Saint Dionysus the Cephalophore

He carries his head in his hands,
yes, a cephalophore.
One of the Fourteen Funky,
also called nothelfer.
Look that one up.
Go ahead, take your time…
Want a link? a hint?
14th Century Rhineland:
plague: the peasants needed
intermediary heroes and heroines,
the church hagiographies obliged…
This hazel-eyed, bearded head, its edges rusty,
is held facing forward at about navel’s height,
pours forth an undaunted massing gush
of often-intelligible words, most easily misheard
by anyone in attendance as he stumbles along
— recouler pour mieux sauter from time to time
the headless body stumbling (a thumb accidentally
in St-Denis’s good right eye, yes, why would it not?)
hurting his lip and mouth when dropped…

Unnhh. The head, were it not a saint’s head
(and rolling down a grassy slope)
would toss a mild oath toward
the peasant owner of those cumberhands.
Sacre bleu!
Above the turbid orange evening sky,
from his elevated post on a woodless ridge
a boy tending animals hears a muffled shriek &:
“S’il vous plaît, retirez mon doigt de mon œil.”
“How many people would you say
have had their nipples tickled
by their own eye-lashes?”

Of the Fancy Four and Ten,
I dare say no more than three.
(though a truly expert halasana pose,
in hatha yoga, could come close)

And now you will ask
what did that headholder
rant about as he wandered
Montmartre so long ago

And now you will ask
why tell us about him or
any of those hideous god-whacked
folks called Saints,
Christianity’s demi-gods

— or was it yesterday –?

I was a small child
I was a tiny baby
I fell in the crib
I fell from the bed
They gave me milk
But I wanted cream
I, I was the prince
with no uncertain dreams.
Utterly incomprehensible
I told them I was the prince
and they had better well
you know get into order
and buy me stuff and
praise Jesus too yeah
sure, if you want
(easy, this, in the pre-guilt time).

I was a dour, old child
staring long time
at the easily imperceptible
movements, skies clouding up,
— one day’s sky
unclouding itself into
a perfect phrygian blue.
Another day all fog all day
and schoolrooms lifeless.
Wondering about death when
death’s symbol, a solitary Alabama housefly
walked with ease, unbrushed,
across the waxen cheeks of
my first inanimate humanbody

“Dead,” they said. “Dead?”
“Dead.” Unmoving. Immobile.
Watch the fly crawl unbrushed
across that waxy facial surface —
was that really a dead man,
a dead MacCann? No way.
It did not look real and most
the fly was not

Today I feel I am ready to die.
Yesterday — well, it was Sunday afternoon —
I was ready to live. Readiness is a state
I try to maintain at all times. But now…
Now the dark falls
and I truly can say
I hear death calling my name
screaming it rather loudly,
“Come on home,” says death,
in a voice just as natural as can be,
amiable and prepossessingly persuasive:
“Come on home, my friend,
It’s where you’ve always wanted to be.
It’s where you were in the beginning
as it is now here in the end, voici!”
Now the dark slide,
the failure to get psychic traction
as though the imagination’s core
stood spinning, almost without
equilibrium on top of a slippery
pile of film several cubits high . . .
(the remnants of everything one has seen
–advertent and inadvertent
–consciously and half-consciously
on a screen since the time you were born
O my bobble-headed baby, from Elvis movies
in Panama City to bombs exploding in Baghdad, 1991)

I am quite ready to die.
Today would be okay.
I might rather live, were
there deep incentives, but
I swear to you folks, I see none.
That which interests me
interests no one else and that which
interests everyone else
is of little interest to me.
So, Diogenes, put on some clothes.
Crawl out of that four-foot concrete pipe.
Kick those mangy dogs out of the way
(they only follow you for coprophagic reasons).
Meander towards the edge. Go on.
Images of your bodiless head will circulate
in the noosphere if not forever for a good long while.
Video footage will be preserved of the head rolling,
the hapless headless body hunting, sightless,
whacking into tiny trees as it searches…

—And why should one continue to live when there is no good reason?
—You have reasons.
Did I say I was talking about myself?
No, but…
Well then.
Okay. Fine. Do we have to walk? Can we stop and catch our breaths?
Yeah, sure. Here…
© 2018 Thomas N Dennis

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