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Thursday, 30 July 2020

Climbing the Holy Mountains

i.
these are the mountains 
so holy
their slopes are felt
as the difficulty of our days

ii.
near base camp
never straying far  
Wang Wei enjoys the sun’s color
cooling 
on the larches

it is peaceful
from far off you can hear
Rilke
restling his great lifelong angel

but I am looking for Traherne

Traherne?
likely off in some meadow
rolling around

I climb

iii.
what strange hills 
you can watch Tranströmer
despite everyone telling him not to
trade everything 
for a stone

and who is this anonymous
female poet
keeping a bird
in her pocket
made of ruby
o my god

I’m not sure how far it’s safe to go

iv.
half-way up
Bukowski’s eating roses
Hölderlin is piss-drunk
and Keats and Shelley are whistling
over top each other 

while Bashō, 
he calmly watches from his hut
playing his game of don’t-blink-first
with the world
I think

o Traherne! where are you?

suddenly Jack Gilbert 
steps out of the shadows 
challenges Bashō to a fight and
immediately begins
to weep

v.
turns out
it was Rumi 
hiding as a bird in her pocket 
whispering

ah!
don’t you know?
don’t you know it yet?

vi.
higher 
Emily Dickinson,
muttering secrets into the ears
of tulips

higher 
Ammons, struggling to make himself
a colon

higher still
a shriek—Sappho
have you climbed up and thrown yourself 
off a cliff
just to punctuate 
a sentence?

vii.
this is no joke
something is happening
and everyone who even begins
to think 
is already onto it

Li Po dreams of it but he 
is chased away 
(by the same Blasting Rod 
I’m sure 
that drove Adam and Eve from the garden)
before he gets a glimpse

Anne Carson 
tries to touch it
by punching a hole in space-time
and reaching an arm through
but accidentally
hits the switch and—

darkness

viii.
uh-oh

now the only sound is George Herbert’s
nostrily 
breathing

someone elbows me
Blake? Yeats? Hopkins?
no

Traherne!

there are you are 
you don’t know me 
but I know your deepest secret 
completely
you were passing it around a while back

here,
it will be our food for the night
we can cook it
if anyone knows how?

for a moment I think it’s a monster
but it’s Hafiz!
Hafiz is not afraid!
Hafiz holds a match and

sets 
him
self 
on 
fire

ix.
now all the poets are gathered round 
stomachs sated in the dark
and in that lull that could fit any story
and in that group that could ponder any question
someone asks

has anyone ever got to the top?

a silence 
so profound
I could hear a petal 
falling
all the way 
to the basement of my soul

x.

and then laughter


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