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


SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

Moon dust patinas an abandoned
police car. A search dog collapses,
overwhelmed by the stench of so
much flesh. Gleaming for just a moment
in morning sunlight, a man and a woman
hold hands as they drop from the 80th floor.
What's left of a wheelchair smolders; what's
left of a face is shrouded by faxes. Miles away,
a blizzard of trading sheets papers the streets
of Brooklyn. On CNN, Yasser Arafat donates
blood. And two days later, at the bottom of a
crushed pile of rubble, a cell phone continues
to ring.

Entombed in debris at the bottom of
this bad dream, someone answers the phone.
The caller is a multitude-a weeping ghost of
Hiroshima, a walking skeleton of Auschwitz,
a starving girl in an African refugee camp, a
Belfast mother who's lost both sons to car
bombs, and two dead schoolboys, one Israeli,
one Palestinian. They all begin talking at once,
yet every word is clear as a flowing stream.



to be clear and crazy, like
those ancient Taoist sages, those
wild Chinese minds in hairy mountains
-feisty as crows, abrasive as
cicadas, fording the roar in
muddied garments, brushing
impossible peaks & riled skies
with deceptively simple poems,
honking back to wacky geese &
happily guzzling plum wine-



separated from the larger cycles
by economics politics religion even art

it is thus a bittersweet blessing
to watch these battered pacific salmon thrashing

reseeding degraded beds
to the shrill threnody of gluttonous gulls

& the immemorial gloom of giant cedars
towering trunks impossibly thick with listening



& after he's blown it

it's driftwood

gnarled & polished by his channeling breath

notched by longing

scored by loss

weathered by echoes of distant places

relic of a voyage not its own



Miles high, they sip coffee, read Newsweek Fortune Times ignoring
But not so the woman in 15E, seated next to me
She's reading The Watchtower, and every so often sighs, looks up,
looks past me, out the window into radiant cloudscape
Somewhere over Michigan she has to pee
Gets up, meets my eye, deliberately places the 'zine on the seat
between us, nods, & heads for the head
But I'm engrossed in Peter Ackroyd's biography of William Blake, so
she's wasting her time in this neck of forever
And as I read that every Space smaller than a Globule of Mans blood
opens into Eternity of which this vegetable Earth is but a shadow

I look out through the eye into the clouds, and they are water in its
Spiritual form: not tyrants crown'd but great Cerebral treetops;
the Thoughts, multifarious and giant, in Blake's head
And I take her copy of The Watchtower, tenderly return it to her seat
And God, so long worshipp'd, departs as a lamp without oil, or this
tablet of Alka-Seltzer into froth.



Lifted in an instant, exalted over all these other lives
Permitted to rove where grounded eye cannot
Delving into junipered ravines, wending endless roads engraved in
Bronchial arroyos, synaptic canyons
Miles of bleached highway veining ancient ceramic landscapes, leading
to isolate clusters of tiny houses
Specks of domesticity as lonely as burial stones
Sun makes of gray lakes a sudden efflorescence, alchemical gold
Skein of illuminated lakes, the strewn jewelry of tribal giants
Drinking water from a plastic cup, looking at clouds through plastic
And clouds in right eye: the streamers of blood imposing their dance,
a fluctuant sarabande, upon the sky
So dancing eye a part of what it sees
Not separate from the uncountable dots of fire, eyes of gazing lakes
& watchful ponds
Every particle of dust, wrote Blake, breathes forth its joy
Baby across the aisle, prominent blue vein in pink head, a river in
Terra's head now seen from sky
And black businessman, his dozing noggin on shoulder of passenger
next to him
Dreaming, The white man's finally learned to fly



                is that really a
                spider at 37000 feet
                on flight 90 out
                of portland, navigating
                the various tactilities
                of carry-on luggage,
                hungry mote of hairy
                sunlight, ticklish
                intelligence on the
                octagonal qui vive?
                same spider, perhaps,
                who spun them skeins
                below, those intricate
                threadings of riverbed
                & interstate, webs of
                tillage & linkage
                of steeple & tree,
                observing her work
                through curves of a
                pressurized window,
                strung out on her
                own ingenuity -



                                                                                                                     Metropolitan Museum
                                                                                                                  4 / 5 /96

what I most cherish

                                          about the wild cursive script

                   of the loopy monk


is how his drunken

                                     black characters

                                                                        vibrant & vigorous

so thoroughly whelm

                                           the faint official seals



after the endless
snowfall, at blue dusk
in a sky pale gray at its
western edges, the

evening star

so icy & imperishable, an
earring for the seraph of
pure silence, or the last
flake, never to fall




sit, monk,
at brink of the falls

breathe the peace
engendered by this violence.


The falling water is no more "violent"
than the breathing of the monk is "peaceful."
These are useless distinctions, more distracting
than the cataract. Sit. Breathe. The brink is where
you are, at any given moment. Laugh or cry, you are
already swept away.