Poem: The Heart Unmasked (Seven Hells/Heavens in Seven Parts)

 

blake

PART ONE – INFERNO

How can I do it?

How can I be the poet, who

Epitomizes the pain of this age, to

Everyone’s satisfaction? I feel the

Constant sheddings of impermanence –

Those fleeting moments of joy, all

Too quickly overwhelmed by that tide

Of despair; by that pain and despair, so real,

And so intense, that you thirst for it, and howl

For it, sigh for it, and scream for it – beseeching

All the embers to burn you up, in that

Loving madness of pain. I tried to

Take off my mask; to show you

My naked face – but my Plutonian Overlords

Only cram it on more tightly, affixing and

Oppressing me with identities, I

Wish I didn’t have to invent – Oh!

Great Phantom Gods of Pain! Please

Help me in my aim, to bespeak the pain

Of a generation – not for fame – but so

That in the pools of these wildish words,

Their myriad sufferings might be diffused;

Perfused with the kinship of suffering, that

Transcends any skeletons or bones.

This is why I want to take off my mask –

To show you the agonies of my mind – my skull

Scarified – the crumbling condominium

Of my heart, that both harrower and

Harrowing have pried: for my heart,

Like Heaven, is a mansion with many

Rooms: some vile, some atrocious,

Some bloody, and melodious – some

Filled with the purest of nightly whites,

That few have the courage to ingress.

Let me take you on a tour through

My heart – in the basement I

 Keep my childhood, where emotional

Impressions were chaotic, and, like Jude The Obscure,

I felt consigned to a reality I was doomed to abhor; where misunderstanding

Was to be the lady-in-waiting, beleaguering my future

Hours. From thence, we arrive at the kitchen,

Where my teenage years were prepared; amidst

A melee of experimentation, I re-designed and

Destroyed myself daily, hoping to hit upon

The secret formula, that would most assuage my

Pain – years in which every stranger was a potential

Assailant, saviour, or oppressor; and girls were

Mythical creatures, by which only other men were

Allowed to be loved – so, up above, I clung

To my guitar, as a six-stringed refuge, in

A storm misbegotten, drowning myself

In music, and overindulging on breath mints,

That I hoped that would clear the air of repulsion,

That drove people so far away

From me. As we descend

Through the lower tiers of the hells

I quarried for myself out of the rocks

Of my misguided youth, we find my years

Of Cynicism, stung by seclusion,

Scientific endeavour, and literary speculation;

Of wandering down the dual carriageway at

3AM, blood all over my arms and thighs – (I

Didn’t realize the wounds were so serious, and

That we would later have to amputate her entire

Left side) – stuck statuesque in infernal

Discotheques, whilst the morons of my

Generation, danced in ignorance around me,

Clutching their tridents and chains – Like I said –

These were misguided days, in which I sincerely

Believed, if I learned enough, and accumulated

Sufficient knowledge, perhaps I would eventually

Be loved – Finally, somebody did love me,

Loved me so much, that they had to overdose

Themselves on painkillers, just to render themselves

Sensible to me – these were the years spent

In higher towers, in which the gilded furnishings

Barely concealed, the blood on the wainscoting, swifter

Demolition revealed – in these apartments

I sought after macabre joys – of secret parades

Wrought, in uterine blood – of victimization

Circling the carousals of my mind; end of the

World arguments, that left my nerves in a wreck,

And the stains of suicide, like an albatross

Round my neck – how much hope I invested in this pain!

In this dark trial of love, that oversexed me to a state

Of begrudging climax, taut with the torn ligaments of woe;

Of rare aphrodisiacs – trips to the doctors –

Of life-time imprisonment, in a life-long bed

With a girl whose compassion knew not

How to grow – when it was all done and

Finished, and my ill-gotten liberty perplexed me

To higher states – we turn now into the adjoining room –

The gallery in which are hung, all the hearts

I’ve broken since – constructive demolitions, housing

A stony memorial of guilt, for the death of an

Ill-hatched parrot, who never should have been

Caged next to me; besides a filing cabinet, cataloguing

My subsequent disappointments, filed

Alphanumerically.

  1. PARADISO

But, let’s not deceived by this –

I don’t want to be some lopsided

Reporter, a dualistic biographer of

Slaughter, who only highlights the trials

Of life – and not the incorruptible joys

They helped to fertilize. So we’ll ascend

From Hell for a moment, to pay homage to

My favourite chamber – the one thus yclept:

‘HOPE OF THINGS TO COME –

HOPE OF LOVERS NEXT’ –

In this chamber, you are the sole

Occupant, an ageless muse, resplendent in

The raiment of the moon;

In bridal veil, white gown, and sail, I beseech

The scions of Heaven to stitch you into my

Future – I know we have little temporal

Acquaintance – but around you, already, I dance:

You are the choreographer of my days –

The executioner of my nights –

The denuder of my face –

The purveyor of my delights – Already,

My heart has become your principal

Exhibition – The Archive of your every

Expression – in which I display all the

Trophies that celebrate, any time I spend

With you. If Hell is the past,

And a loveless present – then this is why

I rail against Time, longing for

It to stop in its tracks, to speed into

The future, or to sometimes double-back:

Those frozen moments, which I wish, immortalized,

I could paint myself into – when you cross over

The threshold, into the sacred suzerainty of my

Arms – Oh! How I wish I could preserve such moments

Forever – pickle them in a jar – mummify them

In my memories, that know no near,

No far: that, like some waxing candle,

I did not have to see your proximity, snuffed

Out before me. And so I dream,

Of some secret chamber, some tax-free

Haven, some forbidden penthouse of

Heaven, where I keep you in my arms,

World without end, in a loving embrace

We never suspend: an embrace that overcomes

All boundaries; liberates all beings from

Discontent; every wound is healed; every

Wrong is righted; every corruption is

Purified, all guilt elided, all love

Heightened, and elevated to a state

Of boundless magnitude, enwreathed with

A corona of eroticism’s angels, triumphing

The music, that can’t help but resonate

Betwixt our lonesome souls – don’t you see

The crux of my anglicized delusion? That

Separate, we are but tiers of Hell; but

Together we become the fabric of Heaven?

So, I will rail against Time – Time, the

Ender and initiator of all pleasures and

Pains – Time – The closer and can-opener

Of all embraces – Time, which

Brought you to me, and which I despair, may,

Too soon, carry you away – Oh! Don’t

Delay! What are you waiting for?

BRING ME MY HEAVEN! Do what you

Must to me first, but just BRING ME

MY HEAVEN! Shoot me with arrows like

St. Edmund – nail me to a cross – make

Me read dross – toast me like Joan of

Arc – torture me like a Buddhist captive in

The hands of a Communist oppressor – only:

BRING ME MY HEAVEN! Bring me days

Of unuttered release, where you untutored

Kisses, will be the only language I will ever

Speak – a Lover’s Binary Code: parted lips

For ‘YES’ – Closed lips for ‘NO’ – supple

Lips for ‘ONE’ – parched lips for ‘ZERO’ –

How can I ever entertain such hopes? How

Do I have the audacity, to compose such

Luscious heavens? I am but a tramp, half-crazed,

Caught up in the malaise of unhappy existences,

I struggle to daily transmutate. How can I be your

Role model? How can I provide you with hope; except

For within, the sacred environs, of two tender arms,

That speak with greater eloquence, than my tongue

Ever can? For all my experience and disillusionment,

I still feel an affrighted virgin – a mountain monk

Celibate; killing myself with nettle soup, and

Chanting scriptures, that will have to suffice, in

Place of an absent touch. Bug am I not always being

Touched? Does not the sky embrace me?

Do not the mountains readily enthrone me? And,

Is it not the autumn mist, with which my soul

Is seasonally kissed? I am a fool – I could

Never be the hero – I must be Mercutio or

King Lear – Dear, dear, dear! I am too

Much of a prankster, a fixer, a trickster – but

Does not the Trickster, too, cry out for love? Does not

The Fixer demand a bride, to lay the follies of his benighted

Cunning aside? Someone to exculpate him

From his virginal taint – to be loved as a

Man – not an unhappy saint?

III. INTERMEZZO

So, you have seen some of it now –

I have allowed myself to be unmasked –

(Though with too much stage make-up

For this revelation to last) –

I have taken you as a tourist, through my heart –

Through my private Heavens and Hells –

Do you feel you know me better? Can you

Feel me within yourself? Do you hate me

More, or love me less? Or do you admire

Me for finally attempting to express, what,

For too long, my dignity, has assayed to suppress?

Ah, fuck dignity! Dignity be gone! I will crumple

Myself at your feet, like a failing conflagration, and

Demand that you touch me – that just once

You burn your fingers, on these icy pinnacles of flame:

My body is a fire,

Only you can put out,

But still – it is not enough –

There is too much left – I want to

Give you more, to explore every drawer,

Every last compartment, snow-strewn escarpment,

Every sun-scarred ridge; every last follicle

Of skin stung by mosquito or midge; I feel

Responsible – I want to give you some little

Hope – some stainless technique of solace

You can use as a rope. If I must

Give you more, then let it be this:

Be a musician to the moment;

A singer to the stars, a poetizer

Of experience, a raving drunkard

In every bar – be an intimate lover, to each

And every last thing: to every insect, bird, rock, man,

Woman, fish, or tree – to everything that sings:

Whatever you experience – celebrate it –

You every peril, your every pain, your

Every amnesty, your every chain; your joy,

Your grief, your wakefulness, your sleep, your

Ecstasy, your agony, your clarity, your confusion, your

Disparity, between what you love, and what

You would like to be – your love, your romance –

Your mad shaman’s dance – with this royal perfusion,

You can transport us all to gold – this is your sacred

Tool-kit – The Paint-box of your

Soul.

IV.

But, if you return into the raging

Prison, that I call my heart, you will

Find your name, writ upon every cell,

Emblazoned on every myocardial fibre – every

Throbbing wall of this blood-pumping dell. I chant your name to

Pass the time, and, doing thus, I have never felt

More alive, you are very easy to love – to you?

I fancy I am not – but perhaps amongst these

Wildish words, some understanding will be got.

V.

But, I cannot leave it there – I

Promised not to end on a pessimistic

Note; to give you some mote of hope – but

How can I urge others to self-believe, when to

The potential of being loved myself, I so struggle

To toast?

So, maybe it could happen –

Maybe you could love me –

Maybe I don’t have to be typecast as Koko,

And find my courtesans eloping with

Less headless men? Maybe? Maybe!

A thousand Maybes! A torrent of Maybes! A

Pigswill of Hope, groping for something on which

This hollow heart can float; consumed by grotesque

Diners, and the squalid old man who lives in my

Moat. Oh, Hope do not desert me! Pray,

Courage, lend me your oar, so I can help

Myself and others, get to The Other

Shore, and make it in time for my

Wedding Day – Oh look! – They’ve

Just thrown the bouquet! And on each

Painful convolvulus is written,

A charitable omen of Hope.

VI.

So, for now, time is still stood still –

Your tenancy in my arms, brooks no

Eviction, we need no conviction, to know

That the united front, of every heart beat’s exeunt,

Is the only pulse we need for our days – Let’s leave

It there, in that shallowest of Heavens. I will

Take off my mask, one last time, and

Crested aloft on un-urgent rhyme, I will

Leave you the space,

To kiss unclothed face –

Finally seeing inside,

With Hope open wide,

I climb up on the rocks

And am killed by my bride.

And, on what wisdom, has our bread been leavened?

That separate, we are but tiers of Hell – but Together

The Fabric

Of Heaven.

VII.

If I must

Give you more, then let it be this:

Be a musician to the moment;

A singer to the stars, a poetizer

Of experience, a raving drunkard

In every bar – be an intimate lover, to each

And every last thing: to every insect, bird, rock, man,

Woman, fish, or tree – to everything that sings:

Whatever you experience – celebrate it –

You every peril, your every pain, your

Every amnesty, your every chain; your joy,

Your grief, your wakefulness, your sleep, your

Ecstasy, your agony, your clarity, your confusion, your

Disparity, between what you love, and what

You would like to be – your love, your romance –

Your mad shaman’s dance – with this royal perfusion,

You can transport us all to gold – this is your sacred

Tool-kit – The Paint-box of your

Soul.

 

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