David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
biblicalfictions.com
Poetry for the Curious across the Religious Spectrum
The Tao of Cannabis

     {from Gnosis} 

 

 

 

                 

                                                                                                       Swartz

 

 

 

i

 

 

South of Iowa City the road ran

Straight and flat to the crossroads

And Jeffrey’s white frame, pond and toads

Vociferous as only toads can.

 

Five mongrels barking their larger din

And bhang within to the tune

Of Sergeant Pepper that late June

When I first got high off a pale thin

 

Hookah, brass mesh and scent,

At the oval coffee table, round wire rim

Glasses, grannie dresses, beads on trim

Lean poets, punning, utterly bent

 

By the smoke, or was it parsley laced

With DMT?  It seemed to take

Over me, poetry in the sullen wake

Of sadness at nearly thirty.  We faced

 

Our childhood.  Country Joe

And Donovan, and later the stop signs

Phosphorescent as if by deliberate design,

Home, time stopped, the slow

 

Arc in by the river, the bridge

I had crossed to Wordsworth and Blake

Now quite irrelevant.  I would never take

Another seminar.  I was free.  Judge

 

It yourself.  A kilo the following week

From Stash, the balding dealer,

The goateed mystic agent, healer,

A novel in progress between tokes.  I seek

 

Even now to capture that radiance. 

Rolling down hills, sex on a threadbare rug

Beside the stove, burning myself to hug

Such ultimates, her sexual cadence.

 

 

ii

 

 

Art Spellman, manic in August,

Commandeered the Datsun toward a hemp field

North of the Reservoir.  The resin yield

Would be slight, I thought, thrust

 

Deep in the seat, sucking cold Hamm’s

From a notched can I tossed

As he cut the lights, crossed

The road.  I made the ditch, Uncle Sam’s

 

Duffel bag cradled, eyeing

The stand, ten feet and better, proud,

Feminine, moonlight on the dark shroud

Earth, the insects loud, dying.

 

Twenty pounds reduced to a jar of oil

We mixed with raw plant

And smoked in joints, scant,

Slender, powerful as Christ.  Do I spoil

 

This narrative?  Lying belly down

Toward earth, a carrousel winding slack,

Motion, color in the inner blinding black,

Amplification of the sound

 

Of touch the taste of sound,

That inner carrousel, August to autumn,

Chasing lazy circles toward awesome,

Liquid presence round and round.

 

Art Spellman, florid, speeding on nature’s

Juices, diving sailor fashion,

Nude, cape flying, ass and

Genitals flapping, amazing creatures

 

Of another cut, was left behind.

I taught in Wisconsin, ate oil, went inward

Toward McCarthy’s memory, a.w.o.l. toward

Canada from Vietnam, decent, kind.

 

 

iii

 

 

Some things I cannot alter,

Johanna’s twill rump climbing the crest

To kneel at sun-blond earth.  I must

Recall breasts free of halter,

 

The drape of their flawless weight,

Brown-tipped, as my daughter

Shared jellybeans, laughter,

Her buttocks in turn pale, slight,

 

Belly taut, lean as the tines

Of her ribs.  I too smiled, undressed,

Scattered color on the grass, pressed

The pastel tablecloth, designs

 

Of clown and high-wire act, our resin

Heightened lunch, our Kool-Aid

Innocence no brave charade

But real, true as my growing addiction.

 

That autumn melted, burned.

We held each other toward Madison,

Milwaukee, Buddhist candles, jasmine and

Sandalwood before it turned.

 

Walking the shops on State,

Ice cream and cashews, flower children

Vaguely floating on prayer and mescaline,

Bearded prophets and their freight

 

Of mantra and lament, staggering hoarse

Through psychedelic tunnels

Of candy trees and capsules

Toward corporate dreams and worse.

 

I suckled startling light

From your innocence, your eyes, above

The spiral braided rug, then barefoot, love,

Crossed frost and leaves toward fright.

 

 

iv

 

 

That day in true winter I drove

To class the cosmos shook crystalline dust

On a mystic ’59 Buick conveyance, rust

And primer.  I could not remove

 

That great dome of absence, a metal-gray

Concealing angry Jahweh

And his legions, nor later slay

The little man in overshoes, his tray

 

Of coffee in Styrofoam cups,

Eyes burning like incandescent holes,

Sucking my purity, master of middling souls

Strung tight on downs and ups.

 

Along the corridor to seminar and lecture,

A flow of whirling light

And sound, all were agents in my sight.

I was master of metaphysical conjecture,

 

Omega Point incarnate, Lucifer and

God, freezing all sentience to breathe again,

Purged of the grin of teeth.  My mission?

To defeat immortal carnivore.

 

That clean taut wench from out the void,

Taking my arm, her awesome

Bosom at my chest, her handsome

Face I easily erased, the rest destroyed.

 

Three hours lotus on the desk I stared struck

At them in frozen space,

Their blond absence, lent grace

To vinyl tile and pastel cinderblock.

 

My mission seemed complete,

Chasing wildly home through color, dance,

Eyes blasting cave-ways through the prance

Of robots clicking in the street.

 

 

v

 

 

I pressed you 18 hours, daughter,

In tempered steel I crushed your head

Against her writhing on our marriage bed,

The light a van Gogh shudder.

 

Her litany of pain—Lord, spare at least

My child—Johanna’s color bled

Toward cancerous forms.  The dead

Observed with sexual heat.  I fed the beast.

 

Through light and dark, shapes

Whirled beyond the window, saucers

Of the powers, Shakespeare’s, Chaucer’s,

Milton’s lurking in the drapes.

 

Michelangelo arrived with green hauteur,

Fashioned my figure out of stone,

Shaped my greatness to atone

For marble virgins, flaws of character.

 

A host of incarnate demigods

Gathered to press my anguished lungs,

Hoarse threats to sever lips and tongues

Should they deny me.  The odds

 

Were honest they would cry,

“Deliver us to mercy, union, rapture,

Transfigured one, our lord and master.”

Plainly a pity they should die,

 

Or was it simply fate?  White male robots

Came for me that night,

Monster insects in the light,

Clothing me in anti-Christian habit,

 

Drape of institutional garment,

Slippers princely as Christ alone

Would adopt, ascending the heavenly throne.

In leather straps I heard their torment.

 

 

vi

 

 

In the naked end I scaled

The mountain of Jehovah past rotting limbs

And jagged teeth shrieking their carnal hymns

To greed and vengeance, infants impaled

 

On thorns, minced by the leopard’s smile,

A wail of abject misery

Across the littered slope, suddenly

Still, sweetly warm, a leak of pus and bile.

 

I was alone.  Mad skies poured

Lymph and tears across the yellow stench

Of Creation, a billion years of wrench-

ing folly.  The elements warred.

 

A temple finally loomed on flawless sand,

Fashioned of gold and platinum,

The finest porphyry.  Struck dumb,

I knelt on smoking segments of the damned

 

And opened my eyes to Insect,

Rhinestone and leather purse, an aging face,

Smiling as if to recognize her son, to trace

His visage in restraints, dissect

 

His attitude, his grace, writhing

Fetal beneath her treacle smile, her voice,

Roaring like Ursa Major in the maw of space,

And then the father—“Surprising

 

You haven’t had the decency to get a trim,

But then you always were

A disappointment.  Your wife and daughter

Will survive in last account.  It’s rather grim.”

 

That great God Fly

Of childhood, bouncing on a fat paternal knee

Before it burned, lazy summer’s poetry

Before the worm.  I ceased to cry.

 

                                             1980

 

 

                

                                                                                                      Blake