WITCHING THE SILENCE OVER THE CAULDRON OF THE TOWN
Witching the silence over the cauldron of the town
as the air conditioners shut down for the fall
and everybody feels something slushy
in their hearts like a bruised apple or
a rotten strawberry with unshaved stubble
or an exhumed moon whose fingernails
kept growing like a calendar of last crescents
after it was dead, as arthritic hour hands
reached out to cripple what they could not grasp.
He knows this madness well. Long, inbred
winter nights. Crazy farmers when the night’s
just right sowing the woods like the wind
from its seed bag, hanging on to the tail
of a black bull guiding them through the dark
like a new moon in early October before
the first frost freezes like a ghost to everything.
He lived up in Ardoch once and after two years
started to think like a rock. Hardness
made sense and the solid took precedence
over the real like a deer being bled
on a resurrected tv tower on a hill of skulls.
Recollected emotions like back hoes
and glaciers in tranquillity when the ground
he was standing on was too hard to bury the dead.
Smelt in the spring laid out before
eighty year old men with bibs on at the Last Supper.
Arctic cats in heat outside the lodge in winter.
He lived in a defunct hardware store in Fernleigh,
land of the bracken and the Shee, and sold wildlife paintings
to Pennsylvanians in the summer driving along
the 409 where Kashwakamak Drive meets the highway
and the cops parked to keep an eye
on the annual Outlaws’ three day pig roast.
The more surrealistic his life became
the more he understood magic realism.
He interfaced with the locals like a totem pole,
painting ferocious logos on the windshields
of their snowmobiles snarling like chainsaws.
He saw a black bear on its back, perfectly intact,
roadkill with rigor mortis, an overturned table,
an old fashioned bathtub with its legs and claws
sticking straight up in the air, desecrated
by its posture as the locals gathered to gawk
at something so powerful even in death
he was estranged by the darkness of the silence
that overtook him like an eclipse of the sun.
And the hydrolines strung out over the lake
the garden ran down to at the back of the store
hummed like spinal cords in the summer rain
like the staves of a musical snakepit thumbing a guitar
as Goldlilocks, the blonde minister’s daughter,
ran off with the bikers like an apostate religion.
He had a young wife with ingenuous breasts
as beautiful as a marijuana crop in the fall
to a rip off artist that plagiarized his macho
from comic books. Behind the deathmasks
fools wear to scare themselves into bullying
things they seek from the weak who won’t
speak up for themselves, is a crueler intelligence
alloyed like a sword with the lesser metal
of the inferiors its infernal power base is founded on.
He played Vulcan chess with a wolverine
who made sure none of the pawns on the board
took his queen for one of their own. He painted
six packs of wolves for the bandit pope of Fernleigh
who kept things impiously honest between them
and more than a bird bone flute fascinates
a king cobra, maintained a truce with a poetic mongoose
though you won’t find either listed in any guide
to the local flora and fauna. Nevertheless it’s wise
to be prepared for any contingency when
you’re out in the woods with a French easel
and a wife whose turn it is to be independently wrong
about the way the light falls on a dangerous face
wearing its character inside out like a police mugshot.