Ivan Argüelles



I recognized the woman in the window
but I didn’t know who she was 
just so one world goes away 
and another one comes into being
             the flash of her teeth

“Gerusalemme sconoscente ingrata”

the beast incarnate    scaly wings
           aloft in the shining by day
come forth from the Scaean Gate
bronze helmets and bucklers radiant
the plumes parti-colored on top waving
in numbers like waves of the tempestuous sea
angry the roar from deep within sleep
            her smile like that of La Gioconda

in the clearing above the mill of thought
where hover two seraphim bright that sing

these things that I heard in my head
so loud and confused a clangor as of arms

rushing in phalanxes toward the shore line
where awaited a phantom in size and stature
a goddess  

a dream in the seed sown in sleep a distance
cloud like arms to receive what can never be

and to the waters briny brought horses and
two-wheeled chariots to offer to the gods 
such sweetness as 

depths that in my head swirled as if to never
wake again to spend eternity in drowsy swoon

a poem bedight appeared to me inscribed in
crystal and flagrant ore words great unknown

how to disentangle them to make them recite
obverse reverse and singularities of meter

resound then the seas in the shallow ear!

and if I saw her again in the window
would I still not know who she was
who in the sea of being alone I recognized?

in the mass of details that constitute memory
in the plethora of distinction and definition
that burden light the color of her hair
bordering on rust     the flicker of her fingers
against the glass pane          like rain

-stitute memory the plethora of her rust the
color of hair  -stinction and light the burden 
bordering on –licker against her fingers like
who she was in the window of being
                           gloves of sleep

sown in the sea dreaming great billowy masses
waves of them proceeding dusky beings from
the Scaean Gate oracular whisperings green
as if to measure against the furious black tide
the army of ants the bastion of porous stone
a signature a word over and over again a 
sand a syllable in the plural of resentment
immense tumult the air was full of chariots
and horses tearing the clouds apart the dust
a furor of shields clanging and earth moist
with fresh blood the running against the fray
a water of dreams came rushing over the words
to use a display of works burning treacherously
indignant the night with its minuscule and like
rabies in a pack of dogs the reddening a lust
of emotion and fright, turned to me with her
jade wet eyes 

compare them to stars burning out even as
we stretch the body over the clean damp grass
and extend the mind’s brief foray into the dense
holding to nothing as in a fever that passes
though a childhood and leaves the thing dry
clinging to nothing taught to detach the self
a spirit seems to fly out from the mouth,

the field where magnetic thoughts rally to
what is it, to dismember memory?

filches a crust of bread then runs through throngs
reciting words never before heard or known
a form of salvation emptying in the ditch the sallow
liquid vomiting finally and the lights overhead
the voice droning a mantra of pure hobson jobson,
was not aware of the frequency of emissions
everything tumultuously dark, the never

and if it was in my head, if it was I indeed
the unsurpassed volume and the extinction
of so many celestial bodies in a trice
reeled from the 
forced to the ground listening to the whiz
of projectiles above my head 
all for, a woman

the shadows that populate night


each who has the other for many and wondrous
darkly the steeped in slumber profound by sea’s
edge and sand the various in heaps piled rich
bedside by the turning grieves aloud the weeper
dampened clothes has fixing to clouds thunder’s
reckless moan under shoals weaving blindly 
how harsh the dank and daggers in hand move
do consternate dream sweeping the who cannot
from such depths restrain and forth rush hot tears
the wildly spurned mind that is in its film rewound

white is it aloft?

many mannered the light a spectacle recalled to what
which is in passing the bright once and gone for seems
an eternity ago in a single blade of grass an inch of rust
a finger whose evening is stanched in a distant sun as if 
whorls of dust and the thought conveyed multiple stained
like warrior hordes spent dreaming in a mound of loam
that it was life the extract of bright pressed against a mouth
firmness yielding moistly to the fabric spun despite whole
sequences of error the math of untold resentment and dolor
oblivion it is too soon and fortune’s totem beast which would
and innocent too the asbestos poured between the lines
to blanch a blank sphere halved for seeming entire 

so the two friends went on speaking by the river bank

dangerous isn’t it the encampment of night in mired dust
to heave to a pole and register distances from wall to wall
beseeching pray tell the goddess whitened by eons of dismissal
sectioned and quartered in a heaven doesn’t that require
some portion of earth or rain deepening in pillows sacked
by consciousness even as the spear cast by fate finds its eye
in the very center beside the quivering asterisk next you’ll
tell me the part about the worm and the middle of things
small friable falling apart at the poke of a pin and darkness
the all spreading its curtain right in the hour of brightest
and spectacular the screen where displayed the multitudinous
and elephants and tortoises and any manner of deity reddened
in the quite abandoned planet wholesale slaughter by the 
articulated to mean warfare and justice passion convoked ire

heavy the moody intransigence 

dear the darkened when you went and forgot to mail the
ether and Rodrigo parried his shaft no longer burdened
by the earthly personal plunging into the massy welkin
hands aloft the grip of nothing plummeting like black salt
hypnomachia they call it subversive vowels afloat winding
around the unfixed shaft when you returned by day fall 
such as it was the floors were amiss the dining set diminished
model planes en route to Africa dear you acted too soon
the letter rewritten for the nth time and addressing the
summit Olympian consonant shifts provoked you again
retreating with something in mind like the 
regions designated for their watery zone
and talking sleep wise a subjunctive
wary about the direction given a-
nd driving a cloud vehicle like
gods steering destiny’s feath-
ers absence in other mast-
ers a name for missing o-
bjects for grass unmown
hasps of thickening a 
legend in wisps of 
whitish pale a bl-
ush her faint 

the glare

‘s all a dream fusion of entelechy and the remote 
music projected against the waning fan of space
unable to place where it comes from where it’s going
rushing out of the main portal in full gear the sons
of Priam one hundred shouting each in his own dialect
responding to some eerie war cry in their collective sleep
aiming to down the oncoming flanks of brazen greaves
head first in the wave of inky directionless or perhaps
tuned to another radio and listening for Ares to arrive
his bright red signal a sequence of hexameters 

the great cloud of language

in profusion like cataracts and the many semblances
of man and mask personae personas mumbling half drunk
speech acts of and astounded and benumbed that doors
open to brains and brains seize the fine light only to lose 
dense and inarticulate who was trying to write the letter
who was trying to send it the inactive participle the resonance
amaze what is a woman in the list of ships and the lapping
waves of and sandy wastes behind the sphinx and the voice
the Voice issuing from the small pharaonic ear like a story
yet to be invented let alone told to the sleepers in their tents
who restlessly remove one after another their limbs
their short smocks their night caps their pipes and smoke
to return as infants to a 
mystery to a house whose interior is the sheer red apse
of a theorem a quaternary shale a designation in litmus
collapsing as all                     listing awash lost in the brink
the vast ocean that surrounds but does not touch 

moon mere memory

the bright come through shining         what is a?
snatched her he did and away with her    
across the wine dark et cetera       tremulous
among so many sleeping to distinguish the who
which is a boat whose hull lapses against the brim
a dreaming section of it is deeper and darker than
and the loss of so much language and the dense
the intent to marry despite incomprehensions and
the futility of all earth-based enterprises in the scope
of light descending through the small aperture
like a camera lens taking in the freight and wearing
across the mountain ridge and held her tight there
where wind and wailing and the crescent lunar orb
diminishing can we ever say why it is called tragedy
if it is mostly sleeping and the character flaws 
idioms of valley and bosky interlude the hatches
many the residents who have capsized in a thimble
the personal and underwear the drowning in so little
calling out in some hill dialect to the god of pronouns
the honorific and steeped in a thick carmine dye
issues forth Legend in her escape clause of echoes
dainty stepping between the white and forced to vomit
it is a wonder we are here standing on this soft promontory
a hissing from underfoot a mattress leaking mephitic gas
here, and down she went all rags and bundles

struggling to see through their sheep do dreamers beware
do mythiform creatures sally forth fully employed ringing
brass quadrilles the session of a daylong hour at noon
the Sicilian meridian when rock and cove meet dallying
a fair song implying with its masses of wind sucked hair
the fair Angelica or doth Mandricardo hold the sway
I can never say emboldened to repeat the many spondees
alas the verdant and the primrose and the budding rose
each a tale to spin a lie to grieve a spouse to misinform
lovers who at the gate pining their tangled minds implore
by Dionysus if this isn’t the single most intense and blank
and weep against the steep quarry their rock bound
fate is it the cloud warp of many a distant history
feet of sand and a hand that moving mysteriously shapes
air into all manner of people talking silently to the blue

women skilled in weaving and ornamentation you shall have
to accompany you to the other earth and to hold in your hand
a distaff and by your side a harp to sing the lonely nights

in the labyrinth of sleep: confused alleyways rotting cities
gates torn from their hinges and above all dead warriors
come looking for the bright hemisphere where once

distant tones shifting as the music that circles the planets
one by one and in number unknown and the window frame
and the potted geraniums and the flexible spool of air

when did you ever recognize in the glass the 

broken syllables fomented in song oriental a loud echoing
white on white across the thunder torn rocks that form
the center of the world and shading slopes a remote where

woken at an ungodly hour and sent on their black steeds
into the morass a dazzle of speeches and foreign sounds
the ear wrecked by a sacerdotal roaring to summon a god

pronounced lightly and then not at all the immense silence
the otherness of the bleak side of the moon when was that 
ever a conspiracy to remount the oracle on its tripod and
flames suddenly at the core of the poem a recital of blind
whose never reaching altitudes and the voice on and on

why is there a fastness above the bay and the deep waters
faceless that evoke the final voyage soundless oars
striking against the pale                     like her cheeks

listen and listen again 
shrill the unseen birds osprey or lapwing
circling in the mind’s obdurate fog

is it to arouse the Muse with some choice words about
memory salt spray wrath and finally death


a fuse a fugue a 

Among Ivan Argüelles' many books of poetry are: “That” Goddess; Madonna Septet (2 vols.); Comedy , Divine , The; The Death of Stalin; and Ars Poetica. He is currently working on a long series, Orphic Cantos. A Mexican-American, raised on both sides of the border, he is the identical twin of New Age prophet José Argüelles. A retired librarian, he resides in Berkeley CA.
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