Better angels, with flight lost to that skyward ruin
and tossed to Earth, where they will surely do in
time, as mortal souls, a dance of celebration
for the humanity of Icarus and his determination
to fly, as they themselves become more luminous beings
having left behind the wry conspiracy of angels wings.
With a great hush of orthodoxy
this sacrament on a cliff face
sits groaning beneath the weight
of its own romantic mythology.
Wide-eyed guests wander the grounds,
zealously guarding their human potential,
and staff struts, self-absorbed,
quixotically exploring their absence
from the world and blindly suffering
the accretions of an insular life.
Stuck for a spell to this loadstone
of the West Coast, this asylum of need,
some imagine deliverance, and some
even transcendence—the next step—
but while their proximity to paradise
promotes the notion of movement
it depletes the ability to move,
and most are left wanting more
of Esalen and its opaque perfections.
It’s the symbolic mystique of the place
and the thread of life that clings to the edge there.
It’s the quiet Zion of a Redwood stand
and the spiny leaves of thistle glistening
with morning dew on a canyon trail.
It’s the aching Buddhism
and the cliff-side alchemy of Esalen.
It’s the still-raw synthesis of land and sea,
the cadence of the waves
and the primordial ministrations of the tide.
It’s the home of gurus and goddesses,
the shrine of canyons and cliffs,
where Nymphs might nestle in wildflowers
and Sprites might caper in rocky streams.
It’s the mathematic perfection of Monarchs wings
and the clean scent of eucalyptus on the salty air.
It’s the coded message of a million stars
in the clear black night,
telling of travels through time and space
to twinkle a silent requiem for sunset.
It’s Highway 1, the black serpent,
winding its way along the California coast,
bringing a new perspective to Paradise.
It’s the Beat poets pilgrimage to Bixby Bridge
and the cathedral of arches
that calls the bards of sage and chaparral,
of sunset and starlight, of time and tides,
of butterflies and morning fog,
to reveal in humble words the nimbus glory
and inexplicable splendor of Big Sur.
Salty men stand huddled on the wharf
with shoulders hunched against the morning chill
and hands plunged deep in sandy pockets.
The zip and click of casting reels, icy puffs of breath,
and the shuffle of restless feet set the rhythm
of a fisherman’s lament, of sardines and shrimp,
of prostitutes and unpaid bills–a quiet song
of life exceeding ambition, an anthem of escape.
After Spicer, After Lorca
In the rooms of Henry’s gabled house, the drift of years is endless
snow and salt shaken down.
He lost his way, this spirit seasoned by the color white. He walks
on a frozen carpet made of memories,
numb to the chill, blinded and frostbitten. Without eyes or thumbs
he suffers nothing in those empty rooms,
but the wind’s lonely quiver. How deep a wound those walls concealed,
how old a scar they left.
The snow, it only drifts now; the salt, it only stings.
In the rooms of Henry’s gabled house, the drift of years is endless.