Song of the Andoumboulou: 136

By Nathaniel Mackey b. 1947 Nathaniel Mackey

  A comped piano lifted the leaves in
    Low Forest, a blanket of shade pulled
up, a sheet of glass put in place, free
                                                                   pros-
    pect all around I thought. I wanted my
allegoric lapse, I wanted my whatsaid
  companions. Alone looking out under
                                                                        house
      arrest, I wanted them back, less myself
   than before, unbeset...    An exquisite jewel
    it all was, no explanation, no equation,
                                                                            a
   time-lapse excursion it was. High John
    from High Point was on the box, the box
blown roofless, hacked wood scattered
                                                                        what
   light there was...    A low trombone could
     be heard asking, “What have they done to
my beautiful boy?” A tree limb cracked in
                                                                             the
       distance, the all-of-us the horns had be-
  come. All of us there to notice, all of us there
    to see, “Blue Train” our wounded anthem,
hacked wood the woods we walked...    I was
                                                                               im-
     agining Sophia’s dreamt-about blue truck,
       dreamt arrival, Trane’s loud announcement
   a blur, train truck, wished-for congress come
                                                                                      nigh.
    There was the sun’s late equation, the moon’s
ludic blush, truck equaling train equaling train
   equaling truck, soon’s blue transport, soon
                                                                                  soon
come...    It was the muse’s blue lips the all-of-
     us the horns had become came thru, blue
  rebuked kiss, blue-blent reconnoiter. It was
                                                                                  the
      muse’s gray canopy covered us, the we I’d
   otherwise be the trees fell free of, cries loud
     and low we’d have heard had we been there,
wood equaling would equaling we...    I lay
                                                                           like
   Anuncio busted up contemplating the book
     of it, last leg’s no-exit announcement no way
to run. I stood like Itamar, sat like Huff. A
                                                                              sweet
    smile captured my lips like Netsanet’s, Zeno
                                                                                     and
  Zenette’s re-
pair


                          •


  Zeno and Zenette’s last anything. Zeno and
     Zenette’s last kiss. I saw them come back
from afar, saw them bisect every step. Friend
                                                                                   and
    familiar, affine, foe, they walked in smelling
       of salt, the reek of  Lone Coast on their hair,
   their skin, sand a kind of coat they wore...    
                                                                                Some-
       thing I saw it seemed I dreamt I saw, some-
   thing seen exteriority reneged on, stand up wide
     awake though I did. Did I see what I saw I
                                                                                  won-
      dered, the closer the coast was the less I felt
   located, water opening out onto everywhere,
    was what I saw what I saw I wanted to know...    
A versionary recital it seemed or so I thought,
                                                                                    so
    abreast of it only the book of it remained, a
finger dipped in butterfly dust, a foot gone print-
   less, what of it I glimpsed gone out on tiptoe,
                                                                                     wuh
      we’d have been whose escorts, wuh we, once
   there, drew thru the woods...    So it was or so
     it went, going so, soon gone, a blip no screen
accounted for, blink, as I did, all I could. The
                                                                                  box
       had fallen away, sound itself an overt bed of
   scree, roughed underbody I fell and felt heir
     to, a chestnut sense were there any sense left, a
                                                                                            new
   scrub sense of my-
self





             ________________

    “Let it play on you,” Huff had said, “let
it have its way.” I wasn’t clear what “it”
  was but my ears perked up. Mu, I knew,
                                                                            had
      gone into hiding and it might have been
  Mu. I wondered was it Mu he spoke about...
    In front of us the waves rolled in. They
                                                                           gave
  his eyes a glassy look... To see was to see
      oneself suspended, round Insofarian bliss
    at the foot of Mount Ida, Huff ’s ythmic
                                                                            what-
  say, a smiling spider’s
bite





             ________________

  A sort of cartoon the sun had a face and
    grew limbs in, round and round of re-
birth, death unacceptable, what I saw
                                                                     was
    too much. I saw a tiptoe ghost prome-
nade, a sorcerer’s apprentice parade,
  Mr. and Mrs. P’s reminiscent lament...
                                                                          Some-
      thing seen in a face no straddling of legs
  lived up to. An epiphany or an epistrophe,
    no way of knowing which. Press there’d
                                                                             be
  no end of any-
more

Source: Poetry (June 2014).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2014
 Nathaniel  Mackey

Biography

Born in Miami and raised in Southern California, poet, novelist, editor, and critic Nathaniel Mackey earned his BA from Princeton University and his PhD from Stanford University.
 
Mackey cites poets William Carlos Williams and Amiri Baraka, in addition to jazz musicians John Coltrane and Don Cherry, as early influences in his exploration of how language can be infused and informed by music. In a 2006 interview with Bill Forman . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Series/Sequence

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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