From The Wolving Ritual — Tim Van Dyke

The Surveyor

They say he lay outside his door
face-first on the pavement. He
gestured, made symbols with his nose.

Help was offered but he preferred the blacktop,
and signs, he said, the many signs I plant in asphalt.

An uproar!
Some thought it best to pave over everything.
Others offered meals to the man's wife.
A chalkline was drawn around the entire plot.

His friends urged patience. They said
it was a masterpiece he was conducting.
Something about a map and figurines.

People went to the sight and crowded
around. Radio stations offered a cash prize
to the first person who caught a glimpse.

Soon the whole town was camped outside.
An election was decided by three votes.

All the while, bets were placed.
Would it be the map, or the figurines?
How could he fit it under just his nose?

The town questioned the man about this
and about whether he was alive or not.
Each day he said he was, though

he drowned daily in the street. All my bodies are like
last words, final goodbyes after punching one's wife.
What's left but to head home, singing, on a bus?

Some said it was by Jefferson Airplane.
Others swore it was a hymn.

The man's wife remarried and nobody really blamed her.
She wore blue to the wedding, though she swears
she had never been touched.


October 3, 3:41

O wandering visions! Today I saw
you each with a gun half-cocked in your mouth.

Then on the bus I saw your seats. Your faces
were there, hanging. Your wet selves
were marking the time with telephone poles.

Too close to touch, you filled the seats
like church pews filled with brilliant actors.

Of birth (you have seen it pass overhead)
               there is nothing to tell.
Nor of the map that is glued to my chest,
each face plotted stealing
water from your tin-eyed sockets,
so that of sorrow (my visions, my little roadkill)
                you know nothing.

Why do you sit and sleep? You have already learned
to watch the rain catch,
       grow fat and fall.
You know how to follow it beneath the street.
You know how to mourn for Father's teeth;
his passing is
       a gray, incessant seep.
Inside it he grows. And your mock death chants,
               they grow
in the belly of the bus.

Yet still you sleep. I know
you must. I know the motion of the bus
— its flickering passage— eight blocks,

But why do you pause at the window?
And when the cold rain would come in to wash

your faces clean
why do you laugh? Why are your faces so brave?
       Why do you ride such hungry light?


Dead Wolves in the Andes

Father, sleek rainman, he raincoat crazed.
He falls each day from the sky filled with news.

He bends in prayer he grins fat teeth he chews fat fish
in silence. He comes home hot he comes back dead

with questions. He asks me

           Where you put them? Where you put my bodies boy?
           They move like the eye moves.
           Against what wind? Are you the runner in the streets?
           For sure your eyes jump.

           I jump to find out what it is that sons do
           with death. Me, I'm dead in the Andes.
           I made a slipshod cry against an illusory wind.
           I climbed tall buses I found in my head.

           In death I hide in the Andes.
           Now all my thoughts are well underground.
           I still make a cry against an illusory wind
           that's left one voice embalming the sky.

           My voice like sons will stay underground,
           like wolves will burrow in the winter.
           My voice will leave and embalm the sky
           like a dead bird singing O Holy Abandon.

           My sons my wolves will burrow in the winter;
           they'll keep my kiss close down in their pocket.
           They will leave white lips embalming the sky.
           But where do I keep them, all my bodies, boy?

           Their loss cannot be pushed down in my pocket.
           I cannot forgive through a window.
           I put you, like all sons, in the fires of my enemies,
           there in the shadows, where the sons have visions.


4 Visions of Mother

A mother shouts to her child
I will come back will come back
and the child sees that the mother is dead,
for inside the bus where the child sits
each shadow holds an equal danger.
Now mother has come out of the bathroom door
holding seashells. The child knows that
when the mother dies she will hold him close.
And her lost relics, her shoestrings, her body,
these will quietly know one another,
these will be kept and piled
amongst the severed heads of her children
collected in the playgrounds of her youth.
Through the window the child sees them and knows
that the best playgrounds are to be found
on the fertile fields of her body (in the mirror he sees
the face of his wife). But the child holds nothing
                               but visions, and of visions
he knows that they keep their own skulls.
(Hush, you can hear them grinding in the sand.)

Mother parts her thighs wide for the world to see.
With a mirror she devours it and sticks it back
in her pocket, where the child
is caught with the other children
peeking under her seat. Under such a vision
the child gazes, lost. He wants to be prophetic.
He says For her the corn aches is shat out of birds.
(Such an image is used to support the weight of his head.)

The child knows he cannot be found; he must not think of deserts.
In his own playground he fears that the mother has left a light on
in the House of the Father. He must reflect and hide.
(It is always the bathroom light left on, and even then,
next door, she is roaming the bedrooms and kitchens.)
If he thinks of deserts she will catch him and urge him to see
in her house a sacred and tragic rout. She will hold close
the Father's lazy scrotum, and say to the child,
Come here, to the bathroom, and put on these clothes, so I may hold you,
and the child will see in it a happiness of sorts that will leave him blind.

Dear dolls, hold your eyes and weep.
The mother is raging. The child
reflects in her house. In her heat
she calls to him; she brings
him the storm. She
drops the children of flesh from her womb,
                               from the bus.
They roll by the window where the child sits.
(He knows that these visions will grow in time,
that each will grow mournful.)

Because we have all gone with mother's blessing
to the House of the Father, and been turned back,
and given our meat as condolence
, he says,
and then the child asks why the mother is causeless.
In answer she will hold his head between
her hands, and eat it, and pray for love.

Tim VanDyke lives and works in Florida. He has been published in Cymbals and Octopus Magazine.

Typo — Issue Two