Satyr Songs

Moss, Stanley

“I want a hero: an uncommon want…”

-Byron, Don Juan

A Common Satyr and poet, I want a hero

who reaches up to the matter beneath

the stanza: eight lines, ten syllables or so,

as into a lady’s panties, who rhymes breath

and death, no if he cares to with Galileo,

who recanted, but fathered before his death

Natural Philosophy and three natural daughters

baptized in the Arno’s muddy waters.

I cheer for love, what some call vice,

what some call sin, some simply pleasure,

humping, romance, odd ways of making nice,

taking advantage of, taking the measure.

One wife’s passion is another’s sacrifice,

one man’s poison is another’s cure.

A little fornication rights all wrongs,

there are no commandments in the Song of Songs.

We are made of water, earth, air, and fire

in the image of the One you-know-Who,

whose hair in the wind is Hebrew barbed wire.

On the first day when the sun was brand new,

creation a blast, He simply took a flyer,

since in darkness there was little to do,

He made us-to drown us in the ocean

of the last full measure of devotion.

Not every lady returns from the dance

with the guy who brought her, anything written

by man or woman in honest ink, may rinse

away in tears. Love’s not an altered kitten

in the master’s lap, fed on white mice.

For every French kiss there is a France,

for every bugger there is a Britain,

for every cold hand there is a mitten.

I hate the sound of shoes, bare feet on the floor

Mozart loved to hear the sound of hooves

on oak, marble, dirt. Kochel 44,

his concerto for woodwinds and satyr hooves,

brought “rams” to court before the Emperor.

Today you hear such music, such hooves

in Andalusian caves and orange groves

in Greek cafes, and on the Mount of Olives.

When a boy, I first saw my lower half:

my goat hooves, my pecker, I shook in terror,

called it my old apple tree for a laugh.

How many would eat my apples to the core,

would I father a kid, a faun, a calf,

as I stood helpless before the mirror,

the living proof of the Creator’s error,

erotic errata, an adult who pees on the floor?

My mother told me Jesus was a satyr

so I wouldn’t feel bad at Christmas without a tree,

that he worked his way through college as a waiter,

to button up my overcoat when the wind is free,

(she said she’d tell me about the Devil later),

to take good care of myself, she belonged to me.

She taught me to be silly, and to be good

which brightened the night sky of my childhood.

“Live in the doghouse. It is your palace,”

she explained, “the night is now, not eternity.”

I loved the Aurora Borealis.

I thought hell a city, heaven the country,

the woods, a field of wildflowers, my place.

Without cross or menorah, without poetry,

whatever the weather, I took girls at random,

one at a time, in circles, or in tandem.

The question is, how can a good and beautiful wife

live with a circumcised satyr from Queens

who thinks sin is cutting spaghetti with a knife,

childbirth the parable of the spilled beans.

To understand this mystery, this hieroglyph,

each day she needs a Rosetta Stone, she preens

burrs, hay and lice from my graying plumage,

gently combs the old madness from my rage.

Centaurs teach, satyrs are autodidacts.

I have horns, rays of light like Moses,

following the heart is my business, not facts,

lines of reason. I chase the scent of roses,

truth, meanings that fall through the cracks.

Today, Satyrs weep, suffer losses,

love after love-I pay attention to rhyme,

to sunrise and sunset, not silly-billy time.

I love all clocks that tie up time’s

two legs so the Gods only hop and jump

sure to stumble on “is” or simple rhymes

for “was.” Chaos is mine, when time’s a lump

I prosper, when man’s undone and light climbs

back to darkness and the last swan is a hump.

I am entangled by love and untangled

love the enchanting, love the new-fangled.

When I heard the great god Pan was dead,

I asked did he die three deaths for us: goat,

man, and God, the hand of Saturn on his head?

He taught the ways of imperfection. Devout

Pan, you died so we might know Lust instead

of moderation, so we who cannot fly can float,

drunk as you taught us, our giddy feet unsure,

walking the clouds above our moral pasture.

The trick was not to know myself, I was not

human, so I could only pretend to be

wherever I was, not a fish out of water, a Scot

in Scotland, an American shark in the human sea,

I was a word, a well-written sentence, not

a blot on the human page, not poetry,

a satyr, a freak of nature, a growth,

a knot on a tree, a goat of my word, an oath.

I said, “I will never forget you, dear,”

but what is my never, never, never worth?

Once my “never” was worth fifty years;

you could take it to the bank, a piece of earth

you could mortgage. Now my life is in arrears,

it is late December, there is a dearth

of everything, years, months, days are hostile

I will remember you, love, a little while.

My lady’s touch has a way of whispering:

“It is summer, a perfect day-cloud

after cloud.”. . . The world has gone fishing.

It is right that a noisy, hungry crowd

of seagulls attacks a fluke as if it were the world.

In the lucky world, still on the wing

love whispers “it is summer, a perfect day.”

May my lady’s touch have its way.

Copyright World Poetry, Incorporated Sep/Oct 2005

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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