Archive for the 'Roy Dean Doughty’sPoetry' Category


Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 3/3/ 06, Chennei, India

Oblivious, the taxi driver stands ankle-deep
In pouring rain, stows bags possessing
What he never shall, then threads his little vehicle
Through the motliest herd of conveyances —
Busses, mopeds, bicycles, tricycles, tankers,
Carts pulled by lumbering oxen with painted horns —
Each one lurching forward at its own speed,
While he, the taxi driver, constantly caresses
His staccato horn, as if its harmless bird-chirp
Were actually the force which displaced
The careening tonnage of jerry-rigged lorries
For that critical hair’s breadth which affords us
A sighing safe passage.
Here is filth already millennia old before the birth of Christ,
Shining on a ground which reeks of petroleum,
Feces, garbage and sanctity.

Inside what remains of our minds,
The usual whirl of thoughts,
Even in the midst of this crowded, streaming, steaming bustle,
Floats down corridors of cloud-smudged stars
To someplace were starlight and moonlight and sunlight
Are one. India. Now her immemorial potencies
Of passion and silk and marble
Rises from that deep well which has birthed
And enriched and impoverished billions of souls —
Tiger and elephant and lowly rat and human —
All writhing together with clashing bracelets and anklets
In that love-making which never starts nor ends,
But where we, in our insulated bed,
Meet in a mating which falls like sun-soaked rain.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 3/20 06, Ananda Loka 3, India

The dawn uncoils her peace with a silent,
A breathless ferocity, pouring streams of white
Down the igneous orchard rows, while she,
Lean, four-footed mother, stands patiently,
As her biting brood clamors beneath her.
Her pups know only their own convulsive hungers,
Their desires for food, for sex, their desire to give birth
To themselves, which she, as the milk-maker,
Gives first to one leaf, then another,
Then, in an orgy of uterine trembling,
As torch to driest tinder, she copiously feeds
Her whitest of white fires to all the children of the day.
The mountains stand sentinel to her tenderness,
As we, all fire ourselves, burn with the self-same ardor,
Living and dying our ten billion dramas
As if this divine conflagration were the most
Mundane of occurrences — which it is.
Now as the mother and child, the one fire in innumerable flames,
Fall sweetly down to ashes, the coil uncoiling,
The pups collapse into sleep,
And her ocean of flames becomes an ocean of honey.

Swan Song
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 8/21/01, Golden City Campus One, India

On the last day of the world, the remnants
Of the true believers will suddenly, and a little
Sadly, realize that the temple was never devised
To be completed, that the great marble edifice
With its cupolas and minarets, its impressive arches
And spiraling ziggurats, will be home only
To a few feral dogs, its porticoes echoing
With the clatter of pigeon wings. Amidst
The construction debris, these ghosts will be
Ascending the concrete stairs, viewing
What is left of the last day, golden sheets
Of tropical squalls slanting rain across
Green lines of small, hysterical trees
That will never grow large enough to shade
The boulevards, and the sky, its vast dome
Shattered with the incomplete grandeur
Of trying to express too many things, will be
An enormous hovel of broken rainbows,
Of massive thunderheads, purple and orange
And white, of the sinking last day sun,
And of the final, never to be full, half-moon,
Silvered and set against the foil of an impossible cerulean.
On the last day, the revenants, not wholly sincere,
Will realize they were actors who had forgotten
Their lines, and each one, each devotee, will be
The one speaker of a tongue shared by no other.
They will gather, these ghosts, of the primeval, dying mind,
In a last stand of flesh against the onslaught
Of eternity, holding hands in a circle beneath
The darkening dome, and they will chant, forlornly,
Happily, words they do not understand.

Maternal Caress
By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 12/4/09

The full moon begins to wane,
Not for lack of sustenance,
But because of a desire
For darkness coincident
With the season. Winter:
The dry snow filling the cracks
In the parched earth,
Where even the wild doe
Steps sensitively, not wanting,
With her soft, long ears,
To hear the breakage
Of frozen, summer herbage.

What is it about the victory of cold
That makes us shudder,
And deny it its due honor,
That dark general’s mother,
Moving armorless through the fields,
Gathering the sad relics of spent armies,
And holding high council only with solitude?

The night is still amazingly luminous,
And as the frost touches her enormous presence,
The winds that lashed the day lie motionless,
The crisp breath silvering the clear air,
And birthing, for a moment, a ragged comfort.
Yes, even in desolation, she offers rest,
A place of warmth, where this vast frigidness,
Shrinks down to the small circumference of her arms.
Fierce Gardener
By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 2/10/11

It is a long, long trek over rugged country,
And to make it there,
You will have to portage much that is burdensome,
Though returning, you will, you must be naked.
But there you will confront,
In the remnants of an old, old forest,
The ancient, burned-out stump of a once-great tree.
The stump, though only a stump,
Will be gigantic,
And its force will revolve above you
In the green, blue lights
Of an intense,
But strangely impersonal
It is that thing
Buried or burrowing,
Deep, in the body’s tissues,
Like a rogue oppressor,
Vigilant, ruthless,
Almost untouchable —
And as you stand before this Titan,
So like a planet observed from outer-space,
It is anything but dead,
Though its mass is all burns and scars and terrible splinters.
Yet still, so still,
There is a potency interred in its harsh corpse,
Hostile to every pretence of human conscience,
And steeped in the throes of a tragic martyrdom,
So different than that of saints or would-be saints.
And when you have seen this, felt this,
Touched this inner, almost-untouchable thing,
The tissue in which its hunger has been buried
Begins to bleed,
Not blood,
But something brighter.
You may leave The Presence,
And journey home,
Feeding on your desires along the way.
And you will seem the same to those you live with,
The same, perhaps, even to yourself,
But you will be growing,
Deep inside your body,
The seed of one
Who knows the life
In death.

Lost in the Chop

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 9/7/08

For eight miles across the narrow neck of the bay,
This spidery steel bridge serpentines gracefully
Over waters whose brigtnesses jubilantly toss
Silvers into silver, liquefy countless sky mirrors,
Slip mercurial messages from wave crown
To wave dip, and exhaust every effort that the eyes
Can expend to track their unceasing exuberance.
Even the machines, here, shrink to beetling insignificance,
And while traveling a mile a minute, seem to be moving
Slowly though an expanding envelope of blue space,
Which appears to desire a deviation from the what is
Of the city and its vast and intricate feats of engineering
To establish, if not for the defeated eyesight,
For the exalted vision, a what could be of the imagination.
We humans, subsumed in slippery silvers and mercurial
Swampings are now embraced by something more revolutionary
Than engineering, something that touches areas of living
Outside of the body, and scatters us sweetly through this blue.
If in this traversal, this bridge, these cars, the what is
Of the city take on certain entity-, perhaps even human-like
Characteristics, the steel smiling, as it snakes across
The happy bay, will the spirit, inhabiting this new
Amalgamation, move into the glow palace, where the chamber
Of sapphire awaits it? And having escaped finally
From the realm of mechanical separations, will it
Establish, at least for a moment, a movement for the body,
Which stretches miles and miles into hours and hours, as we dive and leap
From trough to crest, a hundred and a hundred thousand times?
Your treasured, people.”


Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 9/5/08

After another restless night, at our preoccupied
Approach, suddenly, a score of songbirds scatters,
Like ascending, living confetti, returning to an apex
Of greens and blues, their flurries of twitterings
Chiming together, then splitting apart, each note
Carrying one of the many thorns whose sharpness
Galls us. For a moment, weightless, the ruins
Fall away in the rapidly receding distance,
As far below, the undulations of the surface
Reveal larger and larger vistas of earth and sea,
All the needling fragments reassembling into
Something cohesive and luminous,
Something indomitably living, who contains
In her being both flight and singing, plus
That indefinable quality of light that always
Effaces ruins. She is the angel who speaks
In the water’s voice, in the scattering clatter
Of hurried feathered pinions, in the sigh
Released from the hovel of the body,
To mate with the wind and dally with the leaves.
And how high she makes us feel, free in the depths
Of her soundings: how high, how whole, how strong!


Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
From A Monument of Wonders

We dream, in our mountainous accumulations
Of kindling, of a cauldron of ultimate fat,
Of a throne raised high with the skulls of our enemies,
Of a knowledge derived from sacrificial lambs,
Of a permanent bliss enclosed by a circle of stones.

These dreams weave scorching labyrinths of fire
With filaments of violence stretched as skin
Across an eye blind to the infinite. The stone
Is in the bag. The power is in the title.
The warmth of the hearth is in the death of another.
The dream is a nightmare of conflicted longings.

But there is a second, a brighter dream within us,
Not scattered through the hills as warring fires,
But centered, like a light within a jewel.
This is the I that calms us in its pool,
Ints infinite diamond cleansing every victim.

We slept in many bodies, but wake in one.


Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

By Roy Dean Doughty
From A Monument of Wonders

The face is a labyrinth of stone on stone,
Durable, but not infinitely so,
And in the end, its mask falls into ruins.
Then one of the fragments — each fragment is a mask —
Cracks into speech, breaks into realization:
“The Mask is a history of illnesses,
Mistaken paths to the center, which somehow hardened,
Gouging these twisted tunnels with agony.”

Mice run through the ruins twittering hungrily;
Snakes coil in the blues of the smoother stone alcoves;
Ants cart away the crumbled grains of sand;
Eventually, the center stands exposed.

The cure is strange, and not what we supposed.
A faceless vesicle of swarming lights
Swirls at the center of our twisted plight,
And each light burns to play a separate role.
Here is the clown, whose infinite delights
Unite us with the vortex of the soul.
Speak, and the mask is changed. Speak, and the pain unscrolls.


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?