BEAM 30: The Garden

By Ronald Johnson 1935–1998 Ronald Johnson

for Patricia Anderson

“To do as Adam did”
through the twilight’s fluoride glare Mercury in perihelion   
(rotating exactly three times   
while circling the sun twice)   
to Pluto foot tilt up the slide at either plane   
and build a Garden of the brain.   
Internetted eternities, interspersed   
with cypresses   
ply ringed air about the many spectacled apples there.   
Flamestitch niches orb in swivel orb, The Muses thrush at center   
turning. Phospheros arborescens they sing   
struck crystal clarities   
to knock the knees   
(or scarlet hollyhock, against a near blue sky).   
No end of fountains lost among the shrubberies full eye may bare.   
Fixed stars   
with fireflies jam the lilac.   
The Lord is a delicate hammerer.   
Gold hive upon gray matter   
He taps synapse (“carrying to”) (“carrying away”)   
an immense bronze pinecone moon-knit at the end of a vista   
of sunny jets d’eau, silver poplars. All   
shivered in a pool.   
Literally, a flowing: form-take-hand   
(That Which Fasteneth Us)   
pillar to pillar the great dance arch itself through all that   
is or was or will be, 3/4 time. This will be a glade   
at the head of one stream   
and a resonant gnomon before it will stretch regions of signaling   
gnat-like resiliencies in the atmosphere   
of where we are —
or were.   
Or will be, when the mingled frame of mind   
of man is celebration.   
Gates, which separate the wings   
of tiered ilex, open
in caverns of atoms passing from one into another’s zenith   
of periodic movement, vast helicoidal shift:   
a vaulting of arteries
beating their heads against the dark.   
This is the body of light.
Vertically in a chromatic spread chord   
— Elysian elision —
J’avais bâti, dans un rêve, un palais, un château ou des   
along the lines of sight.
Dear Garden:   
This is the way the world begins, the word begins.   
Through here,   
where grow the galax and aster together,   
I have planted Shadow illuminating The Field of Glittering   
ange arc-en-ciel
flocons de neige
I have attempted a temple as if hierarchies of music   
beating against time gone adagio, that is the Secret Pool we return   
to. And not to stone   
but to the world behind its human   
This is the way the word begins, the world begins,   
wrestling the old ineffable to Bosch’s amazing white giraffe
— or St. Rousseau   
intent a symmetry of whisker.   
Love itself is a kind of mirage nesting it all   
together. Around a center   
no one can see the end of at the Well of The Bottomless,   
I have placed parallels of bright guardians   
“along with the trill   
of the Nightingale,   
and the call of the European quail”   
as in The Pastoral.   
“I have refracted it with Prismes, and reflected with it Bodies which in Day-
light were of other colours; I have intercepted it with the coloured film of Air
interceding two compressed plates of glass; transmitted it through coloured
Mediums, and through Mediums irradiated with other sorts of Rays, and
diversly terminated it; and yet could never produce any new colour out of it.
But the most surprising, and wonderful composition was that
                                              of Whiteness.”

Ronald Johnson, “BEAM 30: The Garden,” from ARK, published in 1996 by Living Batch Press. Reprinted by permission of the Literary Estate of Ronald Johnson.

Source: ARK (1996)

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Poet Ronald Johnson 1935–1998

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Nature, Religion, Gardening, Activities, God & the Divine, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

 Ronald  Johnson


Ronald Johnson was a Kansas native who lived most of his adult life in San Francisco. He told Contemporary Authors: "I have spent the last twenty years writing a long poem titled ARK, which was completed in 1991. The work consists of three books, each of thirty-three sections: titled The Foundations, The Spires, and The Ramparts. Rather than being based on literary sources (as the early The Book of the Green Man was based on . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Religion, Gardening, Activities, God & the Divine, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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