Thursday, May 03, 2007

A work in progress, likely to be titled Transit of Vulcan or Syzygy

Whispering clouds follow where I tread
betraying these hermetic tracks
sculpted by raggedy books purchased as a student
as they defeat exhaling valley after parchy hill

Eager summer sun scrambles
after worm that is already mine
this bipedal racing-snail
rising 20 minutes behind the day
lingering at not quite half of 2,175 miles

I never know her name

I am a half-hearted border collie pilgrim
she the hyena ascetic

We wag salutory tails
as duty concatenates words like
~~~snow fed
~~~~~~sandy bottom
~~~~~~~~~rock tripe
before she recalls forty cabbage whites
who settled on her bag at Big Meadows
and her tongue knits a slithy yarn on copperheads

Mercury shields my left eye from the sun
casts a shadow on the right side of her face

The holy here at last draws a secret X at our feet:
Wrought with archers' potence
limbs engage as much as resist
strain and stretch
until finally I seize
upon mulberry's most enticing branch

Indian pipe-stems evolve from slight wrists
place pinched fruit
first in their owners' maw
then on my palate

Coarse juice reacts with feral sweat
to render some berserk drug in my brain
that courses to a stone-tool drumbeat
in the periphery of the firelight of my mind

I see polychrome horizons
emerge from the battle of rain against phyllite
to bear annelids who play chess
or backgammon or go with amino acids

A third arm joins mine as Puck
adds her sinewy weight in pursuit of
always more We're
dazed and knotted among wet blades
bough having failed
in the wandering instant of distracted neurons
that disorganized bark, shins, leaves, elbows

She howls out hysterical mulberry pulp
my own laughter preemted by the impact of face against skull
a collision that strips away plaid bandana
which had since some clear old deep
conceiled peach-fuzz backpacker hair

Ropey knees and jabbing palms
climb my scattered frame
as she regains her bearing and her bearings

My inibriated form follows
like a johnboat with 1 oar
to find (we'll call her Urania)
feeding bag to devouring bag

Their combined burden embraces red raptor shoulders
and clutches hornbeam hips

A hundred domesticated pleas sling slack lariats
fail to trip right nanny goat feet
as they mete out


Anonymous said...

That's an very interesting original piece...I was following your train of thought and images of Old Westerns flashed in my mind. Why is it titled "Transit of Vulcan", a rather futuristic sounding title?

E. R. Dunhill said...

Thank you for reading and commenting. Forgive me if my explanation talks down a little. In astronomy, a transit is an event in which one celestial object appears to cross another one. Earthly observers are treated to Mercury and Venus transiting the sun from time to time, and there are plenty of other transits within the solar system.
While Vulcan (and the transit thereof) may evoke something scifi-esque, it also has a role in the history of science. In the 19th century, astronomers and their ilk were very interested in using robust mathematics to locate previously unknown planets in our solar system. (This is much the same technique modern astronomers are using to find objects orbiting more distant stars, starting with the discovery of an object orbiting 51 Pegasus, back in the middle 90’s.) Some astronomers believed that a planet near the orbit of Mercury may account for the object’s poor behavior with respect to classical mechanics.
Einstein would ultimately use special rel to explain the orbital behavior of Mercury, putting the already dying effort to find Vulcan to bed.
The word transit has a further connotation of things that pass one another (“mass transit”, “transitive”, &c).
To me, the phrase Transit of Vulcan embodies images of science, failed effort, the ephemeral, and things remembered.