REMBRANDT’S NIGHTWATCH SOLILOQUIES 11
I, a tabula rasa, seeking
Something in which I could believe
In a world that lives by lies
Went to Florida lake.
It was Easter Sunday, there was
A water skier show.
A barefooted water skier splashed water off his heels.
The crowd cheered.
There was a rumor believed by the majority
That if a drop of water splashed by
The barefooted, boardless skier
Could be caught before it fell back into water
This drop if rubbed on the foreword
Could cure cancer.
I, a tabula rasa, was still seeking to find
Something that I could believe in in this world
That lives by lies.
I observed cancer victims going out in rowboat,
Diving in behind
The splashes of the barefooted and boardless skier,
Trying to catch in cups
A drop of the splashed water.
I notice how forlorn these cancer victims looked.
Most of them drowned and no one noticed.
A few who caught a drop in a cup, I learned later,
Died screaming in a several days.
While watching the cancer victims swimming
After the splashes of the barefooted,
Boardless skier, I averted my eyes
And saw a man in a toga or a sheet,
Or something white, perhaps a mist,
Walking on the water across the lake,
From one shore to the other shore.
No one noticed him,
All eyes were on the barefooted,
Boardless, water skier.
I inquired, no one noticed the man
Who walked on water, but some
Has heard rumors of his existence,
And said they had heard his name
Was Pantijali, or Malpera, or Naropa,
Or some other name they could not remember.
REMBRANDT’S NIGHT WATCHMAN’S SOLIQUIES 12
The navigators’ guiding light was
A broken light bulb.
The voyage was undertaken, as advertised,
To try and find the Holy Grail.
I paid my passage, hoping if the Holy Grail
Was found, I, a tabula rasa, could find a belief.
The excursion boat moved slowly, when
There was nothing but water to be seen,
There would be a floor show, girls
Wearing many feathers and scanty
Pieces of crimson cloth with sequins.
Aftrwards, jugglers, tight-rope walkers,
Sword-swallowers, and a Volkswagon
From which twenty-five midgets emerged.
The grand-finale was a BMW from which
A regiment of soldiers clad in germ-ware uniforms emerged.
Also to past the time while the search for the Holy Grail continued,
There were slot machines, bingo, kenko, euchre, and poker.
We passed many islands, but all had the same shore lines,
The shorelines were lined with skeletons of buffaloes.
We arrived at an island named Cythera which advance spies
Informed that this island was the location of the Holy Grail.
There is a crowd of people leaving the island, all dressed
In silk clothes, also there was a Harlequin with a guitar.
When we arrived picnic lunches were unloaded, cavier,
Shad roe, and a roasted suckling pig. Champagne was served.
Every one, except myself, drunk and happy, staggered
Back to the boat. I asked about the Holy Grail,
I was a tabula rasa, I needed a belief. I kept inquiring
About the Holy Grail. No one knew what I was talking about.
REMBRANDT’S NIGHTWATCHMAN SOLILIQUES 13
I very sad when I visited the museum,
In a glass case a zoot suit.
I especially observed the long chain,
Were like the sun-tanned bald heads of bureaucrats
And shined as if coated
With oil dug out of the ice in Alaska.
These golden glow was produced
By the soft-cheeked, rice-powered fluorescent lights
That resembles the facial features
Of dancing girls in Viet Nam bars
That illuminated the glass case.
But what disturbed was my face
Reflected on the plate glass.
I had to face again the fact
That I was a tabula rasa.
I needed a belief, something I could
Write on the blank slate of myself,
A zoot suit with a long chain
Would not suffice, although I had once
Visited a barrio and saw rusty tin cans
That had been stepped on over and over.
I visited the next exhibit, a wax effigy
Of Marcus Aurelius.
He looked weary, as weary as a man who had
Never done anything foolish, outlandish.
With a goose feather used as a pen
He was writing, not Latin, but a runic language.
I studied the writing, it was a language
That no one has ever written.
Marus Aurelius was writing a personal,
Unique, esoteric, hermetic, solipsistic language.
He was writing this language
Because he despised the quotidian values
Of his world, and he did not want
To write a familiar language
Because it reminded him of the familiar
Such as his wife’s adulteries.
As he wrote this strange and difficult language,
the expression on his wax effigy face
Changed from weariness to joy.
Observing the change of the expression
On face, seeing the new joy he was feeling,
I thought perhaps, I, a tabula rasa
Had found something I can believe in.
REMBRANDT’S NIGHTWATCHMAN SOLIQUIES 14
I recall how by salt water white puddles,
the burnt driftwood’s reflection tinted
Your blonde skin vermillion.
Our cheeks touching, we looked into this white, salty mirror,
We saw the reflected flames
Burn apart our faces.
You went to California and its dishonest beaches.
I stayed in this unknown, unnamed location,
Listened to a wren’s song from a hole in a cactus.
It was a half-moon on the last night we were together.
The moon was like a tight wound warped spool of white threads
Unraveling to streak the sky with broken strings.
I now imagine you in California clawing at windows,
But the glass is unbreakable, the windows nailed closed.
I have received your indecipherable scribbles called “letters.”
When you departed I thought of all the deserts
You would walk across. How the air would be enriched
With coyotes howling at the cloud-covered moon.
I remember the nights we were together,
How you always wanted to slip the moon into your heart,
And let the light crawl over blood vessels to your brain.
Now, you are gone, I in my backyard I touch the plum tree
Whose white flowers your arm once circled,
But no slender arms now embrace its blossoms and rough bark.
THE BITTER OLEANDER PRESS
A SPECIAL ISSUE
DEVOTED IN ITS ENTIRETY
TO THE WORK OF DUANE LOCKE
INCLUDING AN INTERVIEW (92 pages)
A SELECTION OF HIS POETRY (60 poems)
PUBLICATION DATE, APRIL 15TH, 2OO4
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