1983, Klaus J. Gerken I

All my lovely ladies
Have deserted me
Left me like a saviour
Hung upon a tree.


But no I am no saviour
And the ladies were not free
I paid my dues in suffering
Upon a wretched sea.


A sea of blood and murder
A sea of hope and fear
They left me so deserted
I shed no single tear.


The poison and the ivy
The blood upon the vine
With arms stretched to the dying
I had no sense of time.


No voices to assault me
I cannot hear a word
But then of course I'm lying
The truth is too absurd.


No love and no disaster
No waiting in the rain
These ladies in the window
Have only brought me pain.


I look away and hunger
I fast upon my loss
My ladies have deserted me
And now there's only frost.


I hope they manifest themselves
And pray for my appeal
The sentence that I've set myself
To make this pain more real.


They brought me what I did not have
They took it all away
They haunted me with mysteries
Tormented night with day.


No saviour I have ever been
No truce is my repose
The ladies have all vanished
They let me get too close.


The rain beats on my window now
As falls a dismal mood
To murder me, what will you now
I starve, you bring no food.


So desperate the day repeats
A tortured circumstance
As time resumes its banishment
I dance alone, I dance


Upon the corpses of my youth
Upon the hand that guides
Me past my haunted prison cell
And asks me not to hide.


O ladies tell me one true thing
That does not turn a lie
Where is love and what is it
Where to find it - where might I?


Neither did they speak to me
Nor gave a single sign
Is there a symbol I should know
Or just a ruined rhyme?


I could not master their ideals
My life just fell apart
How can I love if love is lost
And O my broken heart!


You humbled me with distance
You humbled me with love
You humbled me with silence
Like the lord our god above.


No word is like a screaming
Murderous debate
I loved their tender bodies
But they just made me wait.


I am alone and wonder
(I stare across the sea
of buildings town asunder)
Can ever I be free?


Free from pain and anger
Free to live my life
Without this interference
Without this deafening strife?


Like caves where no one wanders
Where bats reclaim the day
A labyrinth unsightly
My life is just that way.


Deeper into darkness
Into the bowels of earth
I find myself acclaiming
Death before the birth.


I watched you O so often
By day and candle light
Your deathly violation
Obsessive in its might.


You laughed and dance demurely
You lived among your own
Your pleasures, Sappho's surely
With nothing to atone.


I only was a poet
Little could I do
But write a simple sonnet
To your blue eyes untrue


The storm was raging somewhere
The brightness of the sun
Was only the beginning
When darkness came upon


A blinding flash of lightning
Blue and white - severe
The heavier it bolted
The heavier the fear


Of what the future brings us
Of what we do not know
O ladies in the window
O let your beauty show


One last time I'm pleading
Pleading with you ghost
Come and resurrect me
Come and be my host.


Through time's bold referendum
When music filled the air
I surveyed all the loneliness
In empty atmospheres.


The couples holding back would run
To darkened rooms away
From what the crowd would bring to them
Before the fall of day


Where hope and the deluded night
Wrought suffering ideals
If no one cares - the story goes
No one has to feel...


If I have chosen to live my life
Within a prison cell
Who should criticize my choice
When they do ne'er as well?


These windows, walls I know so well
These doors shut to the world
I seek myself in signs of life
And find the spear is hurled.


These walls these walls that speak to me
In silence and in tears
Like Hamlet spoke to Holan when
He shut out all the years.


Years that suffer years alone
(The light beneath the door)
Whoso enters to this realm
Must pray to hope no more.


And such I have conversed with you
Ladies of the night
Of all the things I could have done
It gave me back my sight.


But what I saw was so obscene
A stagnant revelry
Made to form a copula
With a stranger purity.


I was repulsed, who would not be
But fascinated too
Like Christians slaughtered in the ring
It proved the legend true


Had Helen not been beautiful
Hector could have lived
And Paris would have kept his Troy
And I might not write this.


No violence but pity reared
Its head, I was aflame
The sweat upon my ancient fear
No tiger could be tamed.


Its claws and teeth into me sank
Deeper to the bone
If I had wanted to escape
I would have stayed at home.


The scars I proudly wear today
I do not hide away
I suffer but I can't regret
That torturous day.


I fly and fall like any man
I have my dreams and hopes
All I ask is only that
I get a chance to cope.


And the ladies who deserted me
The past exploits and now
I somehow wonder how much we
Are pulled by time in two.


And how much is it of our own
Fault we really take
To hold up to the scrutiny
Of trouble that we make?


Like blasted winds we can't control
Distracting every need
We falter and we can't hold on
To any former deed.


The dagger and the politics
Of sex and love and war
Of money, usury in flames
We always want for more.


Yet cannot gain enough of that
In designated power -
Like a god we torture everyone
Until the wine turns sour.


The ladies taught me to reflect
The world as it's today
As broken ornaments are hung
The shards are swept away.


I miss them now they're gone from me
I pass the house where they
Had lived and loved and suffered in
I want to kneel - to pray


Pray for beauty and for truth
For passing chances lost
I'd like to form a perfect bond
Where tags presume no cost.


Goodbye my ladies O goodbye
We'll never meet again
I wanted only to regain
A faded company.


I wanted to confess to them
If only they could hear
I wanted only beauty truth
For the dark sky to be clear.


A secret rite I did not need
No Coptic Christian or
Euleisian mystery that formed
A cross upon your door.


I could have entered did not want
So many times to bring
The torment down upon their souls
I needed loss to bring


To bring whatever fear it wants
Whatever fear it takes
To circle all within the love
Loss reiterates.


To vanquish to the nether realms
Distant forms of thought
Is more uxorious to me
Than any kind of god.


No one heretofore would deem
That poets spoke a curse
But that is what the fire brings
In death's unequal thirst.


I've wandered many times among
The round of altered states
Each step I've always followed through
And learned from my mistakes.


As dawn the dappled morning comes
Plato's fulsome star
Death is hiding in the green
To show you who you are.


The ladies in a vision came
I almost got too near
The flames around them violent
Precluded any tear.


Stoic where their cold pale lips
Their plastic fingers froze
Their touch was not what I'd expect
Terror in me rose.


I knelt to them What do you want
We want your blood They said
And if I give you what you need
Your soul your God is dead.


Farther down the avenue
I followed at a loss
At what to do to lose these chains
The road has not been crossed.


I tried to raid my mystic eyes
Toward the high domain
Of multitudes surround in song
With nothing to regain.


No Beelzebub or Nostrafu
Or even Satan choice
Delivered could save face
The devil makes what noise.


The stratagem of paradise
As H G Wells remarked
There's no one there that's left alive
With futures to embark.


But make a circle Make a square
A triangle for hope
For treachery and cunning are
The only way they cope.


These ladies they were all too real
All a part of life
Directed by the energy
That left me full of strife.


A bridge of ice A hurricane
Something lost in fog
No saviour can be hero here
The hero has been flogged.


O falseness that reverberates
Through ancient lonely walls
None but ghosts parade through these
Monumental halls.


Empty now except for dust
The sun is even cold
I wonder where my ladies are
Without them I grow old.


I listen to the music soft
The wine must soothe my brain
I've lost what would have e'er become
My only future gain.


Timeless tide of Librium
Soothe my tired nerves
These ladies that have closed me out
harbour stranger herbs.


I wrote a song, I sang a song
I sang it through the night
At three A.M. when sleep was mad
Upon my darkening sight.


I conjured visions, conjured mad
At what I could not have
As I was sinking out of touch
No soul was left to save.


I sang this song - I played this tune
Upon the old guitar
The walls reverberated to
A spastic pulsing star.


The tune was haunting beyond death
Death's my saviour now
I sang and played and played and sang
With sweat upon my brow.


"Oh where have all my ladies gone
From the windows and the sun
Those who burned a fever through
My mind - I crawl! I run!.


And run to where? Away from what?
It cannot be undone!
In turn unmoved - I require
Hope, will anyone.


Give me what I'm searching for
From the evil to the good
Through each hot broken mystic door
Dull decrepit martyrhood!


No love but only anger here
Believe the walls upon the dare
Of time and holy testaments
Oh where are all the good years - where?


I used to drink the atmosphere
Of lovely wine that stirred the cask
In darkened hellish caves
But now the hell I thought I lost.


Became a mental rage
Of passions driving into that
I did not want - but could not lack -
This passion, pain and cruelty
My mind is tossed upon the sea.


The sea I thought to conquer once
These ladies so tempestuous
They slaughtered me - they laughed
Cruel and deep despair it was.


To no avail - is nothing left
Is one so weak - the poison asp
Is trained upon the common heart
Now watch him make another mark.


A mark that must abuse a cause
The lady does not want to pause
Yet who would have the right of way
The one who lives by night or day?


I did not think they would indict
Me now - Oh ladies two by two
Where have you gone - where are you now -
In deep embrace with someone new?


But not with me -I failed the test
I always tried to do my best
For right or wrong - the walls came down
When love undressed these ladies' gowns.


And love unconsummated goes
Past the realm of all repose -
Master what you cannot hold
'The way that's lost cannot be told.'


My glass of wine was empty then
Like blood is gone from any man -
The shadows that we truly are
Does not relieve our failure.


So onward, e'er through ill intent
Disasters never circumvent -
I meddled in the ancient arts
And lost more heavy than at cards.


And now as any suicide
Repulses what he cannot hide
Climbs upon the pedestal
And sees himself so very small.


I cry in anger, cry in grief
I steal just like a common thief
Steal emotions, steal the bread
Away from those who are not dead.


The suicide reclaims the right
To be a shadow in the night -
For those who see him fly away
Can never see the dawn of day.


Oh ladies treat me gentle, bow
Not to anyone so cruel -
I'd warm the flames in heart's disease
If only you bring me ease...


Oh ladies in the gentle night
I've been with you so many times
Come, offer me, not loss, but hope
Of better life in which to cope.


Your laughter tore apart my head
Exploring of a different stead -
Cruel the flames then murdered him
Upon his cross - for no clear sin.


And like Orion in the sky
Pursued by scorpions on high
An arrow pierced his broken heart
The tragedy of love's upstart.

. . . . . . .


I took a mixing bowl and formed
a true exclusive test
Of all the potions in the world
To find the very best


The one perhaps that Tristram drank
When on the cruel cruel sea
When taking lovely Isolde back
To her poor destiny


Or arrows of outrageous chance
Or Ixion, his wheel -
O ladies I can hard express
What I must really feel.


O ladies of this nether realm
Such wonderful diversion
I need you more than ever now
My life is in reversion


The conquering of other forms
Of other parts instead
I've listened to the Siren's song
And tried to move ahead


Ladies of the Nether Realm
I've come to take my leave
You've soothed my aching soul so much
It withered like a leaf


In spring-time when the universe
Explodes into a force
Of starlight and insanity
Beneath the shades of Mars


And can there be indifference
Can't we care at all -
Absolve us of our circumstance
That others so appal...


The morning warps its diadem
Sparkling in the sun
From the window to the moon
In the east the path is run


Where guns may flare and violence
Reciprocates the cause
Of difficult togetherness -
Apart we all must pause


And reconsider time itself
And moral flames anew
What is right and what is wrong
Or is it just the few


Who masquerade around the room
Among the ancient heights
Of fancy that command...respect?
From keepers of the rites


The rites of what? You well might ask -
The rites of time itself.
For those who ask - the night redeems
The violated twelve.


Twelve storms beneath the sky
With one accredited
The murderer - the catalyst
Through whom the myth is fed.


Well we know, o ladies calm
And silent, far away
The greatest storm is that which brings
No warning in its way.


Now warning, yet, illusive scent
Of what was once divine -
The empty room, the painted wall
I never can call mine.


I pray to God - not quite divine -
I believed no single word -
The act itself inviolate
The sound of truth unheard.


Commanded, cut just like an act
From centre stage away;
And what is left is falsity
That holds the crown at bay.


In gentle mutilation,
Like wind upon a cane -
No sugar for the ugly
No rum for the insane.


I view the desolation:
The cities of the plain -
o captivating ladies,
I never knew your names!


The wind is like a poison
Cup o'erflows its brim
The darkness and the seven seals
Are lost beneath your sin.


The sin you could not understand
The sin you thought was good,
The sin that takes a rusty nail
And augments flesh to wood.


As you have done o count less times
Among the dirty streets
Of love that were inviolate
Among those in defeat.


You painted murals on your walls
You wore your hair like fire;
And all the latest fads and styles
Your beauty did require.


I, left alone, felt like a knife
Digging into bone.
The flesh, my own, I did degrade
What reason destroyed Rome?


My world was like a city morgue
Where naked bodies lie
But do not move and do not love -
O why must beauty die?


I feel I am among these ones
Caught where the soul is blind
At the edge of sharpest time itself:
The abyss of my mind.


No thought, no hope, but terror fills
An empty cavity.
A useless crown I have become,
No brain and no body.


Committed to a mental cell
For those who cannot think
I've lost you all and livelihood -
I'm always on the brink.


The brink of suicide no less
Than what it costs to be
Alone among the insane beasts
Of would-be sanity.


A slave to circumstance I guess
Is what I have become -
O Ladies what are you to me?
Alone! I am alone!


A crowd as in a wonderland
No one sees me stand -
I lift my head and try to speak
The twisting of my hand...


If I'd a gun I know not what
Violence would do -
Life is just a road to death -
What can it do for you?


No risen Christ, no saviour here,
No Buddha's tranquillity -
No God to worship, no not one
Who cares about our unity.


The garden and the pit was one
Symbol of the act.
The act of love; the act of death
We all have made that pack.


The pact of Faustus or Werner
The Pact of mad Don Juan -
Deceit I see on every face -
Let the dark moods come.


I write this as the passing rain
Descends upon the earth.
A paradox, if there is one -
I drown while they give birth!


I thought I could be spared all this
But artists pay their due,
Of how this dismal poem ends
I haven't got a clue.


I ramble on, I get nowhere
-I get toward the end-
And like the future we can't see
What reed presumes to bend?


And yes this star "the dawn of life"
Will shed its light on all
The lost souls in eternity
Who cannot stop the fall.


I bleed, I bleed, profusely -
You never noticed that?
The blind among the living
Have eyes fit for a cat.


As God slay Christ
Will ye slay me?
Will anybody here deny
There's no conspiracy?


In dream and myth it's easy to
Compromise the host -
But not in life - the traitor wind
Will make you pay the cost.


You sell your soul
That's all there is...
No devil makes a compromise
Unless he plants the kiss...


So ladies of my desperation
Can this be all there is?
The violence and degradation -
The betrays with a kiss?


O ladies how this bores me mad -
I said that I was wrong.
The poison has been taken up
And carved within a song.


A song we all must sing alone
A mortified recap
Of all the suffering endured
Before the body snaps.


I guess I saw you Goddesses:
I make up more than was.
The war still rages in my heart
The enemy has passed.


The red red wine I could not drink
Was like watered blood.
But once I was a cannibal -
Why drag it through the mud?


I cannot take this anymore;
I feel to fall apart.
O why must everyone I love
Always break my heart?


O love me then and do not leave
I cannot be alone.
Alone I die - but cannot rest
My heart is not a stone.


Many times I wander
Through the cold cruel night
Demons always haunt me
The stars exhume their light.


What plenty is not given
That is not taken away?
O come my lovely ladies
Bring another day.


What's lost, I can't reclaim it
What's gone is gone, they say;
And yet my evil ladies
Death hold me at bay.


I'm tired, I'm exhausted.
I'm lost and I'm alone.
I'm drowning like a sailor
On a raft of broken stone.


Sharks tear me asunder;
Now there's nothing left.
Ladies of the plunder
You are not bereft.


The tide stems from the living
The dying formulate -
The better part of honour-
The stillness of debate.


This song can never matter -
This song can never form
A perfect consolation
Among the standard norm.


So give me leave to wander
Among the living dead;
Those who would be lovers
With nails upon the bed.


So adieu my ladies
I'll not see you again.
The pleasure of your memory
Must be all that I retain.

* * *


Perhaps the future shadows
Will stake for us a claim:
This mythical illusion
Will never quell the pain.

Return to Poetry Life & Times August '99