Todd Garland

Intimations Of Mortality...(A Poem Of Childhood)

Poem by Todd Garland

The Child is the Father of the Man
And I wish my days could be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
___Ode: Intimations of Immortality from
___Recollections of Early Childhood.
___—William Wordsworth.

And now let us imagine how the ecstatic sounds of the Dionysiac rites penetrated ever more enticingly into that artificially restrained and discreet world of illusion, how this clamor expressed the whole outrageous gamut of nature—delight, grief, knowledge—even to most piercing cry; and then let us imagine how the Apollonian artist with his thin monotonous harp music must have sounded beside the demoniac chant of the multitude!
___The Birth of Tragedy.
___—Friedrich Nietzsche.

___Part the First

A Light That Was Darkness

upon childhood poiesis
when I was small
and ogle-clawed in crystal ball,
and cloyed by cackle mocks
of “Auntie Em”— and by the shrill
shiver evil of Mother’s cries
to flying monkeys—and possessed
by the spirit of the Ouija Board—
and by black fruit cellar séances
when the slightest noise or imagined presence
sent us screaming for our souls—
for we were damned souls
indulging forbidden animal curiosities
(and we hid when we did it)
…and hide yet today
in cars that are followed
by Headless Horsemen
down night-dark roads,
and by a silhouette scried
in the blackest shade
of the Black Hand of Death—
…a disembodied hand
that would appear at night
and float to my bed
… slowly descending…
until I could feel
the ice of his night fingers
gently caressing
a throat then believing
that ghosts were hiding
in the folds of reality—
and haunting the hallways of night
when I was bad and had to go potty—
and which believed that his only defense
was to become a monster
in order to out-monster
his fear with an even greater one—
a fear that would forever frighten
himself (from himself)
in the looking glass
on a fever night
at home alone
with night sisters witching—
a fear that would be afraid of the dark
longer than the other kids—a fear that would
stare into the light of his clock radio—
his only beacon of safety—
until music became mixed with the dream of reality.

___Part the Second

A word that was gibberish

blithered tiny terror
to an infect world
when a forbidden plucking
of daddy longlegs
de-natured nature
to obtain her secrets
from killer bees
and monster mosquitoes
loosing loin cursing chorals
upon rank upon rank
of angry ants
marching on my room at night
to revenge their clod-bombed ant hills—
...and unleashed the earwigs…worst of all—
crawling into my ears while I slept—
pinching to the vital core—
to the very me
behind eyes
fallen into fear
of animal familiars
in racial memory’s
amoral agency
of totemic karma
visiting pre-dater panther’s
posterity of wolves
upon children of hell
humping cat-eating curses
spun of Sphinx-like riddles
into moon-whelmed man-wolves
coveting manticore vengeance
upon forgiven fruit bats
sleeping with satyrs
in dive bombing sorties
against fated flatterers
of lusty cadavers
who from Dracula decanters
drank their desire
of night-sisters straddling
frothy centaurs stromping
apocalyptic cleansings
of bestial brothers
singing snake-dancing testaments
of martyred mermen
mute to the musical marriage
of god and goat
in the procession of Dionysus!

___Part the Third

A Clamorous Music that is Nature

rings reverently for the three-legged stag—
for the music of his leaps and mad bolts—
which embody life’s only desperate moment—
for the jutting bristle of his antlers—
his saber thrusts to the belly of fate—
for the hunted eye of his passion—
which contain in them all of man’s
aloneness in the immensity of nature—
and for the jagged red beauty of his stump-wound—
the badge of his love in the burnt hues
and thrilling blusters of autumn.

'As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,
They kill us for their sport…'

… and haunt us with the specter of
the missing cat which returned one day
covered in gore
and teeming with maggots
as if she were
a thousand creatures at once—
and who scratched at the door
with little helpless mews
that were only pleas for help—
but whose wounds were so horrifying
we screamed and would not let her in…
until the Fuller Brush Man arrived—
and when he heard our cries
he grabbed a shovel—
and trembling—his eyes wide with shock,
clubbed the innocent creature to death
…while we listened—in the long day of childhood—
to the metallic clang of his shovel cringe rhythm
to the hideous melody of her death squall….

….it was then that I entered the nocturnal
realm of the opossum….

Hallowe'en, 2004

Comments about Intimations Of Mortality...(A Poem Of Childhood) by Todd Garland

  • Janet Mary Zylstra (12/1/2004 1:14:00 PM)

    Have you got beasties living under your bed as well? Joke:
    Mummy, mummy, is it true that when we die we turn into dust?
    Yes, Johnny.
    Well, Mummy, then there's a dead man under my bed...(Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: childhood, animal, music, cat, nature, fear, ode, snake, night, marriage, death, autumn, dark, evil, birth, grief, memory, passion, fate, father

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Poem Edited: Friday, September 23, 2011

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