The Muse

(An International Journal of Poetry)

Volume-1                                          June-2011                                                        Number-1

 

Relative Constellations

by Michael D. Sollars

Nocturnal, inarticulate murmur;

 

Is this the moment before or after?

The long awaited toll of the clock,

The long duration between seconds,

The time when the kookaburra bird,

The crow’s inconsequential cousin,

Ludicrously laughs aloud as the sun dies;

 

Not quite yet, as first falls across the room,

A whisper

A murmur

A rhythm

A drone

A moan of paralysis.

 

A new droning, almost imperceptible,

Fills the silence above my bed,

Trapped within the interval of a moment,

Sings from above, like the lost nightingale,

Wind tip toeing across hedge rows,

Its voice whispers, without wavering, but hypnotic.

 

 

 

High overhead,

Rafter hung,

The image races, blurred;

Aeolus bladed,

Arms extended,

Sinister slayer;

His blades strike me

As three arms at first, and then only one in a whirl,

Turning and turning in the collapsing room,

Round and round spin the fan’s blades,

Ancient or antique, styled with porcelain grommet,

Artful crystal blades, spinning back the contours of time,

Counterclockwise, against time’s march, overhead.

 

Still hum, blank filled, incoherent, indistinct,

Crawl cocooned memories,

Of what? I know not, at first at any rate;

Greek chorus or chaos, I’m uncertain.

 

Stepless somnambulist, sleep I;

Still, at first, none, not one thought,

Mind milling about across empty mental miles;

Suddenly then thoughts leap free,

I succumb to time’s snare, prey to the memory hunter lodged inside,

Evanescent hues played by hums and hymns of ethereal worlds.

 

New night canopy now stretches vast overhead, yard by yard,

Webbed by silver glow, distant luminescent essences,

Multitude of star points, devoid of design and meaning.

 

Still as stone, dumb to thought,

I stare perplexed at the night ceiling,

The fan continues its incomprehensible murmur,

And the poet finds only the much forgotten of the least learned;

Stellar names lost, lights extinguished.

 

The Seven Sisters of Platinum Pleiades, hunted eternally by Orion,

Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Pegasus, Orion, Virgo, Phoenix, Andromeda, Cassiopeia,

Once ago familiar constants,

All fallen forever from memory, gone beneath the horizon to dark sleep;

Even my own Libra lost, 

Her scales tipped toward oblivion.

 

Suddenly a horn bellows, followed by a chorus call of new stars;

Curious clusters of brilliant sparks strike the firmament

Born beneath but eternally risen;

Orphic tablets beckon, pull at me,

As the new stars demand to be named,

Christened anew,

Celestial constellations, birthed for forevermore,

All dated deaths;

They belong to me now, and I to them,

Twelve new signs, twelve sad losses;

 

Beckon! The horn demands.

Stop! No more, I scream.

 

Who is it again blows his thunder horn?

The bright Child Warrior, Blake, fallen in February frost,

Stands uniformed anew in immortal blue,

The deepest and truest of all blues;

 

First and always son,

Birthday, wedding, altar candles,

All blown out by one who handles,

But evermore a glowing sun.

 

Now takes his proud post as night’s brightest star,

Seraph, the firegiver, stargiver;

Those among us await his nightly artful creation,

Lighting first one signal fire and the next,

Until all heavens leap ablaze.

 

Horn trumpets another note of the ages!

 

Roll call commences, constellations ballet onstage, one by one—

Past names and new stars, Milky Way’s amphitheatre

All of magnitude and minitude, bright and dim, answer:

Young Brother, dull red, fallen to March madness,

Friend of boyhood, blue-white gem, defeated by April’s melancholy,

Serious Scholar, yellow-white globe, undone by May’s menaces,

Volatile Genius, red giant, succumbed by June’s Jester,

Virgin Goddess, azure blue jewel, caught by July’s cancer,

Pedant Professor, bright crimson flame, harmed by August angst,

Uncle, doomed by September’s chance shot, appears dim in the west’s low sky

Childhood friends with forgotten names,

Orphaned by October’s perchance, sparkle anew in mild milk clouds,

Imposter, dull dwarf, destroyed by November’s neurosis,

Silent Searchers, blue-rich twins, succumbed to December’s dread, 

Physician, harvest orange fireball, dealt the January joker,

 

Deeper in infinity’s far dark fathoms lie other lights,

Incalculable numbers, clustering about,

Configuring artfully, forming vast arrays;

Poets proud, Sarah, Sylvia, and Anne,

Yes, the Three Graces, still rowing toward home.

 

More distant, beyond the sky’s faint harbor lights,

Painters Palette, sweeping, spiral galaxy filled with visionary whirls,

Brushed by Van Gogh, Greco, Crevel,

Daswanth, Rothko, Bugatti, Watanabe;

 

Novelist Nebula, nearly visible, unite

Constellations Crane and Hemingway,

Mishima and Kawabata, Pavese and Mayakovsky;

 

Even more remote and farther lie oldest fires,

Burning Antigone, Ophelia, Juliette,

Loyal Daughters, now Celestial Sisters.

 

A lost voice, echoing from Time’s vault, whispers:

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

 

I had not thought death had undone so many.

 

Still suspended under Aeolus’ racking wind, bedridden within the infinite duration of a lingering moment; sudden thoughts crystallize out of the void like spring’s late snowflakes and overpower the memory gather; a child clutches his small fingers around a new Christmas telescope, as he trudges off alone, bound to a cold December night hilltop; refracted light illuminates the cosmic scene; no father appears, even long after the sun and moon are lost to the west; double, double toil and Hubble trouble manifest in the scope’s mirror; gravity fails as the boy’s dreams drift skyward, riding on the wings of the bird boy, only soon to fall when the switch of the dreaded earthly force is flipped back on.

 

Apparition’s shadow, always guarded by light and dark, suddenly shouts: He who gained a telescope, only to lose the world.

 

The same boy, and later man, feverishly searches dreams through imperfect, even warped lenses. Love and death circle as twin stars, mistaken as one perfect sphere. Then he spies sight’s fault: processional ritual observed as apparition of ecstasy and beneficence, followed by focus of cruel certainty, and finally ultimate aberration, maleficent flaw. 

 

But then I pass with fortune like ordinary light through the polished prism glass and emerge from my prison resin; gutter gulag and guillotine guilt decanted; my hidden colors spraying apart like royal ribbons.

 

The figure comes clearer, a self stranger running and running, miles and marathons. He races for the horizon, only to find it receding step for step. The moon floats in flight. But he is slowed and then staggered in his steady steps as he wonders for what, the to and fro. He deserts the oval track for longer, drifting elliptical roads.

 

No, I shout, tossing thunderbolt back,

Against an onslaught of mean memory;

But recollections argue forward,

Seeking existence at their own peril.

 

Leave me, free me;

 

An instant of clarity rushes me,

Four elements, that’s all, no more;

Do away with the periodic chart;

Slice, dice, cut with Ockham’s razor;

There’s Fire, hot sundae eucharist topped with grace,

There’s Air, trailing clouds of worry do I come;

Then water, water, here and there, but nowhere;   

And Earth, meadows of melodies, mountains of misplay;

 

Restless trance, slumber silence,

On a pillow of plucked powder down.

 

Conflicted again!

 

Troubling letters cluster together like teammates for a yearbook memory. ROYGBV lean shoulder to shoulder. What does it spell? I must have known once. The thing and the forest of symbols once held meaning, but I have lost the lighted intersection where roads meet. I have drifted too far from center, and now any certainty of orbital return becomes even mathematically incalculable.

 

The poet, a grave figure at times, a grave digger at all times;

 

No Wood of Thorns

Impresses those outland spherical souls,

To be fed on by harpies;

Try instead,

Queen of Thorns

Garden of Thorns

Path of Thorns

Rain of Thorns

Veil of Thorns

Nest of Thorns

Crown of Thorns.

 

The play of the spheres, commences,

Orchestra performers,

Planetary measures, cosmic scales,

Music of harmonious performance,

Strings of violins, notes of flutes and clarinets;

Cornets and trombones, drums and cymbals,

Flood one ear and the other;

 

The Dark Queen constellation rises;

Dignified by deliberate gait of grace and grandeur,

She moves unchecked across the sky,

Through space and moment, one to the next;

 

Vain queen of beauty,

Gentle and alluring,

Wearing seductress smile;

 

Her luminous ascension darkens others,

Silences all galactic song;

 

Scent of lavender trails her gown,

Clothed in soft cotton crimson, a nuptial shroud; 

Hair adorned with peacock jeweled crown;

Beckons with emerald stone, eyes the tinge of tomorrow,

Commands the earthly board, dispatches piece by piece,

Angel of sweet sleep and lullaby lies;

 

From high above, far beyond the Queen,

The Mover of all moments and movements,

Stirs and waits without impatience,

Desiring no thought,

To consider and reconsider,

For visions or revisions.

 

From sovereign seat, the Mover sees:

Clockwise grind the cutting blades,

Slicing air, trimming time,

Cleaving young, slitting old,

Chopping this, slashing that;

 

Measure once, cut once,

Across mortality’s mark.

 

In the room, discord’s demon brother clamors,

Dissonance threatens near and far;

Louder, closer drones disquiet’s din,

Dispatching harmony, harboring destiny;  

The way appears, milky and ethereal,

Vast clouds of friendly sky-lined lights,

Starsteps back.