jueves, febrero 22, 2007

Four Poems From Nathaniel Rounds


To Bob--whom everyone knows, or would like to.

(Chapter XII--Of lions habituated to seize deer, and eagles ordered to seize wolves.)


Clouds on the horizon. Six sirens wailed. Mother, in alarm, wept tears of
blood and milk. A bearded thief--baneful and watchful like the guileless
snake--removed his victim's signet ring and took to hiding in the lake.

Did he feast upon the catfish? Were his pockets full of scones? Did he
bring to water's surface gilded leopards carved from bone?


William Reuben's fight with jaundice is made obvious in this
single-surviving portrait (drawn by a street artist on Rue St. Denis) and
even in this rough oil pastel we can see that he had few days left to rework
the Táin Bó Cúailnge as a performance piece (a dining car crashes through a
supermarket window) accompanied by three minor notes plucked upon a piece of
bailing wire nailed to a knacker's door. It was just as well. The northern
lights unveiled themselves as William drove his taxi into the Montreal


Marty Volkslied sings in his mirth loving way: “Three peremptory cheers for
fine-feathered Feagh and his keeper, Fortunato!”

Fortunato opines to Feagh (between breezy inhalations of laughing gas):
“Never again shall we confide in our bought sons. One shall do one sort of
work while the other does another. The worm fence shall divide them.”
Feagh’s fat face spreads into a crapulous smile.
“Never again,” he crows. “Not ever, no never, never be it so! Not ever
again, de facto! Make the bought boys work the worm fence! Farm out the
fault line! Never again, both in poor and fine weather, never again shall we
speak them whatever!”
“Stick with me,” coos Fortunato. “Stick with me, little Feagh, like a
cockroach to turd.”
“Like a cockroach to turd,” chirps Feagh. “Like a cockroach who listens to
larvae in turd I shall act on your low-spoken, venomous word!”
Darkness lingers within bright sons.
‘Neath the eaves Noel whispers to Bo:
“Go skip-bomb the wordmongering, tinhorned Jack and hear his sad chide chime
in a flashflood of flatulent timpani over the Seven Seas.”
Meanwhile, as Bob lies browning in the noonday sun, Marty Volkslied sings
outside the door:

“Buffo’ floribunda, tabula rasa,
band organ marches and
Washington pie, our
tabourer with calfskin and fife
trolled rosy-colored,
third-hand hymnals rife
with cloying clumps of storm cloud
through homage to promised wassailer’s
third heaven.

“Three turns of the crank
as he caroled the town,
singing ‘Riddle-me-roundelay, Old Mr. Brown!’”


Two boys--one aged six, the other eight--
contest over woolly mountains
and scorched field
with aerial evocations to Popeye.

Their bed gives final warning of
while the youngest pees conspiratorially off
the edge into
making a trip to the bathroom (where Dad,
his face a
torn map of blood, alcohol and vomit)


Inside a back street car wash in New Orleans,
two bayou smithies
hold their war criminal firmly
by his coat sleeves of Scottish tweed--
a cleric pinned down in his own clipper
by the pirate boys Lafitte.

The cleric recalls a scene
from a nature program,

in which a lion devours a fawn.
Beads of red light trickle
over portholes draped in steam.

The cleric removes a breastpin--
a tree-of-life
from the Field of Gold,
asking that his life be spared.

“We’re sorry,” intone his captors
gravely, “but we cannot process your plea
at this time.”

Inside a back street car wash
in New Orleans,
a fawn nibbles on a timid lion.


Half past four/
Walking out the door/
Gonna sell a diamond
And a '57 Ford.
Oh, money….

That’s daddy striding waving smiling goodbye
into the bicentennial parade
tambourine and baton Pinto wagon papier-mâché float
Budweiser blanket spread out on the hill
and in the persistence of memory/
I unsnap my parachute
waiting for peace to bleed through

Jumped out of bed in my burning pajamas/
Swam a roaring river and jumped a train/
In six months time I might poke around in Eden/
In six months time I might be dead again




Tome 5

And Zachery Snowfield
the Incredible Breathing Speed Dancer
who earned twenty six dollars every two weeks
mopping the floor in a portrait studio
took a job in a shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
He signed on to a ship and was returning from Havana
when a storm blew him off the mainstay
and into shark infested waters.
A sharp-eyed deck hand threw him a lifeline.
Zach thanked him with a boot to the head.
"There's a mermaid out there," he growled.
"Name is Vonny Hedlund.
She was writing down her phone number
and everything. Best thing that ever happened to me
and you had to mess it up."
He was reunited with her on a second trip
and they got married in Walled Lake, Michigan
during a Hewett Theater dance marathon contest.
They were team no. 6 3/4.
The sailor groom and his mermaid bride
would go on to win thirty-two contests across the country
until they were banned from nationals
on account of Vonny’s fish tail.
Their wedding cake was ten feet tall,
850 pounds and required 2500 spectators to help eat it.
No further events are recorded until thirty-six years later
when Zach was killed in an electrical fire
at the Transcontinental Toe & Heel Tap factory.
A Harrington rod implant correcting his scoliosis
was retrieved from the ruins
and used to identify his remains.
Vonny was left penniless and took a cleaning job
in a tuna fish cannery near Gate 5 on San Francisco Bay.

Shining Steel Tempered in the Fire

Wrote the only literate bobbin boy from #7 room:

“Dear Mr. Henry Quackenbush, Factory Overseer:

I’m leaving this note to inform you

that the loom fixer, the sample weaver,

the mill right and the finish percher

have gone home.

“We have stripped your bobbins,

cleaned off your looms,

swept your floors,

turned off your boilers

and overhead lights,

padlocked your file drawers and cabinets,

boarded your windows and barred your doors.

“We have spread storage cloths over

your mill housing furniture,

torn the final page

from the company calendar.

“We have blotted our names

from the final census

of the United States.

“We’re boarding a fast train

fueled with mummies from antiquity,

and are heading home to

Quebec, County Clare

and the tribe of Reuben.

“Our attorney, Mr. Moyse,

shall plague you by requesting

an independent audit on your heart.”

Thought the old overseer,

pulling at his stiff collar

while reading this note,

“My last sol has passed through my hands!

May the spent purple dyes from the dye house

pour down

into the mighty river of water of life

and poison their last fish.

I’ll spend my days weaving baskets

while imbibing Rod McKuen

in paperback,

Schlitz beer on ice and Perry Como

singin’ Dirty Old Town with a

western swing,

then have my cracked nut fastened

to the house of Dagon.”

A Canadian/American filmmaker and poet, Nathaniel Rounds has appeared in Scrivener, Pottersfield Portfolio, and presented numerous experimental movies in films fests. He's currently involved in preserving the lost video tapes of poet Milton Acorn.

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