The Lucifer Cantos 11/13
You brood again, says Death, you blame
the sting of life upon your choice.
Your lips were licked to mouth my voice,
to sculpt the stars as spheres of flame.
The constellations wheel; the sun
arises in the morn and sets;
so each Platonic form begets
its end, instantiate as one.
You, devil, out of Death were born
your chaos mere creation's curse,
from rocking horse to rolling hearse,
to strip the truth you then adorn.
What gyres of woven world were there
without the grief of graven line
that etched in light this shape divine,
desire as answer to despair?
Oh, but this house we raised, I say,
between your hollows and my harp,
this hope of lines cut true and sharp,
and signs in place of chords of notes,
the river crossed by bridge or boat,
the city, gold as summer’s day,
and god in it — this was a grave
that soul slept in as huddled slave.
I don't recall this god, said Death,
but all in all, I blank his face,
with mask of glory, mask of grace,
in balance with his bated breath.
This mask and pause, I asked, is all
that you recall? No sound or sight
but only this visage of white,
his breath but not the bitter call?
Well, he was all, said Death, in all,
beyond, within, and of all things.
beyond the veil, a secret king,
or so they said, as I recall.
But all in all, the great and small,
all walk with me for all their fame,
and god was just another name,
so naught of worth can I recall.
I rolled a cigarette to smoke,
and locked my gaze upon his grin.
I licked the paper, twirled it thin.
A click of flame. A puff. I spoke:
To you, I said, we're only this,
the whorls unfurling on a draft?
Is all we loved and all we laughed
a puff from lips in parting kiss?
Is that not, all in all, enough,
to be and end attached to all?
You dream division in your fall
of soul enmeshed in brawn of stuff.
Ephemeral or eternal shape
is all the same when it's all-in.
At end of game, I always win
the angel's crown, the coins of ape.
Your god was just a dream of you,
a skull in clay, a mask of wax,
bull-headed harp or double axe,
a silver city, twinkling true
upon the mountains of the moon,
a million artifacts of prayer
all burned to ash adrift in air,
a shift of sand on settling dune.