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A Dream in Eden


  • This collection, published in 1975-76 by The Poet's Press's Grim Reaper imprint, was Stuart Milstein's first and only chapbook. The author died of an epileptic seizure in Brooklyn about a year later. Some of the poems in this chapbook appeared in the magazines Hyn, Cave, and Global Tapestry. Stuart Milstein was involved with a poetry project called The Tenth Muse, and was co-editor of an anthology by that title. The poem "E.E.G." is the poet's confrontation with his epilepsy. Most likely owing to depression, Stuart stopped taking his medication, resulting in his fatal seizure.
  • It is a privilege now to carry his poems forward into the Internet. This was a promising poet with an already distinguished style, and we still lament his passing.
>The drawing above is from the cover of the original chapbook, by I. Sigsgaard.

SAILBOATS ON LAKE CALHOUN

Almost any summer day you can see them
skeetering across the lake,
or seemingly paused
in an unfinished traverse —
the white sailboats.

Like thoughts of day passing day
they glide and keel in their complex procession.
Floating across air, yet rocking or dreamily brooding
on their undulation of water
white gulls tippled by the sun
that only an avalanche of clouds can set free.


A FAIRY TALE OF OLD AGE

When evening breezes fluttered
the edges of his face
and blew him into fields
Picasso felt
tranquil exhilaration.
When his piercing dancing eyes
covered a pasture with their lids
the cows, their sacs bloated with milk,
slunk down on their shins
and went to sleep.
And then
imagining sepia,
a final oxidation,
the last rusting pigment of sun,
he disappeared into his paintings.

A DREAM IN EDEN

Poor Eve, impulsive wife, her wiles grown old,
a fat caterwauler. She had pounced
on the serpent in the fire of her youth
while loneliness drifted through Adam's side.
No longer does her heart go yelping, leaping
like a stray dog at every passing soul.
With children, chaos, God, the devil, age
her sin is growing bulkier with time.
Now in her dreams she bellows in despair,
dying, an elephant with broken tusk,
a small grey mountain of lumbering sadness,
plodding towards Golgotha through the dusk.

ROMAN HOLIDAY

What could he expect
from such provincial women?—-
everywhere Momma Momma.

All of them have a Momma
in a black dress
with hanging breasts
and a double chin.

She strides the streets and piazzas
with them.
  • His smiles
  • are little silver fish
  • that wind and wiggle in Momma's net
  • to end

  • gasping
  • in her daughter's lap.



DEVOLUTION

In time
immaculate rapids
become muddy lagoons
with swart, hilarious shadows
and the lover's moon
a bare bulb.

E.E.G.

No longer shall I be toyed with.
Cradled in lamplight
I have learned to live dis-
jointed from the past.

Mouth rinsed with coffee smells.
Hands and limbs
assume their own selves,
candles flicker tense shadows
exploding like captive orgasms.

I'm so immune
to anything the heart sur-
renders. I, more than emotion,
seek syllogisms
to enhance myself with thought,
and imply my existence.

Bursts of dark
in a hearse
bear away
the sin of doubt.

I sit at my desk;
my veins ache,
sinews droop, eyes tear
in a cave of dry silence.

The resurgent whirl of shade
sprays like a finger-stopped faucet
into cells of my brain.
Life comes in rushes,
convulsions of movement.

Downstairs, a girl's smile
patters past on little feet.

The Gestapo of quiet
assaults me again.

Slowly lapsed to calm
a gnarled hand opens.
I feel a death of glimpse
My pencil moves
like a frantic stick
shaken by waves.
I don't know water;
beginner of life
won't speak anymore:
bridges above
and tunnels below.
I don't know land,
just running through grass,
yawns.

Wind separates
the Venetian blind.

I smell a candle burning.
In an attic
a little girl is crying;
watches the sabbath candle burn.
She wipes the tears on her sleeve
and sniffles the storm of her eyes.
When I become the wind I'll ask:
"Little girl, why were you crying?"

My tears have dried,
melted wax pupils squeeze together.
The venetian blind flutters,
rattles, like a small boy's stick
rubbed quickly along a fence.
My heart shakes,
pounds and clatters —
I'll become the wind roaring.
I'm so afraid...

Momma's sounds, sounds,
comfort me please.

I stand at my chair
rising
from that look of flesh
to erect being;
from a half-life drifting,
mixing aimlessly,
bordering and bunking
I feel and I breathe till I bellow with life.
My mind is crumbling,
tired in its supports
like a stone monument.
I could stand the stone age:
I would make the first hatchet
and wear pebble necklaces.
But stones from the earth and dirt
mark graves.

my head
the wrecking spirit
convulses; head and hands
shift, backgrounds and foregrounds
quiver, my floor's dull patterns
mingle: pebbles are zeroes; zeroes
are nothing but to concentrate on,
just ease the tumult
when the synapse snaps —
lines bordering desks
pagan dwellings,
all unmoving things.
Idolators, goddamn idolators,
always cramped, push
their way between confining lines
bordering death.

Come, cross back pencil line
to hump-backed brain;
my pencil moves
like a ship in water.

Terror slows;
medicine has
sealed the snaps
from where the darkness comes. But gushing
light may rush in like water, delving
furrows through loose dirt fields.

THE RACE

The table lonely for supper
or one member of the family,
the lamp screaming for light
(the nacreous grey in our skulls),
the night times of burning sands
and closed highways,
the inevitable landscape, a desert,
(the tabula rasa of a dried-out jungle);
the drives, the blocks,
the mad dash towards eternity,
struggling for the hymen,
the hymnal, the prayer,
the way to break open,
to go through the wall;
the flagellation, the need to know,
to disinter, to escape back to our old wounds,
to suffer pain, anxiety and humiliation:
all this makes our fingers tremble
as we press them on the keys.
Our struggle never ends;
images of contentment and rest do not hold us —
unwitting victims of our lives' impulsive drift,
spending the best moments, the best years
putting inspirations end to end,
why on earth do we do it?

SHOES AT THE DOOR


  • During Easter in Mexico, Los Penitentes used to re-enact The Crucifixion. One of the Penitentes would play Jesus and another, Judas. If Jesus died one of the others informed his family by leaving his shoes at their door.

In the shadow of the cross
collecting the robe and other belongings
was the man who suffered most,
a life-long friend of this Christ,
the man who played Judas,
the messenger with the shoes.

THE SHAMAN BEFORE HIS TRIBESMEN CALLING THE DAWN


Awake us.
  • Aie! He is coming.
Why do you wait?
Light our day.
  • Aje! He is coming.
Let colors dance in fire with the wind
and hands grow from our men's chests
until they jerk like birds' wings
beating back a storm.
Come, we are waiting.
Our hunters need your light.
Why do you wait?
>>I will push up the sun with my spine.

PROLOGUE


Meditate on my name.
Onan. onanonanonanonanonanonanonanonanonan
I am no one.
My orgasms spurt
like water from a hose
left on its own.
My eyes sealed with sperm
I spill my seed blindly.
To conjure images
I burn my own hairs.

Everything I see is my idea.
Yesterday, I made Rome:
arches, cupolas, statues
and a portly signorina
to enjoy my serenade.
Squeezing my old accordion
I pushed out wind in melodies:
a wheezing semblance
of forgotten, guttural cries.

I am both troubador and trull.
My face is a mask
waiting for human eyes
to inhabit the blank holes.

MAKROSOUPOS


  • For Horst
1
Fight, love, die
verbs:
with no subject
movement merely.
And without me,
"they" would be doers,
without purpose,
forever undone.
I join subject to verb.

Then, moved by my wind
they fight and die.
For mine is the mind in back of all their eyes.
My hands
carve
my faces
on a totem pole.

2
What had become of the wind?
...Yesterday, it existed.
But today the sea is unnaturally inert
and the dust seems still. This is as I will.
I am decomposing those who fought without
love and wanted to die.

3
Why are my subjects
unable to love? Why ask.
I know it is I.
I look for love
and always find myself.
My loins are lonelier
than a sun adrift.

THE GREAT RED DRAGON AND THE WOMAN CLOTHED WITH THE SUN


  • after an engraving by William Blake

Night falls into place.

I masturbate and eye
the white ecstatic walls.

I will eat horses galloping,
down kingdoms in a single gulp,
and love with a whale's grace.

The woman, her sun wings spread, kneels;
the great red dragon swoops from the back.
She sees, but doesn't fly
(so easily possessed).

  • A hungry fire seeming dragon
  • I swooped —- but when she spread out
  • I was blinded.

LOVE SONG

1
Roses ... attar ... tom-toms
breath
the swale of breezes; sun
dances in our spines
and billows on the waves.
Earth and sea and sky
are filled with the same air.

2
I never believed in God
but you must be His work —
no random mating of atoms.
Our nirvana is active:
half the soul is semen
seeking its other half.
You are the woman
deep in the sundown
with nipples of our milk.

3
Now, like the salmon and stag
I know my season.
I finally found a smile
to end my face with.

GENESIS I


We trundled in the sun. Once,
in dottled lacunae of field
we made coloratura gazeboes
with a high-pitched squawking
of birds. Your soul, a stray hair,
straggled in my eyes.
I breathed out/irises
and tiny pink roses.
Lightning flashed in every synapse.


GENESIS II


Included in the wind,
a certain curve of hill,
the cresting wave,
I blazed.
I knew our mother
earth
for she became like you;
a puzzle came together
then. Now undone
there is a space inside me
in which your shape
just fits.

THE MAN IN THE TOWER -- TO W.B. YEATS


Some saw at work in him
the spirit of a slouched hat
as, in stiff candlelight,
the old man wrote.
He, with a measured grace --
while demons seemed to prowl
and spirits spoke to him --
had made his soul.