Cosmic America

 
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Wherein I envision myself as the poet Frank Stanford in the afterlife, guided by Walt Whitman in a divine cosmic sitcom, searching for my identity and place.

Unformatted and expurgated.

Walt Whitman is wandering on the battlefield where the moon says I love you

tending to those he can in swarthy silence

matted beard hat back over grey mane Gandalf

American Odin USN Corpsman

sleeves pushed up over oaken forearms

brow compassion sweating Santa Claus of the suffering

sifting through the limbs of Vietnamese children and the blue & the gray

the black the white the red the yellow

the field doctors lopped them where they fell

an American stew

a sufferin succotash

but one too far gone

propped under a shade tree

shot in the ass while fleeing Manassas

I see him coming to me

he bends over me

and lays a gentle strong hand on my knee

and says be at peace

I really done myself in daddy I say

fumbling with my bloody breast

I shot myself 3 times in the chest to death

O shh now boy

Daddy Whitman says with a rough palm on my cheek

all will be well

and next time he goes on

use a bigger bullet

his eyes twinkling Orion in the dark

as Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord

He pulls me up by the hand

mortally wounded I Caleb stand

There’s a serial killer in an apple tree crowing down at me

What does it mean?

He’s just a boy, daddy says with a wodan wave

and I see it’s just a boy in an apple tree yelling

goddamn

a boy like me

We slog on water now up to our knees

Daddy Whitman says the levee has broke

I say my daddy built these things but he wasn’t my real daddy I never knew my real daddy

The water is black and scattered with war debris

an American Heritage

the iron harvest of f***** up farm fields

bones of the earth tainted by man’s own hands

Adam pissing in his own pond

Now and again in the blood black water I see the stars and faces I cannot recall

Black boys and levee rats boonie rats homeschooled cats

the stars shining in my blood

I search through the spume sludge looking for a semblance of myself

A semblance of American slang

I don’t find a thang only my name

Frank Stanford Caleb Mannan Francis Gildart JE Jones

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt his name is my name too

I am my own grandpa

We come across my momma I say Are you my daddy

and she says I am your momma

but she’s not my real momma I never knew my real momma

I carry her on my back a mile to tell her I love her

Walt Whitman singing songs of himself of allselfs in the dusk

she says to me

everyone is always trying to praise people or tear them down

but boy we are all just people and to love and be loved is the greatest thing

I kiss her on the cheek and leave her behind

We come upon a young man just out of NAM with a thousand yard stare

eyeless behind his x ray glasses I says Are you my daddy

he says my name is John Doe I am the American Son so we pass on

We come across a crowheaded man with long dark hair I says Are you my daddy

he says I am The Trickster

shirtless and smoking

I put him on my back and walk a mile and he says to me

When I dream I see you and I say when I dream I write you

and he smoke hoarse crow laughs

and we end up smoking together a bit and talking the old days

come to find out he’s just like me manic anxious and auto immune

he’s not such a bad guy now is he

so I take him an extra mile like a Jewish boy humping a legionnaire’s gear

I meet a black man he’s blacker than anything blacker than night

I say Are you my daddy he says son I don’t even know my name

and I say I do its Bob Smith and he says no that’s not it

and I say well that’s what it says on the sign around your neck and he says

shit man that’s just a draft card and he tears it off and I say where you going

and he says to find my name and my daddy and he’s off down the river

I see a group of beautiful painted women Schiellike sisters of Sappho

and I say Are you my daddy?

they say we’re a corporate conglomeration of masturbation

and I  despair because I’m nothin more than a dead pimp with a missing rib

and I miss my past loves like sisters I lost in the war

Daddy Whitman comes to me and hoists me up like a black rag and says

gentlelike come on now child we got more to go

We come across a young red headed boy name is Phillipi and he says

Where you going and I say I’m looking for my daddy

so he goes well come on lets hitchhike someone will pick us up

and I am sour and down so I say man who’s gonna pick us up we look like serial killers

and he laughs a devil may care laugh and we walk a piece down the Columbia Gorge

and no one picks us up but he doesn’t get down in the mouth he just shouts at the sky

What I wouldn’t give for a cold beer!

And I say man where the hell you gonna get a beer out here

but like a man possessed he searches the ditches and guardrail brambles

and I will be goddamned if not more than half a mile later he triumphantly

raises his hand to the heavens and shouts Yes! sure as shit he’s found a beer

I am astounded and Whitman just winks at me

The red headed boy offers me the beer and says

Half of this is yours

but I’m still a bit dark so I say

no thanks it’s all you

then me and Whit leave him there on the side of the road stranded smiling and laughing and whistling drinking that goddamn beer

I say what is the meaning?

Whitman walking with a slight limp lighting a pipe shakes out a match and says

O past and present Eidelons

O copper kings in American mounds

O Leif Erikson and the Skraelings

O Columbus Vespucci Uncle Kenny the Eskimo

The Mayans The Aztecs an army of hobos

O Ezra Pound Frank Stanford Gary Snyder Caleb Mannan

O tongue tied Tim Hardin

The Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ Lao Tsu Confucius

Martin Luther Lucretius Chief Joseph Sitting Bull

Jew & Gentile catholic Kerouac Khalil Gibran

Neal Cassady King Solomon & David his daddy

O the sorority of silenced sisters

Existence is a circle

of which we living are missing two parts –

The Beginning and the End

and in between is being

What Solomon had in wisdom

he lacked in foresight

for in his wisdom was a sadness

but what you just witnessed is the The Book of Phil

the New Testament Ecclesiastes

He says this like it is supposed to mean something like I should know what he means but I don’t

my chest hurts and I feel like hell but he keeps striding forward so forward I go

We come across an Indian I ask Are you my daddy

He says I don’t even know my place I say the offramp says this is your cosmic plane

he said man that’s just some Indian giver’s government claim

then he’s off in a trail of tears and I ask him where he’s going and he says to find my way

We walk and we walk

We walk among biblical giants and fallen angels teaching humans trickery

The Nephilim the Anakim the Rephaim the Zammzumim the Annukannan

We walk among the lords and the new creatures

We walk through Boschscapes and Dali deserts the Tillamook Burn and Disneyland

We walk among American battlefields Clovis highways Hopewell bone yards and the graves of American soldiers in foreign lands tattooed ancients in Pangea

We walk through the leaves of grass the wheat and wildflowers through tin pan alley and backstreet

down the American highway and the deer path the Indian highway the wagon ruts the forest the grove over mountain across plane through the bottom of canyon gashes forged by floods

We walk among the Mississipian the Anasazi the sea people

among the bison the mammoth and the dinosaur

We walk among scabland across Wyoming dinosaur death fields the rhino graveyards of Nebraska through Etnazoa Kansas Cahokia Illinois

Through Gethsemane and Golgotha

Assyrian gods and black migrant factory workers from Mississippi Prometheus passing out smokes to CC workers and GI’s in a line

We walk among loblolly and ponderosa pine

maple and sumac and prehistoric fern

among the wild pink rhododendrons the yew the Lebanon cedars the windbent coastal sitka spruce

We walk under shadows backmasking

through coleco visions cosmic epochs futureshocks primordial fluctuations

I hear the mandolin I hear the guitar

Texas flatpicking the lute the lyre

the piccolo the windchime the southpaw fiddle the drum the gong the telecaster

the crow of the cock the yawn of william tell

I hear strange strung ancient instruments no more

black drums in the back of my mind

I see and hear all these things and more like phosphenes on the back of my eyelids

when I lay down to sleep like the streets of my home town when I lay down to sleep

when I cry out Are you my daddy in the dark a patchwork quilt laid over my face

Come across an Okie fishing on the Oregon Coast I say are you my daddy

He says

Almost

he says I came across a burning oil slick with dead Navy boys boiling up he says we sandbagged San Francisco afraid the Japs would blow us to hell he says don’t tell no one I own a Toyota he says my daddy died in a gutter he says my daddy died on skid row he says my daddy thought he was an Indian he says America was a colossus glaciers as big as a star wedged between mountain spines before they cracked and blew wiping the countryside out this is how the silt in the Willamette valley come about America was a highway for dinosaurs bison and rhinos and an ancient people we don’t even know it has always been here

America is a colossus

America was a colossus progress a jungle crusher Cortez in a Cat wiping the old ways and people out then he winks and says I like my spotted owls fried and he laughs he says

you can still see their highways here and there the highways of the present deer

He says in Germany they gave the land a mohawk they gave the land a shave

the great deforestation the barbarians taunted the romans the romans flat out caved

Russia never caved fought to the last man woman and child to keep the Krauts out

He says There was a great flood I seen it with my own two eyes don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise any man who sets out to disprove another is full of shit there was a flood I seen it and what’s so hard to believe about a primeval myth we all tell from the Hebrews to the Assyrians to the Cherokee what is the big deal believing the earth was flooded plumb out like Oklahoma around the Canadian or where the Columbia is dammed?

There was a great flood and seas of the deep were unleashed which is the water beneath the earth I have seen it in my dreams it is deep and black and full of strange things like sturgeon at the bottom of a dam like whatever’s in the lochs but be not afraid the seas of the deep were unleashed and the mountains became calderas and all was washed away

O say can you see

the levites and the hittites and the humanites and the shittite sittights argue and argue but the enlightenment of man is to know you know nothing and seek from there the whole of God resides in the statement

I AM THE BEGINNING AND THE END

we’re the in between we’re synapses firing in a cosmic consciousness we’re atoms within a greater body we’re blood cells and particles passing and when are time is done it’s done like a psoriatic platelet but we all live on within the body until the body die and when the body die the real shadow revived the Egyptians kah and bah Remus and Romulus Cain and Able Adam and Eve God the father the spirit the son one and the same the chicken and the egg

Prometheus taught us to smoke I been smokin since I was twelve but don’t you start it up see Prometheus he was an angel that came to earth and mingled with man and got caught up with women in bars them honky tonk angels in those days there were angels that mixed with man and this began the whole mythology about gods and whatnot and caused God to send the flood and after the flood caused him to tell Saul and the Israelites to go on a bloodbath wiping out the bad seed but I say

America is a colossus

in part built by black slaves and the Chinaman by the immigrant the migrant okie ain’t a curse what the hell is wrong with people why they get so upset you cant take nothin with you neither vilify nor whitewash our momma there was a war and the Indians were defeated if you can’t join em beat em and rewrite em goddamn you God hisself babbled the tongues at babble so the aryan the Indian the vaunted tongue all are a good one and the search for the lost Onetongue will be the undone of all of us on the earth the Bible isn’t a list to follow it’s a tale of what’s been done under the sun it ain’t about you

So saith all of this the Okie and I am bedazzled by his bullshit he fishing and smoking and yapping

on an ocean jetty and I wish he were my daddy but he is not

so we press on deeper into the bosom of what I do not know

I came across a critic he said this dream of yours is trash what is the point its garbage

and I replied but who can control a dream I can only put forth what is dreamt

I can only do what I can do I can do no other

he said why do you bother with this

I said I am not trying to refine the English language but to exploit it I am looking for its means as a mystical expression beyond dialection he didn’t buy it

he said I am your daddy and I said without me you don’t exist with without you art exists

and when I said this he disappeared in a flash like the zap of Mr Electro

We came across a vulgar little boy just about seven years old with the mouth of a sailor

he said if you meet up with a Playboy bunny she only has to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX but if you meet a Penthouse model she has to XXXXXXX this is what he says he said XXXX he heard it from his older brother and it kind of broke my mind that dirty little shit I just wanted to play with his GI Joes

Came across a boy joking flipped the birdie at me when I was 11 I didn’t know what it meant but I put my left palm in my right cubital fossa and trebucheted a birdie back it was an inner rage I’d no idea was inside me and the boy got his feelings hurt he was just joshing but murder was my intent

and I was ashamed a cosmic male shame prescient

I wrestled a boy until our elbows and knees were bloody from rugburn but he wouldn’t give

i was boyhood friends with a serial killer I was too rough on the sissy God forgive me  

I got a sore throat and became the Spotted Man

I broke my back in a sled wreck gives me a lifelong crick shit

oregon born God’s country raised 

had my heart broke but not my nose

Came across a big gang of Levites they had beat the Good Samaritan senseless

I believe it was that John Doe cat

I did not ask them if they were my daddy for I was scared and hated them

They hollered at me to cut my hair they called me a f*****

They wanted to cut my long hair with a chainsaw

One run up and sucker punched me over the left brow I bled like a stuck pig

just like the pigs at the pig farm bossman old Mr. Wagner cussing to beat the band at the ornery boars that tried to kill me they listened to his foul mouth but wouldn’t listen to me or my little brother

Walt Whitman became furious and he laid into them Levites good

he picked up the jawbone of an ass and smote them down

then he carried me on my back a mile swearing at them all the while

I said what does it mean

as daddy Whitman tended the cut above my left eye under a weeping willow

He said

O Jesus and John Lennon Jim Morrison John Donne

John the Baptist Robinson Jeffers

O Harry Crews Mark Richard Flannery O Connor chawing on the fatted calf

O Iggy Pop Cab Calloway day of the dead

O Cantos O Leaves of Grass O American Prayer

O Songs of Innocence and Experience

O Divine Comedy O Howl Orlando Furioso

O Paradise Lost On The Nature of Things

O Emily Dickinson’s whispering slip

O Mr. Roger’s gentle lisp

The law is written upon tablets of stone

The stone of our hearts

Yet the stone was broke

And it broke our hearts

Jesus Christ kicked over the tables in Wall Drug

He wandered 40 days and nights in the Badlands

Satan took him to the top of the Grand Canyon

He said throw yourself from this height and surely your angels will save you

Jesus said get behind me man in black

He went on and died on Mt St Helens for your sins crucified on a pine tree

His disciples the Indians wept

But he arose down on skidrow in Portland Oregon

Murder is in our hearts we shivved him for our sins

But he’s hopping trains again

I did not know what he meant but I felt it down in my loins

Came across a preacher in a tent revival preaching revival

I asked him if he was my daddy but by the white of the underthings of the women rolling in the aisle

I knew he was not my daddy and he spoke in gobbledygook so I knew he wasn’t my daddy he aint nothin but a Marjoe

Seen my buddy with a shaved head and red beard looks like a van gogh but he’s a troubadour

baldskald ragnarok bringer with voice from the deep unleashing Jörmungandr

Raced with him in Jehu’s Jimmy across America Spokane to Nashville and everything in between drive fast take chances we ride to see a girl

On the way back we see a UFO five lights moving in tandem in ways we never seen

alongside the highway not making a sound then flip backwards all around the lights bedazzle and disappear over the hill Elijah’s chariot something out of revelation people can think we’re crazy but we know what we saw he drops me off at the bus station I say where will I go he shrugs and says I’ll see you there then I get accosted by the homeless asking me for change I say what makes you think I got money do I look like I got any money and they curse me and I make for my knife like to scare them

but Whitman says let them be now show them mercy as I have shown you so I guess I do

We came across Woody Whitman Walt Whitman said this is my son and Woody says

but I am not the only one his seed is like the dandelion that with which to make the dandelion wine like the stars in the sky like Johnny Appleseed’s apple trees and even you are one and he taught me when you sit at the table with your children you are all God’s children one together therefore be kind and compassionate

a cherry pit is best left spit on the orchard floor

a piss is best taken out of doors under the stars on two legs standing

Give a man a fish he’ll eat teach him how to fish he’ll never go hungry

Give a man a chain you make him a slave

Give a slave a lyre he starts the blues

Goddamn is the prayer of the layman

Blasphemy is the salvation of Christianity

Irreverence the sanctity of humanity

fear aint of God it aint of nothin

enjoy the fruits of your labors for you can’t lug em with you after you die

children are institutionalized by the time they’re 5 is it any wonder they crack up by 25

sit mankind on its ass it will become an assless nation of men without chests chimeras on backs

Radiocarbon in the body spiked after 1950 now you can date a body within a year based on acid rain taint in the bones how about that

Know the ancient deer paths and you’re less likely to hit a deer on the road

You are only a teacher when you know you know nothing

There is nothing new reported under the sun so don’t let em wag the dog

March to your own drum with an open hand

Be wary of praying for the Second coming for the Second coming is your death

What thief comes in the night that don’t take something?

So enjoy what you got while you got it

we crack some beers and yap a bit more Woody tells me

shit man we’re all made in God’s image He first and foremost a creator so create

I tell him about the vision of the critic he says

thats a crock of shit he says Martin Luther says be not concerned with the fruits but patiently grow grow grow can the fruit direct the vine? Nein so you just gotta go go create man create and don’t let the man in the mirror tell you otherwise nor judge the fruits thereof

he hands me a book entitled

COSMIC AMERICA

I say I intended to write this but I died

But you already did write it he says with a twinkle in his eye

I open it up and read it and it is what you are reading right now but I was living it

it’s hard to explain but I know what I mean time doesn’t matter it is over before it has begun and then I understood

The dusk in now backlit and the firstborn lounge upon the bank of awakening with the Blackfeet in glacier park before you had a pay a fee to enter

we come across the astronaut Alan Shepard I say are you my daddy he says

It is only the past present and future that make us judge

to grasp a time is to grasp the wind be only present in the now that grace may abound

the cosmos the universe are made up of music for we were all spoken into being and music wends its way through our bones

Roscoe Holcomb Mother Carter Mississippi John Hurt

Jabal Townes van Zandt Blaze Foley Lighting Hopkins tom waits screamin jay Jenny Anne Mannan

blind lemon Johnson ledbelly Led Zeppelin Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil but he got the last laugh Jesus died for his licks slave singing out in the sticks

larry norman judee sill Linda Parhecs brother juniper Debussy

the Hayyoth never ceasing

singing string theory the breath of Compassion theory of relativity an object in motion will stay in motion man is appointed so many years the law of entropy the black matter moving the scroll unfurling furled and furling neither science nor mystery are wrong for in God all things are reconciled only man makes a mess of things you see anthropology not spirituality caused the savagery of slavery Mongoloid Negroid Caucasoid Australoid or I’ll be a monkey’s uncle

I used to believe the aether was trying to kill us our ingenuity had to blast a hole through the hand of God holding us down to this earth this is how we crucified Him

But now I know the beyond is only the beginning death is only a beginning flying behind the fire in the cave phaeton flying to and past his father and no longer burning man passing through the flaming sword and back to God

The earth in its solar system on a plane within a galaxy moving forward as a bullet from a bore

everything held in the palm of push and pull Repulsion from cosmic voids holding us in play

while dense matter compels us forward Milky Way spraying to Andromeda

And we think that when we die we merely end

What is the corporeal body in all of this and the molting brain that thinks these things?

We bury our dead six feet under tucked into the earth’s breastpocket o the humanity we poke and prod and dig and scrape at the earth nitpicking it to death jack leg drill in Bunker Hill Mine Kola superdeep borehole Hanford waste facilities collapsing uranium waterpits poisoning the Indians we reach up to the Heavens still the bricklayers on the plains of Shinar higher and higher uglier and uglier

O builders of men where is your whimsy?

The modern aesthetic phallic hard and shiny utilitarian and already obsolete

But I digress he says ah hell kid I don’t know I’m late for a coffee date with Gus Grissom in another galaxy so we leave him behind

We come across a young man named Willy with a ginger mohawk I say are you my daddy

he says I’m headed to the Navy tomorrow dance with me so we dance to an Irish band getting drunk until we cant stand anymore then we stumble away and never see each other again

We come across Ray Bradbury he’s tattooing words upon a carnie’s back

I say are you my daddy he says I have many sons of which you are one but I am not the one

I am weary and crestfallen for this journey but Bradbury says come sit and he begins to tattoo my chest the gunshot wounds no longer open but now hideous pink scars he says

To be a writer is not a vocation it is a joy you must live to write so be not sequestered from the world write incessantly and openly you may have to create a character to tell the truth so be it write what you know polar bear outside a picket fence do not write to refine the English language but to exploit it to a higher form of communication that of symbols pictures words songs arts be a Word Scratcher for there you are a priest be not discouraged for you write therefore you are and you are therefore you write be open to the muse but do not try to grab it then he says

ah there we go standing back I look down on my chest and in sailor jerry blue tattooed -

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covering up my gunshot scars

Bradbury giggles and claps his hands and Whitman leads me on

I am tired father I say to Walt Whitman

and he says this is understandable my son but let us hitchhike along the path of the son of God just a bit so we do

We come upon

Dante in a wood he backlit and saintlike Walt claps him on the back and they kiss one another’s cheek

I say I have three different translation of the Divine Comedy back home and Dante shakes my hand and asks Walt how about you

And Whit he says I wrote my own and they laugh

I say are you my daddy he says

I had a cousin like you took a hunting rifle out to a field and shot himself in the chest but then was scared to death they found his body trail of blood trying to crawl back to his car to get help listen the WORD is for the common man there is no literati that isn’t drinking a beer on his porch there is no thinker who is not homeless and exiled listen the WORD is for all peoples the working class steve stemaly throwing boxes 12 hours a day in a midwestern Walmart distribution center jared carrying papers 3am everyday in seattle 7 days a week no holidays until he killed himself I guess the darkness was too much to bear your father pushes a broom in a four by six room

Listen there is something deeper than our present identity or lack thereof deeper than Florence and Ravenna there is a deeper understanding on the tongue of Chamoiseau that is beheld through the uncovering of language for God is in it this is what you seek

He spoke the earth into existence so we speak like our daddy

We speak and we are one

Longfellow Seneca Osceola chief Joseph chief Garry Robert capon gerhard foerde Joseph Campbell bullfinch toffler Faulkner Tolkien Robert graves Edgar lee Masters Edgar Allen Poe Matisse Goya Jeffers Crane Hesse Hank Williams Ray Bradbury Milton Edward Abbey

Da Vinci Michelangelo Siegfried Sassoon Oakland Red

We the peoples divided by language tribe and class have one thread running through us and it is the song of God in our blood and bones we are the synapses in cosmic consciousness firing

No matter what ethniclingual family Vanilla Chocolate or Carmel

Niger–Congo Austronesian Traxdqns–New Guinea Sino-Tibetan Indo-European Australian Afroasiatic Nilo-Saharan Oto-Manguean Austroasiatic Volta–Congo Tai–Kadai Dravidian Tupian

We all of the OneTongue divided by either a cosmic ray from the sun encoding/decoding our brain to speak a tongue or whether by God touching our tongues with fire on the launching pads of Babel

We all seek the one thing that you seek

And I say what is this but I know and Dante he says

We all seek our Daddy

Will I find him I ask but I feel Whitman gently guiding me away from the red garbed poet

And Dante says isn’t this why you are here?

And I must agree that it is but I am drawn away from him

Aeons and whatnots away from when we began this journey I find myself faltering

I cry out to poppa Whitman for a drink and he gives me gin on a stick

I cry out daddy daddy why have you forsaken me

Whitman says grace is sufficient for you anointing my head with crisco

And I don’t know what it means but I feel it deep down in my loins and I stumble on

We come across Stephen Crane on a battlefield similar to where Walt found me

Ambrose Bierce’s body a church

I say to Crane in exasperation are you my daddy

He says pointing to my chest wounds

o sweet boy they did you in didn’t they and I say I did myself in

And he says this is the greatest truth

And I sat whatsat

He continues

the knowledge of the bitter bitter heart

not in theory but in practice

some call it sin some call it nature some call it bad some call it good

but all know it for it is written on our hearts

The truth of this is not the end but the beginning

Don’t you see?

And I must admit that I do not see as much as I should by the light of Crane’s countenance

He claps his hands and laughs and continues

Silly hoards waiting on the messiah to come back with a scepter

They wait for right handed power as he wields the left

there will be no rapture the rapture is your death

Earthly government isn’t the point for his kingdom is not of this earth

To be like Christ is a cult preached by salesmen to affect a means to an end

the end being business the business of salvation the hirelings the life coaches the ethicists

For who can be like the son of God and how far does one carry it for it would have to be every jot and tittle therefore it must be something else

Christianity is not stoicism it is not ethics

it is not praying to be absolved

it is that all is absolved

past tense it is and has been and will be

so hear it and feel it and be free

free to what free to not have to worry about free to what that’s what

So then go forth eat drink and be merry without the lachrymosity of Solomon for the law he was under has been fulfilled can I get an amen

it’s tone of voice – not all men shall bow their knee under the weight of a slavedriver but all men shall come to me for who would not want to in the light of our birth and death and the comfort beyond our ever ailing bodies?

We stay with Crane a stretch he and Walt talking the old days until Walt says we must go so we do

We walk across unknown oceans and forgotten landmasses as the earth under us rolls like a barrel

We walk through tetrahedrons as magicians through mirrors dimensions unseen yet mathematically possible

We walk through dead orchards my pine forests through Kingfisher County to Stevens County

Through man and his symbols through the front door of a bar and out the back

I came across a Seraphim and Abaddon and they spoke in a strange tongue of symbols and pictures cartoons in speech bubbles the droves of Babble babbling

We came to the Mekong Delta the Tigris and Euphrates the Eridanus and the Deschutes river

Daddy Whitman said this is the end of the Oregon trail

I said where is the ferry

He says there is none my son this is the end

The Willamette valley land of milk and honey is over there

He points across the river

And then I feel the heavy pack on my back I must hump it across

I say come on then

And Whitman says you must go alone I have to go back for your brothers

He pats me on the backpack and stands back

And I said but the other side is eons away he said exactly

We shake hands and he sits upon the shore and lights his pipe in the astraldusk and begins to sing songs of himself and allselfs as I part with the shore wading into the warm waters of the Deschutes

I go in a routine crossing with my platoon

Holding my gun above the water pack on my back

And I think this aint so bad

But Christ I stumble and the water fills up my pack

Weighs me down mud sucks up my Jeff Buckley boots

I cry out for I have already died and I cannot bear this again it is too great a thing but I cannot hear myself over the river and Whitman’s singing

and in the scattered dark of river passing there is a dim glowing growing brighter

And I am overcome with Elijahic visions before me first in water swirl then in plain English before my eyes tattoos coming to life in Latin in Greek in Hebrew the Code of Hammurabi on the Daniel stone from an edda in the book of kells on stone tablets from the dead sea scrolls Beowulf poetry slam

racial classifications painted on Egyptian tomb walls parietal art writ upon my heart Lascaux bison come to life run away with my mind the vernacular maximus vulgate Greek to me

tactile seen and heard and felt larynx of God Word Scratcher scribe Frederick Douglass’ alphabet from the master’s wife Abe Lincoln’s charcoal runes in wall written fire Jesus finger in the dirt

α ∞ Ω

I am the word the word is the flesh the bone the gristle

Pict spit papyrus Creolizm amerindianism aryan ethno negro afro Gulf Language glossolia James Charles Castle saliva soot

In my gut of guts I see all endings becoming beginnings and so forth

and I burst out laughing bubbles making

I will sing I sing I sing all things I am one I am whole holistically

I sing I sing the songs of myself of allselfs slang $%@#& song of my name

I see and I be I see I see all things I be all things

Elijah’s chariot the pillar of fire column of smoke I light up a smoke Hokusai banzai wave American $%@#& becoming a living thing babble becoming the one tongue I am undone a Giacometti unraveling St John in mad fervor typing up the book of Revelation on a roll of paper taped together pictographs ideographs cuneiforms hieroglyphs symbols gestures sign languages tactiles verbiles islam textiles hindi elephantiles Scribbler the hand of fire from the sky tells a story around the fire Thomas’s pantomime

I cry out

O Matisse Da Vinci Van Gogh grandma Moses

Hephaestus Vulcan Weyland Absolom Tubal Cain

O Thomas Benton hart Tim Buckley jim kane

O Willie and Joe Woody Guthrie johnny cash

O robert service Aristophanes Euripides

Homer Head of Hesiod

More Descarte Jung Voltaire Seneca

Agamemnon Alcott Sylvia Plath Mother Mary

Jigger jones in a lumber camp jumping Jesus up

And I come up from water roaring

I grasp my identity like a hammer I grab it like a float

my pack and boots have been stripped in the river

and unburdened by the weight I come up for air

and on the far shore I see the others calling to me

beckoning for me to come waving me on

and we understand one another’s tongue

And O there among the throngs

Just there

I see my daddy

and he sees me

he hollers to me and I holler back

and I swim to him