John Kinsella

The Opening Scenes of Doctor Faustus

(Being Book 5 of Graphology )

Obey'd in their severall Provinces
premiers slice up the mineral wealth,
keeping the boundaries of their codices
intact, wives busy as hansard reporters,
writ in iron-tannin ink as down by the creek
ti-tree stains the waters,
night heron hunched in the shadows
permanently, burning into
parchment mise en abyme,
that Goddamn reflection
coming back at me,
thriving in the glass in this place's
all quills dipped in oak galls

and iron salts, drunk on the urine
of a visitor from the old country,
rendering shadows
lampblack and calling death
something else, and everything else
externall trash.
B-text they uttered in the stalls
as if authority need not be intoned,
as divinity falls by the wayside
and the poet becomes a demi-devil
in the restoration of Valdes and Cornelius
who had long back lost their Narcissism,
despite appearances;
                                     the Scholars and Wagner

chewing the fat, refusing to conjure
textus as godspellara,
authenticating through vademecum,
inscribing endpapers with likely
outcomes while Caius drank deeply
milk straight from the breast-
the medical text-as in raising
Mephostophilis Faustus is incredulous
that Meph misses the green fields
of heaven, the world endlessly
revolving with wealth and expanse;
on the membrane indenture
knifed severally as authentic,
a hooded bird recalls flying

into a plate glass window,
confronting English glass
in a Danish frame,
"Zounds, boy in your face!"
gurgles Robin, the clown, Zounds!
architecture whose quiddity
is the integrity of the sails
on Sydney harbour, O splendid
Opera House, in which the parallels
of Said might be drawn at an honorary dinner,
but probably won't, while in Melbourne
they'll have none of it, protecting best
what the centre cannot hold,
pathetic remnant of empire!

Zounds says Robin, come again,
who'll drive back the floods threatening
these islands? Bishop Cox of Ely
backs him up: "And because he doth
intend to bestow cost to drain it, and bank it,
to keep it hereafter from drowning,
I was willinger to let him have it."
You little bastard! says Wagner,
transliterally, almost in Roman-style
typeface: Quasi vestigiis nostris insistere;
dead nettles crowding the Heidelberg school's
expected revival, the rubrication
of scarified desert.

Decoy in the dwindling
water to grind,
or deteriorating hand
as if there were an age
of science, concentrated in pools
of teal, brand geese, widgeon and mallard,
or in the lens of Booragoon Lake-
sacred ibis, cormorant, egret, or blue heron,
determinative symbols against
a city backdrop, interlopers
indicated by caret marks:
guides for twitchers where
feathered membranes are

endorsed as Ouse Washes SSSI-
the drainage enterprises of Dutchman
Cornelius Vermuyden: "The spirits
tell me they can dry the sea,
And fetch
                    the treasure of all forraine wrackes"
redshank and ruff
roughing it in grassland:
Washes acting up a floodwater
in laden storage areas;
chronologically high water
rivering and flooding the Washes
preserving settlements,
suspensions of peat and reed

scripted by mongrel free-hand,
coots clapper claw lying flat on their backs!
having avoided hingles and sprinks
and the humanistic hand
hurling a saucer-shaped earth
into the postcard, John Dyer
double-checking the force
of Nature's rigour, or the materiality
of angels in shellac seals, Miltonic
scorn almost entertaining Empson
while desiring machines
chatter far below the Hebrides,
moving across narrow bridges
towards the minims of Perth.