To Suffer an Eclipse

                    [I]f I have any advice about writing
                              poetry, it’s—


                                        [T]he place to find the center
                                                  is at the edge[.]

                    i. Antumbra

          The alembic of mindfulness
has fallen to hard pavement, all
mysticism of awareness gone,
its calling on us to be kings,
priests, and prophets has perished with
a sigh, crawling back into its
shell to tell of how wisdom left
her holy mountain to dwell here
among dumb men, only to be
ignored, beholding with her eyes

          firsthand how wealth has robbed them blind,
and I, the sole philosopher,
the brooding author denying
all modesty, but honestly,
perpetuating the widespread
myth of my own insanity
because it sells books when genius
fails, almost as well as “posing
as a somdomite [sic]” does, or
did, knowing that in so saying,

          I am only quoting the wild-
tempered father of Oscar Wilde’s
on-again/off-again lover,
Bosie, whose dad, his old man, that
sad-sack bad-ass the Marquess of
Queensberry, invented modern
boxing, had already lost his
other kid to suicide, and
was a dimwit, homophobic
wife-beater who could not even

          spell “sodomite” when publicly
outing him and his son by way
of a drawn-out lawsuit that wit
of Wilde’s turned into a full-blown
criminal trial, sentencing
the damned dandy to prison and
hard labour simply for tasting
another guy’s flavour, dipping
his pen, as it were, in the ink
of company a commoner

                    ii. Penumbra

          such as he, no matter how oh-
so-literate or famously
literary, could not afford
to keep, yes, here I am, like him,
oh-so-knowledgeable, but so
impossible to know, hiding
behind my poems, irate and
versifying this rant of prose
into lines of eight syllables,
mixing metaphors as I go,

          carelessly and clumsily as
an amortized alchemist caught
left-handed down the devil’s path
doing his accountant’s laundry,
multitasking and rambling while
bouncing back from accusations
of blasphemy, cracking a smile
when asked of the damage were it
only collateral, laughing
at the fact god’s a great poet

          who hasn’t had any new work
since creation made of creatures
more work than he’d bargained for, you
who admonish the writer for
spending all day writing, your herd
flocking to ministers whose great
wisdom’s been lifted from the stained
and fading pages of their old
Merriam-Websters’, the furnace
of transformation where, for once,

          silence filled my mouth with something
I was not prepared to swallow—
love, its flood making of me such
a devout alcoholic, what
I swore I would never become,
though the oracle’s pit, that is,
the Internet, says my feelings
of confusion will subside, that
this is just how it feels to live
as a god does among mortals,

                    iii. Umbra

          clawing my way through piles of filth,
toothless infidels whose unwashed
and poorly-lit ancestors sneered
at Prometheus for having
brought fire to one of their potlucks,
that this is now normal: to be
the only one not buying its
myth or eating the corpses at
civilization’s funeral,
time devours all things, but even

          wise Saturn, with his heavenly
body and thick fingers, on which
all earthly women, since distant
antiquity, have wished to put
their rings, would be the first ancient
deity to admit that he
would rather spit on, than have
to spit out the bones of, these slow
children, backward in their notions
of what makes life worth living, and

          how to live, retarded, perhaps,
from the influence or pull of
some planet’s retrograde motion,
none of whom he admits are his,
nor ever will, he says, until
the paternity test is in,
this is now normal: to suffer
an eclipse knowing if they had
accepted his gift, none of us
would still have to resist having

          to exist with them, protesting
without rest their bullshit and its
mess, those lazy-eyed mongrels, that
if they had shut their mouths to breathe
through their noses instead, lifted
their knuckles up off of the dirt
just high enough to take the torch,
and listened, our planet would not
have cannibalized itself, and
had to end like this, in darkness.

1Charles Bukowski, “interviews [sic]”, [Stanza 15, Lines 51–53] and “the happy life of the tired [sic]”, [Stanza 2, Lines 16–17], respectively, in Play the Piano Drunk like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit, published at New York by Ecco in 2003; pages 76 and 96.