Archive for August, 2008


Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/22/08

By mid morning, the absolutely pristine
Late-summer skies pour down such
Unrelenting quantities of light, that the trees,
Stirred only grimly by the breeze,
Seem almost to be supplicating, hanging,
A little limp, in dread anticipation of the heat,
And longing once more for night, and cold,
And wet. Last night’s big moon, just waning
From the full, her august demise,
Perhaps a premonition, is remembered only
Faintly as a chant of silver rest, fading
In the distance, her choirs haloing a lonely
Traveler, who moves into a swarming haze,
Which obliterates all dreams. What does this
Traveler know that prompts him to leave?
That the journey inward to the nourishing springs
Cannot occur in the blaze of optimism?
That hope is the product of a different, a purer
Emotion, one that stirs scents of ashes in the air?
The dry leaves rattle their dry stalks in our ears,
And the shaman, that wayfarer, that traveler,
Who has followed the departing day almost out
Of earshot, almost out of mind, chants a garbled
Talisman in a foreign tongue, his bare feet
Leading us down a stony path.


Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/19/08

As if it were a ghost that had fallen from a luminous
Height and had passed through some glittering,
Translucent material as it fell, the earth,
With its whole collection of winged trees,
And serpentine waters, greets us this evening
With one of its final summer proclamations:
“Brazen.” Whoever says the word, says it in colors,
Not sounds, colors that have moved nimbly,
Silently from an interior landscape, where they
Have saturated themselves with emotion.
Now they slide swiftly through the trees,
And across the choppy bay, and then bleach out
In the sky, not paled by the intensities
Of their travels, but fevered down to a blue
Essence adorned with bridal clouds. “Brazen.”
That’s its romance, its final simplicity,
That is can remain perfectly what it is,
Derisive of every disenchantment,
Deadly to all parodies of pastorals. That is can
Compel us to actually see the imperceptible,
The inner one who is as potent as she is alive,
Adapting her blissful body to millions of forms.


Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

For Isabel and Paul
By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/12/08

At this time of evening, the shadows play
Such a decided role in our contemplation
Of nostalgia, that we cannot orient ourselves
To their lengthening, without some small
Acceleration in the depletion of our vital forces.
Distance is everywhere — in the masses of trees,
In the glass panes burning in the buildings
On the hill, in the soft brush that becomes
A claw and obliterates distinction. Everything blurs,
Except that singe monument: the hospital where
She died. Da, Inessa, the psychic, the clairvoyant,
The ved’ma from a vanished world of isolated
Villages and superstitious moujiks, is dead. The fact
Is so incredible — although she was unfathomably
Old, blind in one eye, and hobbled through
Her humble trailer, parked amid towers
Of affluence, on swollen ankles, her one tooth
Forever hungry, her aching head always bandaged
Against our too physical American reality
By a damp babushka — it is worth repeating.
Inessa, the ved’ma, is dead. She ate no children,
Tricked no bridegrooms, turned no humans
Into wild animals. On the contrary, Inessa
Was a saint, who took twisted root in California
Soil out of the old wickedness and magic
Of primordial Russia. Here, she, with deliberation,
Cast aside the trifling pursuits of money
And motherhood, to close her eyes, and talk to God,
For others. Let’s say it again,
So that we may return for one last time
To the nostalgia studio, which is now going
Black and emptying quickly of supplicants.
Inessa, the friend of friends, the friend of
The Friend, the friend, our friend, is dead.
Da, true, the Dark man grinned. What else
Could he do, his curses of white swellings
And bloating hydremia having only filled
Her body with sanctified oils and made it
A refuge for Christ’s forgotten ones.
She is free, and he must collapse in ashes.
Because she knew, she knows, that if life
Is a martyrdom, then death itself must die.
Because at this time of evening, it must
Be like this. Da. Da. A lengthening
Of shadows, a hurricane of gold,
All the statues of her afflictions and recitations
Quiet now, in that distance, which can only
Bring more comfort as it grows.
Quiet now, running now, like a flurry
Of blue and copper ghosts along day’s last
Crumbling battlements, approaching truth
By way of eccentric passion,
In that big chair, with her fat bare feet aloft,
Her head thrown back among the laughing stars.

Shree Ma

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/24/08

This morning, a fog has pressed down, almost
To the treetops, erasing the great bulk of the mountains
And the oppressions of distance, and enabling
The imagination to push skyward into a salient
Of being hitherto made incorporeal by the too
Rigorous commands of the physical senses.
This strange amalgamation of vaporous,
Almost watery fire, is probed by a separate
Sense, the internal tides and combustions
Which manufacture dreams. Now we can see
The many faces of entities, standing placidly,
Or wildly dancing, all moving about these celestial
Hinterlands, and entirely sustained in their
Quixotic powers by families of worshipers on earth,
Who fashion simulacra of them, then lavish
The effigies with devotion. So potent,
And so inward have some of these devotees
Become, that miracles — that is to say,
The incorporeal causations of love —
Sometimes erupt. This one, with pupilless eyes,
Seeing women, at the grey horizons, dance
In silken finery. This one, with twisted legs,
Exquisitely dancing. The usual beggars drowned
In torrents of money. And in the midst of these
Enormous gyrations, as if composed of that same
Watery fire, we find a small, frail woman,
Her weak eyes closed, her yellow cane, set aside,
Her mind turned inward — a collection of sinewy sticks
In a saffron sari, upholding the heavens themselves
With her fierce song.

An Enigma at the Lectern

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/10/08

It was not a wharf, nor the remains of a pier,
But simply an enormous concrete cube,
Precipitously huge above a roisterous
Turquoise sea. The cube has been placed
Here, as if by some extraterrestrial race
Of not wholly-beneficent overseers,
Its very presence defying the safety-obsessed
City planners. Finally — terminally — the cube
Reminds the citizenry of the dangers
Still lurking in the turbulent coils of beauty.
All this elaborate construction of rebar
And cement, of prodigious modifiers,
And homely nouns has been razed
Especially from the neurological debris
Of one who lives perpetually on the edge —
Let’s call him “The Reader” — and, therefore,
It is fitting that this edge should be an obtuse,
Useless cube. The rest of the story follows,
Almost inevitably. One day, hurrying,
As always, to fulfill or avoid some responsibility,
The Reader finds, poised just so, arms spread wide,
Tottering, tottering, at the farthest verge
Of the great superfluous block, a toddler,
Of about two, stark, stark naked, against
The mountainous backdrop of untamed waters.
Alarmed, he gasps, he rushes, he gathers her in his arms.
He knows the mother, a busy, self-important,
Professional, without a husband,
But where is she? And how did this child
Get here by herself? And why, why, is she
So ecstatically attracted to such murderous elevations?
The Reader picks up the infant and holds her
Close to his body, and she fits there, the baby,
As if her contours completed something
Missing in himself. He wonders — The Reader—
How he will find the mother, and why was he
Chosen, alone, of all the citizens, to read
These words? He wonders, too, how it will end,
This exposition? With a concrete image,
Free of the taint of infancy? Or with something
Beautiful and dangerous, like the sea?

Spousal Discovery

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/17/08

The density of foliage here prevents the eyes
From reading movement as a recessional
Progression, darks and lights, with somnambulistic
Slyness, ceaselessly shaking to pieces
In the breeze, and regrouping as mosaics,
Only to tremblingly shatter once again,
A wall of insubstantial lights, that yet remains a wall.
With sound it is different. The birdsongs, busily
Exaggerating the foreground, lead us to where
The eyes cannot pierce, their spiraling figurations
Suddenly bringing us face to face with an unlooked for
Encounter. Surface and depth, a duel movement
Of skittering brightness plumbed by indigo holes,
Hornpipe ditties mixing with grave-digger tunes,
Their music taking us far beyond the backyard garden’s
Merely domestic charm. Now we arrive,
Unwittingly, at a place where uncertain greens
And vaporous blues give way to the emphatic
Scarlet of a path, threading its way through
Doubt. As we go in and down, we are
Transformed, each one of our many human
Skins scraped off, not by abrasion, but by
Realization, until only what is obvious still shines.
That occasional glint of the green moon
Stabbing through broken windows is far behind
Us, and before us, an ebony sheen,
A place where the old have arrived
By traversing the lips of dizzying cliffs,
And where all dead mouths lie choked with garbled weeds.
Here what is most meaningful and succinct
Awaits us in an interior cavern, whose only
Furnishing is a stony bed, whose only occupant,
The shadow bride — scorn and affection, laughter
And lamentation, and the whole body,
With all of its joys and pains, finally fitted
In her close embrace.

Shaping the Environment

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Spousal Discovery
An Enigma at the Lectern


Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/6/08

Murderous marionettes, deranged dolls,
What happens when these encounter
The disposable resources of light’s
Usual afternoon profligacy?
Will they, too, feel the shivery affections
Playing through the multiplex of lines in
Swaying trees, and will they also see this
Horizon infested with spirit faces,
Hanging in the leaves and among
The curves and elbows of the branches?
It is easy to understand how the adult
Governing Bodies might disapprove,
And demand that we retreat from these
Arabesquing repercussions of green-blues
On the move. What if these inhuman
Faces become visible again, after millennia
Of absence? And what if the child
Is able to place his or her conditioned
Responses in a final, sweet abeyance?
The faces might come near, too near.
They might discover our sickness.
They might force us to once again
Deify these homely sticks as catalysts
Of the imagination. Oh, how they
Sweep their colors through the sky,
And inspire even dolls and marionettes
With the bliss of the indeterminate.
And how good it is to see the strings
Clump in clouds whose whites can soothe
Even the grossest, most murderous derangements.
Look. Look. See them now, the sufferers,
The ragged adults, tenderly carried, by these
Ministering little phantoms. One by one,
Ascending on wooden litters,
And placed, like happy bundles of yellow
Birds, among the exaltations of the branches.

Cloudy Theses

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/5/08

The exposition of this evening’s light
Is ending in a colorless fade what has
All day been moodily uncertain.
Frosty striations of cirrus blotted out by
The irregular massings of wooly old philosophers,
Puffing out humidity as they expound,
Almost in whispers, the most circuitous
Propositions against a background of simplistic
Blue. It’s the best they can do, without resorting
To more visible effects. But their conversations
Create, inside our chests, an almost ineffable
Strangeness, as if we were small children
At Sunday mass, whose God is peering
At down at us, caged, and knowing, that as the Priest
Intones The Word, that we little beasties
Are not listening. And yet those moods have been
Saying something, and making distinctions
In blue and white and grey and lavender,
Whose ambiguities can transform whatever
Human or inhuman material is at hand. And we,
Caught now in this vertigo, become almost willing
Vessels for a nearly speechless beauty.
Yes, yes, “nearly”, “almost”, that’s what
They seem to be saying, those old philosophers.
Their windy shapes, vague colors, uncertain
Orientations, moving slowly in phosphorescent bands:
Ghost-lights, spook-lights, prankish will-o-whips,
Propounding unformed words for the uninformed.

Divine Mother

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Cloudy Theses