Writing and poetry
From the 1990's

by Richard Van Ingram


The stainless steel machinery of doom

Lurks in the sub-basement of my moldy reality,

Behind the old canned green beans

Rusting toward eternity.

The priest cries ashes to ashes

And the party commences

The kids pairing off and tasting one another

Like living candy apples

Glistening wetly in the half-light,

Sugary death love sticky melting

In their candystore minds.

The weathergirl watches

The screen's information signaling

Which clothes she should wear

As she stands before the camera's lustful eye,

Naked. Iron maiden, silent lover,

Pistol fist, coaxial cable, tornado tongue.

Compression. The streets of my hometown
Know my footfalls as well as a battlefield

Does its tanktread. Orange fire, mercury vapor

Lamps, arcane blazing, night hating, nature eaters.

The zombies swing at the end of ragged ropes

And tell the tale of winds passing in the carwake,

Call the names of the courthouse occupants,

Fattened on the blood of the slain,

Cooked on fires fed with wood of the forest.

Who will avenge us? Who will exact vengeance

On those who abuse our flesh, for we suffered

For the sake of ignorance and were ground down

Without our own knowledge.

Looking to the television I saw a barroom

And in that barroom they served nothing but

Hot chocolate because no one drank hooch anymore

Due to the implantation of certain microchips

In the cerebral cortex and other centers to regulate

The experience of pain and pleasure.

Imagine a whole planet gone on the wagon

And sober as a judge while supertechnology

Relieves everyone of responsibility and will,

Replaced by perfection.

Is evolution a mistake, the mother of errors,

The last gasping giggle of mad, blind reality?

Imagine the future as an assembly plant

Where you are spare parts in a larger process

Of activity that has nothing to do with choice.

Worse, you like it.

It is your raison d'Ítre to receive microprocessors

And to make love to lithium batteries

And to mix together with the reality of the video

Until there is no distinction between what is and what seems.

A Philosopher Dreams

There ends the proscenium. Or does it?
When the curtain falls heavy with finality
are there others unseen, each one await-
ing the hour of visitation? Brutality
of revelation – each life is a theatre
seen from a flashing wealth of possibility
open to all, closed to none. There's the matter
as it stands. What, then, is the Real? The ability
of the ascetics to strip down rich souls,
to peel away layers of hubris like onion flesh
and, inquisitorially, put to coals
the merely Seeming that Being emerge afresh?
But in the fire, as in grave's worms and dirt,
what goes in whole is revealed to be but darkness,
and the onion's holy center but flirts
with reality once the cover's gone. Harness
this and they'll call you wise: The curtain is
a thing with two sides, both for appearance's sake.
Alethia! “What reveals also this
much conceals.” So says the wispy voice from the lake
where the horned fish slide from surface to depth,
golden scales catching the fire of the setting sun,
scales like Tarot cards, Fool, Mage, Aleph, Beth.
Is it true that in One is Two, and in Two, One?


She drove too fast
In her blue car
On the mountain roads
For me to pursue
In my blue mood
From the valley's depths.

She was a raven,
I was a rock.
We did not meet.

A Complaint for Cupid

Love knows nothing of the demands of time,
Cares less whom he with the bonds of Hell binds.
For a strange and red liquor seizes, blinds
His reason; divine madness swoops and climbs.

Here he is again at my solemn door
Knocking, calling, beseeching me to see
What sort of girl he has brought out to me,
Witness whether she's princess, crone, or whore.

I do not care. Long knives puncture my ears
So that I cannot hear Love's broken song.
But I know he's there. My monkish plot's wrong
Through and through: His silent words my heart sears.

Insane god! Heartless demon who must steal
The hearts of others to live out his days –
From my misery he will have no praise,
No more than his girls' lips give calm or heal

Night's Breath

The night arches her blue back, hair falling
Darkly over the invincible stones
Of the gray necropolis. The worm's moan,
The peacock's cry, the Voice of Evening.

The cars crawl by with bright, bejeweled eyes
Missing the harsh, ragged truth of the dead
Beyond the false light where lie snails and lead
Trails spelling out holy names from the skies.

And he sits smoking cigarettes alone
Trying to catch the arcane wisdom in
The bruised depths of midnight's low, bronze bell tone.

He knows there's something hollow in the grave,
Though, something very much like nothing, something
Like that last breath no one will ever save.

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