Patrick White

Rookie (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)

And This Is The End Of The Road, This Is The Cul De Sac - Poem by Patrick White

And this is the end of the road, this is the cul de sac,
and this is the white root of the black wick,
and this is the last relic in the bone-box of the heretic
who questioned what life is and went up in flames,
and this is death whispering sweetly into the ears
of the Sunday bells blooming heavy and sad
as cast iron morning glory pendulously wondering
why all the bad apples get to fall before they do,
and this is the rope at the end of its barking dog,
and this is the missing link in the daisy chain
around the hanged man's neck, and this
that gentle daydream that comes to anyone
who's been left out in the cold long enough
they're freezing to death in a blizzard of razor blades
with a smile on their face only a buddha could understand.

Penury, my prince, we've already flogged the throne.
Poetry, my mistress, the lutes are rattling like dry gourds
dicing like snake eyes for the last few magic seeds
at the end of the tails. And the moon's even resorted
to milking her own fangs as if she were suckling
a baby Medusa, and the ribs of the truth are competing
like empty bird cages with turkey vultures
for a scrap of roadkill in the pantries of the morgues.
The bookworms have eaten all there was to read,
and the mirages are losing weight as fast as their faith
in the ability of water to sustain them. Down
to the last blossom, the apple trees have been living
on dried bees and the begging bowls of the tapeworms
have been making snakepits of pasta out of themselves.

And this is the drydock of hollow cupboards
that have lowered their voices three octaves below
a skeleton, and the ships jump their plague rats
in a black market where Virgo grinds Spica
like the last stalk of wheat in her hand into
the dream crumbs she gleaned from a harvest of eyes.
The feast is looking for a fatter host. The famine
is cattle rustling the oneiroscopy of the seven lean kind
and Mose's rod has just cooked the last Egyptian snake
over a burning bush like the leftover shoelace
of last night's roast boot. Van Gogh's licking the paint
off his canvases like batter off a wooden spoon,
and Cezanne's making apple sauce of all his still lives.

Food for thought, and all the geniuses are mindless.
Below the salt, below the echoes of the abyss
in the nihilistic silos for bread. Sticky dregs of the light,
singularities at the bottom of the flagons of black holes
good down to the last God particle of gravity,
I'm laughing at the poetic idiocy of pursuing
an earthly excellence like a fruit fly, Drysophila,
the nectar and ambrosia of the higher things in life.
And given how few loaves and fishes are left at the foodbank,
if I must sup with the devil at the expense
of answering to the angels who don't eat,
it'll be the demons who come to the table
with long spoons, and me that licks my fingers clean
after gnawing on this winged foot I stuck in my mouth
like a black farce of the ouroboros I've already
eaten up to knot in this noose of nerves at the back
of my head I'm about to swallow like a black walnut
in a single gulp, like a wolf chewing through its limbs
in a leg hold trap that's gone too long without meals
as it howls through five tercets of a villanelle followed
by a quatrain with two refrains and a pair of repeating rhymes
to express the pain of singing for your supper
on the lowest rungs of the foodchain hanging
the fruits of life on the dead boughs of an art
that's dying while my heart's still green.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, December 10, 2012

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