I was sent out in my father’s tattered coat
into the streets of the city Zarbo
where there are hidden roads
that run into mill grinders.
There I found you, and you promised a sacred dinner
with a promise to be kept at the end.
When we had finished
the pastinaca sativa
and dried scorpion,
with a pile of scallops,
you pulled out a large needle
right there in front of a heap of coal.
The fire flickered and I couldn’t see your face,
you and I, and your unwritten philosophies.
I was finding the linen on my coat a serious affair
couldn’t help keeping my legs straight.
You kept on saying how you were
going to help me
see the complete
essence of the thing
and forgo all I’d been taught.
Clemens’ Wonders and Anna’s Disapproval of a Room
I saw a crimson falcon today
I thought it made of glass.
I never knew falcons were so vivid red!
And look over there! A new arrival!
Lying dead on a staircase
Bourgeois / Clemens 2
[No Stanza Break]
a square headed moth
with wings as wide as a small airplane!
What an evolution!
Must be something in the air or water.
I, I, saw nothing today
inside a cubiculum of grand design.
Satin woven divans with golden feet,
a painting hung on the wall of the village St. Etienne.
Villagers looked as if they wanted to flee
mountains of coal reaching eternity.
God! I thought I might die,
for the gleam of the room hurt my mind.
I’d seen nothing but understood this
as a sign of something.
floating, yet still in the whole design,
until its swell encompassed us and the room.
Iconoclastic contrivance was all I could think.
Anna’s Return from Her Iconoclastic Pilgrimage
Anna is back
she changed her scheme,
we saw her move over the gravel pit,
where a drinking place is on the side
for us workers of the creosote plant.
We asked if she could save us,
she said she could, but wouldn’t.
Anna springing forth truth like spilled crude
oil surfacing the water down bayous from lakes,
caressing the hermitic blue heron,
plumping the bellies of the silver-eyed trout.
Ill wind like racing horse wind,
us little people frightened,
when Anna came back changed,
she wore a brass Chevron badge in her lapel.
Bourgeois / Clemens 3
The Queen of Ebbing
Wearing a glass crown
Sitting on the trunk of a ’57 Ford
Queen Anna of Ebbing sought words
For her morning lamentations
In the coastal city dump site by the shore:
I break more than I can cry.
I was looking for a way to stop destroying,
but instead I became a destroyer.
The hot waves of red and green got in my eyes.
No more can I find the rasped harp in the shadows.
Ego videre volo, to 5,000 feet.
Sometimes I find the stone wheel
and brush the sides of the three edged dagger
in hope of feeling something other than claustrophobia.
But this city needs me I am sure, this city needs representation.
Every day the tide brings in more to be prayed over
condoms wash to shore packed with sea worms
boots made in Taiwan, which was once Formosa.
Mei loco, mei loco, is becoming quite banal
I no longer see anything as profound
I am calm in the sound of the throatless sparrow
mounting every day are the skulls of the horseshoe crab.
These broken television sets and phones
are of no use to anyone but an artist now.
But still I am calm and still I weep
and goddamn for more wonders.
Louis Bourgeois is the Executive Director for VOX PRESS, a 501 (c) 3 corporation. His most recent book, a collection of aphorisms, Hosanna, was published by Xenos Books. He lives and writes in Oxford, Mississippi, where he sometimes teaches writing at the University of Mississippi.