Tag Archives: Muse

Tuesday Poem: “A Face Immense with Murder” by Zireaux

Kali trampling Shiva, Chromolithograph, by R. Varma: '...as from a face immense / with murder; swelled malevolence; / bloated, blue-skinned Kali among  / the Hindu’s devilry...'

Kali trampling Shiva, Chromolithograph, by R. Varma: ‘…as from a face immense / with murder; swelled malevolence; / bloated, blue-skinned Kali among / the Hindu’s devilry…’

Ahead of me a storm cloud masked
the dying sun, and seemed a tumour
there, with bolts of bronzy hair
projecting from its swollen bloom, or
swarming hive, or epiphyte
or gushing growth in crushing night –
whatever it was, the sea below
was cast in darkest indigo

and seemed, that level sea, a tongue
protruding, as from a face immense
with murder; swelled malevolence;
bloated, blue-skinned Kali among
the Hindu’s devilry. O pagan
horror! O see me tremble, Megan.
Great Muse! Lend me your size, your heavenly
amplitude, your wing-spanned weight
which magically rises, 747ly,
above those billowing effigies,
those dreaded cumuli of fate.
Lend me, love, your infinite ease
to tranquillise the Gorgon’s wroth.
O Utterfly! My Behe-moth!
Let’s travel, dear (you promised me)
to some unfathomed galaxy –

Okay. I know. First finish the poem…

The storm was not the thing I urged
Sayeed to see; but what emerged
from it — from that infernal foam,
what churned within its stygian throat.
A tiny moving thing. A mote
amidst that murky deep, a speck,
a spot, a floating fleck of bile
came drifting toward our island wreck.

‘A boat!’ my stowaway cried and leapt
across the rocks to where a pile
of scrap was gathered – a thing he’d kept
for just this purpose: a freezer box
was steeply wedged into the rocks;
and to it, obliquely, with rope attached,
the drum from which Sayeed had hatched.

And rings and winches; a blade from Tug’s
propeller, some davits, roller chains,
a crossbar from a hauling crane
— all jammed and hammered, crammed and plugged
in place, and bound with bailer bags,
and irons spars, and nailed-on flags.
Atop the highest point, about
four meters up, an empty jar
of Newman’s Salsa gave a snout
to that strange upward-sniffing creature.
Inside this high-hung reservoir
was stored some oil, its crowning feature
(peak oil, you might say). This cup
was what now fueled its keeper up
the sculptured peak. A boat was sighted.
That high-held cup must be ignited.

'Atop the highest point, about / four meters up, an empty jar / of Newman’s Salsa gave a snout /  to that strange upward-sniffing creature.'

‘Atop the highest point, about / four meters up, an empty jar / of Newman’s Salsa gave a snout / to that strange upward-sniffing creature.’

No torch-bearer at the Olympic games,
no squirrel-athlete could have scaled
that pile more quickly. Sayeed prevailed,
and with a single Flick-Bic’s flame
(where had he found my lighter?) the deed
was quickly done. A glowing seed
was planted in the growing dark.
And to that hanging lamp the boat
now honed, as when the dreaded shark
in Spielberg’s films locates its prey.
A far-off, faintly bleating goat
at first, and then a donkey’s bray,
the outboard motor rumbled nearer.
The pink that fogged the night-sky’s mirror
soon faded away. But just as soon,
behind us rose an amber moon,

which cast sufficient light, a golden
barley smear of light, for me
to track the roaring noise and see
the motorboat as it rolled in.
A sleek half-cabin craft it was.
Its engine slowed — a muffled buzz —
then silenced completely. Inside the gently
swaying craft I dimly perceived
a single figure, a child evidently,
a child all alone (although
my eyes were not to be believed).

‘Hello!’ Sayeed was there to throw
a rope.

                    The figure caught it, and now
it stood upon the moonlit prow,
a thing of physiologic distortion,
child-sized but adult-proportioned.


More Tuesday Poems at Tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com.

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Filed under Poetry by Zireaux, Res Publica, Book Two

“On Meeting My Muse at Orbits Restaurant” by Zireaux

Auckland Sky Tower

Auckland’s Skytower, with Orbits revolving restaurant: “…a place for doughty eaters / spinning a hundred and ninety-two meters / above a revolving earth…'

On Meeting My Muse at Orbits Restaurant
by Zireaux


At dinner recently,
a fancy dress affair my wife
arranged (“to stimulate your life”)
at Orbits – a place for doughty eaters
spinning a hundred and ninety-two meters
above a revolving earth – a stranger queried
if I was someone famous.

                                             “No,” I parried.

But then she moved where I could see her better,
and all at once the restaurant’s lights beset her
glossy lips and shiny teeth, the streak
of jet-black vinyl hair which sashed a cheek
and veiled an eye, her sequined red camise
which shook out stars – entire galaxies! –
upon our tablecloth. My children
were struck dumb; this flashing lady thrilled them.
And then she spoke again – “I read
of you in Business Week,” she said.
“You invented _____” (I’m tempted to say;
but poetry was meant to stay
exempted from that philistine debasement
one finds in modern film: the “product placement”).

Her accent and her figure bore that treacly
trademark of America – both sleekly
made, and yet congealing where her curves
and vowels stressed more feeling than deserved.
(American women! What beautiful poses you strike
while making your noses say “Uhmigod” and “Like.”)
But something else I quickly noticed
in her face – the finest, remotest
trace of meager birth, a chink
of darkness in that sheen, the wink
of secret ancestry. I guessed
an early youth outside the West.
Sri Lanka, maybe. Or Bangladesh. Some place
economists would call a “basket case.”

“I’m actually a poet.”

                                 The phrase did flow
so easily from me – a sleigh where snow
had never been could now across the mass
of smooth white candor’s crystals pass.
Two scimitars, the eyebrows of my wife,
rose up as she set down her butter knife.
A poet! Our starry stranger draped
in pseudo-sari themes now gaped
at me; then turned and waved down curving
aisle where sat a man observing
us. A grimaced smile. His nose,
a huge proboscis, soon transposed
into a camera as he came our way.
“He says he’s a poet,” she called. “Our lucky day!”

Her name, we were informed, was Sheela Ray.
She’d traveled here to film an exposé
on foreign countries’ famous people. “Arrived
this morning – what a flight! I’m sleep-deprived,
but knew as soon as I laid eyes on you —
now there is someone I must interview.
This country is our fifth so far.
You wouldn’t believe how sick we are
of singers, athletes, news presenters.
It’s like, you know, the moment we enter —
Famous, you say? To interview?
Try John. He reads our nightly news!’”
Views and news. Were these some rhyming clues,
dear reader, that I was talking to my Muse?

She said she felt the poet was the “King
of Art.” That she’d, in fact, been hankering
to start a kind of poet’s club on-line.
Or maybe TV. But uhmigod! To find
a real poet! And one, you know, who looks
as though he’s found success outside of books
as well as in — “Really!” she cried,
above a sudden rising tide
of birthday song. “I recognized
the blaze of brilliance in your eyes.
But never did I think” — she paused,
then spoke beneath our neighbor’s applause –
“so swank a man could be a versifier.”
Enough. Suffice to say her praise went higher.


Voltaire at 70. Engraving from 1843 edition of his Philosophical Dictionary.

Suffice to say I took her number, agreed
to call, and possibly (“Oh please!”) to read
my latest stanzas for the Sheela Show,*
and added: “I’m half a Yank myself, you know.”
Suffice to say, I called, agreed to go
to her hotel. And Camera Joe,
who is all shadow to Sheela’s flame
(I still don’t know his real name),
had made the place a studio
whereby his vid- or voodeo
would stir me to rhyme.

                                              And Sheela Ray —
she was, her words, “quite blown away.”
Apparently my stanzas had seduced her;
she dialed her cell – “I’m calling my producer.”

Now hear me, reader: A peaceful dozen years
have passed since last I suffered Cupid’s spears.
And though I must admit the satin gown,
or rather, loose-fit shirt, a “button-down,”
which Sheela likes to sit and chat in (blind
to how it licks her thighs) — that shirt combined
with her Bengali eyes and breezy
smile (which brings to mind the easy
gurgle of purling water), her lush
black hair, the downward rush
of dark, delightful, switchblade brows
– although their presence might arouse
in me forgotten youth, I’m talking now
of poetry! Why Muses are chosen. And how.

And whether this coupling of Muses and poets is part
of some greater design! A Supragenic Art!
I mean, when Sheela opines – with elbows aiming
skyward from behind her neck (she’s taming
her hair, which lifts her night-shirt off her bare,
entangled legs) – “you’re like a modern Voltaire!”
(“Vous-avez lu Voltaire en Francais?” I ask.
Oui,” she says, “seulement pour un classe.”)
— then pouncing forward, trapping my hands
beneath her paws – “Your genius demands
attention! Your characters are so –”
and here zooms-in our Camera Joe
with squinting, view-finder’s grin – “they’re so alive!”
where was I? — Oh, yes, my point at last arrives –

when Sheela gives such plump and fertile views
as these, and I the crooning poet, can’t refuse
their promised tingle – their sweet, euphoric caress
of first bejeweled consciousness, a bliss
that curious room-bound species, Writing Man,
will kill for (are muses veiled in Burkhasthan?
Inspired poets maim and rape
as well as any artless ape)
— when I – stay with me, reader! – when I
cannot resist her lullabies
of tribute which, alas, produce
this metered, rhymed, ambrosial juice,
these shivers of delight – are they for me?
Or vital measures for my poetry?


*A popular TV talk show in India.

Read about the dream I had before leaving to India with Sheela and Camera Joe.


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Filed under Kamal, Book One, Poetry by Zireaux