blàr anam

by David R. Cravens




(Love in Idleness)

        “Never get out of the boat – absolutely goddamn right, unless you were going all the way. Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin program.”

—Captain Benjamin L. Willard, Apocalypse Now


Darwin’s Origin of Species
cites Goethe – in that nature
to spend on one side
must scrape on the other
and he wrote of the heartsease
so dependent on cats
to reduce the mice
that otherwise ruined hives
of bees alone that could pollinate
a flower Oberon martyred
when averting Cupid’s arrow
from Queen Elizabeth
who’d set holocaust
so many heretic souls
and sent her dragon – El Draque
to burn the Spanish Armada—
thereafter they told us
that should we misbehave
El Draque would come in the night
and drag us from our beds
for I was but a child in the Azores
a celtiberian-blooded boy
by the name of Zé Povinho
when I saw his broadside guns
rain fire from afar
and it was my grandmother
who overheard Columbus
telling her father
(my great-grandfather)
that the earth was not round
but shaped like a woman’s breast—
something to be conquered

and it’s the heartsease
in Ophelia’s garland
after Hamlet kills her father
that she ties to thought
symbol of the renaissance
trinitatis herba
tripartite goddess—
an ascension of color
from the visceral yellow id
to the neutral white ego
culminating in the regality
of the purple superego

as – in the bosom of eternity
(so I’ve been told)
apes beating typewriters
will eventually pound out Hamlet
precisely what’s happened

from forest ape to ground ape
to neotenic hunting ape
the sapiens mind is pliant
in statu nascendi
yet retaining such fetal qualities
costs time – peril – blood

a war ape to spend on one side
must scrape on the other 1





(Seven Tiny Dents in Snow White’s Hymen)

“Einstweilen, bis den Bau der Welt Philosophie zusammenhält, Erhält sie das Getriebe Durch Hunger und durch


—Friedrich Schiller, “Die Weltweisen”


on Midsummer’s Eve
I rode upon a dragon
through bonfires in London—
scarlet maidens dancing
harlots shouting
Catherine Howard saw me
saw the beast beneath me
vomiting flames
yet knew me not—
then – during Yuletide
I took form of a woman
old bent and wizened
fashioned a heartsease
from mulberry silk
and gave it to her lover
then beheld their executions 2
(vile carnal desires)
as I’d also Anne Boleyn’s
for history’s a torrent
an inundated narrative
a tide of blood and semen 3

and deep in the mists of time
I remember a snowstorm
on the Ardèche
and taking refuge
in the depths of Chauvet—
beyond the candle gallery
of our crepuscular ego 4
and fixed into the bison panel
was an ammonite
serving as the eye of a steed 5
a fibonacci sequence
from which we’ve spun
into the uterus of the psyche—
on the walls of this womb
atemporal galleries
thirty thousand years-old
of paleolithic beasts
some five thousand years
lingering between paintings 6
and in this darkest recess
of the end chamber
awaits upon the sorcerer’s panel
the minotaur of our id
crouched over a vulvar cleft
yet fused with it—
Picasso’s beast
ready to rape a sleeping woman 7
and yet too
the sexless Minotauromachy
both reaching for the girl
(her flowers her light)
and pushing them away—
duality of everyman 8
life fusing death
dichotomy of everyman 9
courtship of logos and pathos
duplicity of everyman
acceptance of actuality 10
coincidentia oppositorum 11
and the cave is vast 12
the course treacherous
the faces – one and many
Elizabeth on a rainy Sunday
standing at the traitors’ stairs
“…and thereon I’ll take my death”
2nd Lt Napoleon Buonaparte 13
of the Régiment de La Fère
writes by candlelight
in his quarters above a Valence café
“always alone…
my thoughts dwell on death—
what great rage brings me
to wish for my own destruction?
no doubt as I see no place
for myself in this world”
prior to pawning his watch
for Christmas money
a destitute Ulysses Grant
(failed farmer)
sells cordwood in St Louis
when he runs into Sherman
unkempt and broke
(a newly ruined banker)
there’s talk of West Point
as wanting-provision
for croupiers and cobs—
Sherman looks at his friend
shakes his head and says:
“I’m a dead cock in the pit”
and after four years of fighting
in the trenches of WWI
Corporal Adolf Hitler
fights blindness in Schützenhaus
his beloved Second Reich
crumbling about him
“again everything went black…
and I resolved
that if I recovered my sight—
I would enter politics”
a despondent Churchill
exiled to parliament’s backbenches
slouches in his Chartwell study
his warnings of Hitler ignored
“everything is very black”—
shortly – the hills around Vienna
will be alight with balefires
in the shape of swastikas

yet to follow the umbilical
out of this uterine darkness
back through the stalagmitic teeth
of the brunel chamber
vagina dentata 14
and into the glad daylight—
the bright landscape
beyond the Pont d’Arc
where death clashes not with life
but nourishes it
is to try our fates at war 15
for atonement with the father
is expiation with the id 16
sine qua non
and this was my home
my river
when with the gaesatae 17
clothed only in sunshine
blood and woad
I served under Vercingetorix
when at Gergovia
we routed Caesar’s legions—
I took as a slave
a germani’s wife
whose descendants
would one day in the Harz
drop ammonites in milkpails
to supplement the yield
drachen they’d call them
motifs of cupidity – fertility
and about this bauern
passed the tale of a child
dispossessed by envy
a story of carnality
desires of the id—
stiefmütterchen 18
having sent her huntsman
to slaughter the girl 19
then fails to devour
her liver and lungs 20
and Weißchen is rescued
by seven preoedipal gnomes 21
but the jealous succubus 22
takes form of a crone
old bent and wizened
finds and temps her
with corset-laces
comb and apple 23
allure – vanity – sexuality—
die heldin folds
and descends into darkness
(the inmost cave)
la noche oscura del alma
but much like Ophelia
she emerges transformed
from timidity to seductress
saint to whore
yet to thwart liable madness
her incubating demons
are exorcised through torture 24
homo homini lupus 25

such archetypes are supple
for in Éire
your name was Craobh-oir 26
you’d been selling apples
when we’d met
from a cart
beneath a mighty oak
on a backroad in Wexford 27
I remember your shoes
your dress
yellow ribbon in auburn hair
and asking directions to Carlow
thinking too our people
held sacred such trees
symbols of balance
(crann bethadh)
the nuclei of every village—
axis mundi of heavens and earth
dark druidical groves
stained with blood
bejeweled with heads
and what of it
what of its scores of years
wherein it’s watched oxen-carts
the birth of industry 28
atomic bombs
the dawn of climate change—
and within my forty years
it’s stood sentinel
as we’ve increased twofold
(fecundity unmitigated)
annihilating half what was left
of the world’s animals 29
for the global economy
is geared toward growth
a geometric human tumor 30
the biosphere is not—
snow and blood and ebony
Gaea – to spend on one side
must scrape on the other 31

and of me these prior years
I try to teach my undergrads
how to write – to think
I see them in the halls
crouched over cellphones
texting and scrolling—
apes picking termites off sticks
ecoilliterate heads
congested with myth 32
always too many pregnant
always the wrong ones 33
and often I present them
the trolley problem—
to save a number of people
they may sacrifice a stranger
by shoving him onto a railway
or – by pulling a lever
diverting the train
from the bystanders
and to the individual
different methods
same outcome—
the majority choose the lever
(without exception)
and the industrial revolution
sparked an explosion of levers 34





(Cupio Dissolvi)

“Children believe in monsters and adults tell them that there are no monsters, but that is not true. They are inside steel tubes within steel tubes, in the ground and under the sea and sometimes in the air. They contain unimaginable power, the very fires of hell and death itself. There are monsters indeed, and we made them, and they are out there, waiting…”

—Daniel S. E. Cascaddan


just before my grandfather’s
was in Washington County
hunting Sam Hildebrand
Henry Adams
(Shiloh fresh in his mind)
watched the ironclad Merrimack
boilers fueled with ichor
as she rest at anchor
in the harbor at Newport News
and he reflected that science
would subjugate man
and that parish we’d all
by destroying the world 35
thereafter Appomattox
the Goddess Aurora
shimmered over Yount Missouri
no one in the village
had ever seen such a thing
and that same grandfather
stood up from the porch
looked into the sky and said:
“that means war – a great war—
the whole world’ll be involved”

it was a war of stalemate
blood gutters 36
amongst them Corporal Hitler
Schopenhauer’s works
tucked in his knapsack
the war to end wars – yet not
for in August ’39
the aurora came back
churning above the Alps
steeping them in crimson—
from the Berghof Hitler stared
spellbound at the mountains
“looks like blood” he said
“a great deal of it”
and thinking ahead to Poland:
“this time we won’t bring it off
without violence”
and thus my grandfather
landed on Utah Beach
in support of the 4th Infantry
was pinned in a field of heartsease
by nebelwerfers at Ravenoville
marched past dead eyes
of gargoyles in Valognes
staring from the rubble
of a bombarded cathedral
braved the Ardennes 37
then into Germany at Roetgen
through the dragon’s teeth
of the Siegfried Line
past ruined castles of the Rhine
and under Drachenfels
where Siegfried slew Fafnir
and finally to Boelcke-Kaserne
(refuse of Mittelbau-Dora) 38
piles of rotting corpses
the crematorium 39
and hordes of skeletal wraiths
emergent the bowels of hell
from deep in Kohnstein Mountain 40
where they’d assembled
one-ton ballistic V2s 41
Wotan’s eternal rainbow—
wretched troglodytes who
squinting in the daylight
of the cruelest month
spoke of beatings – hangings 42
malice aforethought 43

it’d been during Teheran
when Stalin
may have quoted
from Französischer Witz
with no real knowledge
of neuroethics
dual-process theory
when he’d told Churchill
that though a death
be a tragedy
the deaths of millions
was but a statistic 44
he was at Potsdam too
that summer after Dora
when Truman
Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall”
folded neatly in his wallet
gave the order
to pull the lever—
druidry to end all wars
yet not
for it had been there too
that they’d split Vietnam
bestowing the north to China—
consequent my uncle
and namesake
a scout-chopper gunner
and something of a shadow
under which to live
flew missions to Cambodia
from Dĩ An and Tây Ninh
and Black Virgin Mountain
then north to the DMZ 45
the Khe Sanh plains
and Quảng Tri 46
where he and his crew
were taken down by NVA
then slain in the wreckage 47
pawns in a lost game of chess—
when I read his letters
I think of Apocalypse Now
for it was in Quảng Tri
that Willard had killed a man
and there’s that setting
by candlelight
in the belly of the whale
(the depths of Kurtz’s chamber)
of The Golden Bough
and From Ritual to Romance
that for the longest time
I thought Coppola’d staged
to insinuate a loss of faith
Dante’s dark wood
but I see them now to signify
the retelling of a legend
a mirrored monomyth
cyclical heroes’ journeys
ad infinitum
reflecting each the other—
casualties in woven webs
as for we’ve all
I’ve spent my blood
and tasted of it too
for I was he who gazed
upon the chaste Diana
then too the stag 48
torn asunder by my hounds
as also we were they—
for in the strictest sense
we’re but a single animal 49

in the end we were crushed
at the siege of Alesia—
Vercingetorix staked for mine
his life 50
and I was harried west
where as a prince of Erin
hunting the hills of Killarney
I lost to a giant
my life in a wager
so I watched from hiding
his daughters three
a colored lily
upon each of their breasts
white and yellow
and after they’d undressed
to bathe in Loch Léin
I stole away
with Yellow’s dress
and staked it for my life
for her sisters were neurotics
ailing with repression—
but iniquity is honest
the cathartic purge of violence
the intimacy of it
so I made Yellow my wife 51
and with the silver bough
of an apple tree
sheathed in white blossoms
I followed her west
sailing an enormous sea
to Tir na nÓg 52
leaving behind me a world
that Schopenhauer wrote
was but a vast dream
dreamed by a single being
such that every dream creature
dreams too 53
and perhaps too the universe
is of this fractal nature
infinite peripheries
begetting each
its own dimensions
that feed upon themselves—
I’ll live your life
you’ll live mine
we’ll each live every other 54
either burned at the stake
or lighting the fire
every son that dies at war
and each the father who buries them
de nihilo nihil
in nihilum nil posse reverti 55

in my grandfather’s closet
are flags and swords from the war
and on certain nights
a stream runs through it
turtles swim the clear water
and interlocking upon their shells
symmetrical celtic rings
often still I walk its banks
to a cairn of mossy limestone
a darkened sepulcher
enshrining a grail of polished wood
wrapped in ragged fabric
and emitting the softest light
illuminating images
telling a story round the bowl
a tale not meant for words
yet of a banlaoch
my daughter – Bidwel
and if you have a light
you can follow this creek further
up to a warren of caves
on the walls of the caves are paintings
blots and hands and vulvas
bear rhino mammoth
obliterated bestiary
hunted and painted by men
who in the sacristy of anthropos
cast deities of the stars
into the votive shape of their fathers—
you can put your hand in theirs

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