Sea Snails On A Black Chow's Tongue

Sea Snails On A Black Chow's Tongue

by Keith Harvey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440178856
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/08/2009
Pages: 120
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.25(d)

About the Author

Keith Harvey is the author of three novels, Vogel Flies South, Vogel and the White Bull, and Cave Gossip; and a book of poetry, Petroglyphs. He practices international law and divides his time between his offices in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and Dallas, Texas. He is the owner of Red Rook Review.

Read an Excerpt

Sea Snails on a Black Chow's Tongue

or, a Castaway's Poems in a Bottle
By Keith Harvey

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Keith Harvey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4401-7885-6


Chapter One

Liminal State The other Oyle is prest out of the dried Cocus, which is called Copra

Deep down on the lower level, beneath the sea-green breakers, we walk on our head. At night we dream of parakeets in palms, as brown-bronze women dance on yellow sand. Yesterday we piloted a silver schooner through the archipelago and traded Gaugins for copra. We serve the sea-spider; we breathe through gills. Tomorrow we hide in a coral niche and count starfish with tattooed eyes. Rimbaud's Color heel The center-word does not hold its color-sounds alone they swirl within the sun-threads first black then white green then blue until the red appears so red that we see gold the danger though is that blue bruises black and begins to turn again Seven Steps in Sense Sequence Plus Two we have explored the primal word and magic numbers but do not forget the sense of color Wittgenstein and Goethe knew its worth and the cabalists its symbol expect now both number and color when we do what we do to make or unmake poetry of nine levels or three squared The Futility of Stratagems gardens grow wild within the squared circle of big mind throughout its spheres nature orders chaotic growth and cosmic mechanics whirl metallic wheels as daffodils drip drops of oily dew onto blind eyes Order in the Time of Ramses twelve hours of day balance against twelve of night the rule writ on papyrus work in light sleep at twilight but to be safe light the oil lamp at dusk to drive daemons away Abstraction Rousseau paints green on the jungle canvas his yellow parrots parade on jagged limbs where jaguars sleep jade in verdant shadows mottled leaves dry from an afternoon rain and sun-threads reign over jaundiced puddles where parrots drink and the Paraclete sleeps shuttered in the jaguar's keep Tiny Bats hang like green grapes beneath Congress Street Bridge at dusk they drop gulp air and jettison guano their numbers paint the sky black they spread like treacle through ebony night on Bollingen Island fox bats fall free under ebon limbs at dusk they eat pomegranates with simian hands at dawn they sleep suspended swaying in sour wind Process D'or line ends your breath but to breathe signifies a four-fold sign of green so exit timeless and dream blue but do not fall or fail for a bruise re-boots black Chows Bark Primal Words to the two Ws-Walt and Wallace

they sing the lyric of the lower man as black-tongued chows they bark primordial words like familial hounds their harried language howls to the languid lovers of the lower level and like Puritans in their log cabins they pray for the patriarch's provision of profit owls observe their shadowed orbs beneath the New England woods and doves huddle in their hutch cooing to the sweet squabs that squeak tomorrow's sun their fresh feathers fray throughout the night's somber embrace and the moon's frigid light at dawn a pigeon carries a message to the sun-knitted in angelic sun-threads the primal word images God through the lower ones and incarnates the quotidian on parchment receiving the message on winged tongues the Pilgrims pray for transcendence but the elect find their wealth in the moldering soil of the worms the worms wiggle on hooks of desire the chow tongues once blackened catch fire Primal Patriarch he appeared then her his son died murdered by his brother eventually he died from her to the earth it was his end but not the end the hierarchy arose from a cut pruned from a yellow rose now he ascends and descends toward transcendence The Fact of the Doing Thing the job that works us is not the one we waited for in fact the work we do is not the one we dreamed of nor trained for nor interviewed with nor even wanted instead we do what we do because we can do no other thing Poet He sat and read his primal poems on a wooden stool carved from pine. His lips purpled as he scanned primordial words and his tongue shadowed like a chow's. Mug's Game the mug's game has no rules only a prescription grind dragon bone into powder and drink it in green tea purple visions may appear and sear the mind's eye with images so abstract the tiger lily will bloom red then yellow light will burst bright from the book's binding and lean lines will form left before marching down blanched pages of Set's papyrus Fingerprints for every touch a print is made not on water but on clay for every breath upon a leaf a bit of moisture remains for every sight an image lingers and for every sigh an ache for each encounter with an Angel one broken limps away Method The chow barks a snail's portrait its threefold sign triples one round shell to read its whorl is to hear a star gasp a frozen breath inward to hear the whorl is to read a sea-green sea Sargasso into a blue Geist Sulphur sulphur the driest salt sprinkles from her fevered brain her projection is her protection but it makes no sense because sulphur as salt possesses savor only after fault Freud's Pillow or Lot's Lot soaked in her juices for six decades he now awaits her second nonage to air his fate and faults maybe chalk from Dover cliffs is his place to crumble into white waves but before the stone hardens into sulphur and flakes into salt he looks back and sees flames engulf city walls and salamanders dance in red cloaked

Northwest Passage to Ms. O'Leary

Doctor John Dee read four thousand books and spoke to Annaël in tongues. She was his muse and Spenser's virgin queen. Together they scried a darkened way to a manifest destiny. Through chartered companies and bartered ships they struggled beneath sea-green ice and beached one fateful day as castaways in auriferous Cathay. Reading John Dee in the Bath the primal word reacts to expansion emotional flutters within my ear a buzzing of silk wings and muttering of a gibbering ghost a précis of John Dee proceeds to the next numen perhaps Bes therefore Lull lull me into an alphabetical mysticism count ten on my fingers and label them B to K Anecdote of the Garden Krazy Kat's fur is black like the bruised wing of a crow. Firecat is red like the speckled eye of a peacock's feather. Krazy Kat appeared first, like Abel, in the world. Firecat will arrive later, the last one before the end. Firecat and Krazy Kat share the silky sand of his garden. Krazy Kat slumbers in the shrubs in the doomed darkness of dusk, while Firecat dozes on the grate. Another mediates the in-between; Snowcat purrs under the red rushes beyond the bed of purple irises. Snowcat loves Krazy Kat and Firecat. Snowcat exists in perpetual winter; she is the queen of snow that blows from ether. Snowcat cannot purr; her throat is blocked; the glottal stop is wrecked. Instead, she listens while Firecat and Krazy Kat sing a stone-song trending toward harmony. The Black Chow The black chow sleeps against the door; her heavy body an impediment against entering or exiting. She is a companion that cannot be left. Sometimes he throws a message in a bottle into the yard and she springs away with a cough. Her weighted soul splits the air and her paws pounce on the prize. Freed, he slips from the house, sacrificing a message unread. Now chewed and wet she deposits it on the stoop before she settles like Cerberus to guard a captive who has fled. Snail's Tale A snail on a mirror, smuggled onto a Russian truck, one snowy night passes through the American lines. That morning it had been a Communist; by nightfall, it crawled from the polished glass onto a silk tablecloth in Salzburg, speaking German and telling a strange tale. It said, "There are two snails: the one that speaks here to you and the other, my twin, that lives on the other side of the projection. In that alternate world of thrown light, my double slithers on slime along a razor's edge of time that flows in reverse toward Romania, where snow buries frigid bodies crumpled on the side of a ditch, their eyes perfect calcified shells." Paul at the Brasserie Lipp

Paul arrived at Brasserie Lipp around 18:30, about thirty minutes before his agreed meeting with Günter.

As the maître d' seated him in one of the banquettes in the entrance, cold rain drizzled down on the gray sidewalks, driving the tourists back to their hotels. He smiled wryly because he didn't like tourists, especially American tourists; their congregating in front of the café to soak up the remaining DNA of the lost generation somehow offended him.

Paul was not immune to the allure of past writers' haunts nor absorbing their DNA. That was why he was at the Lipp rather than some more modest café in his neighborhood. Perhaps that was the real reason why he looked down on the tourists huddling beneath the awning, rain dripping off their noses, waiting for a table that the haughty maître'd may or may not grant them, because he knew he was not much different from them. The only difference, he rationalized, was that he had published a handful of poems in Germany. Somehow that legitimized him, whereas these others were simply that-the others.

As he waited for Günter, he extracted a moleskin notebook from the inside pocket of his tweed jacket and a Pelikan fountain pen he bought in a shop in the center of Frankfurt. He was working on something he believed might be important: a metaphysical conceit he thought of while reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. He summarized the conceit easily and succinctly: poetry is a message in a bottle, cast into the sea by the poet, to float alone and find its own fate.

Of course, like every conceit, he built upon it and refined it. He even imagined writing a whole series of poems about a shipwrecked and his struggle to live within the confines of a deserted island.

In fact, this morning while shaving he thought of a corollary image, which he thought opened up a new avenue of philosophical development, an avenue which he wanted to discuss with Günter. Suppose a young, idealistic shipwreck throws a bottle into the sea and then, over the years, forgets about it. He goes about his work on the island, doing everything he can to survive. Years later, he is walking on the beach at dusk, when he sees a glint in the sand. He hurries to it and digs it out with his staff. He uncovers a blue-green glass bottle. He examines it and discovers its mouth is sealed with beeswax; he peels the seal back with his long yellow nails and extracts a piece of rolled bark. On the bark he reads a message in smoky charcoal: "I sailed on the HMS Manifest Destiny in 1952. The ship sank in the China Sea; all hands were lost except me. Shipwrecked."

The man is startled. He pities the poor man, who, so many years ago, became shipwrecked at the same time as he. A man just like him cast a message into the world, but unfortunately, his message landed on another deserted island. He wonders if he still lives, and then it dawns on him that he is the shipwrecked. With this realization, his hope crumbles and he begins to sob; tears stream down his face. He is alone and the message in the bottle has "unconcealed" his condition in the world. He is a shipwrecked on a deserted island. The sea surrounds him and marks his boundaries. The sky forms his roof and he is mortal, fated to die alone. The help he waited for will not come. With the truth now revealed, he returns to his life on the island, where he dwells.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sea Snails on a Black Chow's Tongue by Keith Harvey Copyright © 2009 by Keith Harvey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

PREFACE....................1
DEDICATION....................3
Liminal State....................5
Rimbaud's Color Wheel....................6
Seven Steps in Sense Sequence Plus Two....................7
The Futility of Stratagems....................8
Order in the Time of Ramses....................9
Abstraction....................10
Tiny Bats....................11
Process D'or....................12
Chows Bark Primal Words....................13
Primal Patriarch....................15
The Fact of the Doing Thing....................16
Poet....................17
Mug's Game....................18
Fingerprints....................19
Method....................20
Sulphur....................21
Freud's Pillow or Lot's Lot....................22
Northwest Passage....................23
Reading John Dee in the Bath....................24
Anecdote of the Garden....................25
The Black Chow....................27
A Snail's Tale....................28
Paul at the Brasserie Lipp....................29
Günter Arrives Before the Flood....................31
Snail Silence....................33
Life on the Under Leaf....................34
Early Snails....................35
The Worms....................36
Forget La Giaconda....................37
Return....................38
Night-soil....................39
Archipelago....................40
Oskar as Athena; Günter as Zeus....................41
White Bears Red Snakes....................42
Loon....................44
Readers....................45
Beckett Beckons....................46
56....................47
Wolfgirls DanceUnder June's Moon....................48
GI Home 1968....................50
Hunger....................52
Tick-Tock....................53
White Worm....................55
Haiku-eins....................56
Haiku-zwei....................57
My Stylistic Choice....................58
Stone Measures....................59
Quarry....................60
Core....................61
Milieu....................62
Inked Clay....................63
Paraclytus....................64
Friday....................65
Die Welt....................66
Therapy....................67
Pete's Dead....................68
Message in a Bottle....................69
The Hermit....................70
Her Spring Revolt....................71
The Toad....................72
Furnace Talk....................73
Chicago Lyre....................74
The Shipwreck's Agenda....................75
Island Dwelling....................76
Insels....................77
Freedom Is Between the Notes....................78
Anecdote of Psyche....................79
The Myth of the Snail....................80
Autobiography....................81
The Shipwreck's Dream....................83
Pharos....................84
Alexandria....................85
Proper Study....................86
Die Vergangenheit....................87
-[??] space in self....................88
Sound Considered....................89
Will....................90
Winter Hunts....................1
Philosophe Blanc....................92
Anecdote of the Center....................93
Incarnation....................94
Fox-clock....................95
Summer 1958....................96
The Net-Maker....................97
Matthew Arnold's Essay....................98
La Ronde....................99
Seeking Celan 1968....................100
Icarus's Lament....................101
Rose + Snail....................102
Infinite Bees....................103
Kavka/Jackdaw....................104
A Sunday Fight Ends Now....................105
Death Visits Kilgore on Sunday....................106
Anecdote of a Black Chow....................107

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