George Economou - "Landed Natures"



George Economou

P O E M F O R R O C H E L L E There is really nothing to warn against about a horizon unless we always see it from one place and never move ourselves to see another and another are never moved to see ourselves anew. I love myself a little more everytime I see him in your eyes or hear you tell me what you think of him dancing naked in the living room till you can't resist him anymore and so join me in the dance because I've grown so beautiful to you.
C A T S C O L D Hassan, we found you on the GW Bridge and brought you home. You are totally, completely, absolutely dependent upon our compassion for you, a creature lower than us on the Golden Chain of Creation!
C H I E F J O S E P H S U R R E N D E R S "Hear me my chiefs my heart is sick and sad from where the sun now stands I will fight no more with the white man." 10 o'clock in the morning the sunlight still trying to sink into the mountains a promise made in the shadows of the forest is kept remembering all those treaties boundaries like narrow streams moving back and forth moving out finally. No more winters in the Wallowa Valley. 2,000 miles of fighting in the Bitterroots, Bear Paws along the Big Hole in Lolo Pass for a small country for the children of coyote. No more Wallowa Valley Chief Joseph knew it wasn't too much to ask for who looked twice at two-faced men.
B E F O R E L I T T L E B I G H O R N Custer had Crazy Horse tossed in the jug as he polished off another onion he ate them like apples was it stupidity he hid behind his strong breath? Who put my man i'th' Stockes? Good old Kent, quick to strike, slept it off NOT Crazy Horse who served himself Crazy Horse What's he that hath so much thy place mistook To set thee heere? Crazy Horse took aim from behind bars decided to spare him his pretty white horse.
T H E W H I T E W O L F Send a man in send in a man with 24 eyes the white wolf hides in the snow black tongue with pink eyes set in the snow take your planes home send in a man sun sets evergreen gives in to black the whiteness of the snow is quiet don't just stand there tottering between the mountains and the plains the plains at night are death for the white fawn send a man in send in a hunter with ears on the sole of his feet the white wolf waits send a man into the mountains sun rises the white fawn roams below the timberline give it a corner of your eye it's still dark in the woods as the white fawn descends is the white wolf gone? the white fawn hairpins closer don't look to the plains death comes there like a drink of cold water send a man in the white fawn comes you dig holes in the water dig holes in the dried up river sprinkle chunks of gumbo on your head the hunter is petrified send a child to cry wolf the white fawn is upon us
J A M E S T O W N, N. D. The instant the breeze that blew over rivers and pig pens through kitchens and cottonwoods hanging over the street blew through my car stopped at a red light and on through a dozen other towns it seemed like a nice place to live in. I've driven through many of them at dusk.
T H E C H E E R Being a list of the primary sources of The Goddess Natura in Medieval Literature, a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the require- ments for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia University, 1967. Boethius Macrobius Chalcidius Asclepius Proclus Plotinus Marrrrtianus Capella Prudentius Lactantius Lucretius Apuleius Ovid Augustine Hugo de Saint Victor Cicero Dionysius Claudian & Statius Isidore Tertullian Sanctus Ambrosius & Philo the Jew Guillaume de Conches, ehh? Alain de Lille, ehh? Thierry de Chartres Jean de Meun Abelard Johnny of Salisbury Bernardus Silvestris CHAUCER CHAUCER CHAUCER
P R A I R I E D U C H I E N Profundity? There is none of that there. No it is mythless. Of all its voices there is not one to carry such a burden to say 'I am the voice of' Something that does not move. It is no matter if the red-faced shaggy-shinned god once walked there sporting his fabulous cock. That beautiful carcass is of no matter now. In Prairie du Chien listen for the wind for the sexless cry riding it ACROSS the plain. Hard and desolate will it roar over generation of crossties.
F I R S T G E O R G I C Poor old earth we live off nobody here loves you but nobody not even the boy who looks over his shoulder to see if you curl and fold over properly against the steel concavity of the blades behind the tractor. Cussing out the gears he half remembers some old praise of you as he works at holding the wheel in such a way it is no joy to see him sweat.
S E C O N D G E O R G I C the care of beasts For keeping a happy flock, Shep, understand these things: caress them daily and be kind as you can, enter their dumb world without a word or thought even if it hurts to forget your nature. Shep, it's the only way to make it with them.
T H I R D G E O R G I C a beast to beware of Coyote blinks in the sun and is gone. He leaves his picture, the sly grin, the sparkle in his eyes. Make no mistake about it he's hungry and if he thinks of anything when he sees you it's about your chickens.
F O U R T H G E O R G I C another beast to beware of Nice night. Cool breeze. "Where seldom is heard a dis - - " rattle rattle Jesus freeze! He slinks away over the toe of my boot.
F I F T H G E O R G I C tractor song Time to break earth again. You start me up and think I'm wonderful. I chug over last year's strips I chug over the fallow. I'm not so different for all my horses. I do the same job two oxen did or a one wife powered plow.
S I X T H G E O R G I C In the cool summer dawn my horse beats his drum. Doump doump goes his hoof The earth is wet. He has an erection, prances among yellow sage flowers.
S E V E N T H G E O R G I C Big black Angus bull tries to mount one of two cows with him in the back of a red truck shaking its way down the county road to the stockyards or the slaughterhouse? he doesn't know but keeps on slipping on the shit on the floor banging up against the slats trying to make it in such crowded space like all God's good animals any time any place.
E I G H T H G E O R G I C Praise the earth in whom our hands have worked praise the animals whose throats we have cut praise us if we work earth and cut throats with reverence and thanks. Praise the earth that it makes its gifts praise the animals that they fuck for dear life praise us that we take gifts and dear life if that we give gifts and dear life in our turn then praise us most of all.
O R A N G E L I G H T O V E R B L U E E X P R E S S I O N Orange light over the Palisades' trees a blue expression and the breeze sighs primitively as ever through the legs of Kosciuszko's horse. In California it is five but the same sun will set as the same comered step outside for a smoke to watch a jet soundlessly trail a sleeve of white smoke -- poof! the cannon on the hill it is Tadeusz Kosciuszko coaching the revolutionary blues in their artillery and a hundred miles up the Hudson he is thinking up and engineering new fortifications for West Point pausing in his garden to think of Poland and Ludwika Sosnowski whose father would not give his consent so he upped and went to America with a blue expression on his face but an orange light in his Lithuanian eyes which the ladies construed as gallantry of a romantic nature which the officers construed as gallantry of a military or revolutionary nature but which Washington questioned so he cast an aluminum colored look on that forever innovating Pole who decorated the Grand Ballroom for the celebration of the English evacuation of Charleston, North Carolina with garlands of magnolia and paper flowers just to please Mrs. Nathaniel Greene who left this country forever with a testament in his own good English "I, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, being just in my departure from America, do hereby declare and direct that should I make no other test- amentary disposition of my property in the United States thereby authorize my friend Thomas Jefferson to employ the whole thereof in purchasing negroes from among his own as any others and giving them liberty in my name, in giving them an education in trades or other- wise, and in having them instructed for their new condition in the duties of morality which may make them good neighbors, good fathers or mothers, husbands or wives, and in their duties as citizens, teaching them to be defenders of their liberty and country and of the good order of society and in whatsoever may make them happy and useful, and I make the said Thomas Jefferson my executor of this." -- the jet vanishes over the horizon as its smoke crumbles drifts into streaky cirrus high above the running orange light over the deepened blue and the breeze.
T H E S T A L K S A N D T H E S T R E N G T H O F T H E W I N D There was nothing I could do to save her she was so fragile to have kissed her then the thought of her body crumbling at the lightest touch of my fingertips made me keep my distance so I followed: she waited for me in trees while I hid behind hedges when she moved into open country I stayed in the mountains never losing sight of her except when she entered water I always knew the spot where she would come up for air shaking her head and smiling at me though she couldn't see me it was then I tore my hands on the rocks and filled my eyes with sand and blood swearing never to let her see me she began to grow wild: defiling herself on dung heaps defying me to stop her challenging my clumsy hands we waited, crouched in a field of corn until she came running through her long hair brushing the stalks forward with the strength of the wind we waited for the sun to make her ready my hands held her by the shoulders I kissed the raisins where her eyes were
T H O S E O T H E R S We have always like those others the ways they move birds holding the air for dear life fish screwing the water for dear life animals sniffing the earth for dear life it's all so simple we say how they take what is there or each other how they know who to take who will take them but what's the tune they dance to? every step is a sure one every turn undisputed though it end in the rhythm of jaws We always liked them those others whose singing is beyond our throats
T H E O L D G A L Autumn weather gets to the old gal. Her winter coat predicts the worst is yet to come up 116th Street. In the Palisades the fevered colors drive out the green, blaze at least some heat for the eye. A patch of cotton behind her glasses keeps her right eye warm and windproof. Up the hill she staggers as the year grows old. Mumbling, "the old gal she ain't what she used to be."
T H E G I V I N G O F N A M E S No doubt it once had a classical name. Something had happened was forgotten till something new happened again: a farmer made a trip from Arcadia to Achaea took his donkey with him to carry the load. What's a few hours' rain when you've crossed a river that many times? The difference is one donkey a wet farmer screaming Donkey Drowner Donkey Drowner!
N I G H T S O F T H E H A L F - E A T E N M O O N for Rochelle Nights of the half-eaten moon I waited for you in the darkness when you didn't come I became a bird that forgot to fly south for the winter Nights of the half-eaten moon strange sounds lulled me to sleep and I dreamed of hurricanes in empty rooms I found you waiting for me in the darkness awoke in your arms and never let go.
T H E H O U S E Sooner or later everyone comes to the house. If in the morning as the light approaches a wall, carefully, slips around the corners, you -- I am not talking to you but at night when the dark windows begin to glisten under the moon you come to it put your hand in, you hear me in there? have you found your room? your answer is an echo your answer is not an answer it is your moving up and down you rising by night falling by day rising before a window unknown, unseen but to yourself? with your fingers pressing the glass your face a faint reflection in your eyes.
T H E T R I C K F A L L S O F H E P H A E S T U S The Trick Falls is so-called for as it melts and runs off Grinnell Glacier the wind squeezes through two walls of shale hits it upwards so it comes down twice. A pretty trick at any altitude. * From where most of us stand it can't be heard. Hike up closer if your breath is long and your ears can take it. ** The old mountain goat lame and named Hephaestus still sure-foots it he likes it on the mountain because falls are in his line. *** Don't forget I made the net that caught them and held them more beautiful than I. Never hoped to keep her to myself, but I got Ares by the balls. Don't forget that. I made the net and rigged it to fall. **** Call me tricky if you like. But watch, I work the metal! the hammer falls down gently taptapping for the spot then raise my arm -- watch your ears -- it falls like a bullet. ***** So the lame old goat watches the falls' tricks till the wind blows out jerks his weight back on the hind legs and leaps forward, the fore legs both testing the rocks and taking his weight runs out of sight.
T H E P E R F E C T for Robert Donald Spector the perfect game was never nor ever shall be pitched; eighty-one-con- secutive strikes indeed! and so must every poem be a disappointment? maybe. some. many. sure, most. but see the world.
T H E W A L K E R There is nothing charismatic about me. I mean I've walked through all the alleys in this town indifferently past garbage cans and clotheslines pissed against backyard cottonwoods at dinner time and am no better for it in the way you think I might be -- I walk for my health rejoice in my feet in the sour darkness inside my shoes.
Q U E S T I O N & A N S W E R for Terence Malley Who is this bearded swain with belly full of rabbit stew full of cinnamon and garlic striding through the knee-high grass cursing his dogs in Bulgarian? It's the old sheepfucker spreading joy where'er he goes.
C R A Z Y - E Y E D C O W B O Y S Those crazy-eyed cowboys Lady, who romp you fantastically have sharp little knee caps beneath their horse sweat stinky faded jeans. Lady, dream no more I advise, though I too have been hung up on long subway rides with choosing harems or desert island playmates. The mind's a fine and private place but Lady we are here and healthy.
S O T H E R E -- You animal! Yes, I am an animal --You animal! Yes, I am an animal you cannot upset me by calling me an animal it is a charge I bear with equanimity I am a magnificent animal magnanimous like the wolf in my victories: a urinating, defecating, breathing, thinking, copulating mother-fucking son of a bitch of a beautiful animal
A S E C R E T L I F E I become wolf I become wolfman I become wolf any day of the month defy the full moon and become wolf any time of the day of the month but become a most virile wolf under a full moon a werewolf behind the wheel "stupid lupus" to you Mr. 'cause I don't know what the fuck you're talking about and O Mr. President you make me wolf may be a wolf yourself or maybe a roach but I am a wolf and my best friends are wolves too somewhere and sometime they are wolves too virtuous wolves and virago wolves wolves with great virtuosity secretly and sometimes not so secretly but you know what I say I say every man's wolfishness is his own affair unless it offends others whereupon they may respond with a wolfishness equal to the offense and I say this because I'm a fair-minded wolf even when I become mostly a wolf so please take care how you address me concerning this matter for I'm an omnivore with easily hurt feelings
Y E A R N Y E A H Y E A R N Within his breast was poised a delicate cup of china yearning yearning to be filled with elegance and grace for he knew he was such a clumsy beast (an ANIMAL his aunt had called him: 'Mein kind! mein kind! du bist ein Tier!' his Mutter had screamed and startled him into dropping the tortured creature he was dismembering into the sandbox his Papa had painted in red, white, and blue peppermint stripes because here, here his son could become the President maybe). But all he wanted was a) a little style with people and b) a happy healthy sweet relationship with another person c) for his cup to be filled with the dream of himself d) for it to runneth over a delight to one and all. BUT to make virtue of his private necessity, the son of a butcher and bitch, was more easily felt than accomplished dreamed of than done and everywhere he went his Papa's Fleischmarkt went with him: Rubens reminded him of the Fleischmarkt Flaming Creatures reminded him of the Fleischmarkt T-shirts, pink lingerie the war in Vietnam, his girlfriends all reminded him of the Fleischmarkt. he tried to exorcise it with seriousness (ever notice how butchers are only serious with the money but not the meat -- they just smile at it) he exorcised it with poetry and working at jobs remote from the Fleisch. Still he knew, he knew from his dreams he was ever the beast, when he saw himself a gazelle fressing the carcass of a zebra. He knew from the impulses he felt when opposed but he controlled it, controlled it and went wherever he went, far or near, but not in a straight line.
D R E A M T N I G H T O F 3 / 2 2 / 6 2 Hakuin, nodding head before a new disciple: "I am tired. I shall sleep two hours." "But Master how then will you be enlightened?" Hakuin, head still: "I am asleep."
B A U B O M O T H E R The Baubo mother's head rests on her hips rather than on her neck. Thus she has a dimple on her chin where the cleft between her thighs should be or is. She is delightful. You don't have to be an art historian to enjoy the pun.
T H E O L D B A L L G A M E The death of Pure Neoplatonism though hung tight till the bottom half of the ninth century. Plotinus pitched a whale of a game but the boys didn't get him any runs. Iamblichus hit what you might call the last hellenistic triple but was dialectically opposed to stealing home. With two down Proclus drew a walk, advanced to second when Dionysius the Areopagite, a pinch hitter nobody ever heard of got himself hit, though it looked unintentional. It was up to big John Scotus Erigena to bust the ballgame wide open, and almost did. He drove two out of the park that went foul by inches. He was thinking about that when the pope called the third strike.
J U S T A S A G U S T Walking past a young man shitting his boxer on a breezy B'way corner just as a gust blows under the dog's distended ass and sweeps the all too fresh odor to my nose reminds me of something I read of Dante's Florence, which "was, thanks to the prosperity and initiative of its citizens, in many ways ahead of its time. Streets were paved and drainage was well provided for, but since all transportation was by horseback, and goods and supplies were borne through the streets on mules and donkeys, the condition of the streets was all but indescribable;" No, dear professor, it is: over the first pavement lay a second, thanks to the prosperity and initiative of the animals, which couldn't be drained away, oh no which couldn't be rinsed off the streets -- like the hair of Allesio Interminei otherwise unknown except for his shitful head (what fabulous and hateful bullshit he must have spread) that Dante gave him in hell. Well, Beatrice stepped in those streets. Four blocks more down this one bread and rolls are baking.
E A S Y F R U I T The fruit on this tree came easy no choice but to eat it being so good for the bowels which go easy. Language untouched by trouble or grief.
T H E C O N D I T I O N I am bringing you the black sheep its right foreleg bound tight to the left hindleg. Bring me the knife and you too will eat.
T H E T I E A neat half-Windsor is what I tie my tie in and tilt it slightly outwards somewhat pugnaciously for the world, for strangers. It is around all our throats.
I F P O L I T I C I A N S W O U L D L E A R N F R O M P O E T S Since they never overcome their boyhood dreams to be the biggest pricks in our body politic let politicians learn from poets if they will the honest speech of an erection unequivocal and full of heart's blood's desire to do something unmistakably human.
T R Y P T Y C H Against what flesh can I define my own and the George of tomorrow -- the wishful public's? their body of bodies surrounds me touches does not touch me in my ring of desire turns left on a smile or right on a squint that strains to focus in a quiet hour on a "Christ is risen" in who, me? "Messiah coming" someday riding the bridge of the Staten Island Ferry cool and free of any loss of limb or loved one.
P R A Y E R O F T H E N A T U R A L M A N Goddess conduct heart mind and cock direct their travail travel to the centers they must go to: set heart above an orchard like a sun cloud flower opened to all before it. Mind unclench of banalities and self-full stings to be the sure handler of every bird and snake it finds, is found by. And cock come a constant pilgrim. ___________________________________________________________________ Copyright © 1969 by George Economou. Originally published by Black Sparrow Press. Long out of print, the book is presented here complete. ___________________________________________________________________ Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry.