Cambridge Book Review

[Issue #2, Spring & Summer 1998]

Canto 13 I come up smoking

R. Virgil Ellis

I come up smoking through Erebus -- where Antarctic winds
whirl off the immense south polar ice dome.
The shrieking 60's whistle
through their own teeth, mighty Hendrixes of wind
flinging themselves against prevailing Aristotelian westerlies,
storms so fierce at that "pole of inaccessibility"
that I rest a bit under barrier ice,
in the slow-creeping Hegelian
bottom-water that mimics the circular commotion
of the meteor-ideological confusion above.

In Panthalassan calm I glide still protected
by the Diamond T, ranging over abyssal plains
where magnetic stripes from the earth's reversing poles
play sedimental recordings, the singer
wanting part of you.
I edge into jagged trenches, snake over a
thin layer of serpentine
where a volcano bubbles out bits
of Bob Dylan's sunken nasal armada, hearing as I rise
electronic music mimicking songs of the last blue whale
whose rib-cage sways on a sea-mount.

Now I remember.

I accelerate up past mile-thick ice,
break the surface, Diamond T Polaris
that shoots past sheer ice cliffs
glittering red and green,
that becomes a Strangelove bomb I'm astride,
shapeshifting now to a shiny monopole.
I'm sliding down into the clanging firehouse of today,
the firehouse itself on fire!

This dawn washes treetops
already clean in themselves and perfect.
How clearly the half-moon
gives the light of its features to the blue
we know to be black and ourselves blue
in the sing-song fandango of our clangor!

Hear the full-bellied woodnotes,
wild sweet William finch, smell the
wild sweet William phlox,
feel the gathering of a strength.

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