For Matthew Eshleman

Are you, Muse, the spume off Laussel, archaic
dust dimpled & savoury that I nourish to steel myself
the Selfhood that lays claim to all rapture?
Is your fertility still based in the blood-filled bison horn
Laussel grasps in her right hand raised slightly below her

Might the egg-shaped relief of a double figure near
be a Palaeolithic premonition of the serpent-encircled
Orphic egg?

Greeks believed that at death a man’s spinal marrow
emerged from his loins in serpent form.
Since bones are the framework of life,
the semen-like marrow in the skull was for centuries
thought to be the source of semen.
Thus the singing skull, the oracular skull,
an archosis going back to brain-eating Australopithecus

In every desire a uterus shelved with skulls.

I released the energy from the gateless gate of a rock
The wonder of inhabited nothingness bubbled & waned
in me, microscopic doodad.
Then I heard manticores chortling with their triple
band-saw mouths–
or was I hearing the love-songs of Max Beckmann?

Ochre dots circulating around a breast-like wall
protuberance in Le Combel
bearing in their menstrual, apotropaic sigils the
presence of Cro-Magnon woman
embedded so deep in collective mind
I can only wonder if planetary peril is not inscribed
in image’s beginnings.

Is our war on animals a planetary cannibalisation to
reach non-existence
in a masque performed by hydrogen mountains &
sulphur assassins?

The torn heaven tent draped over our lightmares.

Blake under covers at night. As if an anaconda entered
as I tried to sleep
& wept insomnia into every shutter of my piles.

Hades is the king of remembered images.

Orpheus did bring Eurydice back. He couldn’t bring

To keep images in the embrace of each other & maintain
the intercourse of their self-revealing conversations.

The artist is neither revolutionary nor conservative,
but a worker of the in-between, a messenger from
the centerless flux.

Is anything left of the beginning?
How about the soul’s dragonfly metastases?
Or the petrified lightning rampant in a bear?

A sloth in a skin-tight body hose of drowned men.
After a vaporised storm, glassy eyes float about,
burial mounds invading the bolted stars.

Rainer Marie Rilke to Lotte Hepner, November 8, 1915: “When a tree blossoms, death as well as life blossoms in it, and the field is full of death, which from its reclining face sends forth a rich experience of life, and the animals move patiently from one to another – and everywhere around us, death is at home, and it watches us out of the cracks of things, and a rusty nail that sticks out of a plank somewhere, does nothing day and night except rejoice over death.”

At the core of our Milky Way galaxy:
animal eyes in a blackish, red density of dust clouds,
horns in smears of light.
As if life on earth is anticipated in this 300 light-years
Coitus as the earthly version of cosmic superimposition.

Sciomantic penetrations course a vineyard.

At times I see miles of pools, piles of pumas sunning
their scorpion sores,
four boars mating in a silken anguish.

Or are we all animals of snow, impelled by that first
avalanche of mother milk,
haloed by circumpolar whiteness?

James Hillman writes that “Soul is vulnerable and suffers; it is passive and remembers, It is water to the spirit’s fire, like a mermaid who beckons the heroic spirit into the depths of passions to extinguish its certainty. Soul is imagination, a cavernous treasury – to use an image from St Augustine – a confusion and richness, both.”

In sleep’s porphyry mist, Daphne’s lauraceous hues.

A nude asleep in a water-lily harness rotating through
my breakfast. Drink from this tambourine.

The portentous, alpine edges in every doorway.

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