Monday, 5 August 2013

21st Century Poetry: The Library of the Sandman and other Poems by J. Albert Barr

Here is a selection of poems that I have composed over the course of the last several years.

I'll start off with a series of four highly symbolic sonnets I call my "bird sonnets":


As if, it seems, in order to reverse the sky
With one dark star alone for a constellation
To mock its ancient matter of worn dispersion,
The Black Swan poses with virgin pride not to fly.

Encircled, and on, by the bitter frozen blank;
Not a single spark to stir up a husky spume
Before an eye to see a sole ebony plume
Would the bird condescend for the ruffled and rank.

Perhaps in the curved space of its long, slender neck,
With an ashen bill, it once strew a noted speck
That sang upon a white leaf to unveil a code.

However now, in the never of its reserve,
While in the shiver of the bright cold of the nerve
That preserves its secret sign, lies the flame and lode.


Who but the Owl, given the rank magnitude
Of its private depths, can peer, free of reprisal,
Into the night's exquisite, remote apparel,
And stay firm in relation to its solitude?

Like the sullen Prince in a blue midnight motion,
The 'ply's fair sign comes with mote-infested Silence
Upon a breach in the hymeneal violence
Between two Orders; this bird-of-prey gives notion.

The night remains even in the wake of days born
It seems, not discerning the mourning from the morn.
(All the modern devices distract from their flaw).

The doubleness of action in this hunting time
Gives the redoubtable yet unspecified line
To reverse the army of unalterable law.


The scrupulous syntaxer of the dark plumage
By the woodside pines by the marble monument
Of one through many interred, offered in message,
Croaks in the full air of a midway's document.

Perched on the bold penumbra of indecision
Above a writing desk holding aloft pure space
Enfolded in the white canvas to fan precision,
The Raven holds within the text of unmarked face.

No sign so pure could the flyer dispense so long
From those Tuesdays of lore, like smoke-rings in a throng,
But death to those moments past has lingered to look.

Still within the stillness of a lone die's allure,
The daemon will not rue to roam the sky's azure,
Thrown in search, perchance at last, to find the Great Book.


In the crisis since the Great Dissociation
Of the once wedded sensibility in time,
And of a time in Europe, like an equation,
Balanced on both sides, time now is a blameless crime.

With an eager wing and exclaimed tail-feather,
The Magpie of the dream takes its place in between
The open door to pry the contents of whether
A text from the Broken Age can be pinched unseen.

This place has never taken place in the waking
Realm of dusty shelves for filling and forsaking,
But the binary bird sneaks awake in this sleep.

The sleep of the unwritten in forbidden red
May be correlated with the living and dead
To restore time jointly, to foster and to reap.

And here's some miscellaneous poems beginning with perhaps my most ambitious poem yet:


Enter lucid, by chance, and you may not emerge
From those shelves defended, the books never wrought.
The Dream motes ease on a volume missing from all
The earthen libraries contained by wearied flesh.
The true freedom of all the books is nowhere in
The touch of ennui and anomie bound in time,
But the keeper of the catalogue, with no sleep
Behind his specs, keeping the order of the shelves;
No bookworm in the Dreaming for a bird's-eye view,
But a book in an annex plucked when Lucien exits.

All begins there in the nothing of desire:
An object in the infinite white before words.
Full many a book is born there to be unread,
And bound its timber in a void of breathless air.
No waking can access the night's eternal hoard
Of the Magpie's text sent sleeping in sub rosa.
Did a Madame read One below a lava sky
For a mystic truth in a chrysalis unveiled?
The science and the nature still withhold the terms
To confirm one another in cosmic harmony,
Therefore nothing begins but a drifting off to...

A sleep disordered by leaves of wandering words
That echo downward, a delirium mounting.
So endless the dizzying mind searches the text,
So parched in a semi-oasis of the net.
There is a door, a door before and once for more,
For more to mirror a gift or more to reflect
No more but dust and ash and forget the airs fold.
To chisel in an instant upon some moon plate
A too subtle and pure meaning for the barren;
To balance upon that threshold the shadow's keep,
And dare to flirt awhile with the curator's heap!

Whether it be bound, or whether it be dreamed,
Concealing the written book of what one harbors
Cannot escape the one purview of the Sandman,
And of its word-form birthing will not be judged
From the fringe of the waking to the door of sleep.
The fate of destruction extends to the desktop
Of only those works prepared for publication,
Only those works in the market of the critiqued.
Evoked by the marked quintessence of nothingness,
However, the Prime Edition bears a silence
Too grievous in some to loom in the temporal.

In the mingling realm of thought and idea,
Of conception and purpose, the impossible
Summation of its history, and signs, divine
A mediator who between worlds preserves all
That is formless and unspeakable, sequestered.
In the despair of human solitude and pain,
The fear of belatedness continues to haunt
The vast, modern shelves that would fain leave it outside.
Significant feeling in the restrictive frame
May pass between the coarse words like a hermetic
Cry, and communicate under sound within sound.

They are all here inside the knowing world of dark,
Where the slumber of one can peep behind their eyes,
With a fugitive dare, at works which are not, and
To improvise some estimation of a book
Before the stirring light begins the erasure.
In death these authors cannot be ruined by the
Dull privations of a living world too afraid
To write beyond the outlook that marks wonted roots.
The never composed are transposed invisible,
And converse among the material lot to
Echo the murmurs of a past that might have been.

Forever never now in preserved catalogues
Buried deep in the Dreaming of Lord Morpheus,
The alluring enigma of the lost volumes
Will resume as if to live out their destiny,
To house what truth or falsehood they cannot disclose.
Crossing over antithetical planes, the new
Tomes can be produced with great or easy effort,
But the complicity of the masterpieces
Await in stubborn contemplation for the night
To at last slip out of its folds the hidden ones!


This moon so luminous sits upon a dune,
And night is replete with constellations.
There is an Arabian song below the desert breeze,
Yet she is not far away.

Haunted by some whispered beauty
Above my silent and sleepy mind,
This night calls upon me from beneath
Where eyes can reflect within.

Desire, like home, I've fought so long
To crawl away for a second's respite
Only to advance once more eternal
With details beyond the ken.

This sand so abstract and timeless
Rolls under my thoughts with
Words that have never rubbed together:
I hear their new conversations.

In the arid folds a monad keeps vigil
Always within the hushed womb;
A comfort, like the smell of old books;
A time not time, before and after: the song.

And it sang of a mystery never solved,
And it called forth in a couplet deciphered:
"In the leisure of this tragic story
Lies a fissure of some magic glory".

There is something to this nothing.


There is no sign of a Ferris rendering from here on the concrete,
No vista worth admiring from on high in the business zone as the
Fog catches the spotlight's projection just above a dull skyscraper.

Now decked-out as artless, mirrored columns, these giant verticals
Echo down the boulevard like hypnotic doppelgangers of commodious
Illusion; averting a cracked mind before this pavement's crystal bloom.

Below the weathered brim of this bygone fedora, I see, ghostly before
Me, a perfect stranger, perhaps another somnambulist of the city wander,
Imperceptibly, past a neo-Victorian streetlight long beyond the gaslight.

Like an animated version of "A Couple in the Street" by Angrand, or
The transitory figures of Seurat, I remain indiscernible to the other:
Apparitions lost outside of history in the chilled mist of an urban ruin.

Trees in captivity are studied like botanists by the mannequins in the
Window display; their steely, soulless gaze paying homage to the plant
World like frozen shadows dressed in fineries befitting the new nature.

Downtrodden denizens drip into a shabby diner like street drainage
Mumbling to themselves in Chandleresque haikus, the two o'clock
Blues: a case-worth of stories for any old typewriter 'n' pack 'o' smokes.

I holster no hardware and exhale a yellow fog, chewing a cheap memory's
Ramifications down these overexposed streets strewn with the typical
Detritus, and the promise of 1001 more images from night's program.

In the waning distance above a static horizon of the avenue's vanishing
Point, I see a figure in soft focus like a sepia-toned secret harboring a
Clue to this dimensional crisis as time and space are once again rebooted.


Like a Gregorian bug (not the Pope), history gathers moss
In the stagnant corners of contemporary minds,
Punctured in the back by a discarded apple
(With sharpened stem), rotting away, with a conquered worm,
All memory of ever desiring the sustenance of knowledge.
History now is re-imagined, renewed and
Remade daily from a revised script
Awaiting the sanitized approval
Of the here-and-now people:
Inheritors of a time all but lost;
And "good riddance" they collectively imply
In vain whispers.

Remembrance without possession or culpability
Is the order of the day, and keeps certain doctors away.
In selective waves turns the transmission
Of yesterday's minutes, filtered and edited
Like an air-brushed, digital photo.
Can there be wisdom in savvy business smarts
While confusing it with "usable information",
As opposed to tradition's former Justified True Belief
In a knowledge understood not as mere alchemy?
The generational divide of fear has produced
Exotic children for a 21st century meme,
Voracious for games and play and profitable distraction.

Caught between the Sphinx and the Unicorn, can we both
Be forbidden in our knowledge and our ignorance?
What forgiveness indeed can even be considered
In a serpentine world beyond the sacred and the real?
By the sword 'n' words of a cyber warrior
Reflecting back CGI medicine for blue-suited patients,
An ever-present system's efficiency batters
Its way through the time barrier, leaping from
Age to age, and world to world, with absurd beauty
For its own sake, and a fiscal projection.
In the two millennia since
After Cicero, there appears no need of maturity.


I will cross the bridgeless gorge of the great divide
                           that separates thought from action...

I will fly to Singapore without the aid of a passport...

I will write the next "Ulysses" upon a fractal of immensity
                              where day cannot express the sun's rays...

All this and more to more this day, if the ox says it's o.k.

I may race the African cheetah or lasso the arboreal python in my remote jungle
                                                                        for the heart of some fictional bliss...

I may, waylaid by the sabled gaze of tears assorted upon those undone days,
                                                                  swim the fabled channel of chance...

I may, to stay, climb to flay an early morning's birch away, and nest beside some anchored
                                                   silence, holding with spite, a cellaphaned King James bible...

All this and more to score this day, if the ox says it's o.k.

I can bleed through the rusted conduits of yesteryear's dreams...

I can dredge a December dawn for oysters sutured with
                                   black pearls to kiss with impunity...

I can examine silhouette whales in the broken porcelain
                                                      of my secret vivarium...

All this and more to bore this day, if the ox says it's o.k.

I must confirm the stories, so whispered blue, behind the moon's brilliant subterfuge...

I must avert the kiss inside the candle's entrancing flame drawing
                          the pen of Aubrey to burn with nocturnal poise...

I must mend the spine, and restore, like glissandos from a harp,
           what sun this techno-romantic rabble have left behind...

All this and more to mourn this day, if the ox says it's o.k.


Would there be an I to scold
Upon this earth as days are cold
Below the skies who know it not
Above the seas where I will rot
I should think this hate too old.

Men have come and gone to death
Without the peace blew from their breath
Withheld from love that could not save
Within their dark and barren cave
They had no joy to bequeath.

Once a life has spent its course
There is no time that you could force
Here unto a grief of sorrow
Where another chance could borrow
What was lost in the first source.

I hope you have enjoyed these strange poems of mine, one and all.  :-)

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