Clayton Eshleman

Nocturnal Veils                           

In bed, looking up at the light-peppered dark,
as if the ceiling were not there, as if I were starting into my own staring,
tinctured absence, a grassy sweet aroma
lifting off Caryl. In the zone between here and not here,
the lunar curtain parts,
as in a Matta painting, there are tilting astro-planes,
each a kind of ark, or flight deck,
one covered with snow has standing mammoths, it tilts,
slides through a plane crawling with reptiles,
I think of my brain with its reptile stem, its mammal hood,
I see a bear humping a crocodile,
try to get between them, to push them apart and open a space for a nascent self,
in the zone between bear and crocodile, what will I be?
A bear-headed croco-boy? A croc-headed baby bear?
I screw off my head, toss it into the light-peppered dark
—will it become a raven? Or a large bee?
Headless, I watch through my chest the air swarming with spirits,
Nora! How is it where you are?
“Busy. Bodies rushing in and out, did you know Cheney is full of reptile blood,
and driven by the mind of an Incan child abandoned on a mountain
300 years ago? A child spitting up lizard blood,
freezing to death in a stone shrine,
now can you grasp Cheney’s infantile wrath?
Bush’s secret is his tiny tail, leathery, about 3 inches,
like the tip of a Komodo Dragon’s tail—
note how he is always heavily guarded from behind,
for if some joker pulls his tail, a long yellow forked tongue will spurt from his face—
very few humans are pure human, most are occupied by
bizarre creature combines, the dead and the extinct pack the air
unseen from a 5 senses perspective.
I have a horse’s cock now, I’m planning on using it soon,
I’m going to fuck one of those dead art dealers
who “fucked” me, then help her open a gate to your plane,
watch the fun as she gives birth in a few brains to some mustang raillery!”
She screamed with laughter—then I heard a strong, central suck,
something in the dark had gulped her back.
The dot-peppered dark began to undulate,
I thought of the veils within “No one has lifted her veil,”
revelati, to draw back the velum,
to hear dead Nora through a spiritual gate,
to see the Dogon earth naked and speechless,
without language, a fiber skirt the first word,
speech as plaited fiber, “speechlattice,”
of Christ nailed on the cross as the arrested word,
vulva as lower mouth issuing red fiber,
a many-colored Isis rainbow, new within which
my fate is entangled, where the Nora spirits can be heard.
Then I saw a black capped facial net grilled “full body veil”
sitting as if on a Kabul bridge, begging,
“No one has lifted her veil” became
“At no time have women not been oppressed”—
my heart tore left and right, I tried to peel
the true from the truthful, the rainbow flashed
a central scarlet band, I knew it was the Wawilak Sisters’ menstrual blood
circulating within rock python venom—
I saw ripples of albino babies, each with a red or silver balloon,
setting off across a rainbow bridge as if for
the argentine body of the moon—
the Kabul bridge beggar roared back,
burkha, never-shed menstrual hut,
chrysalis of a monstrous anti-metamorphosis
“sewed up in a hammock, with a small opening so she can breathe”
—are all of us, enclosed in the world of 5 senses, mummified pupas?
The beggar hissed: “Your bars, spaced and wall-papered,
           allow some movement and comfort,
mine, wrapped around me, nearly cover my eyes…”
I turned and sought sleep’s stagnation,
respite from the sear of intersecting planes.

EPR #4: Morphologies of Paradise

© 2005 Electronic Poetry Review