Tag Archives: Don Quixote

“The Roar of Wanton Jollity”

US President George W. Bush

‘For as great Dubya said…’

In our last episode, a drugged and distraught Kamal — having just discovered how his rescuers have betrayed him — walked straight through a glass door at a party, and splashed into a swimming pool. Now the party-goers laugh at our poor hero, until a very strong man, who Kamal recognizes from a magazine, comes to carry him away…

Until that splashing moment – silence. And after?
A chorus of reverberating laughter!
How much this human trait appalls me! What numerous
samples I could cite where violence done
in clownish ways – more farcical than humorous
– can fast replace all sympathy with fun.
I don’t just mean those common, crude, consumerous
scenes in films, to wit, those monster ones,
designed to entertain with gore that spurts
in wondrous founts but never hurts.

I mean, instead, the pain that prompts guffaws
when victims know their fate but not the cause
and lack the social status to fight back.
Such laughter might just be the primal source
of misery in this world. The needless smack
a nagging worker gives a flagging horse;
the kicks Cervantes deals, the ruthless acts
Quixote bears – such cruel and cowardly force
can prompt a smile from brutes. But such a grin
reveals a tortured soul within.

Monster Movie

‘I don’t just mean those…scenes in films, to wit, those monster ones, / designed to entertain with gore that spurts / in wondrous founts but never hurts.’

And therein lies the horror! It’s not some maimed
disfigured lunatic who is to blame
for acts of such barbarity; it’s not
that misfit neighbor (the one the kids call ‘scary’)
or even the remorseless tyrant caught
and killed. No. Savagery looks ordinary.
Each wart is airbrushed out of site, each spot
of simian ancestry concealed, each hairy
limb is depilated – but how? By who?
It could be me. It could be you.

It could be all of us – or rather, not all.
It could not be Kamal. No, not Kamal.

Which leaves my argument a-muddle.
I need a wall! A wall to separate
my coexisting realms, a firm rebuttal
of illegal migrant thoughts, a great
conscripting barrier and not the subtle
line that maps a plot. Great nation states
need walls to fortify their ruling fiction
from Mongol tribes of contradiction.

For as great Dubya said, we’re better fenced!
If we’re not for a thing, then we’re against!
So, too, we flighty poets must take sides.
And there in faithful rhyme remain until
our tale is told.

                                       So back to where resides
my poor Kamal! Resides? Or dies? He’s still
beneath the pool’s agitated tide;
held in its stranglehold; an inky spill
like gathering clouds envelopes him – a squid in
mortal danger darkly hidden.

Don Quixote by Octavio Ocampo

Don Quixote, painted by Octavio Ocampo

What’s stranger – as I’ve said (don’t get me started,
for this is how my shaken verse departed
from my stricken child) – is how the swarm
around the pool roars with wanton jollity!
Roars, I tell you! And worse, despite the storm
of blood, the shattered door, the twisted quality
Kamal’s aquatics bear, the crowd conforms
to blithe unhelpfulness – as if some polity,
some fixed unspoken rule keeps the game
alive, while freeing them from blame.

You’re right, of course, my reader. We’ve found Kamal
near-drowned before
, a ring of watchers all
engaged in mirth above him. First a sea
and now a pool; and you are right to wonder
of recurring themes – and whether there may be
more liquids for Kamal to smother under.
(In fact, there are – at least two more if we
include the upturned bathtub blunder
in the widow’s house in Palestine.
But let us leave that for its time).

And you are right again: Kamal survives
this current plunge (a boy of many lives,
but not enough, alas, as you will learn!).
A savior does arrive – Loraine? Chantelle?
No they’re too busy – despite Chantelle’s concern
(and let’s be frank, her deeper love as well)
for our defenseless adolescent. A stern
Loraine has ordered her: ‘Go get your cell!’
And dear Chantelle is quick – she couldn’t be quicker –
and in a flash she’s snapping pictures.

The person who arrives is someone who
we haven’t really met before, though you
may recognize his shape, which bends and bounds
and slowly wades into the murky mess.
Just see the golden chain that railroads round
the figure’s neck, the diamonds on his chest.
Admire the amazing strength that so astounds
the crowd, the bulk to lift Kamal and wrest
him from the water’s grip beneath one arm.
The beaming smile. The easy charm,

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

The means to not just haul a man from death’s
impatient feast, or give him back his breath
(while chuckling at our water-choked Kamal),
but more, to wrap a towel round each wound
and lift him up into his arms – a doll
forsooth! – and barefoot cross a threshold strewn
with glass, to disappear indoors! And all
while humming a Mariah Carey tune –
the one about a ‘hero coming along’
who has ‘the strength to carry on.’

And see the way he thrills Kamal, whose gaze
at last discerns the face that saved him – Blaze!

— End of Canto the Third —
_____
Published as part of the dVerse Poetry blog, an online “open mike” for poets, and the Tuesday Poem, a blog founded in New Zealand but with contributing poets from around the world.

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“Self Portrait I” and “I Choose My Lover!”

Don Quixote by Gustave Doré: "What gives us cracked Quixotes away?"

Don Quixote by Gustave Doré: “What gives us cracked Quixotes away?”

This stanza appears much later in Kamal, the fifth canto in fact. But the dVerse poets have requested a self portrait, so I present it here:

Self Portrait I
by
Zireaux

To M.

What gives us cracked Quixotes away, I wonder?
What facial flush or tic demarks this blunder
of the brain? I’ve searched my face. I find
a crease from hairline to my chin, a kind
of DMZ between two warring sides
(it even cleaves my nose’s peak!),
as though my mind were split. Two wide
and lazy eyes, their brows oblique,
as if expression can’t decide
which way to go — and cries and laughs
at once! What other facial gaffes?
In these alpestral lips do people see
the golden gape of gullibility?

Or maybe there’s some other misproportion?
My head is very big, like Welles’s (Orson);
and maybe one can guess the thoughts inside
from a phrenology so magnified.
In any case, not many ladies prowl
the world in search of men like me
whose phantom lives have limped afoul.
We spend our days prosaically,
convinced our talent is an owl
that soars unlighted by the sun,
and thus unknown to everyone
— to everyone but you, Minerva, love,
who knows an owl from a dove.

Now let’s return to Kamal, who has just learned two very important facts. First, that he is adopted. And second, that his sister — who he now knows is unrelated to him — is pregnant with his child. ‘To think,’/ he says, ‘such bitter news has bred / such blessedness! Our broken link / so fast repaired! And once we’ve wed – / O mother! I’m twice your son!’

But his mother won’t accept the idea of Imogene marrying Kamal, and — with her advisor-cum-lover, Ramana Narayanamurthy (a.k.a Rick) by her side — she delivers a bitter command: Kamal must leave his beloved home forever.

'She spies those brushes, daggers dipped / in open wounds...'

‘She spies those brushes, daggers dipped / in open wounds…’

How cold and undisturbed her speech is!
‘You still don’t get it, do you?’ She reaches
in her purse (do not assume
the worst. Her gun’s still in her room),
and draws a platinum Visa card.

‘How’s this? I’m giving it; not loaning.
You see – I’m really not as hard
as guardians these days, disowning
kids they wish no more to guard.
The limit’s high; and you know John [her husband, Kamal’s father, a composer of movie scores who spends all day and night in his piano room downstairs],
he’s blind to what amounts are drawn.
I find that platinum cures all sorrow.
I’ll start a new account tomorrow.
Now hurry up and leave. Go on!’

O Truth! Where is your calm, reflective dusk
upon the wan and ashen husk
that is my nonplussed hero’s face?
He’s silent. So Genie makes her case:

‘But Ramana’ – she turns his way,
losing all her sense of shame [because she’s still naked; Kamal was painting her portrait]
in thoughts of what she wants to say –
‘you’ve always taught, our noblest aim,
first hear our passions – then obey.
Well, now I’m hearing mine. O mother!
You make me choose. I choose my – lover!
Cast him out – then I’m outcast.
But marry we will!’

                                                  Our Lady’s aghast,
yet quick to soften and recover:

‘Okay. So be it,’ she says, walking
round the room, her heels talking.
She spies those brushes, daggers dipped
in open wounds – too bluntly tipped;
those glasses could be good . . . if smashed;
colored toxins, tubes of poison
in a kind of pill-box stashed
with god-knows-what narcotic joys in;
and then she sees (to say it ‘flashed’
upon the table – well, once more,
I’ll leave it to the movie corps
to add such sparks) a bit of steel,
familiar and deathly sharp – ideal!

‘A blade, Kamal? And what’s this for?

To help you straighten out your lines?
[No, my Lady, not his, but mine!]
To shave off hair some secret place?
For you have none upon your face.
Or could it –’

                                 ‘I use it, dear mother,’ her son
now blurts, ‘to scrape off paint. Careful –’

‘Ah yes! It’s sharp. Enough for one
to slash a wrist? Or – more despair-full
– a throat . . .’

                                The blade has now begun,
in hand, to travel to that skin,
less-tough, less-tanned, beneath her chin.
‘Are you sure you’ll marry, dear?
And you, Young-Man-of-Perma-Cheer,
is this the house you’ll live within?’

'...the sound of sweet arpeggios, / deeply felt and deeply played, / and seeking out the son it knows / could use a hand...'

‘…the sound of sweet arpeggios, / deeply felt and deeply played, / and seeking out the son it knows / could use a hand…’

Now lest my critics say I force
events to heed a phony course,
I should point out, this was, it seems,
Our Lady’s preferential means
of getting her way. She much preferred
the threat to die or leave for good,
to compromise, or pleadings heard.
And how these threats were understood
by poor Kamal! He found no word
quite so upsetting as ‘goodbye.’

She orders again: ‘Leave or I die!’

That throat! More precious than his own!
And Imogene – who turns to stone
when ordered to stay – now starts to cry.

And Rick, who’s witnessed all three passions,
knows the victor. In servile fashion
he opens the door to free Kamal.
But something else, from down the hall,
comes in! Staggering and slow,
timid and tender, yet unafraid
– the sound of sweet arpeggios,
deeply felt and deeply played,
and seeking out the son it knows
could use a hand – our doomed Kamal –
to somehow ease his tragic fall.
He glances at his mother – that blade
is sharp, how well it does persuade!
Kamal ignores his sister’s call.

…to be continued
_____
See the complete index of episodes from Kamal, Book One

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Tuesday Poem: “Self Portrait I” by Zireaux

Don Quixote by Gustave Doré: "What gives us cracked Quixotes away?"

Don Quixote by Gustave Doré: “What gives us cracked Quixotes away?”

Self Portrait I
by
Zireaux

To M.

What gives us cracked Quixotes away, I wonder?
What facial flush or tic demarks this blunder
of the brain? I’ve searched my face. I find
a crease from hairline to my chin, a kind
of DMZ between two warring sides
(it even cleaves my nose’s peak!),
as though my mind were split. Two wide
and lazy eyes, their brows oblique,
as if expression can’t decide
which way to go — and cries and laughs
at once! What other facial gaffes?
In these alpestral lips do people see
the golden gape of gullibility?

Or maybe there’s some other misproportion?
My head is very big, like Welles’s (Orson);
and maybe one can guess the thoughts inside
from a phrenology so magnified.
In any case, not many ladies prowl
the world in search of men like me
whose phantom lives have limped afoul.
We spend our days prosaically,
convinced our talent is an owl
that soars unlighted by the sun,
and thus unknown to everyone
— to everyone but you, Minerva, love,
who knows an owl from a dove.

_____
Lines from the fifth canto of Kamal, Book One. Published as part of the Tuesday Poetry group.

5 Comments

Filed under Kamal, Book One, Poetry by Zireaux