At the Carnival of Drunken Poets

photomicography4 / credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/richermcm

photomicography4 / credit: richermcm

I ran into Kerouac at the carnival
where those just dead meet those about to be reborn.
He and I have wandered through the zodiac
again and again, like prodigal suns.
Both of us enter this carnival under the 13th sign,
which is the sign of Drunkenness,
in the house of Lilith, with Coyote rising,
the Moon single and pregnant again.
When the carnival master sees us, immediately
he thinks about abundance and starts hawking,
“Step right up and watch two gladiatorial poets
beat each other silly over the head with roses
until one dies of delicious wounds that gush wine
fermented from icosahedral grapes of dark matter!”
A crowd gathers, ferocious and hungry for metaphor.
This happens to us every 26 thousand years.

I bow to Jack, he bows to me: our fatal mistake
is opening our mouths, for we have already plunged
the swords of love into each others breastbones.
Kerouac begins, “Gorilla lillies at my Resurrection.”
I retort, “My semi-sweet chakras are forbidden
to the silly physicists of tantra.”
The people gasp and shake their fists:
Our souls blush like super-fluid poppies
fluctuating in fields of quantum possibility.
Kerouac says, “I spin galaxies of cotton candy
from the darkness of God’s breath.”
I retort, “At your peril ignore the inebriated drones
who carry my poems to the Queen
in barrows of promiscuous lighting.”
He says, “What overflows from the waxen grail
of a hexagon is honey from the horny void.”
And I reply, “The mass of a proton
is super nova creme brulee.”

Incensed by my sacrilege, he thunders,
“The taste of my shadow is sweeter than the cream
that Jesus serves to gopi girls in orchid cups!”
I answer, “He only fortifies their loins:
soon they must dance with their own wild mirrors!”
But it’s no use, I am weeping now,
surrendered to Jack, the master drunkard
who whispers, “I dip sea water from the womb
of the great mother, extract the secret breath,
and burn what is left as inexhaustible green fuel
for all the defeated navies on the ocean of milk.”
“Wouldn’t it be better,” I ask, “to drop worm songs
in the beaks of our children who stumble into the sky?”
He answers, “I accidentally set the loaf of my body on fire:
when gods blow out my flames, I become snow.”

Confusion transforms me into an empty cocoon.
Underground, a swimming corpse
catches her yellow hair in the mycellium network.
Resigned to fate’s infernal factory, I moan,
“Nanno-galaxy in the eye of an electric frog!”
Jack says, “The medicine woman dances in your amygdala!”
I shout, “She must swallow that frog to drum my bones!”
Jack says, “Broken motors of the pharmacopoiea,
dripping petroleum into the rainforest!”
Making a desperate pun, I answer,
“Only whirling saves the whirled!”
Jack shouts, “Subatomic Obama!”
I answer, “Insect helicopters invade your Chacruna leaves!”
He cries, “Bobinzana!” and I reply,
“Your third eye a flying saucer from the vanilla bean!”

Drowning in silences, we cannot hear the people;
my thesis, “The subject is Jesus, the object a fallen woman,”
and Jack’s rebuttal, “The wall between them is a mirror,
but they are the same.”
Like a moth who gives one wing to the candle,
keeping the other to caress his mate -O fatal division!-
I attempt rational inquiry:
“If he inhales her form, she exhales his,
but what shape is the mist on memory’s window?”
He says, “It dissolves in an April of the heart.”
And through my tears I finally confess,
“Love and pain are just flavors of melting.”
Now the crowd is a frenzy of goats, bearded
and frothing with sulfur from Kali’s tourmaline nipples.
Mind police prepare two pyres, shouting in torch light,
“Burn the bodhisatva who exuberates our bellybuttons!”
Frantically I nod in agreement, “Yes, yes, burn him!”
Then mob-ward I slink muttering, “Bright star,
would I were steadfast as thou art…”

Epilogue, the Death of Kerouac:
They bind the lamb-soft French Canadian football star,
poet, cat lover, bikkhu of cheap wine, and light his pyre:
O sound of neon thrush eggs crackling in the 12th House,
O sound of stained glass dragonfly wings shattering
against invisible surfaces of torus-enfolded space,
O sound of the weeping genetically modified
caterpillar without eyes!
I taste Jack Kerouac’s marrow in the air
as a holocaust of unfolding rainbows
through 11 dimensions of yearning.
The pavonine horizon of his leer
Expands in undulating feathered domes,
sweet terrible cathedral of burnished similes
vaulted in fractals of rhyme, each syllable
a tipsy dakhini, a cherub by Bernini: Yes!
The curve of death has kissed the asymptote of beauty.

Now he’s gone, vanished Jack, mad pretender,
shamanic utterer of spells unpunctuated in a rain
of ash descending, aftermath of neuro-plastic overload
in burning bushes of his ancient reptilian brain,
consumed by the unpronounceable Name of God,
a cedar sigh on the trail to Desolation Peak…
Yet what rains is really brandied snow,
each crystal prism’d by a singing tear.
This is the truth about shooting stars.
They repose inside us: we fall toward them.

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About Alfred K. LaMotte

Alfred K. LaMotte is an interfaith college chaplain from Olympia WA who also teaches college writing and philosophy courses to deployed members of the military in an online distance learning program. Fred is the author of Wounded Bud: Poems for Meditation published by Saint Julian Press. He works at The Evergreen State College and Central Texas College, and has degrees from Yale University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

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