The Word. A poem by Christopher Galano


The Word
 za Anu
 I met a man who sang of lilies down-spiralling on a bier garden—
 who sang of ivory petals alighting ashen corpses and red dust—
 who sang of dancers kicking up red dust into the atmosphere—
 who sang of dancers banging glasses, splashing drinks on ashen corpses—
 who sang of dancers unaware of any lilies anywhere.
 He offered me his spirit which was carried on the word.
 Have you ever met a spirit that was carried on the word?
 In the beginning was the word.
 I met a man who showed me the beginning.
 Inside us grows a germ now broken from the primordial gyre,
 which eyed itself on static water and, coming of age,
 did not drown within the beauty of its own image.
 Inside us grows a germ now spinning its own currents, which,
 strengthening, kills the fang-toothed, the snake-haired,
 to break from Mother’s constricting care.
 Inside us grows a clever germ erecting worlds of stone
 and steel and thought and word—
 worlds raised out of a gentle womb left
 razed within rotting encasements, entombed.
 Inside us grows the lonely germ we have assumed.
 And the lonely are contagious:
 the paint-haired girl who summons mushrooms from her heart;
 the wind-flared boy surpassing light inside a shopping cart;
 the carrier of seeds who grows the bluebirds in the park—
 all catch the germ and give a start—but acquiesce in turn while turning
 through their ages.
 Abandoners of Self—they shuffle to the aegis of the skyscraper’s
 glitz and shine that blind the eye to wastage.
 And the lonely ascend with momentum.
 And the skyscraper ascends until inverted to a well that digs into the mud
 of self-made expectation (although the fact, in time, is forgotten),
 until the well runs deep and twirls not like gyres, yet still twirls and, like fires,
 pulls a passer-by toward the edge—
 then swirls a foot into the depth proclaimed as higher.
 And the passer-by, believing, goes on to preaching—
 so congregate the lonely sty.
 So learn to hate the lonely sty the foreign of their kind across the sandy hills—
 watch how the wind makes play of grains upon the sandy hills!—
 hate them for their foreign word, for if in the beginning was the word,
 then foreign word means foreign beginning, means foreign existence
 counts for sinning.
 Hence the wars and eager wills for winning even dust.
 The hate flies too at foreign words born local:
 the lonely sty stay lonely, subject
 to the common mud but never
 guaranteed by it: the lonely sty
 stay lonely, and loneliness only multiplies.
 And every entity pursues its own
 preservation—between the common streets
 and roofs and words and personalities—
 and at times between us.
 The lonely sty is an ancient story of home-
 grown hope to plunge the roots
 beneath the mud and shoot the leaves
 into the sky, to join what we have gained
 with what we’ve lost in swirling with
 the sty—and of killing that hope before
 admission. Do you hear it? The story
 echoes forward toward us, happens
 now, around us, listen as
 hand drops hammer strikes nail pierces palm
 against the wood that shakes the balm
 from the surface of the earth like dew
 flung from bowing petals by an early-risen shrew.
 The shrews and scoundrels and Pharisees bark
 their hatred for the One who had come to save them.
 They had rallied for death—death to their
 oppressors—death they chanted in their caves
 and in their fantasies. And Death
 to the Romans turned with ease to Death
 to Jesus of Nazareth, when He by
 temple-baths refused the violent cry
 and washed instead the mud from blind
 but willing eyes—that chant condemning them
 along the Sorrowful Way as
 hand drives hammer strikes nail pierces feet
 against the wood that stirs the fiends from their seats
 in the flames of the pit blessed by Satan’s conceit,
 like us; they come hold witness in the dust.
 Dust swirls where they step through the crowd,
 flickering between two realms, felt as a prick
 in the heart of the shrew that throws the sorrows
 of her nightly abuse upon the Man to grow
 her hatred by it; a breath blown on the scoundrel’s
 soul that casts the daily guilt of his failings
 upon the Man to urge his mockeries for it;
 a whisper of the scripture in the mind
 of the Pharisee that sustains the claim
 of heresy to assuage his doubts of it;
 and heard as a stray pig’s many-voiced squeals
 that call the lesser devils waiting at
 realm’s edge for the Man’s death
 to make their own accursed homes upon
 this downcast earth—a hope now spurred as
 hands lift cross lifts Man and slides in earthen slot
 that keeps Him raised above the land—
 His body jolting, the nails holding—His stand
 for having taught them to be perfect like God.
 His followers have scattered—
 fled through sandy hills before the funeral choirs.
 O bless those ones who held their step at Calvary.
 Black clouds clap thunder over the crowd:
 while the lightning, dim by the Light of Jesus’ heart, yet blinding to poor eyes, 
 cracks a throwing-stone and draws its viscid blood which flows
 the Sorrowful Way until reaching the Temple—
 up the stonework steps and through the archway entrance; then onto
 the High Priest’s throne, now vacant, while a gale throws
 his finest robes before the cross.
 He lifts his arms to block the gust that blows directly through his heart,
 that chills the jeerer’s mockeries mid-air, unsettling the crowd 
 dispersing in fear:
 the thunder claps overloud:
 and a soldier seized by panic sends his spear through rib-bare flesh—
 then genuflects beneath fluorescent blood and limpid water which
             shower the penitent, shower the dust, and over-gleam
             the stone blood stream until the Temple’s empty throne.
 Jesus throws His spirit on the word and throws His word toward the heavens:
 “It is accomplished.”
 His head drops while white lightning strikes the cross, traverses spring-
 well heart, runs rose-glowing stream, and at the Temple cracks
 unholy stonework seams:
 the fissure traces back, splitting the path apart, and swallows the fertilizing
 stream, and swallows the terror-playing fiends, and swallows their
 unbelieving screams at the sight of the wood where lightning holds
 its form attached to heaven:
 leaves reach from wooden arms to feed on light of higher realms reflected
 in the sheen of blackening, closing clouds, amid high trumpets 
 singing triumph through the cracking, thunderous sounds:
 a lily blossoms at the tip, electric with the charge, reflected infinite in every
 realm as highest art:
 the beings of higher realms gaze struck by highest art.
 The roots have meanwhile plunged from base of wood through sand
 to draw the charge of places where the good of Man gives way 
 to raw abasement in the form of snakes that coil and always gnaw
 the realms of Underland—
 the charge now feeding lightning held from either end—
 the axis on which all the world has come to spin—
 illumining human eyes perceiving holy light:
 the final light soon vanished as black consumes the sky.
 Soldiers bow before their duties: hands
 once firm to lift the cross now quaver wildly.
 Mary His Mother, sole one steady,
 swaths His body in His manger robes,
 and, still steady, perceiving holy light,
 holds His rainy, whip-lashed body
 soon to resurrect.
 I met a man who sang of lilies free-falling for three days—
 who sang of open petals piling upon supine corpses, settling lofty dust—
 who sang of sable-sandaled dancers leaving dust upon the ground;
 who sang of sable-sandaled dancers pouring drinks on supine corpses—
 who sang of all libations beading off the shroud of lilies.
 He shared forbidden words arranged within forbidden orders.
 Inside us grows a germ now broken from the basement laboratories where
 walls buzz sterile white, pipe bulbs lighting like neither sun nor moon.
 Inside us grows a germ composed of Nature’s elements—healthy in her own
 proportions, healthy by her own intent—but twisted out of form;
 mixed with demoniacs, malice, and discontent.
 Inside us grows a germ that passes on the word that it begets, spinning
 syllables buzzing after its pattern, low-wave and warbled—long-range
 interference—buzzing the air in tune, and through our ears
 so our hearts too, which though not easily infected are so frequently
 inflicted by the song.
 Our hearts, low-buzzing, echo the germ-spun word, and, first
 through fervour, then habit, we learn only to speak it,
 or else we cover our mouths.
 Look how we all cover our mouths:
 masks for every patient in line, standing indifferently—
 foot out-flung, back half-slouched, fists pocketed—bored of waiting.
 And look!—down there—how one man lifts his hand to his mask—
 only to scratch his eye; then drops his hand and sighs.
 Listen to their hearts buzzing as low as their sighs.
 And listen! Listen to the sudden beating: hearts off-rhythm and rushed—
 only to keep the pace at the guard’s push, the stutter steps quick-
 fading to a halt.
 See the complacency of those who trade their agency for preservation!
 See how the lab-germ latches onto the germ we are known by!
 Observe how the manufactured co-opts the organic!
 And notice, there, the man who watches
 his watchers—and there! He breaks from the line
 for the horizon! Away from the setting sun!
 Arriving then by rover to the line’s front,
 where tents eat every person in turn,
 before released toward the skyscrapers,
 star-speckled black against the rosy burn,
 new city promised and begun.
 —A promise of vast relations that erode those between us.
 I have known the promised relations only between us, when we
 interwove our bodies like the electrical filament interweaving
 the galaxies: that perfect tapestry.
 —A promise of speed that separates us, so that we meet in
 the same time but misaligned from the rush.
 I have known progress at your touch, when the ancient youth of a
 new moon reflected on your skin and tuned my heart aligned:
 that illicit pale blush.
 —A promise of transformation by bestowal, only to those
 who acquiesce.
 I have known transformation when we harmonized our chests,
 and our limbs flashed as one with the burning comet above:
 that cosmic love-tangle.
 I have known the sterile light, the deep shadows underneath strained eyes,
 the bowed heads and hunched backs for code that finds the code
 that finds, but so removed never reveals;
 known the sterile voices, the formulaic rhyme, the cheap glitter and the tampered bodies,
 the scentless, touchless, tasteless, where senses atrophy and die,
 and a heart knowing joy only from virtual disguise designed to steal;
 known the stolen moments when a heart so rhythmed never noticed heartbeats
 calling, for the low-buzz rhythm resonated with the falling, falling,
 falling out of fields.
 Technology is not our final yield but a cocoon to life-support our
             spirits through transfiguration.
 Reject the buzz heart-tuning as the germ-spun word to trap us
             midway formed.
 We shed our shells by daybreak: no night lasts forever.
 In dreams I’ve seen our butterflied kind on forever’s other side:
 Man and Woman high-resonant, heaven’s dimensions worn as halos,
 plants grown at will, raised from rippling hills, hills themselves raised up,
 a lily bush blossoming then dying into itself to blossom again,
 spun by the swipe of a wrist:
 songs lifting bricks, building heart-tuned cities,
 songs lifting waves over cliffs to water the gardens,
 songs to lift our bodies with.
 I see our daughter singing with arms uplifted in the garden, singing
 the flowers and vegetables into bloom, singing the world alive.
 This is why I beg you, belly full with baby, keep aligned your heart:
 keep sovereign your wrist.
 We may starve in the dust, lost of paths and savings, faceless to society,
 nameless to friends and family:
 may forgiving graces save us from our pangs when there are no oases—
 I see no oases—wind itself wailing—
 Watch how the wind makes play of grains upon the sandy slopes,
 reshaping desertscape as ocean waves, rolling, shave the coast.
 Look at the glints of gold
 the sunset throws on the land,
 that holy promise of tomorrow
 awaiting our fulfilling.
 I met a man who sang of lilies white-
 shining in the night, heaven-
 haloed petals lifting rested
 corpses shedding all their dust;
 and feet of dancers snapping to—
 a sudden start—as dancers
 drop their glasses, lose
 their drinks before the corpses—
 all the dancers cower at the glowing art of lilies.
 He reassured of humankind’s full arc.
 We wandered prodigals through history.
 We finish with a choice: accept the mark
 of the beast or spurn false-promised bliss to free
 the spirit from cocoon and turn the flesh
 angelic, so, like moons, it can reflect
 the light of Source. Once solid walls turn to mesh
 and ripple in the wind. Upon the wrecked
 womb, fertile till its death, that light of Source
 dances in spotted step. Our task: to tear
 the mesh of our cocoons, let the full force
 of light inside, receive the sacred glare.
 We’ll burn all residue of former sin.
 We’ll align, axes: on us worlds will spin.
 We wandered prodigals to set our roots
 in fertile mud, to draw the nourishment,
 to feed the green and faithful, fragile shoots
 of our spirits. As from manure’s fresh scent
 rise fresher flowers wafting bolder yet,
 we must transfigure what is crude and base
 to highest form, illumining the earthly set,
 we only able ‘cause we know the face
 of darkness: that face is ours: we are the beast
 that ravages then cools its pulsing veins
 in putrid mud; we too the angel, least
 among the heavenly bodies with an aim
 past them: heaven and hell battle in our blood,
 one raising us, one lowering, through the mud.
 There are powers that would bind us to the mud
 and suck the moisture, turning all to dust.
 They are wolves in lambskin chewing on the cud
 of dark old dreams whose false façades they thrust
 on many. Many accept for knowing not
 or fearing worse—or love of their children—love
 the wolves know not: the wolves, with teeth half rot,
 devour our children, then in body gloves
 they throw the bones. And they will burn the bones,
 succeeding for some time, but their success
 will stand on self-made dust and dust alone—
 watch how the wind makes play of dust!—caressed
 by grains, the many will grasp at sandy walls,
 each lonely, separated, from the fall.
 We wandered separate so that we could learn
 to carry crosses, to forgive the givers
 of crosses, to forgive ourselves—to burn
 cracked shells, throw ashes into teardrop rivers.
 Why feel shame for flourishing? Evolving, we
 butterfly our peers and very earth. We break
 apart to put together consciously.
 Transcend the entranced, the enchanter, and the snake
 whose protest points are valid but distracted.
 We wandered separate so that we could map
 our hearts within this plane. Pain re-enacted
 for manufactured dreams, or market cap,
 or half-formed thought serves hardly to remit.
 Forget the smoke: aim at the ultimate.
 Be flame, be ash, be ember and new spark!
 Pass through familiar death and live again.
 Be wave, be splash, be eddy and deep dark!
 That void of death is an illusory end.
 Be the leaf losing grip when it is withered!
 Pass through familiar death for birth again
 of fertile soil when suns endow fair weather.
 A clutching life makes death appear the end
 on fallen boughs suspended over dirt.
 Remember death: remember rebirth again.
 Be flowing as warm wind against your hurt.
 Be flowing as desert wind without an end.
 Remember death? In light you are born again.
 Don’t clutch life: you are life: you do not end.
 You are blessed and whole. You are love. You are gold—
 containing and contained by Source: look in
 your soul and put your cross in earthen hold:
 straighten your spine, send roots into your sin,
 transmute their force, send shoots into the sky,
 forgive who wronged you for they do not know—
 thank those who wronged you for rights in disguise:
 manure for soil on which your spirit grows.
 Draw lightning from your heart to burn the germs
 that feed upon your spirit. Launch that light
 into the heavens. Yoke the newly earned
 with the long lost, preparing for the night.
 Allow the lily blossom with full rays
 from your crown. Come: we will dawn the new days.
 I met a man who sang of lilies more
 beauteously arrayed than our Solomons,
 layered petals clothing risen corpses, giving drink
 unto the dust; and feet of dancers halting hushed
 wherever they stand; and dancers without glasses,
 without drinks, all living corpses turned to stone
 before Woman and Man wearing lilies.
 I met a man whose spirit calibrated mine, his spirit carried on the word, the word
             that tunes the heart just as the germ, just as the buzz, though born through us
             of Source, tunes us aligned.
 The course of history plays as music, so, see how the cycles rhyme, re-birthing old
             wisdom with new intelligence, rebuilding latest systems out of ancient ashes,
             see how the word spins the world on worthy spines.
 The melody of our new days now echoes back from the foothills—an anthem we will 
 make our own—to wrap the world around our spines and round our daughter’s—
             though born under shadows, her notes will usher new light, her arias will raise
             half-lidded eyes, she will chorus the world alive.
 Until that hour we wreathe the world with golden-glimmering ribbons, ribbons endless
             as our wedding rings: we will chime with the fluent wind—jive to the new song—
             and O we will, when we speak—at last—sing!

Return to Journal

Christopher Galano hails from Hamilton, Canada. He studied Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour at McMaster University before completing an MSc of Global Health also at McMaster. He currently works as a software developer in Toronto. He has been studying poetry for the past two years under Marc Di Saverio.

Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: