myth and poetry

Mythopoetry Scholar

Annual Reflections In Depth Perspectives
Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine vol. three, 2012
Duet For Marimba
-Brian Landis

Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
life is but a dream

                                    ...Traditional Folk Round

Marimban.  [from afr.  (Bantu)  marimba,  malimba, pl. of limba, a kind of musical instrument.]  A musical instrument somewhat like a xylophone, often consisting of a series of hard wooden bars, usually with resonators beneath, played by being struck with small hammers. The tuned bars may also be of bamboo or, rarely, human bone.


Where are we?
There is a world behind this world
            and a world behind that world
                        and so on
Meaning in this world is given
            by the fact of the hidden world
                        layer upon layer
                                    each making real
                                                the last
One world is a vulva
One world is a snake
The next is a spiral
The next is a child
Each realm is sacred
            a labyrinth
                        a mask
We are always asking
            “How can this be so?”

There is no beginning
            there never was
                        and no ending
There are no actors
            only Chaos dreaming
But let us pretend
            enjoy the illusion
If you agree
            then this is how it happened 
The nights...
            well, there were no nights
                        no blind solace
The days...
            well, there were no days
                        no necessary fictions
There was only
            seething, roiling, monstrous potentiality
                        Chaos, the Python

Chaos is both father and mother
            inseparable VoidWave
                        divinely bisexual
            gesture without embodiment
enthralled by sinuous, writhing
            creative intention
                        fucking fertile imagination
                                    in an orgy of awful ferity
Their child is Eros
Eros is a horny boy
            can’t keep his hands off Wave, his mother
If you think this is Freudian
            you may be right
Your church doesn’t want you to know
            that Cain murdered Abel
                        for his mother’s cleft
            a crime of passion and perversion
Eve always liked Abel best

With arrows of concupiscence
            from a quiver of necessity
                        tremulous Eros seduces Wave
From Shakti and Intention
            spring forth Light and Form
From Luminosity and Matrix
            spring Matter, Mind, and Poem
The poetry of drama
            the dream, the myth, etched now in stone
Eros burns
            and so we are always burning
Lou Diamond Phillips is burning
Milla Jovovich is burning
The rain forest is burning
Men are chaotic
            aching for containment
Women are wounded
            aching for combination

Psyche cannot live alone
            what’s the point?
                        It’s boring
Life is not a lozenge to be sucked
            Psyche must open her legs
                        Eros has no objection
Each will search the worlds
            for their lover...and discover
                        the other
The cosmos is a reflection
            on the curvilinear convection
                        of a teardrop
                                    in the eye of Dionysus
Tears on the Maenad’s cheeks
Salty tears from a corporeal spring
            enough to fill a sea
Tears for ablution
            what is real cries tears of need

There is no serpent in the sea
The serpent is the sea
Python covers the earth
            as one body covers another
Is it possible then
            to know the Mother?
If you can imagine the Goddess
            you have not found her
You are but blinded by desire
Annihilation in coitus
            is the beginning of life
What progeny
            is anyone's guess
Succor, a child,
            or a hornet’s nest
The only thing we know is this
            we are betrayed by desire’s
                        impossible promise

Pricked into mind, so given life
            vexation, discord, misery, and strife
            intemperance, vengeance, oaths, and lies
            treaty, altercation, battle, and pride
            anger, terror, fear, and doom
            old age, death, oblivion, and fate
Minor gods, it’s true
            yet dour
Perhaps we could negotiate
We are pierced to the mind
by the arrow of time
We remember the past
            but not the future
To keep us from being frightened to death
            of the knowledge
            that everything happens
                        all at once
                                    in one breath

'Tis human folly to run away
            to hide from ourselves
            ululate and pray
Our free will is this and this alone
            to accept our unalterable destinies
            or rage against a truth unknown
We think that we can save ourselves
From what?
That is the question
There is nowhere to run
            and nothing to hide
Who can expedite salvation?
The gods cannot help us
            they are as weak as we
All they can give us
            is divination
            which in the end
                        is the key we need

The gods are deaf
            entreaty is useless
To demonstrate is their primary purpose
            what is, always was, and what will be
            spontaneous existence
            undivided by memory
Knowledge of this
            will set us free
On the soaring peaks
            the high Andes of the New World
            the Inca defeated the Chanca
            whose people defeated the Nazca
Everyone sacrificed Huaca
            the children whose mummified bodies
            are found on the cones of the living gods
            the mountains
                        Illampu and Sajama

The VoidWave underlies all of this
Sun and man
            arose from the bliss
            of Illampu-Ancohuma
            and his wife, Lake Titicaca
Behind the yellow sun
            the black Creator Sun
            who precedes all form
                        including his own
From the House of Breast Milk
            the father sun
                        Creative Intention
            inseminates his daughter
                        Fertile Imagination
            by a beam of light into her eye
She bears Pachamama
            the Earth
                        the breeze, sea, and sky

Blood is like rain     
            it makes things grow
Women must bleed
            and so must men
            to feed the sun
            and begin again, both human and earth
without absolution
            there is no solution
                        no rebirth
I hear flutes
            a lyre
                        and drumming
A man and a woman are coming
A tiger is crying amber tears
            for on this stage they shall face their fears
Our priapic Eros
            and kytotic Psyche

The man you might know
            if you’ve been to Machu Picchu
He was the tour guide
            there to greet you
The last quipu reader
            a cultural shaman
                        on the edge of extinction
            a Marxist guerrilla
                        a man in transition
This aesopian man
            is charged with the breadth
            of unity, tradition
            dreaming and death
He drives the tour bus
            and prays to Wiracocha
            to whom he offers sacrifice
                        fruit, feathers
                        maize, and coca

To look at him you could not see
            that government troops are not amused
            by the man’s attempt to subvert
                        and abuse
            the trend toward Christ and Coca-Cola
He is accused of being
            an anachronism
            a transgression which threatens
            life in prison
In the magistrate’s version
            I think it’s true
            he once tenderly strangled
            a twelve year-old virgin
Each time, each tribe
            has disposable members
The Quechua, a girl,
                        its workers

Communist guerrillas
            are his only friends
Sendero Luminoso
            is just a beginning
            a cry, a rebellion
            that will spell his ending
He runs and hides
            acquires a gun and a camouflage suit
            trains with his cadre and learns to shoot
The altiplano is wild and harsh
            in his tall Andean home
Distance becomes color
            a faded blue
            then paleness
            then nothing
A man has three things to call his own
            his cock, his history,
                        his bones

The troops have finally had enough
            of radicals and talking tough
They round up the shamans
            the tour bus driver
            the Marxist left
                        and open fire
Blood roses bloom on white-washed walls
The bullets are wasps whose sting is sleep
Men twist and struggle, then they fall
The man lacks respect
for the icons of culture
He worships the wind
            and its brother the vulture
Cosmology can’t stop the slaughter
He spins and staggers
            overcome with grief
            downhill to the river
                        de las animas perdidas

He ties himself securely
            to a small yellow raft
For a shining moment
            on the Shining Path
            fear parts like a curtain
            as the current takes him
            down the great dark Apurimac
                        the river of lost souls
            through the Acobamba Abyss
Fate has cast him
            far and fast
The sun never shines
            on this savage ride
            in a treacherous chute
            twisted and tossed
            nearly lost in a canyon
            only thirty feet wide
                        and three thousand feet deep

Three days and three nights
            of cold, wet thunder
            whirlpools, rocks falling
            TimeSpace torn asunder
He glances up once
            at a woven grass bridge
            sees a llama
            a peasant
                        staring transfixed
Apu Rimac is the river
            the oracle, Great Speaker
            whose voice is pandemonium
            who screams without caring
                        if anyone hears
            your name, your wife’s lover
            your disease and your future
            the number of beats that are left in your heart
            the day and the hour your throat will be cut

Great Speaker has taken
            our shining friend’s brain
            scooped it out
            and filled him with pain
The pitiful raft
            careens drunkenly
                        at greater velocity    
            into a night
                        of greater atrocity
He shits
            the river takes it away
He pukes
            the river takes it away
He pisses
            the river takes it away
He bleeds
            the river takes it away
                                    takes it away

When the man’s arms and legs
            are plum colored mush
            his sanity rises
                        and floats in a dusk
            of warmth, of silence
                        quietly watching
            insanity screaming
            in the jaws of a vortex
                        of liquid violence
Nothing remains
            neither love nor lust
            just empty mind peering
            through eyes that won’t shut
His body near death
            when the river gorge opens
            and the chrysalis dawn
            bright-winged morning

The battered raft calls for attention
            sweeps by too quickly
                        for close inspection
            from the thicket banks
                        where the jungle begins
Another day, twelve hours long
            the man is burned by the blazing sun
He is shocked, catatonic
            beyond fight or flight
The raft and its cargo
            come to beach
            at a river bend
            on empty sand
The breathing world
            manifests macaws
            to dip and swirl
            above the boat
                        above the man

A bushmaster viper slips in beside him
            rests for an hour
            uncoils and leaves again
Eyes watch closely
            from leafy shade
Nothing happens here
            that is not observed
Nothing happens anywhere
            that is not deserved
Hands lift the man
            and carry him deep
            into the riotous entropy
            of a jungle keep
The man appears to be epicene
            inchoate and moribund
Yet a feathered dark gnome
            whose specialty is necromancy
            provides a kedge for the man from hell

The Shuar hunters confer and agree
            what must be done
            must be done quickly
To take his head
            and capture his power
            or to save his life
            and unravel his skein
            to save his soul
                        and reweave his dream
The powerful shaman
             Ti Kakaram
wears a necklace of shrunken heads
tsentsas taken during incursions
            into distant lands
                        for souls and women
the two most important things
            or perhaps
                        they are the same

His wives surround him
            his dogs and his birds
Around them, his hunters
            who all carry shotguns
            supplementing their blow-guns
                        darts and quivers
Their flutes and hand-claps
            echo up-river
Old shaman drinks beer
            made from manioc root
            and fermented with
                        his youngest wife’s spittle
He roasts a howler monkey
            skewered over fire
            just singeing the hair
                        skin blisters
                        mouths water

Our hero lies quietly supine
            unhinged in the circle’s center
The red dirt floor
            is his temenos
            wherein only one may enter
Bereft of sight
            bereft of thought
            he will leap from world to world
                        under the protection of his mentor
Dreadful Doctor sucks the smoke
            of Amazon tobacco
            and blows it into Hero’s heart
            his belly and his asshole
            his balls, his head
                        parietal and temporal
                        occipital and suture
Hummingbirds hover, pausing in flight
            and spirits gather ‘round

Night has fallen
            the camp is lit
            by men with copal torches
The solemnity
            of buzzing flies
            is replaced in the dark by animal cries
The medicine doctor boils the pot
            of the visionary drug
The  dregs are dried
and carefully mated
            with another plant, Datura
Everyone is invited to witness
                        even Anteater and Piranha
            the humble paean
            of a shamans oeuvre
            to the gods Jaguar
                        and Anaconda

Drug Chief chants
            “I go where there is a great waterfall
              I go where there is a great waterfall
              It emerges where the mountains become stone
              this waterfall will give me strength
              I hope that with this long journey
              I shall have an encounter
              in order to have an interesting life
              in order to have an interesting life”
             “I, I, I
              I, I, I
              my body is cold
              and thus I have power
           How beautiful it appears
              when I have power
              My thoughts are birds
              Their bodies and wings are dreams
               I, I, I”

Even the dogs eat hallucinogens
            they will participate in the vision
            shared by everyone in the tribe
                        the women, men, and children
The drug chief exhalates
            trumpets, yes, trombones
            yaje, the ayahuasca snuff
            into the nostrils, sinuses, lungs
                        into Shining One’s brain
The man twitches and shivers
            convulses and shudders
Strings of green mucus pour from his nose
            as Tsugki, first shaman
                        Lord of the River
            steps out of a rift
            between                     the worlds
            of whirlpool-rapids               and industry
            of synesthesia                      and idiosyncrasy

Tsugki opens his horrible mouth of foam
            out of which wriggles Yakamama
                        Great Anaconda, Mother of Water
She sings
            “Behind him I come
            I am calling
            from under the river
            I come swimming
            Now I am here!”
The jungle shimmers efflorescently
Rainbows arc from vine to tree
The air is rent
            with the fulminate shriek
            of Naiwa, the Jaguar
            come to seek
            his council place
            to fill the man
                        whom Tsugki has emptied

Puma sings
            “Behind him I come
            I am calling
            From out of the forest
            I come howling
            Now I am here!”
Snake and Tiger double-chant
            “Our gift to you is shedding of skin
            Our gift to you is prescience”
The ancestors float
            from out of the heavens
            in boa-boats
            on the River of Milk and Semen
Germinator Person
            stands above all
                        a good-mouth-that-is-speaking
The speaker who names
            all that exists

Our deracinate hero giggles witlessly
“Life would be different in Cuzco,” he thinks
            “if we’d arrived in canoes
            woven of serpents”
Maybe we did
It accounts for gangsters
            video games and dirt-track racing
            the tangled world
                        going around in circles
The man’s trance is disturbed
            by upheaval within
            and a split in his skin
                        from chin to groin
            out of which cleavage
            a music commences
            exquisitely graceful and resonant
            felt and tasted
                        more than heard

Through eyes as large
            as the moon is loud
            for music is sight
                        and the rhythm of life
            he watches the player
            emerge from his breast
His body turns itself inside-out
The player’s name is
            is slapping his ribs
            rubbing his sinews
            in an articulate concert
            like a one-man band
            in a pueblo square
We hear children laughing
            glaciers melting, an opening flower
            lips touching to kiss

He dis and re
            assembles his bones
            to make a marimba
                        and raps out a tune
The euphonious sound
            the subtle vibration
            is the VoidWave's voice
The sound of the wind
            that blows between worlds
Each of us always
            is making this music
                        calling one world to another
            Searching for the one
                        with whom to sing
            for in finding the other
            we find our lover
            the missing piece, the duet partner
                        for whom we were born

Bones has a lover
            a wife and a partner
                        Grandmother of Days
Dark and fresh, she suckles the man
            holding him pressed to her teat
She fills him with knowledge
            and under her tutelage
            he learns the secret of time
Grandmother gives him a hair from her head
            a glowing clue, a silver thread
            to find his way in strange extensions
“Come!” she demands
            takes his hands to lead him
            on a voyage into the night
She creates a turn in an odd direction
            neither up nor down
            neither left nor right

They sail over Iquitos and Tabatinga
            then Belem glitters below
            across the Atlantic in a single breath
            decades, then centuries, and eons slip past
            the clue, like a comet
                        trailing behind
The deserts of North Africa
            are merely an ecru blur
Keep on moving, never...               Stop!
Frozen in rapture
            on an inland sea
            the man hears the music
            for the very first time
            calling to him in his bones and mind
Like a SETI antenna
            he turns to find
            the source of his joy
                        his ecstasy

On the slopes of Mount Parnassus
            near Delfi, Hriso, and Kirra
            cicadas drone
            and the blue rock-thrush
            flits through oaks
                        whose leaves have voices
A woman wanders
            picking fennel
            her hands and forearms smell of licorice
She’s thin and dusty
a yellow-haired waif
            naked but for a cerulean cord
                        woven around her waist
She lives among monuments, Cyclopean
            has never had a lover
The villagers do not speak of her
                        they are frightened 
            perhaps it’s not possible

The girl is a hierodule
            a galactophagic temple-slave
            who has never taken solid food
            keeps milk-adders
                        as house-pets
Drools                                    (mouth waters)
            in her sleep
            mmummbles mumbles prophecy
Don’t listen
The temple owns her
She was chosen at birth
            by the oracle
            who judged her worth
She was suckled then as now
            by the temple wet-nurse
She knows she will die of malnutrition
            and venom
                        of her own volition

No man has ever come to her
            nor has she seen male gender
            yet the worlds are diverse enough
            to stimulate her wonder
As she enters and leaves
            her pythic trance
            she hears music
            a sound which cannot be played
                        a word which can’t be spoken
In the service of the ineluctable
            she is double-pierced
            by asp and viper
When she is faint
            near to death
            she sees and knows
            through Gaia’s eyes
            as the conduit
                        for prophecy

Her clientele are obsequious
            until she answers their questions
They leave their tribute
            then disappear to greedily devour
                        at leisure
            a gift of illusion
                        of Olympian power
Their chimeran treasures shall evanesce
            even as they are gloated over
“Is my husband unfaithful?”
“Will I be rich?”
“Can I profit at everyone's loss?”
“Will my name be remembered in history?”
All of these questions are mysteries
            to which we already know the answers
It is not possible
            to query the gods
                        without preconceived scenarios

Each answer weakens her
The voice of the gods is caustic
Each answer drains her life
It is the price for being conduit
Hence being emptied
            she longs to be filled
            to dance to the beat
            of the music
                        which moves in her womb
She dreams of a binding
            a bonding, a finding
            of androgyne perfection
                        a reflection
            of one loved unconditionally
From her sapphire center
            she sings a song
                        on a frequency of polyglot urgency
            of suffering turned into devotion

            “Come find me
              Come hear me
              Come see me
              Come listen
              Come share me
              Come trust me
              Come love me
              Come fill me
              Come find me”
There are variations in the lyrics
            human needs are Cheshire cats
A coin without sides
            can never exist
And just so, love
            must have its target
The advantage of women?
They know they are half
            while men imagine themselves whole

It is her song that the guardians hear
            the Phaedriades, the cliffs
            which glow in high surround
Incandescent by twilight
            the chthonic hour
            at which
                        like Mexican radio
            they modulate her amplitude
                        and boost her power
            “I want
              I need
              I lust
              I ache
              I suffer
              I care
              I think
              I feel
              I cry”

The pythic Snake-Oracle
            is the last of her kind
The paternity’s priests will burn her shrine
            she knows this is true for she has seen it
As gestalt underlayment in the spirit world
            Apollo will slay a lizard
            a very small dragon
            whose very large gift
                        was dithyrambic clairvoyance
Within her sheltering laurel bower
            Our mantis appears to be gently normal
            but she is a snapping twig
            a wishing well
            a pipe-bomb
                        in a shopping-mall
            a spider spinning the web of the world
            a living link to the Goddess
                        and a danger to Apollo

Her time is ending
            as is the time of our hero
Each is the end of their endless line
            and has nowhere else to go
Grandmother gathers them, whispering softly
            “Truth must be approached obliquely
Your music is written
            as Sky and Cloud
            and time is as sweet as water”
Like tuning forks
            their souls ring out
An azure thread binds them
            on the Peloponnesian Sea
                        not this century
While under the forest canopy
            he dreams                 white stone
                                                white dust
                                                white female

Diverted now from reverie
            Waif’s attention is caught
            by a flash, a glint
                        from Itea, the Sea    
“A traveler perhaps”
            and with the thought
            the ray of light into her eye
impregnates her, not with child
                                    but with possibility
Our piquant oracle
            is a cornucopia
            night to hero’s day
This conjoined choir
            is a duet for marimba
            whose spell in the ether
            causes movement called breeze
                                                            the winds
            of coming home

            will extinguish their flames
            but not before
                        she has given them names
The oracle she calls
Time’s protege, her shining boy
            receives the name
His lucency
            is a torch in her darkness
            chasing at her shadows
Nothing now is left unseen
            nor unheard, untouched
            ungiven, unshared
            unanswered, unredeemed
From fertile light springs fecund garden
            Lo!  She gains omniparience

Her lambent being is a moth
            whose wings beat at his beauty
            fanning him to lickerousness
                        inspiring knowledge of prior lives
He writhes when she writhes
            acquiring the Divine Eye
            moans when she moans
            entangled in twelve knots of dependent origination
                        Lo!  He gains omnipresence
Their gossamer drama has played to an end
            Great Snake and Great Puma fade away
            all that remains is faint melody
Hero opens his eyes to see
            The International Space Station overhead
                        lustrous at perigee
Or perhaps it’s the last
            of the spirit canoes
                        against deep space and brilliant stars

Heads-Around-His-Neck sings
            “Now it is done
              Now it is done
              The healing is done
              The healing is done
              Now cool water
              Now cool water
              Now it is done
              Now it is done”
Filled-With-Joy is helped to sit
            offered manioc beer, sweet potato
            and grubs from rotted chonta palms
            while dawn’s gravid messenger
                        stirs the wind
            sending spirits rattling about for shelter
This day is his
                        not theirs
            holding promise and illumination

            twilight doorway into corridors
                        of simultaneous being
            softly defined and quickly passing
            gray teacher of simple lessons
                        Nothing matters
                        Nothing lasts
                        Who is dancer?
                        Who is danced?
The trembly tenor
            of the continuum shifts
The strings of the Universe murmur
One being has seen herself mirrored
            in the clarity of another
Her cellular ocean
            ripples with pleasure
All-Gifts knows her refulgent child
            will be named ‘Completion’

On a beach, on a bend
            of Great Mother River
            Filled-With-Joy’s last memory
                        a second set of footsteps beside his
Smoothed by the waves
            the waves
                                                Then and anon
Butterflies dancing
            in morning sun
The currency of the deep world is performance
The single quality of time is poignance
It may seem our players went to extremes
            but they were bound by their cultures
                        as are we
Our duty is clear
            to make no assumptions
            refrain from judgment
                        and follow our dreams

The man and the woman
            lift their heads
            from a sleep so deep
                        they might have been dead
Caught between worlds
            as images fade
Each turns toward the other
            to ask the words

�����������������������                        “Where are we?”  
Nominated in the community generated category #mythopoetics, Duet for Marimba, a part of the top ten nominated pages from this issue, finishes competition on 2/18/14 with an overall standing in position 37 among more than 3,500 nominees. Congratulations to Brian Landis on this fine achievement. Also look for the poem publishing in Feathered Ladder: Selected Poems , California: Fisher King Press, March, 2014.

2014 Shorty Award in #mythopoetics

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Brian Landis

Brian Landis
has been published internationally and has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize .  He is a poetry editor for Skyline Publications as well as a practicing Jungian psychotherapist.

Marriage and Family Therapy
Brian's write-up in Psychology Today Therapy Directory

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