Saturday, September 22, 1990

HOTEL LA FONDA, TAOS


HOTEL LA FONDA, TAOS


At the Hotel La Fonda where rest pieces of the famous—
Rudolph Valentino's cape, Emilio Zapata's shoes—
we palmed worn dollars to the night clerk behind the counter.
His oxygen mask hose was long enough
to reach the inner sanctum of the owner, Saki Karavas,
where the banned paintings of D.H. Lawrence
are carefully locked away from the public eye.
He hissed, Take your time.

Inside the ornate gilded cage of the walk-in safe 
we confronted biting and sucking fleshy apparitions.
I said to Celia: D.H. could've used some anatomy classes.
but that's not what held us spellbound;
it was the photos: Pope Paul, Kennedy, Picasso, O'Keeffe.
And of those more obscene than Lawrence:
Roosevelt, Truman, Oppenheimer, Nixon before the camera.
And of the ones shaken of faith: April 2, 1943.

Stunned by what he now knows is possible,
Einstein writes to his host, Saki
thanking him for his translations of Greek poetry:
I am grateful and ashamed at the same time
by your extraordinary kindness…
I cannot imagine how I would feel…
it is enough to see what kind of human
ideal you have in your mind.


The walls hissed: July 16, August 6, August 9, 1945.
Shiva will dance on the corneas of Einstein and Oppenheimer.
Shiva will dance for the millions dead on both sides of the world.
Shiva will dance for the Age of Light spawned in this desert.

No one thought to censor the scientists of Los Alamos
nor the Anasazi petroglyphs at T'sanque:
Kokopelli, the humpback Watersprinkler
with a phallus longer than his bent flute.

Saki enters, his hooded eyes watch our guilty reaction.
We say we are poets. Smiling heavily, he says:
These two ladies don't pay, give back their money . 
We help Saki move musty stacks of books.
Feeding us sweets, he asks why I've never married.
I tell him: Because I have learned the names of bombs.
Saki wants to trade his D.H. Lawrence paintings
for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece
but the British aren't interested in returning stolen property.
Against the wall, in proper patron tradition,
the husks of his shoes neatly lined up with nowhere to go.
The Watersprinkler plays his flute—
a slow dirge hissing to the pornographers and thieves of time.
Who will trade all that light loosened in the sky
for the darkness that inevitably follows.


9/22/90
Hotel La Fonda, Taos, New Mexico
Fall Equinox



With some minor line break changes and edits 7/17/2014 when I rescued this from an old Mac file that would no longer open.... ASCII code gone rogue.




















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