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Still Life With Icons

Why go [there]? Life would be the same.
- L'Estranger1

Yellow lamps loom over the interstate;
that’s no city.
Thatís a hallucination.
Thatís just a phantom constellation.
Itís just a bad dream we wandered into
while driving to the rock 'n' roll shrink.2
Itís halos of dream time hovering
Over the hypnotic dashing white lines.

My father once had a handsome face
before he got old. Iíve seen it
in photographs.
Once he had a handsome face.

This is a bad dream weíve wandered into.

Thereís a giant red lobster3 just south of
down town, hitch-hiking with his huge right claw.
Even he wants to get out of this
dust bowl state. Neither Graham Central Station
nor Angles4 can tempt him to stay.

Iím watching halos hover:

This is no real city.

My brother has curly brown hair which he
inherited, perhaps, from an incubus
(some say he was a changeling).
His handsome beard hides a four-inch scar
on the left of his neck.5

Itís just a hallucination.
Itís car lights heading east out of town.
Itís our trial run.
The trial by perseverance.

Bat wings silhouette the stars. Crow6 song breaks
the rhythm of four wheels over asphalt.
Thereís a possum7 in the weeds.
Thereís a possum at the foot of the stairs.
And love is a lion with eagleís wings,
wearing a bejeweled golden crown.

This is sleep logic.
Itís a bad dream we invented,
so we could drive into it forever.

Chuck8 has a youthful, pretty face.
His talk is glib. He has a party body.
He will kill himself before he gets old.
His heraldic device is the cat
who never sleeps. He counts wrinkles
at the mirror as a penance
for a dream he didnít commit.
He will kill himself before he gets old.

Itís just a phantom constellation.

This is no caravan.  These cars are just
memories stitched together by white &
yellow lines.  This is not a highway.
It's a well-lit amusement park9 of night,
& of the night alone.  All those cars, all
those fantasies of going Somewhere Else,
all those sweet nightmares of being
Someone New, driving forever into the dark.

This is no real city.

What was the trial of the body?
What fire burned the mouth & throat?
What the hand that seized the loins,10
caressed the buttocks?  What mouth
for days kissed that tongue?
What trial was this, that had no sentence
but months of darkness?11
Whose dark face was behind that rouge?
This was no love, nor game of love;
it was the ferret of desire.

The lamps are halos over the town.
They are a phantom constellation.

Andrea was not of the road.  She was
to take to the air.  Her face is cowled
by short greying hair.  Her hands & her eyes
are icons of her heart.12
She is not of the road, but on it.

This is sleep logic.
It's a heraldic design of crow time.

We're frozen in the ditches.  We are corpses
already covered and loaded into
the ambulances.  We're the red sports car,
laying face down in the center median.
We're the schizophrenic the rock 'n' roll
psychiatrist is talking down from a 
manic stupor.  We're the stars of our own
bad horror movie spoof in which the door
is almost always unlocked.

It's just a hallucination.

I do not have my father's face, nor my 
brother's beard.13
                  I have not learned to live with
my face.  I will not sign a peace treaty
with this face; I wear a death's head mask.
I'm already old.  I've walked through the fire 
of the trial of spirit, & survived.
I have not learned to live with my face.

This is a bad dream.

There's a story that won't be told.  There are
nameless cars on the interstate.
There's a poem14 in my journal only
four people can read.  There are water towers,15
like giants, tracking the truths hid in
dream logic.  White lines.  Yellow lights looming.
It's a four month year.  It's icons of crow time.

This is no real city.
It's a hallucination.
It's a bad dream we invented
so we could drive into it forever.

It's just a bad dream.

9 - 10.May.1983
Second Draft