Robert Kelly: An Alchemical Journal (7)


I hold this one’s breasts & this one’s thighs & press myself on this one’s mouth & ask each one in turn: What is it that happened between us at the Pinner in Wakefield, three hundred years ago, September? We learned the secret, & it cost us our deaths. Back, far down in my blood, an orchestra tunes up. My dearest wife, I will hear you forever & sometimes heed you. I sign this letter in perfect ignorance of the date.

All this was the right time. Can I hear what I’m trying to say? At this very minute She is waiting for me to come to a door miles away & open to her. Do I hear me, do I hear me?

She is at the door, her hair is yellow, her looks are free, her skin is white as. Liberty? As. As.

Just as the rocket burst over the tangled carnival throng I saw the Queen of Cups whirl & send her raving servants in among the crowd. Before the glare had faded she was down the water steps & away in the Chris-Craft. The night came back over the rages & howls & agonies &. love-cries of the victims. He turned to me with a strange smile & said, We have put her living in the tomb.

She is at the door. How surprised she’ll be when I call her Mommy. Long an only child, I first learned of the disease during my mother’s second confinement. When she came home I peered into the deep pores of her face, terrified that the skin might show ravages of the imagined ailment. But now there is my true love at the door. Her hair is yellow. She is not free. Her skin is white as

all the while it is her wildness I love. It is time I speak in praise of. Wild wet. The sea is all colors. I am afraid of my strength, I mean that strength in me. I fear only certain woods at night. Only certain serpents, brown ones, ones of no color. Only certain dogs, who come along in the darkness & mess around in the lab &. tear the throat out of the Work. I do not fear the sea. I do not fear the wind. I do not fear even the sea wind squirming in the cattails, even her sand scouring my stone. Every year must have a beginning. We have the assurance of water, time can do nothing to us.

I confess the exaltation of this instant. What matters is that it is. Was. This comes terribly close to a false simplicity, the cost of which would be an easy mistake. Of all things the sun shines on, there is none more worth to be cherished than that the sun shines upon all things with the same light & each thing is different. There is a race of beings who make things new; they are Children of the Sun. It is they who in the language of Beulah are shown in the Nineteenth Trump, hand in hand in the heat of their primary. In science they are called planets, in religion they are called The Gods, in history they are called Men. I know them by a different name.

Let me be clear about this: my Desire is the only vessel strong enough to contain you.

I & you, back to that again, of “I” it is able to speak. Who will learn the language of mountains? Studs, seducers, folk on the make, how simple they are: Viva la Liberta, cries Don Giovanni, as if it meant something. She believes at times in an actual Hell, where Giovanni’s lust is cauterized, his skin blemished with consequence. They fry you there. Now this is important to me: there are some cookies, a friend once told, such that all of a sudden you eat the fatal one, the one that instantly turns the stomach & makes the joy of all that came before into a queasy, not quite dead weight.

In the burgeoning optimism of unlimited desire, I reach out for universal intimacy: I will go to hell, where hell is false repetition, to have lusted for meaning & to have passed, in the ferocity of my desire, right through the thing Meant, right out back into the boondocks, the Qlipoth, the provinces of diminished reality.

I’ll say this for IBM: from them we may one day relearn that there is no number but One, no repose but Zero.

So at the proper time the Vessel is opened & the house is filled with a simply wonderful aroma. We are told that in the Book. Man’s fire is poured out on Hamburg, London, Nagasaki, Hanoi. After she had made me into Love there was silence in Heaven in the space of half an hour. So also was there one who in a shirt of silver stood before the people &, received their worship. Him ate the worms. There is said to be a moral in this story. In this Syntax. Morality of syntax, pause to recover.

The anguish of the Work is the discovery of the correspondences. Once they proclaim themselves, they never let the Philosopher rest. The Correspondences. No man is allowed to die until he has met every god & every goddess & has had his chance with each one of them to revere or to reject. This is the assurance of Love (the Furnace, the Human Body, the World).

As on another night we sat up late at the motel trying to figure out who Minerva was. My lungs holding the opium down, I went outside & stood by the sea, wanted to cast her my seed, got no answers. Waste of the drug, of the potion? Sea a potion?

Boil It Down.

It took us an hour to get through Hartford, city of lovers. A gold dome on what I was told was the Temple of Venus Percasta. Love assures. As I write down these lies, a little grey moth walks on the page, avoids the wet ink, or is it my words?

I love her exactly because she looked everywhere for signs & read them out loud, kept their meanings. Am I godlike because I love exactly? There is no lust like the lust for meaning.








Fill in the identities. Die.

Plainly those 365 bardic metres were no metres. They were each day’s measure of itself, each day’s song of itself into the specific ear of the poet. Free verse, if you can call it free—is the child newborn on Christmas free of Capricornus, is the dying old man free of the Moon? But those priest-poets sang each day; their training was directed to making them perfect instrumentalities of music & emergent meaning. Obviously I am making this up. Obviously I am writing in the middle of a wood, at night, when the moon rises she will be seen to be nearing her full, maybe she has risen already, all round me are the scribes & scholars of the College of the Holy Spirit, resting from their carnival appearances or conning the sermons they will whisper, o holy poison, in the ears of sleeping dominies.

These are men who live for nothing but truth & love. Which is true of everyone in the world, but these men know it.

They are going off to sail up a river. They have no idea who will be the boat. Or down a river. Or have they? Suppose I said the river you can sail on is not the real river. Would you believe me?


I set up this stone to aid the Sun our Lord in his interminable Battle.

I knew it was she because of my frequent dreams. From the other side of the paper a wind was blowing. When I was young I was a tamarack was what it said. On the other hand, when I appear in her dreams it is as one who drives a car. What if Heurtebise were Mistress Death herself himself? What if the Chauffeur were the car? The man who makes things hot. They listen to me because I have more fun than anybody. A double-bodied treat. And glory?

And Mr Cory, who said his name where he comes from rhymes with sorry, told me of Roosevelt’s death, fdr sat at a card table signing his outgoing mail. Laura Delano was in the kitchen arranging flowers. Soon they were going to have lunch. Far away from Roosevelt the Russian lady painter worked. Miss Suckley looked up from her own work & saw Roosevelt’s head down on the table, his arm towards the floor. She thought he had dropped his cigarettes & hurried over saying Have you dropped your cigarettes? But he touched the back of his head & said I have a terrific headache. Later he died. On four sheets of yellow lined legal pad paper, the President had written in pencil, under date 26 December 1937, his instructions for the disposition of his body should he die in office. Among other things he wanted to be buried almost immediately, plainly, without being embalmed. By & large his wishes were not obeyed, since Mrs Roosevelt did not want to open the sealed envelope, containing the memorandum, addressed to James Roosevelt, then in the Philippines.

[… to be continued]

(Visited 78 times, 1 visits today)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *