war
a sniveller in prurience while a man dies . . .

enough! a waste to curse in the last hour
weak men well meaning and of vague good will

rather
remember our humble aim for unspent time
out of a tempering of matter and spirit
to impress design upon a world
careless of human wish where
aside from the stars order exists
within the mind of man alone
rather in the discipline of rhythm and pattern
to find an arrowed answer to question still unread

how can one condense as death nears
to a day or an hour the unlived years?
how can sprung loin in arc tension speed
an image of heaven beyond the weaving land line
where against an amazing palette span
of dioramic grey in triumph and splendor
men enter a city designed by the dreams of artists

how hear beyond the sand bar edge
where city ends and sea begins
the muted music of waves off shore at night
and as in a woman's arms
the quivering tremulous beat of speechless song
soothing the quick stab
the slow ebb of encumbered breath
until a halo of light beyond the hidden horizon
severs bond neither could endure further
from under wet red mark on first snow
in early April will the scillas rise
to enthralling mood to "chorus for survival"
the mystery of life within life without end