Painted Shadows

A hymn, after Novalis,
for the whores of Amsterdam

This now the hour
my heart of chaos desperately dreads.
Wretched morning, when night’s dark beauty
flees from the underworld
yet no Demeter awaits her return.

Farewell, Proserpine! Thy very shadows
are being swept away, banished
from Pluto’s garden
by the merciless rhythms,
pneumatic poundings
of another routine day.

Corruption of spirit,
the Greek mysteries Romanized.

Or, images of Sol as a common suicide,
       his final rays seeping steadily

       the art of preserving things,
       funeral rites for Atlantis.

Ye gods of old, see now the robot brigade
                            early on the move,
                            briefcase infantry
                            marching off to war;

                            the daily beachhead,
                            shop clerks & street cleaners
                            manning their battle posts;

                            mystique of capitalism
                            (buddha fields of cocaine).

Whales want our women, O imams of Baghdad:
robed in neon chadors/Manhattan arabesque,
their golden flesh turns scarlet.

While I, through debauched eyes
bled white with nakedness,
whisper black prayers to a memory of Venus
and charge headlong down panic-struck stairs
to roam these misted streets
(damn clock tower chiming murder!),
where all new dawns quiver in deathliness
yet each tired whore of night
still gracing her window
feeds my muse with delight.

How enticing decadence is!
Into the slit throats
of your dying sunrises
Kali’s handmaidens
pour the bitterest perfumes.

Though flowers fade,
the quest for truth
stings us into survival.