Poetry: Elegy for a Visionary by Mark Parsons

Elegy for a Visionary

The pale-yellow chalk-smear
From the valium pills
I taste for a week. The smiley-face paste I vomited
Rose like the sun in my throat,
And then made a cast of my cheek where I laid my head down to sleep.
Render unto the sun the things like the sun,
That’s yellow and round
And risen outside these cinderblock walls,
High in fentanyl blue
Crisscrossed with chemtrails dissolving to
Stain and smear, disappear as haze of the finest crosshatch,
Diluting the sky like screen door wire mesh,
So it’s washed-out and pale.
Render unto the sky the things like the sky,
That’s washed-out and faded,
As pale-blue as my eyes, once again open.
I can see myself,
Little homunculus me,
Made in effigy,
Who yet waits on the opposite side
Of what once was an orb of the utmost translucence
And palpable fullness,
An empty moveable center of everything,
All the objects and places and things and the faces of people
Projected upon the surface, imbued with vitality—
Motion and texture and depth—from within or without I don’t know:
The great sphere of a gaseous giant, a vaporous
Apparition, a trick
Of gel-lights and water
Or star chart,
With a center of spinning momentum,
Shamanic, a dervish attendance negotiating the planes of reality,
Movement diffusing an animal grace,
Become cloudy and scored through thick, narrow glass
Bending, compressing, and stretching,
Transparent force of accretion
Distorting outside the security peephole
Installed in the hollow-core door of perception
Huxley and Owsley, Leary and Kesey,
And the CIA’s mind-control program, MK Ultra,
Built in my soul,
That’s no longer able to concentrate, and infuse
The numinous space with the light of my wrathful disdain.
I swallow this thought to make it go down
A vortex of pink esophagus
Wrung-out and
Hung-to-dry, washcloth
Tight and sore,
But it wells up and burbles once more
In the back of my mouth,
And the mucous-balloon of pale-yellow valium,
Covered in phlegm as viscous as albumin, breaking open,
Releases again a sensation of curdled egg-yolk
To coat my teeth with a mixture of mineral spirits and grit,
The enamel stripped with acidic astringent
Until my tongue squeaks.
A sand-dollar drying.
A crater, concave, from the bulge of cheek, asymmetrical.
The host for a mass in the church of emojis:
The high-priest raises it over his head and breaks it in half:
The prophet a yellow-faced Japanese
Incel and shut-in.
A cast for the low-rent coin of this seedy realm,
The patriarch’s off-center profile
A blurry impression,
The bowl of the crater textured like chiaroscuro,
The surface poked through with wiry fibres of close-cropped carpet,
Or short and curlies yanked out
Of our kingdom’s founder and patriarch’s chin and jaw.
One-time mold for a never-was
Now a non-fungible token,
Historical artifact,
Curiosity, work of art as an obsolete relic.
Render unto these breezeblock walls—
Render unto these cinderblock walls—
Render unto these hollow, mortared, ash walls
Things of ash, like the past—
That is carried off by the wind, that is fleeting,
And can never be caught,
Like your voice, and all you have said,
That became ash as soon as it left your mouth, and was
Carried away on the wind, with the past.
Render unto these hollow walls
Things that are hollow, like you, emptied
Of the past,
Emptied of words,
And between walls of ash,
A composite made of the past, which is ash,
And earth, which is mineral,
Which was you, before God’s divine breath
Filled you with life, your life, which has now turned to ash
And become walls that are hollow, holding nothing—
Nothing between hollow walls, waiting for breath
That could fill you again with sound,
Where no wind blows.

Mark Parsons' poems have been recently published or are forthcoming in ExPat Press, Dreich, Cape Rock, and I-70 Review. His poetry collection, Stills will be published by Southernmost Books in summer 2023. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.