Monday, December 25, 2017

Dennis Villelmi writes

"This- "

This, a donation I would presume, from the world's
 Best charlatans-
   The image of an undriven highway burned into the
One wall without a window;
   How long has this room held me now? 
From the two lancets there's the broken view of the
Church garden; the oriel sweeps the south side of the city.
Both I've rendered in watercolors numerous times,
And always bequeathed them to the priests come and gone.
Long have I played this-
   The kept embarrassment; the staid devil of an unflowing Acheron.
Perhaps it's the interminable scent of ecclesiastical
Candle wax that's got the Moon coming to see me again,
Like some refugee from the original bedlam in heaven,
Stealing into the ribcage of a slain Titan.
This nectarous bouquet, and with it the memories of my
Father's woe-
   How he'd counted on his Lord not to give me a twin in madness.
Mother had succumbed to the highway. 
She'd sacrificed an entire cabinet of fine china to it, the shards 
Still there on the carpet when she was taken for care.
She later blamed a Visitation from the attic; I now blame
This same house of God she sought refuge in -
   For us two.
Forever and ever the Attic Man, I have only that road to
Travel by mine eyes alone; I'd like to at last gouge them out.
The priests, I know, gift it to me for my "confessions," but it's
 That I may sift within for other sins, like a hunt for
Adam and Lilith before the next newborns of the city are-
Priests and little bones are all I've known, and they keep me
On the highway;
Undriven, unflowing -this-  the loitering Worm at whose crown
The madness mates with Heaven.
The church garden has been painted still brighter this morn;
   That happens there with each newborn's burial. 

The Garden of Earthly Delights -- Hieronymus Bosch


  1. The Acheron river begins near Zotiko in Epirus and flows into the Ionian sea near Parga. It was known as the “river of woe” to the Greeks because Charon, the brother of Thanatos (Death) and Hypnos (Sleep), ferried the souls of the newly deceased across it to the underworld. They were charged an obolus or danake, and if they could not pay the fee they had to wander the shores for 100 years. The Titanes were the 12 children of Gaia (the Earth) and Uranus (Sky) and their children; one of them was Cronus (Time), who was overthrown by his children led by Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus, the deepest part of the underworld. Orpheus claimed instead that Cronus was drugged by fermented honey in a “nectarous banquet” and taken to the cave of Nyx [night], where he dreams forever. In yet another version Zeus abdicated in favor of Dionysus, his infant son, but the Titanes slew, dismembered, and roasted him in order to regain their rule. Athena caused Dionysus to be reborn, and Zeus slew the regicides his thunderbolt. In the 6th century Olympiodorus claimed that humankind was born out of the fatty smoke of the burning Titan corpses, but other sources maintained that humanity was created out of the Titanes’ blood in the original war against Zeus. (Platon referred to humans’ “Titanic nature,” meaning their physical bodies.) In addition to “Visitation from the attic,” Dennis’ Attic Man could also be a Greek (Attic was a Greek dialect spoken in Athens), or a reference to the 1953 movie “Man in the Attic,” a retelling of the Jack the Ripper murders. “Worm” was another word for dragon. Lilith was Adam's first wife, born of the same dust and at the same time. (Kabbalists claim that she was created before Adam.) Because they were equal, she refused to be subservient to him. "I will not lie below," she said, according to the “Alphabet of Ben Sira,” but Adam insisted, "I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one." God punished her by turning her into a demon, and she fled to the Red Sea, where she mated with Samael, the angel of death. Adam asked God to force her to return to Eden, but she resisted, so God took away all her children. In retaliation, either Lilith or Samael used the forced return to trick Eve, her replacement, into eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, causing God to exile both Adam and Eve. She continued her feud by hunting their offspring, snatching newborn children from their beds or killing them, or causing stillbirths. More subtly, she or her daughters, the succubi, would seduce men in their dreams and provoking nocturnal emissions or would cause them to father demon children. (Monks used to sleep with crucifixes over their genitals as protection.) Robert Browning’s 1883 poem “Adam, Lilith, and Eve” Adam’s wives were on friendly terms; Eve confessed that she had never loved Adam and Lilith that she always had: As the worst of the venom left my lips, / I thought, 'If, despite this lie, he strips / The mask from my soul with a kiss — I crawl / His slave, — soul, body, and all!”

  2. "This ..." is baroquely dark and richly expressive. I'd expect nothing less from a poet who is a master at weaving classical imagery into a narrative.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?