DREADSUMMER — New Poems by Eliot Cardinaux

by Eliot Cardinaux

Temple of the Priest Kings


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Artwork by Jeffrey Lipsky

“Temple of the Priest Kings”

Acrylic and Graphite on 3 x 3 ft Canvas

https://www.facebook.com/JLipArts

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DREADSUMMER


SIGIL

(For Sean Ali)

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Shadows of

sunset under eyelids

hover over sleep.

I grieve my splinter out.

.

The wind made a lap 

in the heart. In the iris 

a reel flaps with bright 

white birdsong.

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AFTER CELAN

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VI

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The thrice-flayed,

thrice-frayed leaf

in the mantle

of the stem

.

clearquestions

the ground-

gap;

.

that shrieking,

idiot 

glory,

when 

.

will it speak?

Tomorrow-

after.

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VII

.

Crocus:

drinking,

the salt-weed

stems

behind

you,

ever-through.

.

Existence,

tipped

by the threshold

greys

.

a

darkness

of dried bees.

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VIII

.

Lacquer,

your stoneway, 

stamen, arch

.

your tongue a wound’s

and the body corroding

.

rushes

infecting the poppy

with ivory wrists

.

of that white-red,

light-black 

.

leaf in the window,

has no face.

.

Ellipsis of a crown

grown paler, 

thrown-shadowed

revolt, 

where my stem is buried.

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IX

.

They arrive,

but not train-grey

bespoke through

thought-brambles,

pigeon-red.

.

Charred metal,

candles’ — of 

a heat, their

fallimpendant

trace, 

ellipses us:

.

a scaffold

stabbing a lost vowel.

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X

.

One day I too will write you,

no letter to say,

this one,

true thing:

.

to rotate 

beyond, behind

the eyefilm,

.

mantlebranched:

your word.

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FOR OSIP MANDELSTAM

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II

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I remember you caught me

looking up at the blossoms.

They fell like skirts on my thighs,

and I still see the color

violet, burning through my chest.

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I carry my history blind, like a shame.

I drag it like a weapon behind me.

.

I lay these things down for the first time

in a grave beside your image,

saying these things out loud.

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ELIJAH

.

Left, wine-red

at the trunk of summer,

an offering of names

grown into poppies

.

folds into 

compass-points,

quivering Southwest.

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Those ditched in the blood

now leave the door open.

The fence’s frost

heaves over.

.

Never among the dead.

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INACTION

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Here, you improvise the earth

and the broken tracks smile.

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From a borrowed 

rib,

evolves: 

eternity.

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The threadbare eye

into my unknowing 

closes, and factories

sleep in the grass.

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This dream is my mosquito,

the dark our blood,

and the lenses of our eyes

float like trees on a river of air.

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Black spotlights,

the whips of wakefulness

flutter like a broken drum

and talk of monotones.

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THE WISH

.

To the walking reflection 

made one by Pygmalion’s prayer

belongs the cunning, empty shard

.

unfurling,

in a temple of hands that swing like music 

from the bars of the brain,

the story of a three-pieced single god.

.

Toward a sky of clear veins —

vanished prison, 

your laughter breached a cloud,

rains upward 

into black lands.

.

To words 

in the voice of wounds

you speak now, remove my lips

from a dream

which towers over danger.

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And my multifold angers —

the roots of an oak

drenched in peace,

will snarl and light up a prayer.

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ELEGY 

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Above the ruins,

echo of a pale orange flame,

a young girl billows

rosewindowing the edge,

a skeleton that men can climb

to build a steeple out of chaos.

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When dawn is another sky

you can see it from broad white day.

I have learned it from the laughter of schoolgirls:

how to kill, and veered 

like a kestrel above a warship

into blue from another blue

to camouflage a sky.

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WHEELRUTS

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As a landscape 

rolls off my back

I glimpse an open road.

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The hollow and the dirt

make blue music on my brow

and the green uprooted days, discarded,

water a tree in my lungs.

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No man escapes

the tracks he’s on until tomorrow

in a blur of high grasses

sinks into thunder

and the shock of his life wears off.

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PROCESSION

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When I lost you I wrote of sleep.

The dark lit a magnitude of rain.

Your breathing broke across the bow.

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A dream is a broken sentence,

a poem directing me strangely

toward an abyss.

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I walk with my nostrils down 

the crowded road and through the hum

I remember that basement desert

of damp nothing.

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You are found on the road of the grave of God,

your last line lifting a heavy spade.

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ANALYSIS

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Receding from the questions of my figure

I become the other, and then I become the same.

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But I always wait with corrosive stars by my side.

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I melt with the snow of humidity

and my heart does not beat;

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I follow.

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I write in a language of dead ruins

with nowhere to go

and the ribs of my myth carry lungs that are spoken for.

.

I build out of dust a character

who plays your part.

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MARKET

.

I lay my oasis down

like a carpet of stars

and I am alone.

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A fragment: it catches 

on the breeze

.

the distance between

a desert and the road. 

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PRAYER

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With blackness I light up the sun.

A dampening cell in a shower of oil begging 

one end of a battery.

.

I cup in my hands the wound

of that unimaginability

.

and aching with actions

a distant grey heart

filtered through the factory.

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ALLEGORY

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A snake was charmed

on the eve of possession,

a spider whose every thread 

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is a bridge whose attentions are trophies,

watery torso 

.

of a lover’s last poem

whose head witnessed everything at once.

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Their escape is the smoke 

from a flame that erases

.

everything but absence 

for your rage to fill:

.

black water

under the light of migraines,

a bullet 

brought weak death two scales.

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THE VOICE AND ITS ECHO

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I stand in the fire between us,

void of a sun that waters

roadways on your cheeks

to flood a desert. 

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The harvest gave birth to a sky

as black as cradles

and white as your name,

so I remove the mirror.

.

And the Earth stands before us,

weeping like a rose

that has grown there, 

burning like a prophecy.

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Until the logic of that dream,

sucked up through black tunnels

fuels what we know to be,

we are nameless: the voice and its echo.

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ASSIMILATION

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It is constantly changing.

One week folds into another

and our calendars cannot keep up.

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It is two violins from the east

come to grips with the west,

the CD skipping 

in an ambient 

click of the heart.

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But the desert is not a road,

an oasis from which all roads diverge

like the notes of a scale

as we wake from heaven.

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TALE

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An oriole of the ear, 

his viola a lever 

of unchosen names

frightened rain into a coffin.

.

Dipped into a wound

to paint with color

the sun and the sky

had behaved so badly.

.

A spider

I am feeding —

flies on a web,

to the book of dreaming.

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A PRESENT HISTORY OF AIR

(For Adonis)

.

As her rest unfolds

her decision to sleep

lifts up the mountains

scoring the jagged air.

.

As she can breathe

she places her limbs

in a row like seedlings

and it begins to rain.

.

As it is questioned

the air becomes poems

reaching out beyond

this time of ashes.

.

In a storm each will 

sever itself on a thorn

from the poet erasing

himself and herself

.

as the rose grows deep

in the azure, keeping

one thought for itself,

that the present is history.

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ALL POETRY BY ELIOT CARDINAUX

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© 2019

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