Guest poem sent in by Tom Walsh
(Poem #1439) Gacela of the Dark Death
I want to sleep the sleep of the apples, I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries. I want to sleep the sleep of that child who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea. I don't want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood, how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water. I'd rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn with its snakelike nose. I want to sleep for half a second, a second, a minute, a century, but I want everyone to know that I am still alive, that I have a golden manger inside my lips, that I am the little friend of the west wind, that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears. When it's dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me, and pour a little hard water over my shoes so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off. Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples, and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me, because I want to live with that shadowy child who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.
(Translated by Robert Bly) The Blake poem [Poem #1431] reminded me of this poem, because it's part of an LP, recorded in the early 70s, by Joan Baez, called "Baptism." During the later 60s, this was a fervent anti-war poem, as were the ballads of Baez and Phil Ochs. I think the images are striking: the scorpion's claws, the sleep of dreaming, hanging apples. Tom