After Rimbaud - Long After

prose poems by Terry Talty after A Season in Hell

Table of Contents

Delyrium I

Alchemy of the Verb

I was under his wing, massive eagle wing, majestic listening against his beating chest and could not, would not leave willingly for its comfort, soft while firm.

Or for his demonic smell, hot Laborious sweatless breast in close protective quarters where the smell of clean laundry came up from below more than grains of grit of his work. All in a tiny attic in a non-house, a place built of tin, able to be pierced by any dangerous weapon.

I understand you, I said. But all I meant was I wanted to. And you made me feel you were saying the very same thing.

If I was gone from you, you wouldn't tell me where you were, really. I could only guess what you were doing, something that was so different, so someone else for that brief not work, not other time where we might not be, that I wanted to know it all to understand you. You wanted all I knew, all I was reading and writing because you couldn't have been bothered. Then corrected my thinking when it was illogical, and no one does that to an innocent Catholic girl who he knows is willing to have sex with him.

We not-terrible looking girls who are desperate because of lust not lack of luck may feel free to move on, but by this time you knew you had me with your perfection of manners, and calm. Your only revealed emotion was laughter controlled and a bright love look that kept me under your wing -- hidden and I feared forgotten when someone else looked at you, desiring your attention, which I watched you give out like she was me. I was too little to expect the respect you gave to men.

And after you told me you loved me because I was smart, I knew you might not be as generous as I wanted, questioned the level of abstraction where I go, as you replace mine with a practical metaphor. I wanted an appreciation of the beautiful that wasn't obvious but was obviously beautiful and I wanted you to say it. And you reserved judgement. Let me keep showing you how to do that - to love ideas in someone else's brain. Our love for each other was not for the beauty of our faces, the specifics you see in a photograph, where I am a wisp of a spirit and you are a young man under a mask of beard and hair.

We were in too deep to see a portrait of one another that we could have kept in our wallets or dressing rooms as if we had any private spaces beyond our tiny wallets. We were in each other so close even the finest nose is just ugly pores and fine hairs and humidity. It's a dry warmth, abstract pleasure with no dry recorded visuals, no need to be seen, so deep that fractals are the illustrated map. But you were going to be famous and rich and I would stay the littlemouse on your chest hidden if not eventually eaten.

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Delirium II

Alchemy of the Verbs

Unlike anyone else I knew, I could be the master of all, jack of any art I put my laziness aside to do. And meanwhile I would occupy my time with thinking because my mind was capable of layers of atmosphere that I had yet to explore, could make order of clouds, memorize their names in seconds. In fact, I've had to stop myself from filling my mind with the names of things other people had named: the capitals of the states, countries in Africa, or the presidents of the United States. Reciting them had been my greatest parlor trick.

No one cared what I thought about, except maybe my slumbering companion at night who would uhh-huh me talking, talking because I had an audience, a real body that wasn't my own. Saying the words aloud makes them real and with poor hearing I didn't doubt them. I felt love for the sex in everyone, wanted to draw its picture but there was a lack of beauty in what I had drawn, it was too real, and that was not what I had seen. Easier was to put together words that were as intangible as the smoke of sense that I loved with a passion I was afraid could not be kept inside. I would run away in a car, when I could get my hands on one and not come back until after sunset, go out again. Sit in a park and write about what I felt, raw innocent feelings of a man in ancient Gaul, or a child in a time machine, or sailors storming the beaches, and saling away having changed the course of history. I was a child writing by candle light studying in a log cabin becoming Abraham Lincoln.

I knew Doctor Zhivago the romance novel and couldn't think of anything about language but thought I could invent a better communism. If I learned Russian maybe I would understand my own language better but instead I read and memorized, read poetry and sat alone and wrote how I felt, alone. I wrote poems about how other people seemed to me, which seemed so finished and not like me. Plays I wrote came from dreams; there I've continually been on an adventure. I went on school trips and thought maybe my body could be the art I was seeking, to dance out these wisps, cumulus inside. Time a slowly blowing wind. Songs were merely poetry startled into the rhythm, free the words.

Steal the book, lavender with modern type outside; inside was Richard Wright, Kenneth Rexroth and formal they were compared to the Spring Hill Mine Disaster, and freaky Ferlinghetti, hardly less than contemporary song, but pleasantly silent. Music was the smoke to take me into the car, the park, the darkness where I thought I explained the human condition. Static, unchanging, simple just wanting someone to be with in my bed at night. Preferably stolen by Indians who give me a house in the tree tops, now I see their death is what I aspired to, a long death there in the tree tops lasting as long as my physical battle on earth lasted, going to work, mowing the yard for my mother. Could I not just read and write and wait for death. But the playing, tennis, swimming, ball games, jumping rope for most of these I was too old or not good enough and I just wanted to float. It was reading and having that smoke of an idea that was living, and the disappointment of trying to make it real.

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The Impossible


The trouble with keeping a clear thought in one's mind moves. Being a child, learning first idea, realization of a separateness, then of being so ordinary in a sea of other people who are boring.

I was a star among stars, no thought of questioning my leadership, but certainly questions about my superiority. Not pretty, maybe the strongest fittest, best not to think of the few who would contest that. But all this is boring.

Didn't I want to be free of those comparisons of friends who were all interested in dancing at every weekend - where some of us would be wallflowers, where nothing was said or done anyway until there was someone who wanted to talk and think the whole world could be explained with enough time.

Of course we were disgusted with our politicians and surely the war, but that was over and we needed to get rid of them all, and yet there was no descent people that could be seen there, real thinkers who had ideas and yet the humility to talk about them, who recognized how hard it is to put together the right picture of whole worlds - we won't give them a chance of being sighted. People who thought they knew everything had been fooled and they were embarrassed by those who had not been. What works is what we ought to believe in , they say, but they can' see a good, new idea.

I would come there separate from the isolation of youth - no peers, teaching catechism while plotting its denunciation. Being slave to the lover possessive, knowing it was a pleasure, an education but easily replaceable. I did not covet the social status of popularity, but wanted someone who thought about the whole world picture and wanted to talk about it with me. Sex and drugs and parties were just topics to jump off from like the high diving board and equally pointless.

... the mind can lead us to God. What a heartbreaking disaster.

We all read some portrait of an artist as a young man and we think the author is channeling us - oneself - all of us and yet we know that we have to find the box to climb into where we make money for someone and ourselves. We can put it off for a few years but then we start wanting stuff. When we read ... was this artist as a youth, what he had written, was it any good, as good as the letter written and sent in the mail to my lover who didn't keep them or even remember having read them. I know that his were thrown away by my mother who didn't want to know about the sex and drugs. He surely had kept my letters at least until he moved home for the summer. Would science save me was learning something as immutable as a foreign language the test of my mind - none of these had any opening for someone who just wanted to think but had very little practice except that recent discovery that there was no god, or certainly no need to wager on one.

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I remember very well what I thought then and have now forgotten how it paralyzed me.

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Morning (in hell?)

It is morning and one can think again. One doesn't know this when young but wisdom feels like the morning. When was I stupid and young or just stupid? I refused to go to work to stay with my new lover, yes, and I was right to do so. Jobs like that were plentiful. I wasn't good at it, at begging for tips - nor was the price of a meal or the type of restaurant the kind where one could make good money. Losing that salary - a joke - was an easy choice. To lose my scholarship, no, I wouldn't have tossed that away.

I can take charge. I can write for changes that need to be made for the productivity of the planet and to reason kindly with the unreasonable.

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a question

Justice can be seen by God alone. Really Rimbaud? Did I say I was an atheist? Not that long ago did I. Long do we hold out hope that confession will salve stupidity, falls on misery, avarice and drunkenness. I woke one night overdosing on cold medicine, a decade wasted by reading and waiting no agency but shipping my mind to past popium dens writing a time machine

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Bad Blood

...out of order

Government is our agreement with each other not your meal ticket.

You lied to us. You all lie to us. No one of you lies with no intention of trusting, of us trusting

You lied to us. Others try to hide their selfishness. Let's go back to hiding it — hide it so deep it doesn't exist.

Not so sad as I seem. I am screaming, ponds of ice, unthreatening, don't cross me.

You laugh at my anger; you always have and so I retreat to the woods. And find a place to write angry notes back to you, my own race, the ones who are only a mass led by a political power no one sees driving the bus. The parade's out front.

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A Night in Hell


Silent square sailing boat
You float, split serenely
in seas so spastic, for obstacles
seal like magic plastic,
sail on, rejoin, trapse
silent square sailing boat.

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A Season in Hell

...the whole idea

Who needs a job where they answer? Pick up the end of the rope and just hold it - communication does no communing. What answers.

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