London. Boomdoom. Budthud. Sootfoot.
No more rambling except by troubled sneaker;
lost Henry says, I'm here, I'm here, I'm here.
But the maze's thread is a Sargasso root,
grounded, if at all, in some impenetrable
drowning darkness. Old Roger sailed here
with a job to do, to ratify the charter
for his commonwealth – around the table
the John Hancocks feathered like peacocks
and history quivered, against all odds.
Henry's forehead only gets the nods.
He's no can-do canoe. It's on the rocks,
and schools him in Melancholia.
That puffy wench beneath the magic square
and a black sun – Dürer's duration dere,
so durable, so fort et dur, forever sighing ahhh. . .
I ran across her there, across from The Ambassadors –
in the Gallery, at Trafalgar Square, in the bull's
eye. Etched cube, an extra birthmark – spells
out your kingly name. . . (for sea-worm funnellers).
Take flight from routine, and you find your heart
stays home. Or part of it. And cunning Providence
with slant-eyed perspective suddenly invents
your skull on the canvas, under all the cluttered art
implements, the dazzling tooled measurements
displayed full-face between the subtle hands,
impassive faces of those mysterious friends
– Holbein's Ambassadors. The tremors are intense;
fat, squared, football-padded Paddington Bear
Octo-Henry is preparing to stir the continental stew;
beneath his burgeoning largesse, the music's raw,
the ants is marching even now; the skull is there,
though you won't notice it immediately;
Anne's bowling toward her own pinned
casket beneath the green-skinned
grin of the charnel dome, his Principality.
Square Henry fills the frame, but he won't square
this with heaven, no matter how many
royal portraitors request his fanny
sitting on the stool of a bleeding Empire.
The Ambassadors, those friends, divide
down the middle; the table, with all those tools,
begins to split beneath unfolding rolls
of tablecloth, the panorama unable to hide
another dimension breaking through the seams;
your view must wrench away from view
to see an ordinary skull stare back at you.
It's Europe, breaking into splintered beams
of reformation, into seed-spilled filaments
of Henry's crosshairs split and double-crossed
beneath a diplomatic nod-and-shake, embossed
around in smooth doubloons in golden doublets.
And wavering Henry stood between them, between
all these national frame-ups, between home
and pools of London whirl; his kingdom
comes apart of all this, his heart's unfelt, unseen.
A black stone on a white stone. Vallejo.
Anonymous Peruvian. Or Blackstone
on a white bull. What's done
cannot be undone – only echo, echo, echo. . .
a free fall into Paris thursdays. Reigning
humour. Hahaha, cried the gravedigger,
skuldugger, ghouldogger, Londonbeggar –
black's eternal fashion's blood sustaining!
The Ambassadors, Hans Holbein the Younger (National Gallery)