Last Song of the Reed Flute

Tim Keane


for Federico García Lorca

 

 

first        outlines,  like cut outs on a paper sea

 

then the traces coalesce on the water’s surface,

 

chiaroscuro in the ripples

 

horse-shaped              shadows             in the fertile lake             near the forest-edge

                       

and then a word-tuning                                     unicorns             and cyclops                        

 

the image as compound object-act

 

 

the motive is surrender

to the unseen agency

 

the words

 

on the water’s surface,                         as if an eel were surfacing

and identity only emergence

 

the pen’s strategy

makes paper and ink consubstantial

 

as the lowing of frogs

 

or the muzzle of bees

 

and then the flute song rounds and sounds the lake’s diameter

 

 

frail                                     filtering                         upward

 

bass notes from the reed flute,

 

groundwater too, as if the topsoil

 

pushes up the hot breeze that rattles the cattails

 

 

the jasmine chorus,                         a stallion’s whinny,

 

a sage’s lament,

 

Preciosa and the wind

 

ripple across the lake’s littoral zone

 

 

*

 

now, there are corporal prayers for glass roosters

 

and carnal hosannas                                     flavored by nectarines

and a ruby-gilled soprano struck dumb by the force of stars

 

aqueous stones,             celestial shells,             like curious Venus, risen late

 

in autumn midnight,

the word             goes down––and also up––a fettered spectrum

 

word,                         carved-out,       pulp-like,  cupped,            a pomegranate’s yield

word, yellow,             like a Chinese scholar’s robe

 

word, green-blue,  painted syllables like Tahitian fish

and these insinuations feed the nerves

the never-ending reflections of quiet things

 

*

like to be,            graduated into music:

 

tinny cymbals,             tambourine quakes,

a clatter                         and crisp pattering,                         like rain on the first

 

garden

 

promiscuous images                         toward counter-verse,

 

rise from his lips,                          signed by air,                          spelled out in gitano

present,             and unparalleled

 

nature             in a suite             nature in a letter

and nature in a lake,

mossy, a recess, mirror-like,                          or marble

 

notes that can never lapse            into reveille or lullaby

 

even when a signal torch draws near

 

and hooves,                         the galloping,                         the general

who uses straps to bind

 

bare flesh to gloved police,             law, the code of pure denotation

 

and knowing price

by ignoring value                                      and demanding use by quashing promise

 

 

how long until

that boot-clad crush

 

and dismal fact,             and steel force,             studded by practical metrics

 

kicks in the door

 

and rapes every source of private song?

 

*

 

chant for the winter moon,                         the opening lotus,            the littoral zone

 

chant so as to slip into images

as if into cold sheets in a torrid summer

 

for dying peace drives love ahead if its decease:

 

fornicate, in the white delirium of cloistered lights

 

accrue progeny                                     from metaphor and truth

and negate the drill                         and neuter the trigger

 

while troops tie their horses             to the nearby trunks

 

*

 

they tear weeds from the wedding of manure and sun

 

and interrogate the evening till it bleeds

 

they sodomize the moon, and throttle the innocent midwife, drain the lake-bed

and smash the reed-flute in two,

 

and torture the solstice, drown it like a captured spy,

 

hoisting canisters,  they dump petrol in the lake

set fire to the water             (rage             coerces and converts

profanation into fuel

 

and then puts that fire in charge of the capital)

*

 

the water flames,             blazes,             and the serpentine general

 

blindfolds the poet

 

and names him––on three––one of the despised maricas de todo el mundo

and––on four––the goons cackle and aim

and––on five––gun him down like a lame mutt,

 

his body plashing

 

writhing             in a bleeding pool

 

the rifle-kick                                    and blasting echo                        sends birds

scurrying from the sanctuary

*

 

the last song of the reed flute                        siphons nothing from the earth

 

and mirrors sun and moon in equal measure

as his arms open wide in a blood-caked mire

still, he mutters a staccato rosary             and sees the lotus flower open

 

one last time

 

and sees the broken flute, driftwood on a smoldering lake,

 

while a dragonfly lifts transparent wings

and his shadow glides into the watercourse.