Celestial Estrangement

We have been carried here against our will

Burnt stars
Oceanic gardens
where the clouds are soaked into my eyes

How much sand floats in the teacup of your dreams
The rivers you perceive are those of horses
they carry red water
the odor of imperishable sweat
putrescent human bellies stuffed with revolvers and nuns

At the top of the tower
where hounds part with a pool of water
where one comes only with a flaming lance
where there is no escaping the pain of a horse’s kick
where toy dolls are nailed to the beds
where lovers suck their bodies dry
as harp strings are plucked away
in this hermit world of old gunny sacks and broken heads

we encounter tons of wingless birds

From The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (University of California Press, 2013) by Philip Lamantia. Copyright © 2013 by the Regents of the University of California. Used with permission of University of California Press Books.