ORPHIC CANTOS, 37. (Excerpt)
by Ivan Argüelles

satellite planets hovering on the rim of thought
white powder in which the dead recognize other souls
this the anti-earth of Persephone the thin lunar crevice
known as salvation for those that succeed in hanging on
a daimon resides in my head pushing sideways into inferno
legacy of ancient poetry untranslatable traces and dreams
of the other life where the elysian fields extend behind the moon
cold cataracts pour into gassy space the relics of the epic
I am if nothing else the stifling afternoon of Sicilian myth
fragments of rock and vegetation dried air volcanic ash
from which arise spectra shuddering from the noon blasts
pleading to have back some shred of shadow a small darkness
a daimon increases his infinite size within my aching brain
there are things my thumbs cannot know to touch that burn
without sensation of flame that contain forbidden metastases
echoes of the first death for those who undergo the second one
when I reemerged from the oracular furnace feet first
my body was radiant this the daimon’s irredeemable gift
who filled my mind with the voices of a thousandfold gods
in the lair of heat which is the chrysalis of the omniverse
how can a man ever return who has seen and be greeted
by household members as the same when he is polluted
infected by the miasma of being other the outsider?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I once said I read everything I write and I write everything I read. I believe that inspiration is the one true process involved in the act of creating a poem, if that’s what you want to call it. I am a devotee of the Muse; she pulls me by the hair and makes me do it. No inhibitions. All worlds open, the galaxies are free fall, I embrace the cosmos as both chaotic and divine.

IMAGE: Roman floor mosaic depicting Orpheus surrounded by animals charmed by the music of his lyre. (SOURCE: Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ivan Argüelles is a much-published, innovative poet. Frequently classified as a surrealist, his poetry overreaches that definition and he has pushed the envelope to epic proportions. A classicist by education, he continues exploring the so-called classical world, be it that of the Greco/Romans or that of India, in his constant experimentation with myth. Among his many books of poetry are: That Goddess; Madonna Septet (2 vols.); Comedy, Divine, The; The Death of Stalin; and Ars Poetica. He is currently working on a long series, Orphic Cantos. A Mexican-American, raised on both sides of the border, he is the identical twin of New Age prophet Jose Argüelles. A retired librarian, he resides in Berkeley, California.