Sailing Past the Siren-Islands

An unspeakable scream came into being,
a more than mortal sound.

                    i. Aeaea

Between Aeaea and the rocks of Scylla
a song is where word and deed come together,
a smacking of lips and a slapping of tongue
against æther, tempestuous mouths fed out
of the hands of strangers, truth abounds among
those through whom such almond-sweet, fragrant-seeded
charity passes as a refreshing breath
of soft, silent prayer knowingly answered in
a pressing moment of hazarded distress,
being tossed about gambling losses, betting
against nothing left, a loser winning not
from heaven but the depths a surging blessing
lessening the disastrous, thundering pull

of the undertow, led by lightning below
into the crow-clawed chaos of inky cloud
appalled at being called night by starry-eyed
voyagers of otherworlds burned out from their
sojourns in solar boats another culture’s
poorly-translated sacred books warned about,
armchair adventurers, falsely self-assured
amateurs costumed in gossamer, hawk-blind
messengers whose gospel of something better
than this falls on deaf ears, cuckolded sailors
of another era’s blazed trails accustomed
only to day-bright skies, myopic mystics
cornea-scarred by lies prizing martyrdom

                    ii. Scylla

no one will ever buy, no matter how hyped
their hagiographies’ anachronistic
imitations of Christ, nothing like it, this
lowest crevice of life to the bottom of
which every hero goes after his myth
plateaus, yes, within a hand’s-breadth of its throes,
hope knows to answer those crepuscular souls
for whom the psalmist wrote ‘De Profundis,’ which
Robbie Ross adopted as a title for
Wilde’s final letter (the longest, in fact, in
the English language) to Lord Alfred “Bosie”
Douglas (who let it sit unread, who perhaps
abandoned it knowing it was, instead, meant

for us no one else has ever since addressed
so well), in the same sense this is breath parting
water, an offering asking of no one
nothing but to be remembered as the one
whose song was this now sung, a paean only
a crippled chorus of lust-thirsty lovers
could ever understand, the wonderful sound
of a way somehow out of this labyrinth,
sailing past the siren-islands knowing now
just how to withstand the pulse-stilling coming
down from approaching so close what one wanted
so bad to drown in, warmth of what harms wrapping
around one’s heart with many-tentacled arms.

1Homer, “Hymn to Apollo: Pythian Apollo”, [Stanza 29, Line] 360, in The Homeric Hymns: Translated by Jules Cashford with an Introduction and Notes by Nicholas Richardson, published at London by Penguin Books in 2003; page 46.