I called her at noon
I called her at noon. The
answered the telephone, yes,
Sir, speak. I asked to speak with H, giving
her full name, which she once despised but is now neutral towards, using
that or her nom de plume. The Lady in
question excused herself and requested that you appear in half an hour.
I said that I would call in half an hour. O and I were in what used to
be the the meat processing building, now a labyrinthine market. The carp
swam in the filthy tubs. O was excited by the place a true
labyrinth, you can come here easily in your dreams. No,
Sir, I understood that you were to arrive here in person, not call.
O and I went to The Oak Tree. I was still feverish. Along the
way I listened to him tell stories, rumors of her lovers since I left. The
one, __, he is a very strong man, and has seen everything when I
asked him what it was like, to know her, he answered dont
That is her nature.
O understands he helped me through the desperate years after her
departure. Everything has a price, he said today, you want
tantra, you pay. Perhaps what I find in her lose in her is part
and parcel with what he calls hysteria.
O accompanied me to the dormitory. I for some reason ended up telling
him about Merrys bullfight in Dogtown
FALL, SECOND FALL
) he waited downstairs.
I mounted the stairs to 401 and knocked. She was asleep. She tried to
rouse herself, and I thought, need you? Stay in twilight, love.
I had expected a continuation of the no she had forwarded.
There was none, there was no no, no yes either. A
moment of panic with my son, wishing you were here, I dreamt you,
touching me, saying everything will be fine, fine.
And the transactions? (Tis not a game
that plays at mates and mating, Provence knew
) Is that what it
is, in retrospect? My offer stood I can chance her, I have
come to love even the tangled webs, but I shant
be there for her until she is present.
A kiss. (She used my surname used my surname in the vocative as she often does:
O you should have begun with a kiss, dispelled my doubts.) That I do not
want it to begin again, the hysteria, find me in you
and no answer.
What do you want?
I told her that from what she had said, things that were already in
my mind but indistinct had come clear, that I could see what she was,
but that she was also another to me, mine (Youre
the psychologist, you know what projection is.)
What do I want? Make a space for us, a holy place, and do what you
wish with what flies in your head, but leave that place untouched. No
We spoke for over an hour into a calm, bringing things up from it
is very nearly six years ago now, everything breaking into now/then,
light/dark, promise and disappearance
and yet enough from her to
know that she would open to me, were there no permanence involved
I tried to tell her that we could be what
she chose, but under all her protestations (I
can ask nothing of you you
can ask, but ask it deeply) there is her
usual arachnid effort to draw me in, not into herself but into
something spun of her and I will go? When I well know that I love
her, in a way that my conscious caution will not be available to me?
After she has extracted promises, she flees: I dont
know, I can leave at anytime, I
I tell you I can leave at anytime and
yet I dont want that to be a stone for
you, dont let that become a stone.
Your tenderness binds me, she said, what do you think, will
you always be so tender? Far more tender. Far, far more tender. I
reminded her of the episode where I did not want to fuck her when she
was drunk, laughter, far more tender. The dualities she keeps
repeating how she had to forget the past to become a mother, how she
finds in her child the perfect mirror, how she does not want me
to show her herself.
From that time, one of the few things I could not remember was
her parentage I brought this up when she said that she did not like
it for her little son to spend time there, at the family seta. Her
father was put in a psychiatric institution for professing Eastern
Religion. Not like O, at that time,
she said, at that time it was a serious
Dont let that become a stone. Help me
dissolve my doubts. That I would leap, of old, that one leaps
differently when close (sleeping far away
from one I love is not alone the way alone is
That this is as far as that. Now/then,
light/dark, spilt and conserved. That I wanted you to be here and put
your hand on my sons forehead. A perfect
little reflection. The level of being
attracts the life, George quoted Gurdjieff.
This is as far as that I could retell every detail of what we
said, where my hands were, what showed or ran under what we spoke before
it reached our ears, the promise of her eyes, of skin, of what it is to
sit here committing it to disk, a narrative. Rereading the last section,
I felt more than anything my own
I told her: you taught me how one lets doubt in oneself,
that if you truly will something, you find it, do not sully it,
allow it to be, no matter how it flowers in illusion
same for me, I askt her. If you do not want me, find a way for us to be.
If you want me, leave it alone.
There is a way, GQ said, to be on all of these levels simultaneously.
This was when GQ taught me that to find a being one took that being to
be on the level one wanted to see them, did not incessantly drag them down.
I have known a few people who did this, who flourished in
this way. I flourished after learning that process, and yet
return to the inner sanctum, to this level? Seed me, seed me,
said the mud.
What strikes me in the histories is that I saw everything
differently, tongued and sucked into those places that leave this
place (is that what I am? [viz., alcohol
does rot the honesties]
incapable of being here? Where is here?) / those places (are
they places?) that are not obscured by this kind of thought,
stick figures for the fire and yet, and yet.
What do you want? Someone to whom I can tell everything. (Go find
yourself a notebook.) Someone to whom I can tell everything that also perceives.
Transmutes. Is the perceivd .
What if I tell you your book is chaos?
It is all an asthma, she also said.
And were she to speak only to herself? Perhaps that is the nature of
a god. The rest of us overhear.
To find her human, after all these years, afraid of the divine,
afraid even of the memory of the sin that made her so? And yet
she has only put it by, cant she see that, put
it away, to one side, sealed it over. Again and again she said she
needed to cease looking at the past to transform herself into a mother.
+ + +
Pansies, white tulips, lilac, white lilac, Persian lilac, thousands
of dandelions in bloom or gone to seed, the first irises. Feeding the
furnace birch. Hard to get pure birch these days, they mix it with
aspen. Birch burns hot, lit with first drafts. Drizzle, wet lilac,
grass, crabgrass already tall, tiger lilies already reaching to the
knees. And then the nameless flowers ragana (the witch), is
blue, the spiritual colour. Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your
garden grow. The rain in the brain falls gently on the pain.
Birch burns hottest, milk spoils more quickly in this weather. Salt,
placed between the windows, keeps the glass dry. A piece of silver
dropped into a jar of water keeps it from going bad. A spoonful of
sugar, poured into a litre of heated milk, keeps it fresh for a night
and a day. Wilderness is not what is cherished here. Nature at
the hand of man garden a sure hand, one the ax fits, he
has golden hands. Under the Soviets, the alder, a nasty wood, grew
over what had been beloved landscapes. Now the alder groves are thinned,
the streams freed, vistas renewed. Apple blossoms, rain. Hyacinth.
Let this not become a stone to you. That I can go away at any moment.
We can always go away, cant we? Her
The king found his rarest emerald, the Stone of Doubt,
for whose sake Death sent its children into the world
To wake like that, tentacles wrapped around three bodies and the stone
glinting through the flesh, a glass of Monasterskaya izba undrunk
on the oaken table, golden sweet-smelling wine, the kettle whistling,
rain, lilac, sorrow. Not fear so much anymore. Transparency. Release.
A letter from A: H. . .she sounds both wonderful and also
intolerable. this may not be right. this is what i remember thinking
that first night we met, too. but you will remember better than i - i
told you that about someone - was it H? you seem to have said that the
contrast is appealing somehow. or compelling. is she the one that said maybe?
or something else 1/2 way to your proposal. if yes, and she is keeping
that up, forget her. oh, god, ill have to start
drinking wine soon, i guess.
We can always go away, cant we? Forget
her. Of her own lover, A writes: what i do know is that he, um, i
mean, i am not the object of his sexual desires and yet,
responding to my that marriage would have to
be everything, the solitude and introspection and mad lust and
repose and friendship and it isnt, and it
hurts to see it so far away, or is it that the impossible is its nature,
A writes: i read it over and over again and each time with a
different configuration of people and it doesnt
really matter who you meant exactly, because, you are, in your wisdom,
which is extensive, absolutely right. right about what marriage must be,
but not that the impossible is its nature. and so ill
hope (folly again) that that is eventually something we both are engaged
in, whatever the configuration.
But we do not know. We have not seen. Few books upset
me more than a biography that attempts to show the interior of a
relationship, especially the interior of a marriage. There is the lust
(simple!?), the contract, the transactions, the dependency the
alchemy, the secret, the astral journeys, the mystery.
But you and I, A, do not know. My romantic ideal, for which reason I
cannot even play dress-up with my history I have nearly married,
but find it impossible to even play at calling any of my past lovers wives.
(Can I call my past selves I?)
Again I return to the philosopher Xs
definition of love: it is to be ready for everything.
Mihlestihba, love. From the IE *mei- : *mi-, tender,
The demons found in such a blissful thing, figures in cold pursuit,
convections, theatricality, annihilation of self, clinging, a dance of
death, even. And when the otherness is ruined, the alien nature?
(Our sense of the tragic waxes and wanes
with the sensual.) Forgiveness?
To be ready for everything, not anything. Everything, a whole.
(Lie back, my totalitarian love.)
Germain on Crosby: He extends this
protective anonymity to almost everyone. Even chance acquaintances
become S or E
or, at the most explicit, Lady A.
It is interesting how I. becomes I in these pages I
became my assistant at first I thought
of finding her another letter, to lessen the confusion, but then
accepted this occasional infernal
discrepancy that is how close we
were. Were we? Are we?
I intend to work the Magick of Abramelin the Mage here, someday,
someday soon, the version given in The Vision and the Voice, isolating
myself utterly with increasing ardor, depriving myself of the extraneous
factors and conditions that obscure ( ) I have been alone here, for
the first time in my life, spending weeks in the Svente woods, far from
electric power, drawing water from the well, working the fire, the
breath, walking in the forest, sleeping in a silence broken only by the
occasional wild animal.
And yet I am a person of such densities and confusions. Forgiveness?
Or I have caught more purity in a dream, or in a lovers
eyes, though the changes wrought in enforced solitude were profound
washing the poisons from the body. I also worked rituals there my
first work with the Enochian calls, sinister sexual workings in the
forest, chthonic activity
And, once, I found her, long long after I had left
her, (we can always leave, cant
we) clear and tangible between a dream and dawn, bedewed, open.
A writes: its not that i think you find
insanity attractive per se, but i must ask you why you dont
find it pointedly unattractive. (youve heard
this before from me
H was in a hospital when my astral form reached her, then, in the
woods green tiles.
Most types of sanity
are more unattractive than insanity. (Why does A choose the word unattractive?)
Conscious desire is unattractive.
(Austin Osman Spare) Or does she mean not pretty?
I do not know of its prettiness its hideous beauty I do
know. Consensual reality is accursed, not insanity (but I would lose the
word insanity as well here, with H, it is lunacy
she is menesserdziga it is very much lunar) (Rogets
offers almost two pages, ranging from demented
and corybantic insanity
to Miltons moping
melancholy and moonstruck madness. Best, the
thesaurus quotes Aristotle: No excellent
soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.
[True, even if Papa Pedant is no buddy of mine.]) The things that bind
us to reality, to a second-hand, slavish, repulsive world of false
responsibilities and rote behaviour, the bonds that make slaves out of
us, accountants headed gloriously for the retirement village with our
sane and slavish daughters and a practical
view of things, bloated with opinions (and
buses full of small, captured animals / being transported to an empty
book RK) are far filthier than madness, are
fashioned out of fear, on the one hand shunning the grave (its gravity)
and on the other hand confirming it, ignoring eternity. Passion
transgresses. Passion is suffering. Beauty
will be convulsive or will not be.
+ + +
Bright sun after a cold night, returning exhausted after a night and
a day with H, sleeping in my jacket (kurtka) rather than remain
awake waiting for embers to seal into the old, crumbling Swedish furnace
(they are round towers of bricks encased in sheet metal you arrange
the wood and open the flue, shut both flue and door after the little
blue flames cease their dance over the coals
) Cockcrow, jackdaws.
The neighbour keeps carrier pigeons they wheel over the garden, high
over the garden, somehow always between the sun and the eyes, the light
through their wings, the whirring sound.
She had gone to see O. I told O for the first time explicitly how
I love H, how no one I touch gives or is given what we share, the
unutterable bliss (that it is as yet unutterable the
work of love is to find the words that will make it love
an infinity within a few hours yesterday, where
time is shrivelled down to times seed corn
[EP], in which this this this this accursed reflexive analysis came at
last to an end the lift, to be lifted from it, to lift
oneself this this this this self to lift, the swimmer, in the
light streaming from your eyes [a reflection you saw, a reflection
of self] but to lift oneself onto the shore [Manchild,
] from the ink where ineradicable
demons swim in sinister arabesques / is it
UBI AMOR, IBI OCULIS EST
The sweet look, love, and her words transmit the vision innate,
anew as if I can feed on her music alone, as if touch itself is
eyesight Behold mine adoration maketh
me clear adoration of her form and
winged words that take the breath away, return it adream, of such
freshness, odor of lavender-scented cotton torn from the line and draped
hurriedly over the bed before leaping, there, to dance softly wildly
into those parts of the body where the self falls finally silent and
substance is born anew how I used to stare at a reproduction
of Gustave Moreaus painting where the muse
whispers into the ear of a poet and see her, precisely her, the
distance of the lips from the lobe, the mysterious verbs that release
me as a drizzle in the hoary lilacs releases their heavenly
fragrance. It is here, paradise. Wouldst thou own it?
Trembling, afterward. What I feel of my
old sadness is a shining blue-like body in my body.
(Stein) The scales and barnacles covering the abdomen fall away. Her
touch is burning memory, the dark woods are aflame. The maps remain, the
charts showing the tentative paths to some contrived treasure, buried
rocks, interred pain mistaken for rubies.
Wouldst thou own it, wouldst thou promise to reach beyond whatever
selfish drudgery in the old life, does it return? Does it return,
feelings like swarms of vermin, half-thoughts, divorced opposites
dressed in hard words, destructive insects bearing the kind of knowledge
that results in sorrow only, shoves the breath down into depraved
genitals, hisses in the heart, twists the brain like a dwarf tree
bearing tiny, poisonous fruit, a bush whose berries deform the menstrual
cycle, dead animals microwaved and served up at some fluorescent
restaurant furnished in plastic, darkened eyes staring into gaps that
are not some sainted emptiness but an abyss between sour time and
half-hearted industry, servers with forced smiles walking in circles
among such dreary love songs, God an abusive father flashing out of a
cloud at orgasm, dark blue water in a series of toilets, still,
blanketed stink, pink toilet paper, all affection ownership, every
inspiration madness, any devotion only security, until it is swept into
death, and even death
+ + +
For the third time, I try to tell I that I must leave, that we cannot
be together and again we end in a state of suspended emotion, her
crying from the depths of her soul, deeper, from some opened juncture at
her basis, for hours, animal, despondent as something poised over
a fetid chasm, its legs stiffly stretched, paws lacerated by what it held
for year after year as ground, the most awful gut-wrenching
wailings and all for me, what me, what me is this that is never
there for her, why is it not there, when must we be there for one
another, what is that troth beneath her harsh words, she
bears only love for me, and it is exactly the total love
I crave to feel
in such a prolonged and certain way / not this love, not
from her, the animal plunges into the chasm o why o why can she not be human,
crave to feel in myself so cloudless / but it is only there,
only there, were I not going away she would clutch her pain again, her
conviction that she is born to suffer, now that I am capable of making
things good, cant you make things good,
please please please make things good - - silence - -
and after my silence, then I will, I will and she waited for
me, waited for me for all of this time, waited, changing herself,
ill, her letters unanswered except in the beginning when I promised to
work things out or wanted her, wanted this creature I know, the
only one who knows me, wrote and promised and
then you sent another letter and all your promises had changed, and
again I believed them and I waited and when you came you were
cold to me and I had been sick a month, in pain
We are little animals, she used to say, small defenceless
animals. I try to tell I that I must leave. How does one tell I
that I must? Can I? And at times the wailings transcend the pain and I
can see through what we did what I did to her what I did see into what?
To try again? To try again, the heart heavy with clouds and intolerable
bonds, her constant threats of suicide Why am I seeing this?
Why must I see this? This is some barbaric child of my own lies,
of having ever asked her to wait? And when it was clear? When
I returned here from the moon, and she had seen everything in her
dreams? And again, now, I am trying to convince her to breathe, to
let go of this pain, to let go, let go, lift your hands and let
it go she said she could, now, during the day, while all night she
dreams me (I dont dream you anymore) and
then the terrors come rushing back what am I doing, why did we make
this place, why am I destroying this garden this beauty we made, the
first earth I have ever had, raised things in, flowers mostly, irises,
irises everywhere now, irides, and the way we knew one
Past tense?! So few, so few times when we found one
another, and all of those periods in which the one looked while the
other rotted or ran and then she touched a dead spider, carefully
placing it on a stone and I saw her world again, her secret
world into which I came, her struggle with her paintings, months and
months figuring them out in her head, the space, the tones, the strange
entrances into a vision and I can turn away from this? From
someone who has so forgiven me, from a being who has loved only me for
year after year, survived my ambiguities? She told me that she did not
blame me for what happened then when, after I betrayed
myself and H (not H, not H, how can I betray someone who could not imagine
I betrayed my own love, merely my own love / and it is
mere? Illusion oh the fear, to trudge again
through the selfs only vast vistas,
depersonalised remorse, salt marshes stretching under heavy skies, eyes
blighted, sightless, a house full of bric-a-brac, the once loved objects
and the future? To be paralysed, not knowing if I can drag
myself back here would I? Would it be a lie? And my vision darkens,
other old curses floating up around what had been so clear, (could we
stay friends, I do love you, please, breathe, please, I, breathe) she
does not love you, I said of H, she only wants to weave her webs
and on the one hand H has told me that it was true, that she
could no longer believe in her own happiness, that she was determined to
destroy herself, that she did not see the others she drew into her, forcing
them to love her? And when I see again her hysteria, when dark air
whirls around her swathing everything, losing her to me
surrounds the certainty I see in her when she opens to me, the constant
telepathic contact we share when we are to one another / it is me,
me, me only my reflection isnt it? Losing
her to me.
The chestnuts are in bloom. The old man is rounding the corner. The
ancient streetcars screech around the great curve in Red Army Street,
raising dust, the dead birds in the meat store there are scrawny, blue,
the shelf lined with bottles of vodka, the lemon vodka tinted in an
abominable yellow, cadmium. The woods beyond into which the tramway
plunges, as if they too were part of the sinister city, in midwinter
especially it is a surreal transmutation, row after row of identical
buildings, then suddenly the snowy woods, a few scanty cemeteries, then
pine barrens, then a cathedral of pine trees as far as the eye can see.
+ + +
And so, after staring into a boiling mirror the colour of dogs
blood, into the horror I made (oh but that is to be here
the Oath of the Abyss, as everything that happens is a message
but everything) (not anything, not only the lovely,
poisonous flowers wreathe the maypole little blue shoes, aconite,
behind the house) I am seeing / not only what I have made, but what
there is to see /
on a clear day,
the poplar seeds as thick as a larks
blizzard, (less of them now, they troubled the images of important
men by sticking to their dark suits and were felled by the city, this
same city that used to buy the feet of jackdaws to thin their
population, which exceeds that of human beings though not that of souls,
the Jews in mass graves on the road to Mezciems,
the Gypsies buried under Pyervomayskaya, the microregion virtually
The Penetralium is a work in progress that was begun in 1998. There
are various quotations scattered throughout the text. A few are
attributed, others not; like Nathaniel Tarn in his LYRICS
FOR THE BRIDE OF GOD, a book much in mind, I would
like to name some of the writers who helped to form my mental climate
during the period of writing (and before and beyond it) first and
foremost, my friend and teacher Robert Kelly, to whom the work is
dedicated. Others include Robert Podgurski, George Quasha, Kenneth Irby,
Pat Smith, Harvey Bialy, Gerrit Lansing, Charles Stein, Clayton
Eshleman, Paul Auster, Duncan McNaughton, Kathy Acker, Andre Breton,
Ezra Pound, Baudelaire, Alejandra Pizarnik, Strindberg, Austin Osman
Spare, Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant, Linda Falorio, Nietzsche, H.P.
Lovecraft, Louis Martinie, Robert Duncan, Hermann Hesse, Nerval,
Robbe-Grillet, Michael Palmer, Cathleen Shattuck, Georges Bataille,
Michel Leiris, Artaud, Rimbaud, Harry Crosby, John Dee and Edward
Kelley, Lautréamont, John Crowley, Hans Bellmer and Malcolm Lowry.
©1999 . See also, Robert Kelly, The Flight of the Crows,
Vol. 2, No. 3.