Nail Chiodo

Calliope Teething

Prolegomena to Future Phenomenology

Suffer me to pierce through days
Of preparation and of play,
All moment spent to bless the ways
Of others as of myself, I pray;
Again to touch indifference’s hem
And be nearer thus to where, at times,
When sorrow’s chalice nears the brim
Solemn figures, but of human size,
Reveal to one’s startled ears and eyes
Eternal justice in the instant’s guise;
Allow the apprentice to compose
A song cast from the timeworn mold,
Which will through time and space uphold
Faith that, in us, the dead repose.


Each day wakes to a more defenceless world,
A veiled place
Construed by evil as a base,
Colonized by confusion and denial,
And in a pathetic vortex hurled
By the deepest, most compulsive guile.
So slow now is the abysmal swirl,
So fast the accustomed train,
That still impressions pervade the soul
And blurred is all the purport of our pain.
A factitious calm then fills the chest
And leads the mind to a place of quiet
Where only disruption could rescue it:
But who has power to disturb our rest?
Certainly none who isn’t or was not once
Near us in flesh and blood, within sight
Or hearing, or smell, or touch; none
But who in remembrance or in fact alight
Upon our path, to stir the dying fire
Which once set this charred world ablaze;
None but whose rapt, familiar eyes conspire
Against the spell of the nameless gaze.
Here the human desire to excel
Must meet as obstacle itself-
In-others, a self extraneous, vile,
Hindered from the start as well.
Here privileges false and real
Mark the shifting channel and bell
Toxic tocsin where we now dredge
The mounting dread that no longer
Will the strength be found to wedge
Cyphered messages into adjacent cells.
Here balance and loneliness enshroud the stronger
Who see and walk through poisonous mists
Fighting the hardening of their heart
While adding victims to their list.
As natural and sure that all do climb
Friendship’s citadel with the same start,
At every cry of victory those left behind
Have yet gained nothing from this youthful art.
Hence the fact that almost all are blind,
Spend life in collision and collusion,
And their quarrel not consumed have still the mind
To build a shadow world where light’s intrusion.
Clearly I do not feel I have to beg
My fellow man for reasons to be read:
I sustain reasons on just one leg
Though they burst my heart inside my head.
And let this be said, against equivocation:
The last in line to be betrayed
Saw clouds billow, swirl in front,
And a tragic masker wearing white
Who sang a note none could confront,
Beyond human expectation.
He saw a tall caped silhouette
Point to a round mark on the ground
And say: “This is the place
From which all things seem sad.”
Nearing it in a later month,
He vomited; and cradled one
Amongst all the dead in his arms.

Seek by the light of friendship alone
Victories fissioning in defeat:
Upon sudden assessments
Of what is positively believed
Truth is there for one to meet,
Honest, unexaggerated, plain,
Clad in time/space
And all therein contained.


My eyes follow a line of darker hair
That starts from the eye
And crosses the cheek of a tan and white cat.
In that space of an inch and a half
Thoughts that began peaceful and fair
Turn to first one, then another,
And finally to all of humanity’s cry.
It’s not I don’t care what anyone says
As that I care what everyone says,
For the silent process to which all comply:
The need to extend what has given one solace,
To suck in a world which would us liquify.
May this be a way to keep me
From too much polemicizing, from trying
With my breath to stir the winds
In these horse latitudes1 of history;
So to resist the sweet tug of tiredness
And write for another age, which cannot come,
Having in these unremitting calms, home and origin.
Time out of mind and flowing still
Life’s been unsurpassable,
As of a boy assigned to run downhill
To tally the mules and their cartable,
Nature and art concurring: their reward
Is mine should I complete my errand.
But nearing the bottom I found
Hopes hidden under layers of common ground,
Unconfessed yearnings and desire burrowing
Away from fear of resurrection;
While incitements to reprisal
Along vale upon vale resound:
“Up and Adam!”, “Up and atom!”, “Up and at ’em!”.
Many’s the lifetime there I spent
Paying heed to those incantations,
Jostled and tossed by argument,
Crash and lap of indignation;
And in the midsts, at work recording
All their impressions, I met my friends-
Of-the-smiles, those alone embracing
Schenectady and Afghanistan.
They were as princes among modern men:
Theirs is a story to cast light
On the chronicles of a generation.

The perusal of recent annals
Begins its survey
At McDonald’s
On the Champs Elysées.
A swarm of new-hatched
Youth from the banlieue,
Uncouth and sadly matched,
Thrive there on electric blue
And the vestiges of simulacrums.
For eyes wanting to find truth,
Here’s nature’s own collyrium:.
Wherever hungry kids now gather
Minds in themselves collect.

A poet’s “power-base” are adults
Who of their own have none:
A poor lot indeed, given
Conformism’s wide rampancy,
Except that some be willing and exult
In this: to be a poet’s constituency.
Then, at their ease partaking
Of a still wider solipsism,
Lending it implication
At their own discretion,
Certain that whatever tale
The poet tells is to this end—
To avow a measure of truth
And love to all that countervails—
Then might they allow love’s seizure
To bind them to the pleasure of the king;
By love before Him taken
They might to Him then sing.
Unto such an audience
Is a poet’s offering.
Though to recover
The great shield that deflects
False points may take a lover
A long time yet,
That new Flaubert rediscover
Un coeur simple2 to reflect,
New Hegel see the Weltgeist loiter
By an arch once raised to it3
That Einstein proffer Divine limit4
By daring every wrong,
We must bury face and conscience
Deep in the enfeebled throng.

If I might speak also for my friends,
The misery of the young
Is to us tyranny
And our worst imaginings,
The result of acts imputable at large,
From which we would escape by irony—
In our minds, the recess bell’s still ringing.

  1. either of two belts of calms, light winds and high barometric pressure, situated at about 30° N. and 30° S. latitude, so named after the fickle wind conditions that exist there.

  2. Fr. “A simple heart”, a short novel by Gustav Flaubert.

  3. G.W.F. Hegel saw Napoleon Bonaparte, in whose honour the Triumphal Arch at the top of the Champs Elysées was erected, as the historical incarnation of the Weltgeist (Ger. “World Spirit”).

  4. Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Ascripti Glebae