State of the Affair

Writing and poetry
From the 1990's

by Richard Van Ingram

I stood beneath Night's face,
felt the silent breath around me
flowing blue and purple-black,
deep and royal, awaiting
some word or thought in return.
Did she hear the harp
in my own depths,
the strings ringing with every

Did she hear the rattle
of stag's horns scraping
at the gray edge of her velvet mantle?
Did she hear the corpses cry
from every battlefield
and secret green grave of the world?

She shares with us all her deepest kiss
and most baleful promise -
the wires of my harp do double duty as
prison house bars, all for the sake of
dark, dark Beauty.
...And all the world, besides.

The Bit Actor

I am not the suave man in the foreground
With his solid jaw and perfect hair.
I am the man in the rear without sound
Who drinks alone, wire-backed chair
My subdued home in the diamond-perfect scene.
My gleam is brief, dim. There is no need
For further exposure or for obscene
Tears leaking from my eyes. Here, the script
Knows as little of my diminished state
As any cup knows what is held, sipped
From its guts - like any cold tool of fate.
The hero lights his cigarette, waves
His strong hands, holds the heroine's blonde head.
They kiss. The waiter brings me what I crave
Or what I'm supposed to: coffee like lead.
No woman, no dark hair for my hands,
Just this black cup of acid, just this place
At the back of the set. Foreign lands
Scream; I can't reply. Who looks to my face
For drama or for love? And why not?
The cameras go to Monte Carlo,
I remain, sip coffee on the lot
And long dream of the day I drink Merlot
On screen. A little thing, but grave
Enough to crush the soul or save.

And She Is Still Not Listening

I never repealed the law that held me imprisoned
to the little boy oaths I swore on the playground
a million worlds ago.
I never renounced the burdensome hunchback of desire
that drove me to swing madly from the bell ropes at vespers.
I never denounced her when my beloved heretic was placed
on the stake in the city square with glowing faggots.

When she fell, she never touched the earth
in the sanctuary of my heart.
When she left, she found a secret residence
in the halls of my thoughts,
respite within the vast café of my sleeping hours.

And all of this is April snow seeking cold,
all of this is wet pine needles resting on the forest floor
wishing for a spark.
Sitting alone by the window in a car or train,
I yearn to know - what was the point?

Who misses what was never was his own,
who speaks to the deafness of the living dead?
Who covets the breath of a woman
that has forgotten her idolater?
Who anticipates the tongue that will never come,
who tastes the liquor of absent mouths?

But there is nothing but the road,
and the road knows nothing of wishes,
and the wheels whisper nonsense in response.

She has become like a god, unknowable,
immune to the aggravation of questioning.
She is the moon, for eyes and hearts,
not for hands.
She is the moon, sister of insanity.
She is the moon, light for your way,
but neither the way nor the destination.
She is the moon, recline in awe.
She is the moon, a shining key;
you are the lock, your days are a winding chain

Mother, forgive these hands for their passion.
Mother forgive your son for his obsessions.
Mother, forgive your daughter
for her sweet wounding glances.
Mother, forgive us for ever touching.
Mother, forgive us for ever ceasing.
Mother, forgive us.

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