New Wheel – The Passage of Arnik
(king of a small land)
My skin was stone,
drenched in an accelerant and
lit on fire. And there I burned,
a flaming rock impassable by
every woman and man who
tried to cross my shore. My fire
was final, a never-dying-heat
guarding the dead cold core
beneath its frantic dance.
Murder was easy as was laughing,
glaring bold-faced at the sun,
but languishing in waters, still or stormy,
was never my game, only, swift, loveless striking,
blistering and charring, beating with a spike
any imagined challenge to my seat in the center.
You covered my face with your hair,
let me sear it, then the skin of your face, to the bone.
And still you would not leave me, give up
on my indomitable obscenity – finely-tuned
to the leftover ash of my tenderside.
My madness was your deformed child. Even when
you ended me, taking an axe to break up my hard form –
you were more sorry than I was, heartbroken
to scatter that fire, watch its petering-out-existence
on the cracked concrete fragments of what I once was.
For me, it was freedom from its burn,
a relief, relieving me from the devil’s obligation.
I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t speak, but
I saw you crying – such strength
embedded in so much softness. I forgot
you had a formidable side. I forgot
that love was a ruthless wielding sword –
for both of us – terrible, unforgiving and
stronger than either of our self-proclaimed mantras,
better than personal devotion, brighter
than the burning or the burnt, tortured,
cloned-for-infinity, layered upon layer, like us,
molecularly as one, irreparably damned.
Tentacles, unfurled, then
curled, suctioning out
the snail from its shell.
Through the narrow hold of hell
I built a kingdom, wide and ruthless,
I cut the heads off the keepers of faith,
increased my stature as I did my gluttony –
There was a tree in the courtyard, old and by its own.
Everyday I would chip pieces off its bark, because I could,
because I knew it hurt and I wanted to murder it, slowly,
this old beauty that held its ground longer than me.
I wanted its stillness, if not to own, then to conquer.
I obsessed over its carved-up flesh, kept its pieces
in a box by my bed, one day planning to collect
the whole of its body in many boxes –
building a shelf for that alone.
But that day never came, for I found death
by the swift hand of my lover, after love-making
after laughter, almost sleeping – showing him the tree pieces,
while gloating at my cruelty, he sucked in my dark wind
and gathered an axe from its exhale.
He watch me fade. I faded,
spilled out over the bedding and the hand-crafted floor.
He cried openly, pressing his
lips against my skin, he sang to me –
laid the bark-pieces tenderly across my chest –
and there I was buried, there, in dying I awoke,
for the first time in that lifetime, trembling with peace,
I began a journey somewhere, home.
Inside the white hot soul
that boils with bitter outward
blame, primitive in its inception
like a just-born-star,
born from a black hole sink hole infusion
of pain and power – tight knot force pouring
from an unguarded door, gushing forward like
a colossal flood, lifting homes, babies from parental arms
and the nesting rodents from their burrows, remorseless,
lashing this way and that just for the sake of it,
for the sound and for the consequences
I could unleash.
Whispers in my ear of love
were an implanting-larvae insect bite
to pour vinegar on and be done with.
But they burned, these larvae beneath my skin, traveled north
to latch onto my spinal neck nerve, hatch again,
consuming me with ignored madness.
I kept myself pure of sentiment until the end, until the next life
when those larvae overtook, and cloaked my retreat
with parallel barriers of shame and guilt,
called me to a time out, to be removed,
to learn discipline and control, gentleness
carrying out daily simple tasks, bothering no one –
small, self-sustaining, glimpsing a first taste of a personal
God as I
let the weight bear down, through the darkness, building
a sanctuary where I could chalk-mark the walls with my crimes,
come to terms with accountability.
Gradually, many lifetimes later, those larvae grew translucent wings,
thin, but strong enough to lift me off the ledge of confinement,
into the light of a new longing – a vision bursting, birthed from both
a streamlined-focus responsibility toward a tender eternity
and a well-cave of feeding minerals, feeding,
blunt-axe perpetually hacking, holy despair.
I speak of a cloud
fanning north – it went
past barricade ripples,
ended in a thin line above a blanket
fog. Wild disorder,
language I could not steal or make up,
but found the natural disappearance
of all things in its fate.
A creature obscure, placematting perfection
into a one-dimensional genius.
Good riddance to lineage and the shaming
fish-flight up against some sharks.
I touched you and you were naked. It felt
greater than love, but it was not so. It was
wider than a lifetime and swayed all over
the map, cloak-covering the appendages
of tyranny and a tyrant’s response to fear.
We rejoiced together, exhilarated by the possibilities
and the perpetual spin weaving macabre plot
that lead to this glimpse of redemption.
It was the end – hoofprint on the grass
made invisible by an onslaught storm.
Even for the weight and starkness that came after,
I am grateful for the chance
you gave to be reborn – to dare myself
into solitude and austere discipline.
I speak of a cloud
then of a king that was a man
who lost his heavy shape and substance
in a calm sky… know it, know it now,
a law, an equilibrium
dissolved – miraculous
clairvoyant space taker
vanishing through, into
a covenant-keeping once
(monk in service to a stream)
in the mist-wrapped shelter
blooming in unison
with perfect stance and form,
killing my individuality to make
a stronger whole.
Orange bright red flare of robes,
sounds of marrow spine resonance,
stillness in speed, visible energy,
rolling, turning, flattening the air
from inner pressure – sealed, smoothed,
kneeling by a stream.
This kind of power accessed, focused
removed from ego and uniqueness.
Finding peace in discipline, saving beauty
in spiritual structure – every moment counted for,
every thought overseen and filtered through
for further simplicity. Clarity enforced
in the great dream of camaraderie,
in the common goal of God-mind, balancing
force with receiving,
honouring with accountability, weaned off
of the still swelling teat of desire, living far off
on an isolated high plane, holding heaven
in a tea cup, celestial gardens in a rice bowl,
learning to blend mastery with discipleship.
daily striving for perfection in the body’s movements,
daily failing, giving it back, committed
to this pulsar event – filling up, choosing ‘yes’,
then willfully deflating, releasing the hold.
split from the source
but not fully detached,
forking downward into
a vast otherness, depending on,
giving honor to the root, to the means to
keep nourished and whole.
Gently submerging in a stream,
entering an alternate atmosphere where
minnows school and scatter
and micro-organisms build communities,
interactive bio-worlds, unaware of the invading limb,
fingers, looping in erratic rhythm, glorifying in
the soft texture shadow, moving through with
easily overcome resistance,
encapsulated in the water-body,
entering, exploring without destruction.
only feeling like it has gone somewhere
when removed, wet, knowing it has been
where oxygen is heavy,
where the rich showering moon gravity
has more say, greater mobility then it does in air.
Crossing dimensions without disruption
or impact, here holding stillness,
inside of, open to a passive discovery, then lifted,
hovering over the surface, dripping back into the stream,
gaining rich skin ridges, enhanced sensitivity, at last,
Guardian of the small water
flowing – pebbles lining
the edge, shaved head resting
on the ground.
Loneliness widened in those few everyday hours,
listening to what went on deep below the surface
of the stream, honing in on frolicking fish,
predatory fish and the cycle voice
groaning, never withholding its display of extremes.
I closed my eyes and dreamt I held two shoulders tight
between two arms, wrapped myself naked around another.
That longing lingered well past sleep, as I rose, it rose up in me
a discontent, birthed a being, a pulse beneath my calculated fold,
thundering through my well-kept peace, brought me closer to looking,
looking at those fish, seeing a richer kinship in their company.
As I looked, that loneliness quickened in its demands, buzzed louder
than concentrated contemplation or a prayer.
There was no apology left to play out, not here
in this place, on this isolated rift on a mountain, not
when other beings moved in a more intimate connection,
tied to the vine and the sun and the fish
gave birth to eggs that were inseminated and transformed. I could hear
their chattering, bubble blowing and their unquestioned
communion – each tiny one crowned perfect, even when
left half-eaten, perishing on the bank.
I drew back from my commitments but did not leave,
simply waited and held the promise of you in my dreams.
In waiting, I sent a call out to you, finding transportation
through the drumming chant, into distances beyond my bent knees
and the gleam of my weapons
over cliffs and villages and oceans I told you
to meet me the next timeover, choose
this place, choose that harsh violence of a home
and I would choose mine, not far
but far enough from each other so when we finally met
we would be mostly cultivated and hurting enough
to give credence to each other’s importance.
While I waited, I tasted your flesh in each grain of rice,
rolled it down my tongue like solid nectar, digesting it,
I kept up my call, told the stream to take it downwards too.
In silence I kept my secret, broke the machine, and betrayed my brothers.
I had no choice but to tend to this flame, press my hip bones
against yours in the other space that started small by the stream,
gained dimension and lengthened on the inside, stretching
to bare-toes, to fleshy ear-lobes, flame
that circled my bones like a hungering bird,
broke them into pieces and swallowed them,
glittering, gleaming hot in this longing, still
a stone on the outside, dutiful while I waited,
letting that flame infiltrate my organs, veins, larynx.
I loved you absolutely, in the wild intake outtake breath.
I ate as always in slow movements, with one hand, eating,
the other, ripening, building in heat,
calling out, preparing for our wedded harvest.
Standing on a petal crust, ground
by a stream, sinking into wet earth
where fish corpses lie buried,
surrounded by minerals and mountain stones.
Sinking as the sun arrives
and my heart seizes but is not afraid of
drowning in this damp graveyard,
knows it is a sacred blessing to be called
to dive into the underground
where light and water still reign,
knows it is pulled, plucked and twisted but
will return to form through a flexible core,
elasticity intact, inner elements uncompromised.
Going down further
merging shoulders and neck, readying to breathe in
the divinity ground, harbinger
of worms, death and thin bones, keeper of
the Lazarus resurrection
and the sun seeps into my parted lips
as does the soil. I close my eyes
sinking, unable to hold air or hearing.
Honoured to offer it my flesh and my singing bowl,
I am covered in this stream-infused ground of a shroud,
vessel-body overtaken, vacated and then transmuting,
dissipating, ready to feed the root, be healed,
find you again, and in loving you,
be equal, irretrievably joined, boundless together,
opened, never closing, owned.
Copyright © 2017 by Allison Grayhurst
You can listen to the poem by clicking below: