the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




THREE WORKS
BY GENE DOTY

BEATING THE MUSE

Beating the muse
with the side
of a sidereal shovel-

"Stop!" . . . "Don't Stop!"-

The binary code
the iamb and trochee
we adore to despise

Okay--the muse
can't be beaten
but a shovel full of stars
makes a good beginning
and use Orion's club
while you're at it
to crack his skull

Aphrodite rises
naked and shining
from quantum foam
her hair flaring
in eleven dimensions

--Naw! Forget it
she's a working woman
in a plastic mini
an old woman strapped
in a wheelchair
shrieking for a nurse

those stars, constellations,
gods, goddesses, monsters
(lions, snakes, and bears)
aren't even visible
from 'burban yards or rooftops

--The muse?

she gangsta rapping
cooking chinese take-out
pissing in a marble pot
no time for you, no time for me

her last gift
of inspiration:

"Get a life!"

================

LOS OLVIDADOS

The forgotten ones speak
in my sleep:
"Mamma!" "Get off me!"
They moan in voices
that never waken.

Their faces reflect the lights
of kitchens swathed in snow,
attic bedrooms papered with starlight,
storms sweeping in from the northwest.

I can not remember them,
not names, not faces,
not the posture of their
running in play,
throwing clods into the air.

The standing horse
asleep in its stall snores,
twitches its broomhead tail;
clouds comets horse's tails
plume indifferently into space.

Wandering in the house
that his mind made,
the man loses his way,
opens doors that didn't exist
until he grasped the knob.

Shadows of the forgotten ones
flee before his measurable weight,
the rooms' dust stirs
in his labored breath.

The doors open and close,
close and open
as the forgotten ones dream.

================

SUNDAY MORNING AT THE BIG BASS

Settling into Sunday morning,
startling horn-sections reduce
quiet to less than noise,
more than music.

I can't fear angels I can't
see, can't hear, can't smell.

Sullen swirls of feathered arms
when February relinquishes
its domain to March.

". . . in like a Lion," like Ras Tafara,
like the Lion of Judah
in a three-piece suit,
a fedora, snake-skin shoes.

Somber saxophone's tenor voice,
the stringed brrrrrrrrmmmm
of bass, piano trickling through
crevices of tone.

Don't reduce the charts
to single lines of anger;
angelic fugues scratch and distort
the old vinyl tracks--ffffssszzz--
pop! pop! pop! where
enthusiasm joggled the arm.

Another kind of jump
in the morning, in the evening,
in the confusions noon,
the fading chords of midnight.

No doubt.
Ever.
What 6/8 time excludes returns
with sharp edges, bonfires of hope,
congealed cisterns.

Unison chorus: Neither this music
nor that music, caught in modal series,
twelve-tone or pentatonic,
fluttering flutes under Allah,
sonic parliaments of dream.

My time, your time,
all time: The beat recurs,
then shifts, moves into spectral moods.
No eclipse on the A Train,
horns stray across whole keys
to unopened doors.

Just doodlin'.

Back to those angels
scrawling flight across
the Ozark sky, across
my ear drums,
saddle, stirrup, anvil:
Neither this time
nor that time,
and never all time. Counting
the beats in a measure
of the heart.

To doom. Boom. Throom.
Angels ascending descending
stair steps of sonic prayer,
the first day singing to the last.