Issue 24: Sam Quill
Through give and gully, the cool river grazed
as a solid thing and twice as dark as soot;
it worked at the foundations as it pleased.
Perhaps we clocked some quiver in the seep
of groundwater, on the day I eased
my foot into the mire and felt it drop
clean through; the whole field followed suit,
a pocket square pulled through a wedding band.
We float under a roof of cryolite,
as leaves on a deep pool and through the stoned
dark, count gems or dream their miracle.
This is wholly fantastic.
Forgive the aspic tongue that mined those tunnels;
oh caustic tongue, which knew itself adept
to cleave on a halter stone. Hard water bristles
under touching breath, and on that bristling
nape, discloses something of a gallows
-self, to Godsoever is still listening.
For half a lung I held it. We were trapped.
Water rose, below the waterline
she felt for where she knew someone had tapped
the chamber, like green Aleppo pine
is tapped for resin. We shot clean through the jet.
She can breathe underwater.
Bell of black amber, high like a crinoline,
ribbed like a pigeon chest: a diving bell.
Burning resin smokes a cool plumb line
through a starless lift, translucent and erect.
We are not as deep as we will mine
but in the still here, plumb will intersect
the level pond at a faultless right angle.
Unruffled perpendicular, how queer
to line a kissing angle in the bell
of black amber, in the umbrage here.
Sit down on your throne of ebony
and tell me where I am:
Steep heart in birdlime, may till may, to render
sinew unto tallow, blood to blood.
Through yearlong dissolution we were tender.
Now liquidated, tendered, we might seep
as limewater through a dulcet aquifer.
Whitewash becomes pigment. We grew up.
A young man at the surface could have said
that he could see stigmata, or his lady
bleeding through the naked motherlode.
Now the sunlight cures that frescoed body.
Airs cold wine, that is a soft insisting
for all its brute reserve.
I can believe the violence and the tell.
I turn returned, the rock face cuffs an ambush;
things are heard when they cohere, are dual
and of the kind we fight for; animus
instinct to instinct: I believe it all.
How that knowledge lingers as a bruise.
Fear what would be to be one who could rush
the staggering modality of her cry
in one of ample moods. Abrupt of flesh,
again, its pound for pound, again, I strike you
out, for this is savage equity.
O froward, forward.
We tend to leeward in an airlocked room.
Something, call it necessity not fate,
suffers our occasions, and the split etym
turns angels on its horns. But I will say
that strict alterity bedevils doom,
its altern rhyme: to right is aye not I,
to left tooth-tooth. In a darkroom to light
we sink our meat-teeth, skyward at a crawl.
Nothing perturbs the modal stalagmite.
Fixing in unalloyed mineral,
it acquires the definition of a stone
and spends nothing of substance.
Meaning not ambergris nor what it means
to posit ambergris: some things elude
our bellcurved recall, though nothing resigns
its canon. Much gathers at the lip.
We sound the chamber, noting our designs
on hierarchic metal, crying deep
as Grendelsdam. Or was it to have lived
by daylight and shouldering the sun
that I, not Baal nor Lucifer, was earthed?
By trials we learn that all things come to ruin
us. No, listen! Again. Listen! Listen!
They come to ruin us.
That it was twice we folded our decease
in a distill of lifeblood is what proves
the truth of this: all that we do not parse,
if only in locution, is unsexed;
hermAphrodite named no difference
between one saltwet chamber and the next.
So always my own bodydoubledives
dead through the sump. We rise in level gloam.
The posied witch, like as two unlived lives
she to herself, prefers a hecatomb
to human sacrifice, and I and i
is less than the least of X mercies.
On the threefold page, lewd adept of the blood
more than a scholar, I, vulgar numismatist,
study my imperfect victimhood.
The old terrestrial privilege of the Sun
weighs bookishly, turning the grave to good,
keeping all its tale has numbered mine.
But it was she who said, ‘Beware the ghost
of those who lie in any Greek but Homer’s.’
My sentence is perfection of the gist.
It will be hers now, dark six thousand summers,
that agon which is ours again, again
and buried among gold.
I.I.0. (Angelus Novus)
And he was three days dead and then arose.
Goading of gods is given, here is a God
as fissile anaphora, or too concise
parataxis; the embarrassment of things.
Enlightenment says synthesis is loss.
Throned and unkind dimorph, how his wings
historicise their miserable brood,
even to apocalypse. But One,
lesion and viscera hardened, as in blood
evacuate as blood moon, as in stone,
murmurs in the central of the bed,
a rose, a rose, a rose.
I.I.I. (Angelus Dubiosus)
Such were our laws before deliverance
from the signalman’s calling, his illiterate trade,
brought allegory’s unforced intimacies.
Then we had returned. The forms of return
are forms of an unwilling excellence:
the great loom is the sky’s whole is the sun
and it makes light of us; unveiled, revealed.
Dubious poetry; lawful occurrence. Name
it agon. Now something sweet and read
it again. Willed tenor of the dream:
the weight, the palm, the acid and the tongue
of the brazen coin.
Sam Quill is a poet, musician and scholar of Romanticism. He has published poems in PN Review and The Next Review.
Copyright © 2020 by Sam Quill, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.