Anselm Parlatore

from The Twilight Rhapsodies

# 5
                    I see what you are doing
                             Thomas Hardy  “After a Journey”


Pallid, the stagnation, skeins
of oblivion, its aperture,
your catafalque upon the hill.

You so did not want me buying
a Fiat, so worried & concerned
about fast, huge trucks on I-5.

You know, they just found
charcoal from the Permian Extinction,
a never translated manuscript
of Domenico Cavalca,

discovered that galactic runaways
share an algorithm
with all the minute vesicles
streaming along lonely microtubules!

You say, ah, your membrane again!


Such loci modulated,
were our sequestering,
an homogeneity, transcriptional,
that you saw as solemn
frescos of the high altars.

Now, all this homeostasis
seems pointless, a granularity
to the litany, necrosis at the plinth, 

all mitotic transport & segregation
no longer the spindle assembly’s stability,
no longer the astonishing hollows. 

# 15
                        Insidious the epiphanic spill.
                                      Geoffrey Hill  12 “Clavics” 


Slow downstrokes of a startled
heron rising at creekside,
petrified, enraged guttural croaks
echoing through the sepulchre’s chambers,
paeans of its ancient throat,
gigantic wingspan, its shadow

caught on the tower wall
& in our large parlor mirror
that still holds your face
even though you are long gone.


They have just found new sets of tracks,
tracks of a heron-like bird
in our Chuckanut Formation,
fossilized footprints of Eocene
animals, birds, a giant flightless
bird, Diatryma, predatory carnivorous
Credonts, herons, tapirs,
& a goose-like bird on Slide Mt.

But your tracks have vanished.
The heron searches for you
startled by your mirrored face.


There is a mournful inevitability
in this heron’s raucous complaint,
a prehistoric connivance that you
& it share, its ornate, black, filamentous
nuptial head plumes, its breeding plumage,
streaming behind its small, reptilian head

that excited yet disturbed you.


Or are they antennae, wires,
strange filiform helices
of a pre RNA-DNA ancient
genetic system or code
allowing for such communication?

Allowing for you & it to share
broad, eternal absolutes, epiphanies,
& intimacies? You once said
such plumage was in high demand
with 19th Century hat designers

& that such a swamp bird, stuffed,
made for a fine ornament! 


& yet, the mirror doesn’t reveal
any ripples as the heron stealthily lifts
each slender leg from the shallows,

as it stretches its curved, sinuous neck
& lightingly thrusts its dagger-bill
in the direction you were last seen,
left, the wake of your departure.

There is a glassy opalescence
in the mirror, a dream,
glints of immobility
as if nothing is there, 

but the heron is no longer
a sentry. It will
no longer search for you,
be waiting for you.

# 20
                               Where it engages, uncompromisingly, the issues
                               of our condition, poetics seeks to elucidate the
                               incommunicado of our meeting with death.
                                               George Steiner  “Real Presences”


The decaying of this cold moon
opens your sleeping hands,
caresses the inside of your wrist,
the dark remembering you

this forlorn Wolf Moon’s
thin crescent slowly slicing
the pale skin covering your artery

sending faint pulses of absence
from the echo-chambers of your heart,
your recent echo cardiogram’s
delicate & narrative ejection fraction
a lost sanctity, our final farewell.


Such tranquil finality
an aureate holiness lost
in the marginalia, the under linings.


Privation, sorrowful, panoptic cleavage
of the organic & inorganic. Coleridge
helpful, as also Needham, but never
enough confluence to comfort, console.

Even the 17th Century Divines, their baroque
Compendiousness doesn’t suffice, proves
too recondite to nourish & placate, heal.

Jesuit missionaries, their zeal
also a footnote, a resonance.


Such is the pathos, the solitude
that will not allow a resuscitation
of our shared, intricate past,

a crystallographic past with facets
that capture & reflect this moon
its reticulations a mosaic,
a tapestry of spirals & coilings,
a vertiginous, kaleidoscopic landscape,
memory’s secreted folds.


The first instance of this
the mandala I painted on your ceiling
(1968, pre-quake Victorian/Russian Hill, S.F.)

& how the numinous threaded its way
through all our talismanic safeguards
over the years, ridiculing all my carapaces
moments of minute erudition, arcane learning,
esoteric citations & anarchic fantastications.

That house has been torn down,
ceiling long gone, a gleaming glass condo
now defies any archeology of our chasms
& escarpments, our condemned domain.


Again, the parting, the canticle
of our vaunted purities,
the annihilating silence
of your new pacemaker that effaces
the contours of your heart,
our privacies, the lineage
of remembrances that was our
sanctuary, our discretion.


But your gently crumpled tissues
remain on & around your bedside table.

The moon illuminates even their chaotic folds,
their wisps of lipstick, their fragility, sadness.

You the invalid in an oblivion,
all sorts of concealments
in the morass of your chasms,
doomed, an owl hooting
in our nearby forest,
the scent of your blood a lure
for the thirsty spirits of the dead.


Parting also has a scent.
Dogs, animals know this.

& arriving! Global navigational systems,
celestial, magnetic or smell-driven,
the migrant snow geese spanning oceanic immensities.

But there is a premonition
in Portia’s eyes. I wish
to God I had never written this.