Poetry | December 01, 2001
Poetry Feature: Martin Scott
Featuring the poems:
- The Isenheim Resurrection
- Cemetary By the Deer Blind
- Richard Mather Aboard the James, 1635
- Anatomy of Resurrection
- Chrome Horse
The Isenheim Resurrection
Only Matthew’s gospel claims that soldiers
The tomb, yet here they are, as big as life,
Too tall for them to wield. Their armor drags
As if on wires, Hollywood style. Effects
The Son pale as a ghost, yet flesh enough
As yet imagined only, as the women–
Not present in the painting, perhaps the point
The Church is built: the triumph over Death.
The yellow into orange sun, then ether
Or bright stigmata mirrors into dark.
About the body now transfigured, folded
The pride of wound and history winding off
And flies the fingers, arms and liver, all
We needed this, so we invented it,
And architecture, books and economics
The way Christ emanates hard glory from
A tunnel he can rise through to a throne.
Christ Jesus, crucified, rose from the dead
The angels (one, or maybe two) announce
Alive. He makes his brief appearances,
It doesn’t really matter, it’s all a lie
To get it right. The points at which the stories
Incapable of igniting contradiction,
With fiery tongues. The story we believe
It’s how we think it was inside the words
Brown gospel tree, the empty tomb, tunnel
The losers and the lame caught up in the air
And follow Christ onto the stage just like
With all the compassion we–our God–can muster.
Demanded empirical proof, the finger in
He feel that made him worship Jesus as
Who have not seen, and yet believe,” as if
The blind down a winding staircase to a hole
That everything, at once, is black and white.
Cemetery By the Deer Blind
So this is the cemetery, the sunken graves
And limestone from the nineteenth century.
Dead pioneers, who’ve nothing to do with me
Or you, except this walk through cactus groves
And cattle walls that no one minds anymore.
Were promises through which we blindly tore
Right to the line, the barb and wire, the dead.
Right here, their chests collapsed beneath the dirt
Could not support the burden, or the work.
Oh, Evelyn, for every change we make,
We make a grave. The past does not slide on
The skin off, diamondback, then snap the turn
The way trails take you back where you’d begun.
These ranchers ended up in this mosquito
Their enterprise, the traces of water holes
And wagon wheels, wild birds, and rabbits built
To tear across the jack, the mesquite brush,
Oh, Evelyn, for every skin you touch,
You risk the leprosy. I let you cut
The deltoid into target and the sign
Byzantine, mosaic without design.
The dead are kicks inside the pricks, the tale
More interesting than ours, unreason in
Fat spiders over the only trail that seems
To take us out, if out is anywhere.
But we’re the lucky ones, the damaged ones,
Deer shit like liver, the play of cactus tongue.
Eye peeling like the mesquite does its bark,
I know we’re in here somewhere, like that turtle,
A mouthful bites off all the change that matters.
Richard Mather Aboard the James, 1635
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will,
and whom he will he hardeneth.
Tyndale’s New Testament
Gray water, fortress waves: we feared God’s wrath,
And dolphins sporting ’round the bowsprit’s haze
Jerusalem, the colonies, the Church
Where sheep are shepherded away from goats
The Church Invisible, are dolphins arcing
Out of the profane, then back into the brine
That drags saints to the city beneath the sea.
Jonah’s our curse: we preach to souls we hate.
The sea rises up as if to swallow us,
Spells driftwood, the lamb that wanders away: my soul…
I preach, but I don’t know if I am saved…
And true, the crew sharpens a small harpoon,
Once opened upon the deck, the entrails spill,
The liver, lights, the heart and guts, the spirit
As if we were back in sweet muddy Norwich,
The kingdom of the Beast. The countryside
We stumbled through, here present on the sea–
Filleted and butchered like an English hog.
The stench of the Divine: the carnal mind
The stuff of God, afraid justification
Attacks our sanctity, the gizzard walk
These dolphins live their baptism, they arc
They take their bitter diving like a grace,
A grace that breaks them down for sacrifice,
The Kingdom is a song you almost hear
Out of a sea confused with tearing fins
Like fingers slicing up to take a piece
Of what drains through the painful fist: the World,
The Flesh, The Devil. Heaven’s Ephemeral.
These fallen angels point the way to Hell,
The Porpoises of Gehenna. I took a knife
And I myself opened the chattering chest.
Like a heifer, red and perfect, it suffered God–
I felt nothing. My congregation felt
Nothing but the sharpening of steel on stone,
I’m afraid God’s changing his great Mind again.
And the blade’s held up to Isaac’s chest, and nothing
Arcs into the scene to tell me NO,
Anatomy of Resurrection
To bodies that had been laid in earth, in joyful
expectation of a far different awakening, there came
that hasty, lamplit, terror-haunted resurrection of the
spade and mattock.
In breath, or maybe organs passed around
One moment in the coffin, riding down,
A victory of science and the frown
Logic, so that resurrection of the flesh
The cleaver finds the joints. It takes a fresh
No longer soul pitched hard to body’s ash,
Hard stone of lymph, and Resurrection Men
Into this earth of poetry and sin
The Vague Abstraction, Anatomy Human.
“If you begin, you must keep on beginning;
So if the body comes back with its grinning
Is undisturbed in lands unknown, conniving
To rise, just sleep–since every story ends.
Onto every falling brick at the temple.
True wall you find, the stronger gravity’s pull.
Of flowers reaching to the light was all
Of Heaven’s spatula against the ball–
Like some chrome horse we ride in empty dark
The horse that I rode in on, or grizzled guard
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