are the gilded stags? I'd like to know.
right up the stairs past Tiepolo,
through the fading saintliness
renaissance virgins and wise men;
the unfinished portrait of Michelangelo,
the haunted twilight where Vermeer's ladies,
so shy after five centuries,
with calm eyes thoughts of times alone.
is my life in this tomb of history?
my heart a stone deity frozen in a pose?
once heroic and frail, a slate face missing a slate nose?
are the gilded stags, that leap and leaping
through lives trailing gold leaf and stars,
cold tears the dew cries?
have seen them in far swarms like lit towers
light to city nights and begging palms.
all the world is gold what use are coins?
past Clifford's room but not so fast
you miss his knife-edge dance through your honey.
October leaves can't fall from grace
just tilt-a-whirl and surrender their green
Japanese waves on a golden screen
low lit glass so as not to fade
answers an artist must have made
questions that come begging:
all the world's a painted screen, what use is art?
this likeness of a scull, or this photograph of space?
want to find the one thing I can't seem to face
myself, like an African legend long lost,
and bodies carved out of magical spells,
sorrow and ecstasy of tribe and continent
away with a plaque of text;
into our colonial program,
becomes a string of artifacts and tiny gods
from the bush and publicly housed in glass.
past Greek Helen, the face that launched
thousand Initial Public Offerings.
past the great walled pit of trading
the father of our nation was inaugurated.
love, does god trust in us?
accountant whirls through yeses like a drunken Mevlevi,
family's tears plant beanstalks they climb
hunt the golden geese that turn money into time.
sift clouds for stags that graze on the sun
time is money what is legal tenderness to a stone bust?
love, how much time is left?
long before we become museum pieces,
symbols of rituals that never were?
rites of passage here and there,
safe sex beneath tax shelters
nude in oceans of forgiveness.
saw a gilded archer in a garden of posterity
was teenaged and naked and she asked me,
all the world is hunting love what use are arrows and guns?"
told her to go past the American Wing,
the Grandfather clocks and furnished airlessness,
past the Temple of Dendur in its personal greenhouse,
the gods of Egypt who had crab-claws for hands,
the obelisk why its alphabet is a worn out photoglyph,
it's dead language is an arrow aimed at the cosmos
know without knowing answers, there never were
bow and arrow that didn't have to part ways.
must go. One must stay.
if time is an arrow, is space the archer, or am I?
told the golden teen to go past the Asian halls
Shiva unfolding her dance in a ring of fire
the standing Buddha, his eyes cool, his torso armless,
told her to grab a bite with the Chinese bodhisattvas,
bellies swollen with Lau Tsu's dictum:
the people have full stomachs and empty minds,
will be easy to govern.
stags could be there, feeding on rice paper mists
the twelve scrolls depicting the Palace of the Nine Perfections
the farthest east is but the farthest west.
the stags that twist through golden light
hide in the flesh of Monet's Venetian reflections
curl within the bowels of Rodin's Burghers of Callais
can see they must have leapt past Lepage's Joan of Arc,
loom overturned, her eyes in the council of angels
and burning with the realization of what is real.
hand raised halfway between there and here
wave, have beckoning, a mudra that says I know, I know.
they ran through El Greco's cloud cover
back toward the Chinese calligraphy
graze on grids of symbols
temple histories in the manner of plum trees in spring.
their determination with Korean versions
the Lotus Sutra in gold ink on indigo paper.
sunbeams surfacing from deep evening
stars one by one landing at JFK
grids of gold ink coaxed from outer space.
have seen them run trackless under the volcano's ash
little architectures in seas of black
the painted rooms of Pompeian villas
English tapestries where stags pull kings carriages,
medieval unicorns harried by hounds
up to archangels holding hands, dancing rings
the hurried scramble of worldly affairs
trumpets of divinity blare through the horns
twine arabesques in the antlers of gilded stags,
that musk the minds of housewives and businessmen
over at checkpoints along Arabian incense routes.
briefcases filled with the perfumes of the zodiac
eyes widened by the desert sun.
of gilded stags traverse oases.
no other beast or bird could be believed,
weave their spells on underworlds
the law whose long arm outstretched
grasp just the shadow of something gone.
mother passed into the cool one autumn.
gold dust through an hourglass,
red rose on the dashboard of my mind.
gold dancers thrust and grind,
drive time through thin scrims
guide this dream I have always been.
father went, like smoke through cloth.
that remains is an earthen question mark.
I fly through life standing on the shoulders of skylarks.