The Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, the Cattle of the Sun
[The Crystal fretting of the Multiverse Impends, The Thunderwords, Ahab
keeps on keeping on, The Gong-Tormented Sea]
If you're like me, you've been wondering
What's up with this incessant thundering.
Like Alice said:
Go feed your head. You know there must have been a hundred
Cracks in the crystal fretting.
You won't lose if you're betting.
And if you're in the habit
Of following the white rabbit
You know there is no forgetting Not really of the warp and the woof.
There's no holding yourself aloof:
You open the latch
And there's a bandersnatch
And things as they are go poof. Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Or just in case you kinda forgot a
Of an alternate reality
A kind of extended fermata. They all felt the lonely absurds
As they heard these thunderwords
Ahab looked out
Then shouted out
"Words! Words! Words! bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk Perkodhuskurunbarggruauyagokgorlayorgromgremmitghundhurthrumathunaradidillifaititillibumullunukkunun klikkaklakkaklaskaklopatzklatschabattacreppycrottygraddaghsemmihsammihnouithappluddyappladdypkonpko Bladyughfoulmoecklenburgwhurawhorascortastrumpapornanennykocksapastippatappatupperstrippuckputtanach Thingcrooklyexineverypasturesixdixlikencehimaroundhersthemaggerbykinkinkankanwithdownmindlookingated Lukkedoerendunandurraskewdylooshoofermoyportertooryzooysphalnabortansporthaokansakroidverjkapakkapuk Bothallchoractorschumminaroundgansumuminarumdrumstrumtruminahumptadumpwaultopoofoolooderamaunsturnup Pappappapparrassannuaragheallachnatullaghmonganmacmacmacwhackfalltherdebblenonthedubblandaddydoodled husstenhasstencaffincoffintussemtossemdamandamnacosaghcusaghhobixhatouxpeswchbechoscashlcarcarcaract Ullhodturdenweirmudgaardgringnirurdrmolnirfenrirlukkilokkibaugimandodrrerinsurtkrinmgernrackinarockar And I thought I saw Leopold Bloom
There in an upper room
Of the Spouter Inn
Or how can I presume? And Ahab leads each man-o
To Rick's Cafe Americain-o
The awful daring
And besides he really liked Sam-o. Ahab said, "Ok, play it again."
Odysseus said, I remember when
I was in a poem
And couldn't get home
We sailed back to Circe and then She gave us some sort of advice.
"Don't look back. Don't think twice.
And remember what Byron
Said about the Sirens
Nothing else will ever suffice But to put wax in your sailor's ears
As near the sirens they steer.
But if you want to hear them,
As you draw near them
Take all that nautical gear The ropes and the chains and the padlocks
And fasten them to the oarlocks
And before the mast
Make yourself fast
You got all of that, Sherlock? And then, perhaps, you can listen
As they sing of that one and this one
In immortal love
Sent from above
And how their dear bones glisten In a cave beneath the sea
They are calling, they are calling to thee
And your sweet wife is drowned
And all around
Is strange beauty of the highest degree. It will be the Deep Blue Goodbye
You'll want to live there and so you will die
Any pleasure you took...
The Long Lavender Look..."
She looked sweetly at me. Did sigh. So ho! for the Empty Copper Sea.
My stout crewmen and me.
A Tan and Sandy Silence
Without ideals, without violence
And, oh! The difference to me. We sailed through The Lonely Silver Rain.
Rain then sun again:
One Fearful Yellow Eye
In the Dreadful Lemon Sky
Then again The Lonely Silver Rain. The wind was a Turquoise Lament
Darker Than Amber the evenings that sent
The meteor's Free Fall in Crimson
And the inexpressible frisson
Of leaning against the mast and smoking a Kent. We sailed into the Horse Latitudes
As I strove to correct their attitudes
A knowing ennui
Is just the thing for the sea
And a knowledge of the sailor's beatitudes. But my men lacked the bel esprit
For which I had the master's degree
They brought out the rope
But I had little hope
"I do not think they will sing to me." But they sang to me like no other
And they sang to me of my dear brother
On the wine-dark sea
But I'm Odysseus, so why did they bother? "Come, they sang, "It's not far
To slip F-18 at Bahia Del Mar
And that's not all
Waits for thee at the built-in bar.
And Meyer is on the John Maynard Keynes
See how sweetly he leans
With the lovelychildren
And Puss Gillian
Nobody knows what it means.
Hear the seas sounds, the rush
Of the waters past the Busted Flush
In Time and In Space
A new and wonderful case
And the melancholy, expected hush
Of all beauty when you then arise!
What strange stars and strange skies
As the plot begins
With Boodles gin
And a solo by Sonny Rollins dies!" I cried out. But I was ignored
They had wax in their ears heretofore.
I wanted to be
And Odyssey here no more no more! But we rowed past -- all the lovely songs
As the Sirens shimmied in sexy sarongs
I was released
Then it was on to the beast.
The sea was tormented by gongs. Oh, the gong-tormented sea-o
Dolphin torn like it's supposed to be-o
Whatever that means
It made for wonderful scenes
And damn fine poetry-o. I had forgotten to tell my men
That it looked like six of them
We're gonna be dead
That's what Circe said
But I was only looking out for them: For Charybdis it seemed quite certain
Would mean, for all of us, curtains
If we chose Scylla
That beastly Godzilla
Only six would be hurtin'. She had six hungry heads-o
And never ever took her meds-o
And 18 sets of teeth
And breath that did seethe
With the mangled corpses of the dead-o. So we went and rowed on past her
"Boys, I said, You better row faster."
But it was no use
She sank each ugly tooth
Into the hides of six poor sad bastards. When she took them they cried out to me!
But that's death on the dark copper sea.
And we wept
Drank and then slept
And came to Thrinacia by 3.” Of, course, Odysseus continued his story
But Homer got it all down before he
Got to this part.
The fellow lacked art.
So we won't get into it anymore he Had as early as the first damn book
Told how the poor sailors cooked
The Oxen of the Sun
And when they were done
Were wriggling on Poseidon's hook. And all about Odysseus and Calypso.
He did it facto ipso.
So we will conclude
This strange interlude
And take a few lingering sips-o Of Boodles the Gin that’s preferred
By Travis McGee. Have you heard?
John MacDonald is dead
That’s what they said.
And I find it all very absurd. [’Hark! ’tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
“Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
“Arise—arise! the morning is at hand;—] Odysseus looked up. It was day.
The free French were singing La Marseilles
Sam was asleep
And dark dreams did keep
Rick awake in the American café. Outside the warp and woof trembled.
Overall you might say it resembled
What’s going on
In the Gospel of John
And beings sentient and nonsentient assembled In the sky above the Time and Space Port
Where possibilities of every sort
In a way that’s quite splendid
Revoking the claims of La Morte. Away!, Ahab cried “The Pequod
Waits for us -- nor other men nor gods
I’ll continue my quest
But I think it is best
For you to go home. Damn it’s odd. And I think it’s worth asking just why
You will live and I’ll have to die
Because I rage against IS
The Nothingness Biz
While you long for your dear wife and sigh And you are considered the wanderer
Though exposed as a poor blunderer
While my mission
Ends in Nuclear fission
Thundered Ahab the Asunderer. And the Band played “The Leaving of Liverpool”
And Odysseus played “The Flop Eared Mule”
And there was Grace
All over the place
Which is something you never learn in school. Odysseus went aboard, fell asleep
And the Pequod made it over the deep,
And he still was snoozing
As they went cruising
Ahab said, “I have promises to keep.” Odysseus snoozed. They made land!
Ahab left him there on the strand
Beneath the Steel Pier
And he thought it quite queer
To awake to the strains of a Dixieland band. And there in the air -- A Flying Horse!
It wasn’t Pegasus, of course
But a horse named Jose
Owned by Dennis O’Day
Who jumped with negligent force From a Diving Platform right there
Then plunging through the salt air
Into a pool.
Nothing so cool
Had been in Ithaca avant La Guerre. Now the plot is beginning to thicken:
On the boardwalk there is a chicken
That, well, you know,
Can play Tic Tac Toe.
On a bench Mr. Pickwick from Dickens Looks out at the glowing salt sea-o
And who’s passing by? Hey, it’s me-o!
With my dear old Dad
And I feel rather sad
There’s something I want for me-o-- Another box of saltwater taffy
And a number of comics about Daffy
But I’m having no luck.
For my father’s had too much black cafee. And it’s father and son on a quest.
My father thinks it is best
At this late date
At our hotel and then rest In our rooms on Baltic Avenue
Yes, right there. What can you do
If you are the son
Of a son of a gun
Who’s had too much caffe? You’re through. But you saw the old diving horse
And the Monster of the Sea, of course,
Will be on display
For just one more day
And your Dad with irresistible force Is dragging you through 1958-o
And, seeing that now I say Wait-0!
All that is gone
Keeps going on
The white rabbit tells you “You’re late-o.” Ah, you still don’t get the idea?
Well, Odysseus now begins his career.
But Vaudeville is dead
So George Burns said
“We better get outta here.” And Odysseus says “Where’s my son?
And Telemachus came on the run
And then who did they see
Singing “Ain’t We Got Fun.” They glide, they glide like ghosts
Past all readers with their broken remotes
Yes, they fled away
Just on that day.
They’re gone. Didn’t leave any notes.
JOE GREEN was born on September 23, 1948 in Coatesville , Pa. In first grade in Catholic school he asked “Who signed me up for this?” He still hasn't received an answer. Almost all of his published poems are in various editions of "Fulcrum." It is not yet known what "hold" Joe had over the editors of that distinguished publication -- or has over the editors of this transcendent journal. The investigation is continuing.