There lived a cold unloving man who dwelt alone in castle walls
But tension worthy of a clan kept him company under a high-strung roof.
Dreading women, loving battle and the hunt,
A Bluebeard; frightened of, frightening children.
His cellar stocked with vintage wine and bodies of the loved ones
Who knew too late the fate that came of knowing him:
Tied to sterile dreams, fated to form an empty vessel,
Drained of all emotion, drunk by a leech’s thirst.
Speed is of the essence, there’s no time to catch a breath,
Hurtling deathwards with precision; He keeps the past locked with a master key
And plans to stay impeachment eternally.
He chuckled uncontrollably at
Reports of novel means of death, exalted in the lethal process,
Slavered over morbidity and degradation. Robust fantasies waned by day,
The hunter returned when the sun ceased to burn,
He loved to see fires burn when it rained…
Walking in impossible gardens – hunting boar at night
With a special sight (with which he startled his colleagues);
Moving as if on castors – sitting like stone on a night at the opera,
She caught his bouquet and he hers, he nodded his head and came to her room,
She raised her white hand to feel his prominent brow from which no sweat came,
She loved that in men.
`She came from Linz …that was the only good thing about her’
(Almost breathing the ellipses) …and then her child greeted the hero,
He dropped his hat, she her bouquet, silhouette of a ‘plane as the ace returns
Scythe in hand. ‘Do anything whilst I was away?’
`There is blood on this key Madam, Go to your room.’
She had been, like him, so aloof, rolling her eyes at the chambermaid
Combing his dead mother’s hair in the cellar… ‘how ridiculous …’
She, with childish effort, transfixed to a Paul Klee, backed into him, turned knowingly,
Regarded by him as a riot of color, slight figures imprisoned in borders of gold leaf,
A change from the fat powdered ladies of Paris.
With a face like a graveyard he asked her opinion, ‘Do you really like that mess?’
She nodded, ‘It interests me. “Would it interest you to come and have a drink?’
She nodded, quite blandly. ‘Why not?’ Why not indeed.
She cavorted on the grass of the gardens, sang irreverent in the shade of the castle,
Reviled his appearance – and ran like a child through the hallways,
She lay naked on the sofa, looked at him rewinding a tape over and over,
Laughed at him in his impotence, he shouted at the condor to strike.
The pictures he had made of them, processed into Rorschach-like ink blots,
Hung on the wall as trophies, worked into the iron grille door,
He peered through the openings into his wives’ bedchambers.
Not for him to meet some sunny day. He would blink with pleasure in darkness,
Locked in dark parlor, play a gothic tune again and some danse macabre would ease
And in time, like his companions, fade and fail to please him.
In the city, in matters of estate and business, he’d frown on those who looked
Askance; His castle at the weekend was always brightly lit and noisy,
Filled with friends and likely prospects all invited to the danse-
He’d play a gothic tune, sing lyrics writ in rune with the deadliest expression,
Psyche himself to puissance. All else expunged, even the nuncio would wait
While he found blood on the key a nuisance and planned some woman’s fate to music.
And, as the song would be coming to an end, he stopped the tape and played the tune
To change lives as a musician altered a sequence of notes; to fold folk further
Than an octavo, make more malleable.
She scoured the key, scoured it with soap and stone,
She worked her dainty fingers to the bone
But still the blood would not remove.
It would appear on the other side
And turning the key, one couldn’t hide bodies within;
`Be so good as to fetch the key’. A voice trails off, an excuse put plaintively,
Wait for the impotent, infertile, impartial judgment, my lady;
Never laugh at me.
The black Mercedes would sweep the leaves from the driveway,
Near the bridge over the still, stinking lake, the lake which reflected the castle,
Demands made and plans laid. Those disappointed glances in the morning,
Eyes glancing over the top of newspapers, hands mechanically serving breakfast,
Mendacious lips warning of infidelity, an ultimatum of sorts….
He cannot give themselves of him, thus, float face downward, weighted, sink,
Let trinkets bubble up to the surface for re-use; for heaven’s sake
Do not drag for the lady of the lake. The dogs are locked in the kennels,
Wet blood gleams on the grass in the moonlight, the radio is loud, the air closer than
He walked in his vast house with eyes closed, identified every noise and shudder,
Hears her standing in the dark, waiting for the light of a big black car to pierce the
One of them used to fling wide the doors to the hall,
Icy winds in the dark old house seemed to call strange names-
Laments for the dear departed on a wild windy night, trees bending in salutation.
The sound of an engine, unexpected, early, on the gravel,
Watchful eye raking the still waters, the wind may rage and the lake might stir
But the mud swirls and nothing shall rise to that surface.
Reminded of his condition, he reached for the whiskey bottle,
Why was his beard so blue? That crash had killed things, had killed him inside.
He still had a certain zest, of course – opera, the galleries, plays and so forth;
The amazon in black who drank from a stone jug, eye-liner black, veiled,
Immodest, speaking atrocities, curling her lip with abandon, letting the roar of the
crowd wash her over.
He sat in his little two-seater, his appreciative nod to her, not her efforts.
Her coarseness revolted and fascinated, like trooper’ horses bolting, she terrified her
Not slow to revile him, she laughed at
`the limp growth between your legs’
And kicked him inside and out.
His tape ran to an end, whined unbearably, so he shut off, his whole body sweating
And while hunting, with boar a-charging, he shot it down whining,
She ran to it in triumph, a regrettable accident, as she fell across the stag.
The hunting party waited for the doctors, he sat flipping through the final pages of
Humming the Symphonie Fantastique until it grated on his colleagues,
Drumming his fingers on the table, drinking from her jug, doing sums upon his toes,
His serenity impressed his friends in spite of themselves, they were the type to be so
Death was, after all, to be taken in stride so that when their good friend lost
His noisy new bride, they remembered his position, remembered not to weep,
It did not seem to be a problem, not a problem at all.
His impatience with the nuncio was made patent – he told him, impliedly, to rush the
No sympathy felt he for those who advocated tributes to the dead, no
Fascination had he for the ontology of death;
He deemed himself death’s confidant and knew no mystery.
No one knew what became of his wives, no one had known them all, or well,
Nobody spoke of their parting. It was thought that their revulsion had contrived to
`Here is the key to the caskets, here is the key to the store,
Here is the key to the strongboxes, here is the master-key,
Here is the key that you must not use.’
So, when word was spread that he was alone, again, sympathy was felt for him
And his hard face and manner explained away. When a woman spoke to
He hardly listened, he’d scrutinize her as if she was an exhibit, in a cage,
Some fine creature… who’d offer a glance with some trepidation
As instead he presented a great, bloody basin, a block of wood with an axe therein-
Since you entered this room against my will, you shall return against your own,
Your life is ended.
La curiosite malgre tous ses attraits couste souvent bien des regrets,
And when Triphine was a mother-to-be, such a picture of vulnerability,
She had to be dealt with, she’d meddled with the key.
The key he meant to have, had to have; still he was denied and so denied others,
Too late her muskateer brothers.
Comorre said that he’d have her head if the key bled.
A blue moon paints the castle this night, the eyelet of a key through which glows
Rows of trees by a stream, none the same genus, leaves all-a-glitter, samite-like
A perfect gravel path, perfect in its whiteness and precision,
Three stone columns forming an entrance to a small glade,
A golden arm from the water holds aloft a giant blade,
A sundial in the midst of this fey beauty tells indeterminate time,
Colored birds, no two the same species, sing standing on lilting branches,
Guarding the glade as eunuchs, singing of Capistrano, sap dripping from trees,
Ferns sticky with web and dirt cast by the raindrops,
Wet weather lizards and slavering dragons chew on the bodies of juicy insects,
Storm drains echo with water and a pair of white shoes –
Lo, a pair of slacks bedraggle over the edge of the gutter.
A dark cluster of trees drips insinuations, this fey place is shattered by stupid
A million eyes glare, make noise like old wars here, wars in a graveyard, ghosts
rattling their jewelry,
Steal the rubies of light from the ground, the toll of steps pound on plants centuries
One day, perhaps, the trees will awake and make war, impotent weapons, leaves
covering fey spots,
Diamonds of light to confuse and twig daggers.
One rock pool as clear as glass, two avenues of trees, infertile to their neighbors,
Three dead maidens in six pavilions exquisitely reposing on stone tables.
Can one accept the offering of heaven on a platter, of rich brocades and jewels,
A palace and pink steps down to the water, of playful vigorous hounds in large
Accepting sops that would feed two men – and yet be told that a little room was not for
To be given the key with godlike largesse, to be young and ripe and beautiful,
To be alive and full of health in the midst of so much bounty;
To be ready to fully blossom and have that door barred to you?
To feast every morning on the fertile harvest, to eat of eggs so fresh and still speckled
with blood and warm,
To chew on the stout and healthy legs of chickens and quail,
To sit as if in a museum case.
She felt rejected, as he left on business, rejected when she came to him with her eyes
His apprehension and expression stabbed tiny wounds in her unveined red heart;
She would run through the woods to seek some release,
She’d lay down on the pine needles, warm as blood where the sun found them
And look up at the trees swaying and listen, listen to them speaking,
Of birth, death and rejuvenation,
A single pine cone fell upon a stump and shattered.
His pockets and hands are full of a gracious presence at the table,
His heart is empty, crypt full. He cannot help but help himself,
A recurring passion, a river replenishing, a piece of music played over and over;
Whimsical time for a robust Murkn lady, doing a two-step in a club,
As subtle as an ethel merman, a healthy chestiness about her,
He took photographs of her for an hour, wearing nothing,
He, she said of him, like an iceberg, was incredible, he was.
She gave herself to him inter vivos, he collected of sorts, more photographs for the
She drew aside her robe, stood in the half-light before him,
Mocking him in his uniform, he took her to meet his dogs.
Smiled into the glass of his wintery drink,
Feminine wile and male deceit combine, indeed, almost complete, his need.
Failures pay, crush’d like insects, scent rising from a ruin,
A ghost of Henry VIII lurks in the moonlight, drifts through
The keyhole into the little room and smiles approval.
The enormously silently present stag on the ceiling casts a light over the roomscape,
Where teacher and pupil lie in each other’s arms. While the globe fades
To a pale yellow the color of old paper, he cranks the stag high on a thick, cold
And whispers Elsbeth… ‘…release.
They lay, or had lain, as if to mock him and handed him his excuse;
Bodies twisted into a question, splashed to the winds on the wings of a vulture
The flames swung to the right on the wet winds of change
And things clashed with the sound of a desk struck with clenched fists.
Rain falls on fire and
‘I have no intention of talking to them.’
Unconcerned he was at least, thankful for the ways of the unforeseen world,
The slings and arrows of embarrassment, aspirations foundered, not built, on sweat.
Fortune and fame of sorts, the axe is blunt and not to fall as yet.
Ever of an evening, quiet in the chambers, silent in the coffin, never wax nor wane.
The pounding of hooves in crowded alleys, boxes piled and violins broken,
Orange on black as flames rise to the night, the quickstep of boots,
Broken windows – songs interrupted, old books closed and hid quickly,
The yielding glass of old wine bottles, the straw and scream of pain as a bone snaps,
When he leads a small band of professional thugs, death rides a whiter horse and
likes the night.
Wouldst that you see if you entered that room grotesque mannequins distended,
spattered with blood,
Hideous lips, twisted limbs, broken bundles of bones arrayed playfully like a puppet
on his string.
They mock him but can’t catch hire, on a white horse, grinning among the ruins,
A deathly swoon of pysche, opening the pyx of Proserpine, a face from the past,
Slugs buried in earth in a box made of cardboard, a slate of the art,
The wreck of a sinking city, in misty skies falling on a rock in the sea in late
The struggle to the surface of a diver, the dangle of pearls at a throat,
The enormity of effort of a baby to grasp an object, the uncertain sway of a boat
In the wake of a natural disaster… that looming unsmiling rock-hewn face,
Not remembered with much fondness, nor forgotten.
A young man visits his lady friend and there is that face
Behind reflective glass, motoring by, a silent axe to grind.
That sallow puffy ravaged face at lectures. One morning he strode into the coffee
Steam rose and informed that looming face. It smiled!
Feigned ignorance, moved around the tables, dealing.
Playing the numbers:- `once or twice’ it said, `we met in town.
`She? Yes she did I think put some money down.’
He smashed his fist in that luminous face,
Still it smiles.
He thought he could gain respect through death, if not his own, through others’ And his dark blue beard hid a desire to live; it would have to be others, it seemed.
And meeting the train while the bullets flew, nobody but him, even he, knew
That he would live again. Obscurity he did not mind, with other vital things to find,
In schedules mapped-out in his head, he locked-up the past with a key that bled
And informed him.
`It’s absurd, it’s…ridiculous.’
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