Clayton Eshleman: For the Night Poem 8 Aug 2010

Looking into the telescope of the night,

with its vehicular cinders, its naked sea butterflies,

I contemplate the composted humanity

under me, or

of self, so latent as to be a dwarf lantern,

to realize what the male head means in my Sepik layers,

to kill so as to amass souls, soul strength of others,

and to dine on brain, and the cave-like

interior of the bone,

                                 at the juncture of Rumsfeld

     and Yorunomado, souls provide

supernatural power, immunity

                                                from death. So

how deeply is the worm of immortality

aghast in me, a flicker gourd, something firing in

my vegetal flavors?

                                  To bring all of this near,

so as to reveal and embed,

to be at thick with my self,


sucking off a 16 year old so as to become inseminated

  with maleness, I am 12

hangdog, hanging out behind the men’s house,

in world obliteration, caught up

in the piston of a drive

to wear a semen bone through my nose,

to be vermilion in a cloud of gnats,

a force amidst the talking trees —

how thin rationality and shoes appear

set beside animistic gore,

                                         soul-driven blindness to

the reciprocal, the “sane” —


inside the soul bone I munch, suck, and draw,

I am a kind of ant, many-legged, with a head packed with

   holy robes, life

grinds up in me, the silex between my fingers

cuts into bone my tweezered lust to

   live and to live and to … see women


as through a periscope, are they wrestling anacondas?

or moon slivers, metate-bent filaments,

                                   mothers of the peccary

   into which the sun ejaculates its lightning?


                          Paralyzed by finiteness,

I hover over the semen stored in my testicular vats.

Everytime I spurt, the trees flash me their vaginas,

   barked gates into soul racked realms …


So I am here, an old man stretched out under his belly,

while As If focuses and refocuses in the night’s

  magnanimous lens … Now or never,


to build into the poem a packed humanity

with cuts below the furnaces of reason

in which the 21st century, like a baleful shark eye, rimmed with fire,

gazes upon its hideous justifications,

feels warmth for its wounded, then wounds them again

as if

we men were, at the precipice of the cosmic vagina,

fighting, jacking off, and dancing, to impede

the feminine

from closing over us, so that we might face,

among the spotched karate of our contact,

the mirrors of immortality …

                                              into these cuts

   to plant imaginal spannings.


[N.B.: Writes Eshleman of the poem’s origin and rediscovery: “This poem was written after studying Weston La Barre’s Muellos: A Stone Age Superstition About Sexuality (Columbia University Press, 1985). It is dated 8 August 2010. It will appear in my book Pollen Aria, to be published by Black Widow Press, spring 2019. After writing the poem I forgot about it, and would have lost it had not my Georgian translator Irakli Qolbaia come across it online. How or where he found it I do not know. But he sent it to me and I recognized it as one of my own.”]