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mylar Portrait of Angus Maclise
14. mylar Portrait of Angus Maclise, New York, 1960s

In the fire
is no end
but in the tall grasses
but on the riverbanks
but in the cool breezes urging
but in the long Empty Days
- from JAGUAR
Ballad of the Gone MacLise

for Angus MacLise died Summer Solstice, June 21, 1979

In the poem one can lay down
the heartline, the harp can bring the tears
muffled by the sound of the drum
your gamelans cut by the Buddha's Knife
of compassion/
Down at the Snowman I heard
them discussing your cremation
A dervish has fallen off the roof
the tall skinny one with the coathanger shoulders

I know the way the pillars of the Vision
trembled before you in the sunlight
You saw the door of Konya open in the slums
of Brooklyn where light shafted thru abandoned
factories in the amphetamine dawn
Now the shades of Mecca are drawn for you,
the five Dhyani Buddhas transcend your
& await your burning w/ cloths of the 5 wisdom colors
Your unsatisfied cravings fly out of the pyre,
the blessings of your friends crackle w/ ghee
the white and black til seeds (sesame) burn in
the untrammeled day & still you are wandering
passing thru the Bardo Keyhole -
Listen once more to those Tibetan horns,
they are calling you past Freak Street
where you sold the White Goddess for junk
Forget all your regrets & go now w/ the egret,
put on your robe of sky -
The Vagabond Maverick Poet MacLise
has left these burning halls,
the windtraps are wild with sound
I see your hands beating a Persian rhythm
on suitcases of itinerant dreams,
I hear the droning of Beelzebub's flies
making clear the ghastly way,
an opera undone by a chorus of 108 Mahasiddhas
singing your discarded lists of cembalums.
symphonic poems, untold futures
You bummed cigarettes from Ram,
borrowed time & change from Krishna
Now that your balance is finally broken
go in peace to the Buddhafields
nodding in to the sound of your tartan
The bane is over -
A new wheel is spinning its song
Tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock
We will meet at the Vidyaswari Ghat
For you it's free, this one way ticket
which is non transferable
Remember that before you try to come back
May light mantle your shadow &
may you not see what is not to be seen
Farewell, MacLise, thawing on the Riverbank,
I do not expect to meet your like again,
Farewell, brother, the shadow of Don Quixote
lowers its lance & you are overstood.

June 27, 1979
Kathmandu, Nepal

Photograph and text copyright Ira Cohen.

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