Anselm Hollo
from West Is Left on the Map (1993)


West Is Left on the Map



                                  trace my life on the map
                                  a new geographical treatise
                                  every day

                                  check the table of contents
                                  let's see
                                  where will I be tomorrow

                                  —Mihail Cosma

                                  Worstward Ho

                                  —Samuel Beckett




wee terrible human race
soon to go down     or else into space

let it go let it bleed
into stellar fuzz     the light of another sun

whatever it ever was
fights among capos

a puff of dust where the lampshade bloom'd

Marlene forever young

like Marx or Helen's ankles
at the gates of dusk

or a recital
of Etruscan tunes    what a treat

                            "poems in 2091
                            objects of monkish interest"
                            sez Vidal
                            Gore, not Peire

              like poor but civilized urban existence
              another thing of the past





Petrus Kalm (1716-1779), a native of Finland, went west & later
wrote in his "Travels in North America":

"once this old white man went to the woods with one of the
& they came upon a
                                   speckled red snake
the old man reached for a stick but the savage begged him
in the name of all that was sacred
                                   not to hurt this snake
saying it was
                       one of his gods
so the old man picked up a sturdy branch & killed the snake
& told the savage:
'when you said to me
                                   that this creature
                                                                 was your god
you left me no choice but to kill it'"

& if that old man had not been so old
he would have killed that savage too
                                                               no doubt

yes       that's what's wrong with them



watch out

                                         for the wailing Fundees
                                         & their "god"

their god grows out of the muzzle of a gun

Odyss     on the old plate
looked so comfortable in his body      old enough
to fit a few words together

bare twigs
                   cracks in the sky
long lines short lines no lines

let us sit down & enjoy a really empty experience

                          write what? to a tree?

"dear chords of night: one is not rhymes
but civil fur       come to bliss late"

this creature called god
              left one no ma

boat sails into sun

           is left on the map

an endless warble of dreams






Was there a time when thou, too, wert an optimist,

Falling about in fits of pseudo-mystical glee?

Sho' nuff—when Goddess Utopia roared in mine head

& I refused to be of time & place . . . Well, I still do,

Still wince at epithets that smack of Church or Nation

& would prefer to be, not just El Hombre, but El Animal

Invisible—one of those invisible beasties of the Lapps . . .

A follower of Lingo Rapture: she is never opaque,

Turn as she may—Mother Discourse, ever transparent

Even when terrorized by vagaries of head & heart

Sad, dignified as the winds on the moon

—minimalist intensity! Ah, well, the fire went west

& whims and winds took hat & head. Without

A head, no cigarette. Without a heart, big trouble.






remember Bear's Head who saw
              between midnight & dawn
                            ten thousand meteors
              cascade across the heavens
from the constellation we call The Lion

remember Bear's Head who saw
              a comet in the sky
                            between midnight & dawn
remember Bear's Head who that same winter
              in dream time
                            between midnight & dawn
saw canyon waters rise
                            & flood the land
              & wash away his people
              when the flood subsided
                            only the white men remain
                            remember him
who saw these things between midnight & dawn
              in this place
                            on this planet




all hail
                            to Mother Mail

                           3:30 p.m. the view is
                           Flatirons above trees &
                           neighbors across the street
                           in the window a rear end
of squirrel for half a nervous second
of its life (my life, your life) & that
does of course include
the front end too, my front end
is waiting for the mail
Great Mother Mistress MAIL
be praised: you bring the best, you bring
the worst, but "Lots of mail! I feel pretty
good!" said Ted in a poem, "I open
a beautiful letter from you. When
we are both dead, that letter will be,
Part Two of this poem." Give us
our mail fix today & every day
oh I can remember when it came
twice a day, a dear old man
bending to pick it up off the mat
                           after it shot
                           through the slot
                           in our apartment door
                           in Helsinki, Finland
                           in the early years
                           of the millennium






"so what's the diff
between a hopeful sort who believes he'll go to 'Heaven'
& a hopeful sort who believes his descendants
will colonize the universe?"

                         asked Tattered Old Bird
                         minor warlock
                         invisible when at the top of his form

& the tribes unfurl the old demon banners:
oh let the dark ages begin again so we can join
our dimwit ancestors in gore & glory

             most of the populace blank
             resigned to the neo-feudal

Geronimo stern: "YOU FOOLS!"

             God is a speckled snake

                          cat turns mouse into mouse dust

"have a nice day"
                                said Tattered Old Bird
"have a nice dog have a whole bunch of fine gods dogs & days
in view of the indignities that await us
that doesn't seem too much to wish for
on the way to the old pulvis et umbra   il faut s'amuser, non?"

                          & the shades they are a-massing
                          at the gates of ghostly Troy





trying not to be
                            pissed off because
                                                              the truck won't start
            (too cold)

I pick up a book
                            peed upon
                                                by long-dead cat
         in distant other life

                     & see the stain's
                                                still there—
                     of the cat
                                      not a whiff

but find the poems
                                of the late urban ironists
           still pungent & deeply

                                    so let the truck rust
                     the book
                                     take me back
                                                               to streets once walked
                        dusk to dawn
                                                  in the Aeolian cities—

                                                                 by the wind"



think "son"
night's sleep gone

"we know you're in there"
locked inside
a crowded hippocampus world

of drums & demons
distance   absence

haunted years
of wish & rage

in mislaid brain
& slaughtered time

so the ghoul weeps
he the ghoul
weeps so
for his son

come out please come out
take up thy bed     rejoin
whatever we might be
outside this maze

walking through a geometry
in a gold & green light
reading a sculptor's notes:

to create latent motion
you set up something
one would expect to move
but it doesn't
it remains
in the same place & position
& it keeps doing that

as eye & mind
repeat the event
that does not occur
again & again
you might call it
a raging balance

is mostly

what's tactile reaches out
grabs the 8 corners
of the room       (Ivan Liljander)






in Heaven which was the darkest corner
of the tavern right next to Diogenes
we hung out over cappuccinos
& munched on tasty raw veggies

I told The Old Dog
people on earth had finally managed
to kick the nasty expensive habit
of raising & eating cows

Diog' said Pythagoras
would have liked to hear that
personally he said
being the first citizen of the world
I've never been one to proscribe anyone's habits

then we leaned back to listen to Gerry
Mulligan play "Waltzing Matilda"

& as delighted as I surely was
to hang out with my favorite Cynic
I was homesick for Earth
& wished you were there with us

(not worried at all
you wouldn't know how to deal
with The Old Dog
who wasn't really a misanthrope
merely defined
very strictly)

then opened my eyes
to the light & your eyebrows
& the golden light of your eyes

for him her face
goes out of focus
before his does for her

so that when she's
in focus for him
quite adorably he

seems sadly distant
to her but they refuse
to be terrorized

by that or any
other contradiction





though but a weave of dust and shade
caught in the chandelle of our days

who writing shovels grief's doubloons
I can say this: hello! dear woman I name Dream

dear called Because
with you, a thousand years would not be long enough