Robert Kelly: An Alchemical Journal (4)

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In 1955 I & some school-fellows attempted a revival of Batman as an object of inquiry. It does not feel good to have been in the avant-garde of kitsch. Yet my fingers smell of her authenticity, She Who Is To Be Obeyed, She who is wet.

These are the books: The works of Gerhard Dorn
                 Michael Maier
Jakob Böhme
Robert Fludd
Thomas Vaughan

Not one of them but wrote with a goose-quill. Over the hen-yard, the scream of the chicken-hawk. Over the stream (Hortonville 1939), the blue scream of a kingfisher. Men who like to read books & watch birds. Presidents of the United States. Men who blow fine glass flasks with wild birds inside. Cegeste (F*lc*n*ll*’s name in the special bars of Toulon) worked it out just fine: L’oiseau chante avec ses doigts. Which means, when it comes to the Vessel of the work: the ouzel chants a wake six dights. Six nays. And on the seventh, breasts. Or casts a storm spell on the Wash. The Wish. They come to life again. L’auzel. L’aura amara. We picked the right road & the wrong goal. For a long time the kingfisher sat on the branch.

Peonies in the olive jar, white water. Wise men read the labels. Water salt & acid added. But they are peonies, her holy flower, how the rain stinks of them. I love her. Wise men need no labels.

There is something about new morning, dew on the sun & the people out on the loose again, that moves the bowels.

After all this crap, time to understand. Yes, that was it; the Daring. The Irrevocable. Death as game. You will notice I do not speak of Death. I do not like that game. If you go on playing it I will take my life & go home. The Gnostic says. When I was a child I heard several sermons each summer (though once in a life would have been enough) about the boy who wilfully missed Mass on Sunday to go to the beach, & came back in a box. That’s the way they always said it: in a box—& there was no doubt what that meant. It is only now, in my thirty-first year, that I begin to doubt the relevance of the priest’s report. Yet each sin measures me & limits my work. When I have sinned I write in a box.

We made love by the waterfall. Later we saw a snake. It was eating, ugly. I had no compassion for its hunger. Forgive me.

As a strong man, I love to receive the commands of beautiful women.

The course of love-making follows the phases of the moon. An ignorant girl wrote: ‘My dog flowed me to school.’ Dont everybody laff at once.

What did she mean coming into my office & seeing the big picture of the fish &, asking me if I were the Fisher King? Yet she was beautiful. I clapped a hand to my thigh & worshiped —for the length of that casual, meant-to-be-humorous gesture—the woman secretly inside it. O unborn twin sister of mine, o death in my body come to life. I was black & blue from the injections, etc.

So many birds of morning. Elephant on the desk. To each unit of the biological world belongs its proper gesture. We call it lucus, ‘grove,’ a non lucendo, from the fact that it is not bright inside it. Dark birds. The traveller asked for an empty glass. One tusk is longer than the other. In a poem of Rene Char’s we read of deujc pointes semblables, sun shining on two like tips, of the horn of the bull, of the sword that kills him. I have kept him all these years at the door, waiting for one to become empty.


Its earliest glyph was the Ka, the upraised hands  KaGlyph

When we leave our house, only the wisest of us throws up his hands.

The most remarkable event of the week was a mock crucifixion wherein a young man was lashed to a yellow cross propped up before the people. After saying of pretending to say certain words, he pretended to die. If one pronoun had slipped out of place, I honestly declare I would have lost my mind.

But I didnt say what it was, of which the Ka, the upraised hands, was symbol. Call it in the simple jargon of our time, my time, a process. Fresh & light-footed Dante called Guinicelli’s love poems.

All things are finally brought into the Furnace of Love. We have that assurance. The temperature.

Mosquito bite on my thigh, a gentle enough punishment for all the thighs I’ve bitten. I mean all the times I’ve bitten thighs.

In a play of Joel Oppenheimer’s, the classical historical western desperadoes look down from cowboy heaven on the struggles of the characters of the play. At times they speak. When I saw the play performed, the desperadoes were enacted by poets. The fertility of a contrivance is out of all proportion to its meaning. Or a sentence.

Hoping to learn by a sign how the Work prospers, I look out the window, first moving the curtain on which the terra cotta  
 Mirror of Ashtaroth reflects no image.

I’ll try again to say it straight. Hoping to learn by a sign how the Work prospers, I move the curtain & look out, morning

The language has roots in me, by it I am grown, leaf & hand & tongue. Who is this language? Who is this King of Glory? I have sharpened my pen. I have opened the gates of the Temple.

[…to be continued]

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