Ancient Garden

Enter that bounded garden again,
Where through the arches of its walls
Among magnolias and lemon trees
The spell of running water waits.

Hear in that quiet place again,
Alive with birdsong and with leaves,
The gentle rustling of the air
Where old souls hover silently.

See that deep blue sky again,
The slender tower just beyond,
A flower of light above the palms:
All those always lovely things.

Feel again, the same as then,
The sharp pain of desire’s thorn,
While your vanished youth returns.
Dream of a god outside time.

The Poet’s Glory

My demon brother, my spitting image,
I saw you faded, hanging in the sky like a moon at dawn
Hidden in a cloud
Between horrible mountains,
A flowerlike flame, your tongue at my ear,
Whispering curses full of ignorant happiness,
Just like a little boy saying his prayers,
And laughing at how sick I am of this earth.

But it’s not you,
My love turned eternal,
Who should be laughing at this dream, this impotence, this expulsion,
Because you and I are sparks of the same fire
And a selfsame breath launched us onto the dark waves
Of a strange creation, where men
Burn out like matches mounting the exhausting years of their lives.

Your flesh like mine
More than water and sunlight craves the caress of shade;
What arouses our words
Is the boy who resembles a flowering branch
Gracefully unfolding its blossoms and scent in the warm May air;
The constantly changing ocean full of the cries of gray gulls in a storm
Is what moves our eyes,
And our hands are moved to write beautiful poems we publish for men’s contempt.

You know men, my dear brother;
See how they straighten their invisible crown,
Erased as they are in their women’s shadow,
Weighed down with oblivious self-satisfaction
Worn a comfortable distance from the heart
As Catholic priests wear the sad little form of their god,
Conceiving children in a few moments stolen from sleep
So they can devote themselves to living together in the conjugal darkness
Of their cages stacked one atop the other.

Look at them getting lost out in the country,
Feeling ill at ease amid the elegant chestnuts or taciturn plane trees.
How they keep their chin up with such ambition,
Feeling a dark fear snapping at their heels;
See how they take the seventh day off as permitted,
While the counter, the cash register, the clinic, the desk, the office
Can feel the fresh air rustling through their desolate spaces.

Listen to them spouting their interminable words
Perfumed with a violent self-assurance,
Forcing an overcoat on the little boy in chains under the divine sun,
Or a warm drink, gentle on the throat
Going down,
For those who can’t take water’s natural chill.

Hear their commandments carved in marble
On what they call useful, normal, beautiful;
Hear how they dictate laws to the world, try to limit love, define inexpressible beauty,
While their senses revel in the sound of delirious loudspeakers;
Consider their strange minds
Attempting to build, child by child, a complex sandcastle
That might deny with its frightful façade the shining peace of the stars.

Those are the very ones, my brother,
The people with whom I’m dying all alone,
Phantoms that will give rise one day
To the solemn pedant trained to explain my words to his bored students,
And getting a little famous,
With a house in the capital’s anxious foothills;
Just as you, behind your hazy rainbow,
Run your fingers through your long curls
And look down with a distracted expression
On this filthy earth where a poet is going under.

And yet you also know my voice is yours,
My love is yours;
Ah for just one long night
Let your warm dark body slip
Light as a whip
Underneath mine, a rotting mummy buried in some unmarked grave,
And let the bottomless spring of your kisses
Pour into me the fever of a passion gone dead between us;
Because I’m sick of the vain labor of words,
Like a boy skipping his sweet little stones over a lake
Merely to send a ripple through its stillness
Like the shadow of some great mysterious wing.

Now is the time, it’s long past time
For your hands to plunge into my life
The poet’s coveted and bitter knife—
One clean stroke through the heart,
Resonant and trembling like a lute
Where only death
And death alone
Can make the promised melody resound.

Where Oblivion Lives


Where oblivion lives,
In the vast gardens of darkness;
Where I will be no more
Than the memory of a stone lost in spiky weeds
Where the wind goes to escape its insomnia.

Where my name leaves
Its body destined for the arms of the centuries,
Where desire has ceased to exist.

In that great realm where love, terrible angel,
Doesn’t slip its wing
Into my chest like a knifeblade,
Smiling airily as my torment grows.

Out there where this passion demands a master in its own image,
Submitting its life to another life,
With no more horizon than a face with other eyes.

Where sorrows and joys are nothing more than names,
Native land and sky around a memory;
Where at last I’ll be free without even knowing it,
Mist in the fog, an absence,
A light absence like a child’s flesh.

Out there, far away,
Where oblivion lives.