POEMS 1980


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POEMS 1980





THE MAGIC OPAL, by Séamas Cain
Copyright © 1980 by Séamas Cain

Visual images created by J. Doroff Tanner
Copyright © 1980, by J. Doroff Tanner

All rights reserved.

Published as a chapbook by
the Duluth Art Institute,
506 West Michigan Street,
Duluth, Minnesota,



poem of all Music

Honor is tiger deep
the cavern of trampling charms
the star joy fierce
and a razor of water over
a Wound
we drink the lizard sense
and gazes

Listen to the ugly sweetness
of all music
the treble deep tone of world roll
we burn we burn the
wavestring sky changes modulates

Quiet is filled up by ice
and silver clutter
within the sealight (pause clear
and pause again)
all music pierces sight
the brittle starlight and
sky's crystal winter purple


snow with outstretched
hands poised
for abyss unreaching

and yet languid
your body this deathbreeze

to an end
crystal before my
liquid eyes

remembered the
moon reflecting

off level beachsands
they too were
shiningcovered as frost

snow with outstretched
hands poised
for abyss unreaching


there was a fever in slices,
whispers to the skin, to whom
memories on animals gave
a golden shift

change valued the eyes higher, base
and the parrots emptied weight at
every tooth's prism, the fire ran
from its image every
time language drank from heat

and when peat-moss came to die, logic
counted up the bird-bites in its
own clouds, left breath gladly to
brown rushes, but not ice

signals and prayerbook powder sat at
the royal ice's skin, the
yellow expanse round winter, in the
lofty ancestral fever yonder
in the fluid by the blush

there stillness stood, the aged bite,
drank the last petals of sunburst pewter
and threw the sanctified frost
down into a bird's gut

wings and potatoes saw dye fall, fill, and
sink deep down into the steep
the ink closed, shrubbery
never drank another puzzle


the packet of a transmission is
like pumpkins: balloon comes from a
calendar, a herd rises to a jewel
and is bound to return back
to the sparkle's moor-hen,
alternating everlastingly

the pure tongue's stone streams from the
steep crystal, then, in a trance,
all clues turn to cloudy barricades of
owls against the smooth shadow, and, gently
received, creatures undulate, veiling
caresses, questions, walls, and
softly murmuring, down to
the mutton and mulberry

if mirrors stand out against a
fence's descent the reflection foams
angrily step by step down
into a blind jump

in the even elevation the lichen steals
through the trumpet's surface, and
in the smooth oboe's map all the
lithographs joyously mirror their contour

all worship is a delightful segment
of the arrow, gesture mixes
foaming chess-games from
the jaw's ache


Thus is sighing ice of
year ice heighing waltz, I
roll up my thigh skin, brittle
to the anger searough woman
the statue vomits over
stone in stone we
are in stone truthstunted and
verbmissing in stone
their mud and their mouths.

Ice invokes the waterstone
clamped in mud turned spigot in
mud the mouth
wordswollen and swallowed.
And this night man who is not submissive.
My ears have now vanished.
My mouth tasted his quiet.


Tomb is unforgiven to blueness,
over the far foreignness (I
have forgotten) with this
sigh signing Black bed end.
The lightloose thimble favor
of a friend, the ghost in
triple-tiered Busting.
I scratch the front clover thistle,
violet against the green yellow.

We are,
without the red edge of dawn
cool breath,
this branch gathered man.
We spat and we whimpered,
withoutpart and gushloosened,
eyelids tremble.
We broke the woodmaster's awl.
We are shut, late,
white sheen within shimmerwhite,
we glower the moist dawn I
am under his (eyes) curse
within curse.


The abrasions were shining
so golden, an ashtree
was standing by bleeding
blackbirds at the bracken's
grime and heard a cormorant from far
away over the quiet daffodils.
My earthenware caught a ferret
within a fish's gill, and glow-worms
thought secretly to gunpowder
beehives * oh, how
herons go along too,
in the radiant jam jar!

Two young jugglers passed by
on a leech and a lemon,
as magnetic jelly-fish walked
through the quiet mallard, the
marmalade heard moths and mint-sauce
singing: of dizzy rocky needlework where
the nipples rustle so softly, of
nutshells which plunge from paraffin into
the primrose of the quicksilver.

Radium sang of marble raspberries,
of reptiles which run to
the red-shank bird in
twilit corn ricks above the
naked saliva, sardines in scarletless
salmon where sedge and scutch-grass
listen at the lobster silhouette
and quartz milk silverweed when
the hornsound snowflake of the
spume awakes, and the sturgeons
purl sleepily in the
radiant teaspoon's tendon.


we are compelling
the chain of
sunstressed wilderness
the tyrant sun jade gaze unquiet
mighty to be divided
the old harmonious birch filaments
the grief slab of blackest basalt
(we were in pain but we
were not in pain)
the grief slab of glassy basalt
we were spongy or pumiceous as
we broke the porphyritic olivine
we linked the cataractal maze
of whitened elements
the serene slide of river water
the rule of worldless wilderness
the catchless keepless wilderness
the byzantine convulsions of the birds
we struggled ocean wild grey beasts
and gentle yellow groves
the swirling steady pace of pain
the tame riverslide


god of the dead,
in the tiredness
of step after step
while the
point of anticipation
lusthung sharp
in her body
her ears
the glad cry
of lichen-covered rocks.

As greying dragons, they
faced ragelike the shadowy
rippling waters
with their greenbreasts.
Tethra crushed her
head on them.


brush is following a bronze guru
to the wavering molar sunset
to a heart by the long ravioli to
policeman of beautiful whipped cream
to popsicle dead in
a leaper of caterpillar
to weapon eating wild
waltzes from a carp
to cyclone playing
in celestial feather
and to that dark cubicle
beside a braided rug
of youthful feathers singing
to the glassblower

when the octopus comes
up castaways will
live at lemons
covered with cavernous
shells, and sparrows

and wrapped in a
sea of lost coal

but compound weeds are
coming to the horseshoe
and squares will
be vibrations in
a musical firefly
in a bowl of burning feathers
burning like a
rosebud of the amoeba
pouring its sun
into the lunar seagull


i spread swiftness into
the manysided multiple mirror
i imaged my skin as
sky sea calm the
monstrous bright shape of
disjunctive melodies reflected
in error cavern

life (like the mirror) is
multi-colored too the
breath of summer purple shadows
on the steep dawn
i scale the radiance of awe
and star weep depth
i embolden the sick
beast of white rosy smile the
cold cleft of rock
i am fearful of the while

legs of the bare boy
gleam in brown light
i pour the leprous orange
skin into an adamantine cup

sonnet, powerlessness

i am graved as tower crag
the obelisk and black
multi-storied double column
i cradle cloud and snow
the imperious quicksand
i stamp the wrath white temple
strong and fire mud crowned
i am not solemn i am
palatial powerlessness
the forest is a seashine of
bladed bark and brittle blossom
the lively mud
at my breasts the
volcanoes of moist mouth
water the
waterfall force of
obeliscal azure and rock

sonnet, a celtic drum

we touch
the slow whirlwind of
his falling figure
gathering cloth within Z or
we touch tempestuous a
thousand stormstreams
that splay and splinter
the mountainous edge and
rock tower this is
destiny tumult the sudden
roseviolet rising and blue
we sky cleaving cleaved Wedge
the dome split stone White
and speckled toppling jagged shattered
we desolate we pierce the
thin place in creatured sky
center up vomit up from
crack cracking earthquake crack
we inhabit in cracked creeking
and silverlightwater creek
we brittle split the greek rock
like a cube of ice


within a quill
within a mandolin wind
actors castle and carry
all priceless dwarfs
mallards pursue their celestial
texture with flaming moonbeams
parachutists roll their suitcases
in heated geraniums, jelly-fish manure
earthquakes search for roots
lost in skulls, in mackerel
maggots pass over the
hexagons of wanton chaperones
the heavy submarine flames

tapdancers draw cannibals from
the eremites of blue eyelids that
burn through a communal stiletto
treasures loop'd and mantl'd to
the pessimist of corsets
murdered merchandise with
the fishes of hoaxes
and sweet scented ghosts
whose centers contain
crescents, teeth, a cello
fish lustr'd linoleum
and all the thorned mandolins

knuckl'd, become balls of quicksand

wanderers, beefeater, the wounded
kaleidoscope that cut through
a cask in kerosene hysteria


Yearningly /  longingly /  to the
Sweating of the brain * thorns as
Thorns reaching~ lovingly
She was like a pale rose
Thrusting /  attaining /  thorn shrub
She was tenacious cause of irritation
Short sharp pointing hard leafless
Varying stem

Rose of red
Rose of white
Luxuriousness /  beautiful /  yet
Simple affection~ lush
I trust you (she said)
Plant with prickly stems
Growing with becomingness
Abounding and good vigour
I love the radiance of true
Simplicity (she said)
Speak (I said)

Eyes the color of russet
Blue white skin of tissue
She was purity of parchment
Prepared as a surface :
Interwoven mesh~
Mottled by bleeding injuries on
Occasional rareties /
Mark of archaic hurt and
Scarcity~ lack of densities
She was volume of the
Crowd~ objectified~ obsidian
I am the whirlwind (she said)
Alabaster face (I said)
Many streaming panting wind
And rain to the hard and
Glassy dark rocks /
High to the suffering shores

Cargoes of the land
Cargoes of the wood
Spouting to sound by blowing
O the Lady O'Handrahaun
Driven (she said)
Bursting explosion~ blowing motion
She was holding her own face
Cold fingers : to graze past something
A light touch in passing
Loveliness / lovely
Brushing finger motion
Royal face thunder~ continuously
I in brightness and with luck (she said)


That repeats
Itself in circle :
It seemed an easy game
To change the form /
It seemed an easy game
To change what was given to me
Into nothingness / nothingness
It seemed an easy game
To change
Into indefinite
Laziness each definite passion."

And that is what Crazy Mary said!
To be sure, that is what she said!

That repeats
Itself in circle : sweat /
Pulsation the sweat of
Struggle in life!
That repeats
Itself in circle : illusion /
Tiny mirror motions
You were always the same!
That repeats
Itself in circle :
Without affection you gave
Penetrating subtle insult."

And that is what Crazy Jane said!
To be sure, that is what she said!

"Now : at that void
I have finally collected
Each of my
Contemptuous sensuous expectations
Now : at that void
I experience
Sheer nothingness the longing
Motions/ event~ totality~ motions
Now : at that void
I experience new
Emotion  that gives glimmerings
It is the only one you recognize
It is the one that only you recognize
Illuminations : in a struggle for life."

And that is what Crazy Mary said!
To be sure, that is what she said!


mist that sinks all
jungles into the fingerprints
and gurgles about the
huge moons in zebra
handcuff zebra moon eye dreams
of black beehive nucleus the
scroll has grown enormous torches
hidden in a stallion, in
stallion, in plasma of throne

reeds hammer'd and heckl'd beneath
the secret cloud of light, stallion

lantern-holders hiss'd beneath heated
beetles and were sold, halter'd
hing'd to many chemists' unicorns
to land on this guitar the
swimmer's cornflake mud
lipstick sails in a
war horse of brandy
as lakes are kept
within a perfumed baby
where they swiftly glaz'd and
glob'd beaches of jigsaw puzzles
twilights growl'd and gander'd
within purple wild stallions

gorge pens, gorge tophats
gnarl the naked miner the
necklaces that issue from whistles
silver only the unopposed cradle
of journalist these painted skies
watch only the reeds


This is war's winter when the tree
Is broken orange and yellow.
We have spoken to the tree.
The tree does not speak.
We have seen the nothing sun, the
Purple twilight nothing.

I am unsettled by the small
Bright sun, the setting redness
And the point unsetting.
We are quiet. We see wild quick and
Quiet zebra in the blackwhite
Edge of knife. We are golden zodiac.

War, we hate your shrunkenness.
Curse this pleasant place,
War War we bless you.

I am a man of something,
Pushing in an ancient stain,
Brown and ragged, heavy.
In the strength of splintered
Bone and burnished copper,
I gesture outward by water.
I am a man of something,
Willfulness, dignity, I swim.

Unburied war, we are cold in the
Zodiac. We are the pretty silver
Vegetables. We are chiseled in the
Cold copper and tree  broken  that
Will be grey and metallic.
Waken waken, War, we
Chant the chaos in iron ore.

I am the winter zebra blood and hot.
I am carved and curled in marble.
War  distractible  is learning
Alphabet in the waters, public
Verbs that do not eat meat.

I, hidden, am a man of
shrunkenness and metal.
They cover my phallus with mud.
They hide my cowardice with fear.
But the winter red tree
With middle branches
(What is this envelope of
sudden orange and quiet?)
Reaches the folds of starskin and
Extinguishes the big sky of war.

Winter's war when the tree will be something.


Stephen Thomas, epic anti-hero,
Walked left-round
His house in
Bare feet.
Short nervecords
Made his toes curl under.
Grieving dog had scarred his
Auburn-haired lip.
Agate cutting.
Taking the sphere (glasscovered) of
Poison-gas, he
Smashed it on the
Floor of the concrete hall.

After the smoke had
Fergal O'Hanlon
Saw the
Grotesque shapes of the
Dead stripped
Flesh and scattered among
Concrete and agate slabs.

Turn the guns
Against yourselves
That throngdead
From their graves, he said.
With a shot, Stephen Thomas
Did smash the
Rest of the world in
His mouth!


HOPE : burning slowly
In a raw fire
The tough log burning
Among grey rocks

Gesture remains : it
Measures the void
CEREMONY sounds the
Limitations of affection
Rituals : unknown
That express themselves and
Nothing else
You may endure
But : I am lasting
Passion to one final irrepeatable
Beat of brain and blood

TRAGEDY endures only in ashes
Persistence is merely extinction
You have been commodified!
Slow-burning hope has at last
Consumed itself

Remember remember :

Keep the powder in your brain
WHEN : every motion has been
Sounds grow intolerable
Then : I, Crazy Mary, will
Descend  shimmering, shadowy
On a prow
Piercing the wild

Remember remember : Tragedy
Is only a memory



and sycamores shall
have no tablet
the dead tackle naked tangles
shall be tar
with the swan in
the swig and
the west tortoise
when the whistles are
picked tincture (vaccine tinge)
and the uranium
urine gone
valves shall have
sweetbread at towels
and wind-vanes
though vermin vertex
go vinegar vertebra
shall be vellum
though tendons sink through
the varnish vaseline
shall rise again
though hawk's talon be
lost a test-tube
tether shall not
and velvet venom shall
have no velvet venison

and towers shall
have no uproar
under the taunt of
the swimmer and swirl
vowel vomit lying voltage
shall not utensils windily
twist on tanners
and talkers when
symmetry gives way
strapped to a texture yet
turnips shall not break


tracings in their traction
shall snap in thicket
and the thurible thyme
run titlarks through
split all tongs
up tremor tress
shan't trumpet
and thatchers shall
have no trout

and tide-mark shall
have no thistles
no more may thaw cry
at the toadstools
or vessels break tassels
and tatters on the
turf-bank turkey-hen
where blew a
vegetation vein may
a thud no more
lift a syringe to
the taint of the
three-ply wool
though timbrel tin be
walnut waltz vibration
and virus as vitriol
and waterfall waterfall
the warble rabbit-warren
wart hammer through toothache
break in the
tattler till the
verdure breaks down
and velvet wasp shall have
no velvet water-cress
and velvet venom shall
have no velvet venison


as the final turnstile of pinetrees pours
out from a banshee out into the
glue to watch the night begin
then a faun's slop will know
the destructive earthworms have gone
into the zither's bulldog when the
wounds invade our machines and the
skunks yell their placebo and suck
hard as the jellyfish is
lit up by magic orchids

my hydrogen spitting saunas
come to a ritual pathway,
wind and rum

machines leap over the sorcerer to
climb into wrinkles, violet walls are
crawling backward to enormous chariots
locomotives are ascending to the limitless
mistletoe of hypodermic needles and
into the crevices the eucalyptus tree
is following snails into the fermentation
of sunbeams and the horned sailboats of
a ruby, stockings have entered the
anthropologist where the dead
lizards speak to rope

the flat oxen are singing, and rooftops

and the graves of the swastika are
written in an oceanic sombrero
the mushroom is heard the leopard
despite the runningboard of mad
windmills the flat serpents are singing


Overblight, all this,
in the frame of eye,
oversee (amber and yellow) that this
panic of the stranger
is a gibbet
sheltering you (self).

And more of whiteness nightly.
Rough rock and (kiss) snow.
Caulk me (you) and credo
the black otter.

Overworked by verbs,
wild, smelly, thankscolored,
what a black sheen, unsightful,
I seemed to be a verb, rank smell.

And the seanight of white.
Snow (sails) kiss to ground in roll round.
Over creed and caulked I
am the gulfstream lime.
For immersion in this endlessness forever
chalk Space/time.
Wither go coming and none.
You are the span of all flighting sleep.
My skin is green now, withering.


I choke the pine, pine.

The irrational sun and
Sweet wind and wolverine.
I do not give a
Verb to the quiet.

Wind and bird, I cannot speak.
The throat of my love is
Large, throat shimmer and color of
Carrara marble.

Blackbrown valley is
Churned out of fresh air.
We are not fire fire (when?)
We are not spirit.
Do you have a name? you and
The afternoon crow?

You stand like the initial pine,
Spare, lank, sparkled,
Swaying in the dance of pine.
I crumble from your curly tall heart,
First growth, lighted joy.

I choke the pine, pine.
Bark and branch sing.
Leaves glissando.
Bird and wind.

I have become dark in the sweet
Sun and wind illogic.
Throat is an agate.
I question the wolverine.
I cease, cease.


Does a basket know the gourd where
the lemon dwarf explodes, and
the golden rattlesnakes glow in the
dark harvest wart, where a gentle
photograph blows from the blue
melody, where the bell's jade stands
quiet and coming-of-age towers up?
Does history know a hobo's nutrient?
Traintracks are where, oh, airwaves
are where, hunters would like to
go with a circle's vomit,
oh my pygmy gateway!

Does a sorceress know the source?
Its quilt rests on a poison, the edge
gleams, the rags glitter (mold chitters) and
marble wands and gardens stand, a horsefly
looks at smoke images. "Poor lust! what
has uranium done to blood?" she said.
Does a skin know warm bushes, honeycombs,
staghorns, and star vines?
Wavechange is where, oh,
watermarking is where
the grass would like to
go with fishnets, oh my dome dream!

Does birdsound know
the mountain cerebellum
and daydreams' cloudy
weeds? The trail seeks
raindrop's hole there in
the fiber's niche; the
ancient shifting of water dwells in
bridges and peaks; the
pattern's icicle foliage falls
sheer and the mushroom over it.
Does a gem know the sword's doorway?
Rockpile is there, oh, glacial-scar is
where our moving island leads, oh,
fibers, humming, harbor, let watermarks go!


The zigzag is sultry
over the marble wren,
whose milky woodcut pranced
with a glowing wickerwork,
runs downward to the
vinegar's twitter, where untold
tillage the thigh-bone
with gently lapping sunburn
washes into first discoverable
sting the jewelled spider.
The round sodium turns and
holds within the smotherer the
sinews of old sea-gulls.

Each jagged rock-fish
of rainbow, no pinecone moves,
stands, and parallelograms of
stony mustard sends far
out where twinkle milk-pudding
starlike membrane crystallizes,
if on their pink crow's
nest zigzags the insulin slants.
Beneath, the merry hydrogen dances
and shouts, and on haddock
the gauze gangrene when
featherdown face-powder makes eggshells
look like eels with
innocent and curious crickets.


This is white rose red rose
Over the cathedral.
Nestorian priest cooks brain
From the black pig.
He is a good man, thin, yellow teeth.
He draws out of the brain a red-white thread.
(We dream the death of night.)
Under the lagoon, under the
Canal's black water,
Froth and watery pearls, the sky above is
Yellow smoke.

The Nestorian priest floats down wind.
Is he asiatic? Down the white wind bubbles,
His tight leathery red
Muscles, his dark muscles.
Tomorrow tomorrow the street is jungle.

We have moved to the citadel.
The Nestorian priest takes a black
Heart from the pig's carcass.
We enter the brothel, like yellow smoke
Distracted, the loose pinewood door,
Endless cloth taken from the pig's brain.

The Commandant of the tower is
Fleshly red-white embarrassment.
We are expressive,
Through the large loose door of brothel.
The Nestorian priest is young; he
Also wrecks dogs with black and
Yellow slivers of bamboo.

There is white smoke
Over the lagoon,
Red fog over the canal.
The Nestorian priest takes a rose
Out of the pig's carcass.
The priest is sweating.

sonnet, History

i pass the future
in a space of icy cave
boy is wavewater tossing dark
and the man a delusive sea
mud and falsewater smiling
spread smeared and sinking
dropdrip sunken
i betray enchanted i betray
the sunken island that
revolves beyond my fingertips
the smooth water
and shadow double insects
flowing to
a serene day death the
lightning sun mist
the sun gulf
i am gleaming in the sunlight
the smooth water skin
the infant brain is a boat


There was a mountain of flame
      through the wild chasm of shattered
            rocks they called sky.
Dolorous moon had been swallowed by the fiery
      tombed-druid in the western sea.
I shall reveal my power, Balor thought.
His face was sharp and fleshless.

Who are you? he cried.
It was the end of autumn
or the end of deathsounds.

I am Domnu, goddess of the deep.
The wind that breathes over the sea
      screams my oneness with the Fomoraig.
I am the inmost being of the earth.
Three struggling snakes
      formed me out of their conflict.

These violent snakes formed a globe
      with foam and sweat
            from their bodies.
With united hissings,
      threw it into air.
I am that earth.
I was created out of their battle.

Look! screamed Domnu.
I see only the moon, Balor said.
No! she wept
It is the eye of HornedSnake 
      who has come to devour me.


THE MAGIC OPAL, by Séamas Cain
Copyright © 1980 by Séamas Cain

Visual images created by J. Doroff Tanner
Copyright © 1980, by J. Doroff Tanner

All rights reserved.