INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO
When your mind, summoned to recall,
recalls a poem in which the sought word
is not, but the sought word will do as a hall-
way to a description of life: Where you get something-like,
but nothing, really, what you wanted at all.
However, having no choice, you find
it will do as well as a void or wall.
So, amble on through life, brother,
sway and wander as you please, bawl
at God and rant at man
have willful, awesome goals or small.
Accept the gift of birds and trees
the blue of sky, the black of night,
beyond galaxies, beyond recall,
light years beyond the human fight.
where is the doughnut?
bearish, rough, surly, shrewd,
I cannot bear thee ever in that
ever cantankerous mood.
Decline if thou wilt, fade down, fade
out like penicillin on food.
Like stocks in the market,
like chickens without a brood.
As with omnivorous Ursus,
and animals safely zooed,
bait me not, bate me still,
let me fly like the hawk that rued
camping in the city, amid video
and stone, watched by the bank,
banded, monitored, photoed,
beaked, bearish, ageing, lank.
What do you choose
in choiceless light?
and its first example is the skin.
Whereas I think of corrugated iron
walls, wrinkled and thin.
Living as long as one does,
cruor on the spot like sin,
one wonders in one's deepest hours,
if iron or skin will win.
Of course, later,
we'll understand and grin.
But the fish have been here
a long, long time waving their fin --
and they don't grin. Up the ladder
or down, they mouth and whirl
with the current, dive
deep in the watery curl.
Which one ever
understood the swirl?
and dull, dull work, I wandered
to the wood and found a green-laced
pool where I laid down and squandered
perhaps an hour or more, lying on a hot-
smelling, cedar bench and pondered
blue-black, tinged-with-green reflections
where flies buzzed and dragonflies laundered
their blue, iridescent tails, dancing
round their sphere, and mating as I conjured
the low melodious and high harmonics of xmij.
Perhaps they thought I was a water fall. They sauntered
close, buzzed their wings suspended in space --
bi-planes of pleasure in the silent, singing day.
Thus having plundered the pleasure of bees and bugs,
I wandered on my way.
not only to the moon, but beyond
galaxies to the walls and voids, reflecting,
like bugs bouncing about in a pond,
universal darkness, universal light.
The reflections of flora abscond --
blue-black and green,
silver gleaming and gold donned
-- with the feed in the wind,
leaf-boat-like wands, conned
to service as earth-shine,
unaware, unintentional, but fond
of the sun and the moon,
admiring their beauty
reflect between cattail and fern
ravished by archer-bearing putti.
"Paint me," says
the neck of the swan?
the flame of life, the stick I expected to bloom
magnolias, sweet and lemony scented,
but found, instead, gloom.
The firebrand lit nothing but strife,
inflamed no passions but my own loom
of bewildered cruelties and night-time frights,
an ocean of feathery spume
that whirled and whirled and whirled
caught in the dying tomb
of the green lake's trees which, having lived
a hundred years, now find no room
in the city-blight of the can-do heart.
Human desire stresses
the environment -- living and dying,
simple actions -- for which no one dresses.
Weep, heart, weep.
How much can you miss those trees?
*From Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" as quoted p.575, Century Dictionary, 1933
but it comes from "cross" and means "extremely."
We don't hang people any more,
not in this democratically constituted country.
Two uprights and a cross-beam --
in gymnastics made of wood, commonly --
as if death by guilt or innocence
does not cross the world swiftly
enough to swallow man and beast
lightning, and the third eye's blast.
Oh thrasonic man, hurly-burly
got you here, can't you wait for the great
plucker-in-the-sky to lift your strings?
Let the sympathetics cry! -- while,
swallow-like, you fly high as the bell rings.
O church, O churl
will you sing for me?
withdrawal from sleep
from warm, annhilating down.
Opening eyes, ready to weep
in sunshine or gloom too strong,
seep between the leaves or leap
to grey, motionless skies
where creeps the vaporous heap
of daylight invitations ceaselessly.
Awful and deep,
they dig into flesh and consciousness,
peep over ragged, high, steep-
sided ravines. Get up! Get up! get up!
cries the insignificant alarm.
Shut up! She cracks down her hand, Shut up!
Day has broken without much charm.
Is "heat death" best
-- or entropy?
beneath the cerulean sea,
a mermaid, tangle-haired, fish-hipped,
glittering scales about the knee.
I intend to dive deep below the tectonic plates
subsiding, turning their key
elbowing the land to rear high mountains
which, down below, will bury me.
Beneath the coral tendrils, kelp bulbs,
sodden ash, in green-washed light I'll be.
Listen for the sirens' sighs, the soughing
of the tidal winds. I'll charge no fee --
but come, come chant with me, come
no further than the edge of the sea, we'll
thrum the Vedas to the earth's hum,
susurrus of the Dharma's wheel
hand-turned by mermaids.
creatures are all about , bounding, leaping
on this nervous planet. To stay still is to become
rooted, twined by the branches, roped by the nestling
vines of one's youth, stagnantly glossed over by times
running down, out, through, clear, cold, cringing,
stupified by the cruelty, prevalent and pale,
on this globe, water spinning, spinning
round, round, round 'neath the stars'
shine, moon's restless, slow clinging
fortnights, when blackness, sheer
goneness, utterness is singing,
condensing in the night
from lively beans and hares and jacks and mice
to minute specks, flighty molecules, busy, busy,
running here and there, rather than being nice.
You do hear it,
for you to be a knave, a mere boy,
a wretched, cunning thing who plays
with life as if it were a toy.
Confess, wretched boy, don't send
eye-lashed tears at me, don't be coy.
Ship off to the edge of the earth,
Hawaii, perhaps, and there employ
your nimble fingers, adept at deception,
to feed yourself pudding-like poi,
avacados, mangoes, a papaya or two
and, for the joy of my soul, don't annoy
or deploy your wiles before maidens
or with knavery thoughtlessly imbue
what the light, soil or sea might teach you.
Court sweet reason. If you gently un-woo
your knavery, might you
be accused of bravery?
the coffering of soffits, the hornets
layered papery sphere, rimmed bells
pillowy as philosophical velvets,
of philology, theology, red-cheeked
saviors, smiling survivors of Tibet's
diaspora, scatterings of Angkor Watt's
wind, Khmer killed, East Timor regrets,
howls in the bloodied air, stung flesh,
dodged about, not admitted to sets
of muqarnas beneath a string of robed
towers sending up musical, wailing jets,
opaque, fog blown from unseizable
seas, dark as night on an untrekked
range. Ride the black-wasp air, the debt!
Ride the ice-cold neck of the pole stilled.
of terror and not nice. But my word is mice,
little things of which I am not afraid,
nor their rhyme-cousins, vice or lice,
nor tics that creep upon my skin
or rest in my palatial bin like bits of rice.
They have as much right as I to run
about the floors of life avoiding ice.
Having agreed to hobbled, limp and slither,
no one, of course, guarantees the price.
Losing your purse, then your route
you finally come to admit and slice
into your past. Up against the barriers
of time and nothingness, where there's nowhere
to go, nothing to do, no energy, hope, dreams,
fears, no one to trust, no one to woo,
what, then, do you think
you want to do?
when I lost my way, past weeds and greeds
into the cattail-dark, and dragonfly-blue,
luscious, autumn, dying algae that leads
to annihilation, to the deep, black pond
of sucking waters to drown as one pleads
for insight, truth, trust, answers, and instead
gets long-stemmed, battered queeds and jeeds --
You figure them out! I've done enough in sixty
conscious years! worrying about heeds and feeds,
wandering with bucking, unruly steeds -- leave me!
I want to wail, I want to cry, Leave me my seeds,
perhaps I'll die like the hooked fish who bleeds,
back into the salty sea, that which was borrowed
to make me, make you, make this questioning, raucous,
unreasoning breed, leveled and sorrowed --
where even the reflection fights for its depth,
for its shadow and glow of summer's sunken sun
where heat simmers the yellow-algae. Its length
and round the rim where the leaves touch and putrefy
become soil, moist and nurturing. In its warmth
tadpoles nest, spider's spin and mosquito's brood
safe and fragile in a blood-needing, fructifying, fourth
dimension. O blue-tailed dragonfly, goggle-eyed, aware,
alight, fold your double-decked wings. Mind the breadth
of the water and its distance from the dying stream.
Tell us how likely it is, in your buzzing, swooping birth
that you'll survive or leave token or sign, sound
or signature. Who will know you have been?
Who will know you are gone? I record your being
on a retina destined for destruction's indelible pen.
Who writes? Who sees?
and a bit more to the right of the nose.
Color it viridian-blue, provide it a pair of lace-like
wings, dump it in the mouth of a judge or a rose.
Well then, opinion, goggle-eyed, changes to
sound judgement, just like the sound pose
of the Puget Sound, granite-blue surrounded
by the wild life of Washingtonions who hose
down their green estate after the rains, after
mists and drizzles, hoping to clear woes
from their toes. But onions, too, crisp and white
covered with gold and Walla Walla have those
giant eyes, and they weep and they weep and they
weep until next week, when the spongy-deep
emerald and coral and blue may seep
onto the land and innocently, quite willingly reap --
Ah! what harvest!
What harvest, indeed, my dear?
you wander round the globe and I stay in my bed
biding my time, waiting for return, return of love,
return of strength, return of faith that what I'm fed
will re-spark lying embers of my original ravenous
curiosity to know the contents of everything read.
To know the trajectory of all the world's fast flying
thoughts, kneel before the great slaughter of dead
ideas, remembrances, cover my face, weep great
oozy drops as if a dragonfly could with pure red
tears in crimson sunlight, rest forever on the twilit
air, buzzing, goggled, enshrined, certainly misled
-- this would have been the galactic motive of my
roaming mind, but now... Ah! but now, informed
by heart, entrail, bowel, by needed, new naming
of the astronomical walls and voids, I'm scorned.
Ah but how?
in a small time. Seriphus politus is its other name and Sciaenid
it genus. Its nature is a carnivorous, acanthopterygian sea-fish.
Reference it in the 1933 Cent Dict, for this El Cid
seems to have preceded the era of discrimination,
before biological, botanical, scientific boundaries bid
off-caste-ing to their own Dicts. The Queenfish, which is implied
to be a certain kind of kingfish and/or drumfish has, in the OED slid
not into its august, 1933 pages, perhaps because she's a California fish,
not a bully, British, aquicolous, pisciculture creature bent on kid-
napping the world. A-can-thop-te-ryg-i-an, meaning
spiny, makes it in the OED, and drum did
come from an awesome noise. Carnivorous,
of course, we know what that means. Why is it
a reader of poetry might not know: A-can-thop-te-ryg-i-an?
Acanthopterous means spiny-winged -- so the spiny-finned queen bit
Acantha, means thorn.
yet it describes my soul as it freezes.
Recuse means reject, excuse, disqualify.
Leave us, unleash us, believe us, seize us.
Recusants, in English History were Roman
Catholics who refused to attend, bless us,
Church of England after Harry's marriage.
One tries to picture them full of breezes,
sneezes, Catholic, Christian, stout men
hiding behind the skirts of gentle Jesus,
laying waste the world for commerce.
Our human behavior, bleeds us, leads us
to righteously kill each other, to prosper,
to gain, to cause pain, to grasp others' food.
Murderous is an apt image of humankind:
one becomes a be-leaf-less tree to be wooed.
Does the logger's ax
Formerly seeking the mystic, the magic bee,
I used to be a wanderer.
But now I am a be-leaf-less tree
standing still in life's mid-stream contemplating the tragedies
of East Timor on color-cable/TV.
I used to make a difference.
Now my inner eye can't see
what difference it makes to he who has lost his house,
his life, his close family
to wander wounded down
the burnt out street of Dili
if the moral decision of the greed-ridden world,
Indonesia or United Nation, they all agree,
whatever they do musn't harm
the structuring of the world called free
Are you dying on your knees,
brother? So are we.
it with envy and craving. I morbidly muse the Renaissance:
Medici, Cellini, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo --
Tuscans all -- flaming greed, talent, arrogance that flaunts
the humbleness of my soul. How can there be so much brilliance
and I not one part of the show? Rising ponceau-red wants
-- ah! ah! ah! ah! how can I be human and less than the best,
trained as I am in the Western tradition that haunts,
mortifies with jealousy, resentment, overweening desires
for not shining as a star, though my wit and response
bows to the wisdom of mortar and man? Addiction suffuses
my brain, wanting to produce beauty beauty beauty that vaults,
leaps from my computer, flashes across cyberspace, stabs
your heart with envy, makes you gibber and joust with visions
that are not to be partaken of in this unequal jail-yard
where I have seen too much beauty. Artistic decisions --
what do they mean
for the unchosen?
How can I sit by, admire, and not do?
What is time on earth for? To breed?
Always the seed and never the lily? The hue?
I decline! I won't do it! I won't reproduce for a world
hungry only for greed, battle-feed, where only a few
get to be human. I won't do it!
Admiration is but a sip, like wine. I want to construe
-- like the God who created time --
visions in your human Eden-besotted brains, imbue
visions of a world more beautiful then God
could manage in his six day strew
of stretchy matter, not at all pleasant.
I trickle through life, and feel bad
that my gifts are but jewels, not agates
that glorify this life as a fad.
Does one take the long view
as a dad?
thermal unit, or as theriac -- antidotes
for the poisonous bites of wilde beasties
sitting invisible on the other sides of moats.
They smile, swinging their lengthy legs while
from the green grass meadows come the goats.
Bearded, snow white, full of rags and of rages,
thistles, hairy and bristly, odd, incipient zygotes
who'll vanish if you encourage or even call to them
gently with specially, genetically-engineered remotes.
Keep in mind the thermals, winding sheets of the void,
winds where walls, speculation and not much more floats.
Tumble across the universe, O genome, made of ten billions
of molecules, quarks and nothingness, meandering, ever curious,
ever willing to blow hot, cold, bearing capacities and conductivity
that made even Fermi fume and quite radioactively, Nobelly serious.
Was this before or after
swirling round and round, waving
are coral sprouts of spectral colors,
vivid and living, bowing and bending
deep into black spaces spiraling,
bubble-pathed waters, rinsing, weaving
lifting their tendrils in tender motions,
listening, listening to the living singing
-- like billion-particled humans
unaware of life within them -- softly breathing,
sighing, whistling, digesting Corallina,
reefs developing, oceans bingeing,
pleasures engorging, coveted by saviors
who only worship what's dead, paid for in wine,
secure in possession, dried, displayed
skeletons, at last, precious because they are mine!
put up with living?
through my waverly green socks, firmly planted on the Oriental ground.
Oooh where do you get your rhythms? Where do you get your rhymes?
Down from the hair follicles, up from the groin, from beneath the hound
snapping at Achilles' heel in that one, rare, catchable moment,
when the brain rests in side-focus, and synapses, undrowned,
slosh round in the language of syntax and humanary meaning,
then up from the toes, with roses chirrupping gaily, unbound,
rewound, lyrically and lisping, my poet, my muse, no longer concealing
feeling unguessable, dimensionless, blue, lets forth magic soarable sound
and it's a matter of writing it down or writing it up in the sky or out on a
limb where it can abound, fly a fugitive flag, accrue, overflow, redound,
and float out to sea in a small pound ship, away from quays and
keys, beyond great vast mounds of honey bees, where all lees lie
low drowning in wine, passing for blood, passing for soul syrup
where nothing else but intent was meant to mix with one's sigh:
Is it vers libre
or a version?
anything so small would go so far, including the Tao.
Why do all lines come even, justified, as if measured
along the way by one straight rule, a moderate vow,
as if variation needed to be added, rather than sub-
tracted, as if words needed to stretch out somehow,
yawn at dawn, clean their teeth or cook their coffee,
chew a little cud as a black, brindle wayfaring cow?
When you think of all our amusements, distractions
named by the words we use, you'd think we'd bow
with somewhat more grace to the need to disallow
the cancer-est danger of all, not Mao, but The Dow.
Run it out of town with ways and means, scowl at it,
howl at it, beg and bear one's freedoms. When you
gaze on the Way, say Freeway 5, then eye the berm,
the edge, a tree or two, a sprig of grass. Even if few
-- which one will you
derived, quite late, from xerography -- a dry process, it be,
transfering images by wee electrical charges --
but neither of these from Century Dictionary, 1933.
Down in the bowels of the Bank of America N.T. and S.A.,
I went to feed the xerotic (compliments OED) monster. I could see
it, in its cave, six food high, with its gears and weirs. Ammonia smelling,
it took the paper, and undulating, pretending camaraderie
it kneed and peed and screed -- my tears almost exuding --
before it extruded the oil-skin-like paper, a copy
more faithful than a typewriter's keys. And so we grew
familiar with miracles, and unconscionably xiphiod with technology.
So here we stand at the millennium's exit, proving we've
been able to count in a straight line for two thousand years,
even invented anti-years in the B.C., and, yes, indeed,
learned to live in very dry ground, without excessive tears,
cloning useful paper souls.
mention the sun, but just about everything else. Who has considered
just how important yellow is to our mullioned, faceted, multifarious
world: describing quadroons and wasps, cleavered
mosquitos and fish, weeds and woods and wallowing,
disease, many flowers, plus lilies, live and withered, yellow-livered
givers. The list is long, the images replete, meanings good and bad,
bright and dull, all in a halo -- and the birds, the birds, the many birded
words including -warbler, -bird, -hammer, -legs, -throat -- but the sun!
How, dear dict, can you have missed the sun? which having been prayed
for on this September morn, rises again splashing her yellow about
over the trees and hills, clouds, mountains, and oozing into tumbled
leaves, falling gamboge, golden, Mongolian-brown upon the down
of ivy turning green announcing winter after September's Equinox.
Equipoised, too, are ecru, pongee, topaz and old ivory, one's teeth,
phlegm jaundiced with time, precious yellow sapphires kept in a box.
a day manufactures enzymes: chemical, unorganized, soluble,
designed to produce changes in organic substances, the science
of fermentation. I have started to bubble again, incalculable,
incurable, demoniacal ferments of grief and despair. This autumn
adventure has pushed me right up against the untenable,
the awful recall of elements too basic to digest, in need
of a terrible zymolysis. Intractable
thoughts roam my head, harbor in my veins,
jam my arteries -- pump out, out to the red-able
fingertips that might be dying, the black bruises that appear
with age and discouragement, and the knowledgeable
re-cognition that: If you are human, there's no way out.
The world storms toward the Third World War,
Indeed, if conflict and conflagration define war,
we are already in it. Bits of the world afire, implore
when will it end?
Why did it begin?
Bearish as a hot tin roof or
Corrugated brown paper boxes, I have known
Displeasure mixed with other-worldly
Earth-shine and alpenglow that is wild as a
Firebrand and deeply mysterious as the events on a
Gallows, and quite
Hostile, too, unless you
Intend for the cascading and
Jumping up the Columbia to distinguish you from the
Knave and Kennewick man's questioned
Level and parentage, surely more distinguishable than the
Mice from the wheaten fields.
Neckties are to be worn and long, the longer in the
Opinion of God, the better, the
Planet can ultimately be, ice melting or
Queenfish roaming, but the
Recusant will be jailed.
Recusants II will be
Strewn about as if they were straw and that easy to
Strew II, especially through the giant Thermals
Undulating in every
Way out at the perimeter the
Yellowly and in vain until clever
to throw away your merry heart.
down the bearish
of life's displeasure
waiting for earth-shine
to enhance the firebrand
who inevitably ends up on the gallows
because of hostile
salvos for which I intend
to recreate the jumping
joy of the jolly knave
and keep all level
from men to mice
and level II
with a blue-green spotted necktie
which in the opinion
of God warrants planet
suicide for all queenfish
even before the kingfish recustant,
for the recusant II
and if permitted will certainly strew II
the christmas air thermal
which will undulate
in one version
or another on the way
to the xerophyte
who comes in vivid yellow
and will become a life enhancing zymogen
to throw away your merry heart.
from the vents of Yellowstone cooking the earth.
On the side, as I removed the cone, a dark and swirling
monster climbs the oversized cup wall.
I can not flee in terror from a cup of coffee.
I pronounce it "nothing but" steam,
and stir in the milk.
It is to jazz my mind, to set me on the path of one day more
weaving exigencies of time and discouragement,
not expecting the bright path of the moon to announce
salvation, nor the autumn sun to re-create.
Perhaps the dragon fly will buzz me on my way.
Perhaps the algae will drown me in
its green, reflective gloom.
I am reading "Nothingness" in solitude, catching the drift
that there is nonesuch, wondering when this peevish, pensive,
petulant mourning for humanity,
who I don't much like, will pass.
Earth's September ends in gibberish.
there's no moon's path, nor sun, nor comet's tail.
on the words of the Rosetta Stone
in Figeac, France
carved in a courtyard commemorating
Champollion (of Figeac)
who read it,
the Rosetta Stone,
found in delta country
in three languages,
He, Champollion, translated
for the world
its tripartite praise,
the honorable words
bestowed on Pharaoh
by the temples of
that now lie
beside the Nile.
He opened the birds,
bugs, sphinx, eyes,
elbows, and tears,
feathers, and lotus
laid bare the ancient's
words, thoughts, deeds:
mystery became history.
The hieroglyphic's spoke,
through other tongues:
at first Greek,
The Egyptian Book
of the Dead
is now popular practice,
even recipes for mummy's
In 200 years
we know their civilization
and our own.
And can write
I truly begin to understand
that each of us is responsible
for her own life,
not that I am
always able to move
in the face
of that knowledge.
but where is the scholar's
energy to figure out
the ancient script
while the sun blazes
right down through the billion
billion words already in cyberspace? --
unlocateable as God.
Will they remain
when the machines shut down --
like the tape in the midnight street
wound out, brown and curling,
like the 33 1/3 record
on the thorn
in the desert?
Who will scoop up
the invisible culture
carve it once more in a courtyard
in three languages,
to the fighters
now clogging the deltas,
of the world.
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: email@example.com
INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO