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By (December 1, 2007) No Comment

“Why do poets write vertically?”

— Sam Shepard


metaphor, the descent

primes consciousness,

compresses language into

laddered angel

language rooms constructed

then ransacked

each next

a trap-door

nexus into,

each door

a downward Pandora…

The trail through Le Tuc d’Audoubert,

marked by string tied to stalagmite stumps.

We could only crawl inside the strings’ aisle.

Each side of its “virgin” ground

a void of sorts

strewn with

viper skeletons, bear skulls.

As my body

shifted in Le Tuc d’Audoubert to


karstic contours,

so does mind here reposition


black road to Xibala,

cleft in the Milky Way.

The blank pressure in each


gnaws at the stanza-ecstatic

harp. Music

plucked and dissonanced

by the void.

Clayton Eshleman’s most recent books are: An Alchemist with One Eye on Fire (poems, Black Widow Press, 2006); The Complete Poetry of Cesar Vallejo (translation, University of California Press, 2007); Reciprocal Distillations (poems on art and artists, Hot Whiskey Press, 2007), and Archaic Design (essays, notes, prose poems, interviews, Black Widow Press, 2007). Every June he and his wife Caryl lead a tour, sponsored by the Ringling School of Design in Sarasota, to the Ice Age painted caves in southwestern France. The Eshlemans continue to live in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where Clayton is Professor Emeritus at Eastern Michigan University.

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