Joe's Blog

My friend Roy Doughty at Drake’s Bay

June 5, 2018

I wanted to share this recent poem (and photos) from a friend of mine, poet Roy Doughty.

Fair Fortune #59
At Drake’s Bay
4 – 8 May 2018
Roy Dean Doughty

Even on the brightest and bluest of days,
When one has the leisure to be by the sea,
And to walk by epochs of linguistic driftwood —
Those skeletons of trees, and flames, and broken ships —
Even here, where all is as it must be, because
No will has willed it to imperfection, one finds oneself
Forever keen to follow the most primitive of voices.

Down the long curve of the beach,
Where humans cease to be, is an alcove,
Enriched by the grunts of the monstrous Elephant Seal.
They remind one of what one would forget.
They present the windy spirit
With the impossible physical weight of a planet,
Which spins beyond any human ingenuity,
And silences him who would claim an angelic image.

Ah, even here, even now,
When the bay water is as calm as a pastoral mill pond,
And when the wind — mild, but keen — weaves serpentine
Patterns of sand-mist that lift the sparkle
Of the sea into the air, exhilarating the lone walker,
Even as they sting his face and eyes,
And levitate his hair.
Yes, even now, even here,
One realizes that it is not the hostility of Nature
Or the internecine battles of society,
Which most challenge one’s steadfastness.
It is not the primitive and its primordial fears
That makes one cower in the heart’s
Most prudent fortress.
It is oneself, oneself,
That cruelest and most faithful of enemies,
That most primitive of mysteries,
Who would kiss the lips of the sea
With molten words.

The sounds of waves, of winds,
Of the great sea mammals,
And of the squalling ocean birds
Reverberate against those golden cliffs,
Which hear without listening,
Which re-echo without comprehension.
And these, even these, even now,
Prompt those inner words, which have the power
To melt the mirror’s rainbow,
And to enervate that captain, who murders comfort,
People, animals, and peace,
Yet is addicted to the grandiose idea
Of his own angelic immortality.

Tell me,
You desperate wanderer by the sea,
You, who fears to brave the depths,
Why do you pit your derelict intellect
Against this atavistic human, the one who sees
The sparkle in the sand as his own primary face,
The one who always belongs to the blue bright day
And to the cool bright sparkle of the bay,
Yet has no will to command them?
Why do you abdicate the spirit of Nature within you?
Why do you insist upon being the one X-ed nullity,
Which tries to thrive beyond all death and time?

With his Memory Theater, Guilio Camilio,
Could place the entire imaginal universe
Into one small wooden room, and the patriot pirate,
Drake, sailed into this bay, which bears his name,
To repair and to refurbish,
This pale ring of cliffs reminding him
Of friendly, grandiose Dover,
His small wooden ship the one hope
His mortal body had to survive immortal enmity.
I am enamored of these things,
Which draw and quarter my poor un-doG’s body,
Pulling its too-weak flesh and weaker spirit
To the far corners of the cardinal compass points.
I am enamored of the distance between the human and the inhuman,
Between the human and the fundaments of life.

So tell me, tell me, oh sweet enemy mine,
Of what splendor do you dream, of what glory
Of galleon riches, of what artistry of thievery
And rapine?  Why do you long to give your talk
This force?  Just down the beach, your enormous siblings
Throw cool sand on their scarred and blubberous bulks.
They bellow against the reverberating cliffs,
Their warring and mating barks,
Fetching from time,
And from the cold, dark coffin of the sea,
And from the anonymity of lives spent
Pursuing an embattled fertility,
A causeless, deadly ritual of erotic violence.
Tell me, oh enemy mine, captain of history,
And of that which seethes much deeper than history,
What profit do you covet
When your thick tongue convulses,
And makes these grunts defiant of civil speech?
What solitary gain does your art seek?


Drake's Bay, by Roy Doughty,
Photo at Drake’s Bay by Roy Doughty
Photo at Drake's Bay by Roy Doughty,
Photo at Drake’s Bay by Roy Doughty


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