The Past Ages of Sorcerers

Every movement forward is glum

The past ages of sorcerers

Carry sticks to the dungeons.

Mystics for the cosmetic industry

Victims of broken doors

Pallor winds itself around fingers

Colors the house blue

Puts the moon in a half-circle

In the gray sky.

Poverty mistakes beauty for

The revulsion of flesh.

It paints pictures in the reflections,

Drives in the sand of rats,

Carries an offering for the sake of an offering.

There is no change from one generation to the next.

Every family member is scared.

The tired, maudlin, tapestry

Of hopelessness remains

Stagnant, conflicting, and empty.

Kisses are for the beautiful

Or the witty.

The rest of us sit alone.

The beer hall smothers

The glistening night

In the delusion

Of questioning life.

Even lights at the fork of a tree

Limbers not one moment.

Saturations of the thin lines

Of ink bleed into an impassioned

Exercise of disorder.

I know no other Hieronymus Bosch

Except these squiggly lines,

The black and white flitter of time.

Each cup is a reflection of our

Mental notes that promise no separation.

At the party, our conversations

Are cruel. Projections of ourselves

Sitting on the stool.

There is nothing left of this clamoring

Participation, except that the eye gate

Sees.

Bumblebee and gold,

Old Mr. Government tired on a

Chair

Paul Revere and a dog by his

Chair.

Each stick of dynamite

In the chaotic lair

Draws the gunfire of hope.

Down the dungeons of hell

America’s patriots

Scheme and conspire,

Like Jackson Pollock

With shrapnel.

In every allegory of the self,

Pigs eat at the trough,

People lick each other,

And a small blue vase with baby’s breath

Covers the pavement.

By this time of night Klimt’s

Two lovers have passed out

On a table just beyond the

bartender.

There’s nothing to say of this

But that the last tender

Moment is a drunken stupor.

“Just give me a bottle,”

The stranger says.

And the white freed man

Ponys up to the stand.

I’ve seen this reference to the impressionists:

The orange cat, barkeep, and the glass.

In one man’s face is the celebration

Renoir or Gauguin, and perhaps Seurat,

But in his face I also see the digital

Revolution, that glitch in a video and more lit trees.

This is Trius, my friend in the beer garden,

Although she says:

“With Ulrike and Celeste.”

The mission in these eyes is money,

For in the past of each replica

In the haze of modernity

Is how every culture is smothered?

That long red line

Is a sad exclamation point

As the iconography floats.

Each charismatic portrait

Gives no birth.

Relationships are terminable,

Disclosed and open to interpretation.

I have shadowed you.

Put my hand as far back

Into you as you could take

And it was evil.

Bartering my single shape:

Limbless, phallic, and

Predatory.

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2 comments

  1. This is a very beautiful poem, deep, full of powerful symbols and metaphors. It shows a desolated landscape of a world where the mistakes and injustices of the past are being passed from generation to generation, where only a few people are privileged while “the rest of us sit alone”. I interpret “the beer hall” as a microcosmos in a world but it could be understood as a symbol or metaphor for the kind of world you, as a writer, want to describe.

    I think the central topic of this poem is the question of community identity and also the individual’s purpose in life. As the poem moves on, what is happening to our world and society is being described with metaphors, images and words related to painting. There is “ink bleed” suggesting blood caused by human greed and wars. The world’s situation seems to be compared to Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings where we see the eternal topics of humanity: the fall from paradise, fallen angels, pleasure and luxury on earth, corruption and hell. (When I think of Bosch I immediately visualize The Garden of Earthly Delights. My mother has a copy at her house and I have always liked it as well as my father and my mother. To me it will always be associated to those moments we three spent together, the ideal family.)

    As a reader, one could think the author’s intention here, your intention, is to compare the world you are describing, full of greed and corruption, with Bosch’s paintings. The poem seems to describe a world where there are cruel conversations at parties, everything seems to be subject to “bumblebee and gold”, this human greed that makes us miserable.

    As we continue reading there is reference to Paul Revere, patriot in the American Revolution. Therefore, this poem is also about American identity. As a reader I like the connection with society, politics, American identity and also with arts like painting, very well exemplified with reference to so many painters like Jackson Pollock, a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. “By this time of night Klimt’s” could also be a reference to Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt being associated here with two lovers passed out.

    There are more references to painters, post-impressionists (Renoir, Gauguin, Seurat) that I also find very interesting, as well as the reference to Nicole Eisenman’s painting “Beer garden with Ulrike and Celeste” where every person is sad, instead of having fun which would be the normal thing in a beer garden. To me this is clearly symbolizing America’s decline as a society. The “long red line” being a “sad exclamation point” could refer to what seems to be a waiter or barkeeper so sad (like you).

    In general, I think the poem makes a very deep reflection about society, politics, culture, our modern digital era, the dangers of our present world where “each charismatic portrait gives no birth” as in Eisenman’s painting. It all shows us that we are in a new Dark Age, a period of decline, compared to others in history. Each period has a birth, a flourishing and an end, exactly like the finished love relationship that appears at the end of this poem. It is also a decline. The man talks to the woman telling her he feels he has shadowed her, done evil, he has been “limbless, phallic and predatory”, maybe as greedy, evil and ambitious as this American society in decline. After all, he is a member of it.

    Feelings this poem causes in the reader: ANGER, RAGE and REBELLION against the human injustice described in the poem.

    I find this poem one of the most beautiful in this book but also most difficult to understand because of all the symbols, metaphors and references. However, without understanding it all, I think it is very beautiful with an incredibly powerful message once you get to see the most important things.

  2. Love that Marta. You very kind to spend so much time with my work. I am always satisfied with your interpretations. They are clear and informative. Thank you ever so much. I should be getting to your new book today.


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