The Look of Love

Climbing bolt eyes tightened so tight the threads
strip, and the tongue, a dirty oiled belaying bolt,
slips and slaps, and the whole edifice collapses,
as if a plumber has grabbed the head by the ears
and sucked on the nose with his plunger.

The smith smites a bass anvil,
          the hot steamed milk face
          the steel bridge nose,
          terrible white teeth,
     drawing and cooling
          the pendant tongue,
          eyes opaque blue,
          thick creamy hair
around the handle of his hammer.

This hyperbolic happy acid oozing 
cold blue face bowl of plum pits,
bonbon pate of goose liver. 
“Don’t look at me!” cry the eye bolts expanding, 
lips stressed taut, ears hung like life rings. 
Far back on the tongue, a bitter spot to nap. 

The old couple lives now in a window box. 
The sash opens and a hand appears. 
A palm with a long curved neck 
pours water clear and concise. 

An electrician comes to replace the eyes. 
He breaks both sockets unscrewing the cold bulbs. 
Memory starts to flicker, the call of a far-off bird. 
In brackish blue eyes the tiller tongue feels spaces, 
loosed from its mooring, and on the sail of the nose, 
beating upwind for a kiss, ripples of sound,
the soupy surf ringing in his ears, 
snores an old surfer paddling about
on a dinged, wax-worn, sun bleached board, 
wanting to swim with you.

“Moonishnessly”: for Susan, Who’s Been Reading the Toads

Moondance 2


We were children then, when we settled on the moon, amid drifts of silver shadows. Our parents were still alive, down on Earth. We had no fear of flying, outside of airplanes, no fear of flying on the wings of birds, daily flights to the moon, one-way flights. We walked on the moon all night long, moonishnessly. And in the morning, covered with moondust, we climbed down to the blue ocean for a salt-water bath.

Love and the Age of Democracy

Imagine life as a serf in an empire. Your father wants to give you to a neighboring monastery in exchange for a pig. But this is actually better than his first proposal, in which he promised your hand in marriage to an old man in a neighboring village. Fortunately, the old man died before the deal could be sealed.

In The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell argues that the emergence in the middle ages of romantic love as expressed by the troubadours created individual consciousness. “Campbell: But with Amor we have a purely personal ideal. The kind of seizure that comes from the meeting of the eyes, as they say in the troubadour tradition, is a person-to-person experience. That’s completely contrary to everything the Church stood for. It’s a personal, individual experience, and I think it’s the essential thing that’s great about the West and that makes it different from all other traditions I know. It was important in that it gave the West this accent on the individual, that one should have faith in his experience and not simply mouth terms handed down to him by others. It stresses the validity of the individual’s experience of what humanity is, what life is, what values are, against the monolithic system. The monolithic system is a machine system: every machine works like every other machine that comes out of the same shop” (p. 187).

Campbell is talking about consensual marriage, as opposed to arranged marriage. Even today, the price paid for consensual marriages, in that they often go against the grain of the parents’ wishes for their children, as in the Tristan romance, and again in Romeo and Juliet, is personal freedom and existentialism. You’re on your own. This is the same price Jesus paid, but the Church did not follow Jesus, instead creating a new monolithic system. “Come follow me,” Jesus said; we’ll make our own way, against tradition. This is the creation of the individual as an entity separate from the earthly lord who gets his authority from the state or church or both. In consensual marriage we find the roots of egalitarianism and democracy. What’s love got to do with it? All you need is love, and the courage to, as Campbell says, “follow your bliss.”

Modern corporations are not democracies, nor is the Church a democracy. Men who marry their jobs or the Church can not live an existential life. They are not free. They have no individual consciousness, and they pay no price, as long as they stick with the arrangement. But these marriages are not based on Amor, which is freedom and personal identity for which one pays own’s own freedom and assumes responsibility for oneself. To become one with a desk? Come, follow me. Sit here. Break is at 10:15.