Wagner at the Opera

Wagner at the Opera


Night after night, at a lamppost’s height
Euterpe’s charge in an armadillo shell,
closed in a cavern of ethereal might,
a hurricane of sound swells —
Did you take such a breath?
we gel to the music, of the indoor swirl
(like a toilet bowl).

What to find, but a Lazarus of mind
Fueling ideas of an extinct kind

As I hold my sign of protest, I know
‘euphemism’ is a euphemism.
From the mouth of the Goebbels of atheists flow
Words.  They are ours (a refraction – prismatic),
and all along every inch of the fret move,
piping aqua vitae to the Holy Land’s summit

A day a day
(for the sum total of nothing: “eine Handlung”)
The seated took it.  An aesthetic
dossier of ear-ale drunk but not drunken.
For him, the past is a screen that mocks ignorance, and
I see relics of a present that could have been:
season of
trysts and colds (oh, Valkyries of Time
die so an epic may play again).
War didn’t begin here.
Just the absence of harmony.

Act 1

‘Wild Irish Maid’s’
–only exist on the tongues of those who
tell tales.  On every helm
is a sailor of the coming day,
while the North Atlantic sea
moves like a laugh
across the face of the earth.
“I would it were rising to consume us.”

She found him like she left him,
which is the story of a’ ‘mortally wounded’ life

(And a wedding march is)
played by a percussion of feet only — walking
down aisles of the temporal,
the church was a fermentable sea,
of cherubs n’ babes weeping ‘Morold,’
and one-handed claps.

Hand in hand with a weary traveler,
the Flying Dutchman portents
the lower depth’s king,
who wears a crown of albatrosses,
seagulls and cloud surfers — king to horrors sugarcoated.
Look into the eyes; she can’t kill him
Look into the eyes; the gloss is truth.
In your eyes, would 
I fall in hate of you?
Then, Kurwenal, the middle, will not contend
a love made of brew – to not offend.

Act 2

‘Too late – ‘
comes round the halls a Wallpaper voice
to decorate the house of many rooms.
Crowds like booze fill too many holes. 
In moist outdoors
a logorrhea
of minutes dance by in a reverbed churn,
burning wills into a Neo-Grecian urn

Violence is the motif…for society is
when dogs hunt for another party.

(The point is I want
what I shouldn’t want
I want
to not want because of the
point that I cannot want
want)…But this world is nothing but premonition.

But hush —
‘I exhaust my flame,’ like
friends and funds.
Marke the flame.  Marke the dame.
In a bedchamber – synonyms not lost for:
‘chamber’ — hearts syncopate.
Their limbs only indicate
to new men on, drawn back to the castle.
And so nothing discovered all: in coitus,
spying eyes
raise up the sun to a height it’s afraid of.

Act 3

Now, a chord of wind rents the sky —
a hasty scrawled rest:
mimicry of a babe’s haunting cry,
who at a mother’s young breast
suckles the memory of fat-free milk.
The rooster that caws
in a tender valley of noon,
notes the rod but not the staff.

So pipes eat themselves, in an Ouroboros 
when leitmotifs are leitmotifs.

“I know this song…”
The lover’s delirium walks with clenched hands —
Melot’s signature on vellum new,
remove feet to talk in a sign language
of heels.  Or tears.

Reign of obsequy in a sequined dress —
musical notes battle like a game of chess,
awoke a queen of too tender 
thoughts, bought with a coupon: gratis,
A nubile with a lipstick imprints
“My — ”
He died.
she was of legal age for the apocalypse,
(But oh, Marke explained the poison n’ words)
(But oh, mark how sad ‘tis when your name
is synonymous with ‘goodbye’)


On stage, a field of crosses knits the ground’s spouse
who’s only grounds-kept
by a field mouse.
And mourners of weeds, brambles, and briers —
for nothing is nothing in shambles perspired —
form suits so primped and pressed
for a marriage in death, for who
dare not walk ‘neath Jacob’s ladder.

If an audience is those who watch,
can an audience but obey?

For Jacob’s ladder is a stairway to nothing
to the German watching himself at a play.
Should he cry, he cries for he,
so say tea leaves with the motto of
“anything in wolves’ clothing
Is probably a sheep.”

The sour aftertaste of false idols
is like a morning kiss — of lovers twixt.
should sound like a scratched record —
a bohemian groan spit from a phonograph’s
Wagner sits counting the silences of his musical until
as earthbound
as a twice-born bird
we’re separated from the herd.
And there is where redemption lies.

Diary, pt. XV

Consuming a high-fat philosophy diet

              (a polyhistor with an intellect so great

his shadow had a shadow),

              I went to Paris, just to

parody it.  But there is no charming 

              grammatical error to woe my beaus,

no comma splice in which to hide

              the thoughts I truly want to say.

It wasn’t Man who fell;

              it was the sentence.   

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses.  He has published over 150 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 80 different journals.  He loves to travel.

About the illustrator: Mike Knowles has spent over 40 years working mainly in comics, along with TV, Radio, animation and gonzo-style journalism for a “top-of-the-shelf” magazine, along with odd spells as a digital artist. Finally, there were the three gruesome years writing gags for comedians (even though they begged him not to. But what did they know about humor), in which he was cruelly subjected to the thick nicotine-laden cloud of cigarette smoke that permeated the working men’s clubs. 

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