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POETRY

TWO POEMS

I.

SONG OF INNOCENCE

Deeper into September
the rose-hips are little spots of hares’ blood.
In the perpetual cardgame
between the rowan and the bramble
the ace of spades has come up
in the shape of a rook
with folded wings.

Deep in there
in the wet grass
he was born, in 1757,
was born directly from the wet grass.
They threw him in the river.
He rode on the waves.
They threw him in the fire.
He rose from it
with eyes of fire.

He is William Blake
with a blue hat and pink cheeks.
Alive, he wandered
on the grass of death.
Dead, he wanders
in a humming cloud of bees
over Hampstead Heath.

II.

AN EVENING AT HOME WITH WILLIAM BLAKE

Even as a child he drew people
the way they look, as houses
with long legs
beginning under the chin. They
grew out of the ground
like grandfather clocks from the floor
like tables and chairs from the parquet. Houses
are built from within, built
from below, by hands
reaching up from the soil. They grow
out of dark basements.

And this house around you
is hell, and this house around you
is the law, is the power over you. In there
they buy you and sell you. begin page 40 | back to top The lines in his brow know
that the time of the Tiger must come
before the time of the Lamb,
that there are words other than those
that fill the mines with children
and the colonies with soldiers
in red coats. The engraver’s burin
cuts lines in the metal. The contours of the world
are etched in the acid bath, his veins
in the boards of the walls.

Walls around us. Walls
within us. Shut in
we speak to a wall
we speak to a wall
within ourselves.

2.
William Blake’s wife lifts the clothes-iron
from the stove, carries it to the table. Heavily
it slides over the damp shirt
over warm white cloth. His thoughts
are so heavy. They have stuck in the clothes
that are so full of thoughts
that they will never be really clean again.

She comes to him
lies down beside him on the bed.
Their shoes meet under the bed
in front of the china pot
with the green garland of flowers. His sex
presses in between her thighs
among soft curly hairs, presses
into the moist cleft
where the Universe is created, slippery wet walls
becoming tense and then lax. The Universe pulsates
with their movements
from star to star
from darkness to darkness.

Freedom comes flowing in
through their nostrils, opens
doors and shutters, draws the wind
through the chimney
kindling the fire. A gust of wind
goes through the houses, shakes them
so that the pans fall down
from their racks.

Only their heavy breathing
separates them from the darkness
until it too begins to breathe violently
dies and is born again, is filled with light
growing up around them. Another house
where the sky comes flowing blue through the windows
where the clouds glide through the rooms, the floor
greens and is covered with flowers
when his semen falls on it.

Quivers and creaking
from the bed, soft liquid
running between their thighs. For a second
it was they who made the Universe grow,
who made men rise and continue their journey,
roots of trees
press deeper into the earth
for water.

3.
The same grey-headed God
his muscular body covered with silvery down.
The same white Goddess
made pregnant by a flow of stars.
The same rain
between the furrows. The oxdriver’s cry
forces the plough through the soil
with the power of brown muscles.

The same sun
chained among the boughs of the trees.
The same face
nailed to the trunk of a tree. The same blood
on the wet clay
making everything move forward
making the new Albion rise
from the sea of Time.

4.
With the shutters wide open
their house is filled with light.
Their brains are burning
like overheated lamps, burning
the air in the room, lighting up
the whole city. Giant cats
come out of the alleys
showing the tattered men
the way home.

It is the beginning of the time of the Tiger.
The cries
of the masses flow in through the windows.

When the walls are falling within you
the walls of the Bastille will fall. When
the walls fall within us
we become a single living force
that rifle bullets cannot harm
not a river but a sea
like time, not a river
but a sea.

Tomorrow or a thousand years from now
we will open the roof hatch
and arise
our faces turned toward the sun, arise
from our houses
as from murky wooden coffins. Tomorrow
or a thousand years from now
we will live the lives
we were meant to live. William Blake
blows out the candle. Tomorrow
we will color the pictures,
he says.

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