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POETRY

THE LAST JUDGEMENT

1.
Sometimes
fishermen haul in their nets,
or an ox tongue curls
to lick a word from its eye, or from the earth
a diaphanous rain
begin page 41 | back to top takes flight, Be there
someone says,
so the stars reappear
like hands full of milk, glowing
like barley
thrown on a fire,
like lenticular breasts
gnawing holes
in the sky, through which the summoned dead
slowly walk.

2.
And a book falls open.
Fishermen
sort the load from their nets:
stars
in one basket, the filetable
silver disks in another,
and in a third
light wrung from the moon’s
scars, which at night
soothe themselves in darkness.

3.
Christ
is seated on the bronze throne,
and behind Him
the meaning of bread and water,
wine
with the waterbrash odor
of blood, the night unravelling like a scroll.

And the benches
are lined with the bearded elders,
each alike
having lived through death,
having the same opsaclonic gaze
of linemen
who, for injury, upholster the bench.
The sun is up.
But a ghost moon rises
from Christ’s head, where angels arch their wings
in a P. And there are infants
and virgins
who are the nipple’s hope, and lovers who
when they kiss
become clouds touching, they are
I think

in some sense
castaways, always pity
in the luciferin air of fire,
and in the pity
a trumpeteer angel
with lungs, and in the lungs
a psalm
that mingles faith
with blood, that rises and blossoms
with fire.

4.
A garden:
doves peck an apple which is a fist
of wine, the branch
and Man’s hematoma.

Eli! Eli!
screams Araunah,
the Jebusite, but a flint
leaps out
against the tongue
of Man, and an angel
with a sword
saws fingers from their hands,
chords
from their silent and bleeding
harps, gouramis
from their tropical waters.
And somewhere
a red sea ebbs in a crater, stumps
tumble down
through the smiling dusk,

then Eli, Eli,
this time rising
in a bubble
of blood, an apple, a plum,
a flame
that in a church
drifts from its candle,
floats
like a scarlet moth
toward the light, then
bursts, an erythematous ounce
of hope, against a brittle and stained-glass window.

5.
At last
the melanotic once
upon a time,
the day
loping happily off
like a lamb, the fish-souls soaked
and sorted in their baskets:
black bass in
one, salmon and blowfish on the cooling
moon,
which the earth full of sperm
comes to kiss.

And even though
the blind have visions of breasts,
and even though the mute
find loaves of bread in their mouths,
and even if
we cover our eyes completely,
and seal
the vintage blood of the heart
with wax, there would
still be

a virgin
in a pitch pool
digging, burying a key untinted
by blood, and there would still be the book
of Shem & Noah & Japhet,
and Christ
in disgust filling the book
with worms, and with disphasia
and a tear engraved with I am, even though there’s no one
who isn’t.

—from The First Book of Og, King of Bashan, poems written after Blake’s illustrations for Blair’s Grave.

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