Bare To Such Luscence - A Catfish Mass - Poem by Warren Falcon
Bare To Such Luscence - A Catfish Mass In Mississippi
for John Berryman, his Bones, Confessed
The original fault
Will not be undone by fire.
The original fault was whether wickedness
Was soluble in art. History says it is,
Jacques Maritain says it is,
- John Berryman, from 'Sonnet ix'
Introit then Lauds:
hosanna of rivers
or without gills
I could not make it there
that 'pointed conjunction'
nor up to air. I, Catfish,
soft sift bottom mud, give up
on purity, on flitting civilizations
lifted or pressed between
surface and aspirant spaces.
Done with all that some
have had no choice.
Catfish choices differ
from those of the 'Windhover' Christ,
'dappled, dawn drawn' though they be
(Hopkins implicate flights of resurrection) .
'Stead, Berryman without art or Maritain
out leapt his sonnets to river-fells and missed,
the fool, one last scansion - dirty trick -
'hisself, too, hit, Bones sans pomes,
hard mud, perhaps one foot or his
beard delicately dipped
in paginated river.'
Witless old mud spawn, widest mouth,
no lips to speak of, greed pulls black water
to shore, a bark in air Catfish makes in
punctuated protest at too much light
or is it, rather, ecstasy, final vision gasped
vague in depths, hinted upon surfaces,
Platonic shadow plays portending sparks
praise to what is finally seen at the end,
a life mucked and mired in obfuscated fundaments?
Fate, then, heavy in a boy's hand
hoists dead weight to a nail on a tree.
His knife scores firm flesh yielding
beneath freshly limp gills - there is an
instrument made just for this, pincher-pliers
for catfish skin - he grips and tears,
uses his weight down-stripping smoothly
bare to such luscence little ribs of roseate
Only the overly large head, the ugly face
whiskered within gilded monstrance,
remain pure to form, thin-lipped and
mocking, restrained by depth pressures,
sustained on surface trash, dead things
that sink down it's treasures.
Tenderly sing, then, to a nail,
to a boy's blood catechism -
hands, minds, are meant
to be stained, mercy's quality
unstrained neither by will nor gill.
Scavenging flocks gladly fill their
gullets inhaling entrails tossed
in supplicant bins.
In unison Gregorian they scream:
There is a nail for me
plain, a chorus of barks** -
glossolalia of rivers
now given weight.
One can only will
praise to 'The End',
and spill, post-pliers,
one's silken guts in offering.
**A catfish when brought to shore barks, a rasping, barking discharge of air.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Thought one might be informed of my inner dispositions, theologically and 'Other-wise', by this piece in progress...it refers to John Berryman, one of my poetic masters who, brilliant, alcoholic, tried Grace and tried out Grace - Grace never tires though we do and sometimes expire seeking for it - took a leap off a boozy bridge, a true 'whiskey priest' to Poesy and That which he praised and bruised to purple if not completed purpose...the Catfish is referent to my southern roots and the Fundamentalist 'perch' (stance and fish!) which can n'ere be rooted out of me no matter the plier-pinchers...
Also, poem refers to Gerard Manley Hopkins, his poem, 'The Windhover' which is one of his most praised...a phrase, 'dappled dawn drawn Falcon', of course inflates me, Falcon, to the elegant and predator Christ he sings hymns to, 'Windhover -Wingedhunger' for souls if not for bodies which Lord Death takes good care of.
...I've learned to be brutal in editing my poems but, alas, not my sins and both deserve further 'edits' now and to come...thus the universe will spill my guts in the end from slimy rooftop perches of enthroned roof dwellers.
In spite of guilt I still praise...]
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