June 5, 2015

Essay By Tom Sheehan: A Salutation to Saugus, Embassy of the 2nd Muse

Tom Sheehan IVJ June 2015 Issue #11
 Sheehan has 28 Pushcart nominations. In the Garden of Long Shadows and The Nations (Native American fiction collection) were recently published by Pocol Press with solid reviews in Serving House Journal. Now in the Pocol production cycle are Where Skies Grow Wide, Cross Trails, Between Mountain and River and The Cowboys, the last five titles from Pocol Press are all western short story collections. In addition, a new collection, Sons of Guns, Inc. was just released (print and eBook) by Nazar Look Books in Romania and is on Amazon.

 A Salutation to Saugus, Embassy of the 2nd Muse

He has come out of a dread silence and given himself a name; Saugus, he says. He
bleats like a tethered goat to come out of that coming, to be away, dense spiral to the
core of self, to the mountain call, bird arc across such slopes of pale imaginings.
Saugus, he says: I am that part of you cries not for the love but intimacy of words,
light touch of skin we dread and seek, owning up of self as if in another. I am that
part of you named endless searcher, thirsty one, guzzler, sufferer, warred on, the
starved and the wasted, that part of you you can’t turn over by yourself. I have the
secrets you do not know you know. I am lodged in a far corner of mind, some fallow
place at reins’ end, waiting to be routed out, turned up, to green a page again. Has it
taken you so long to find me, or do you ignore me and try it on your own? You
cannot avoid documented lightning, shock of metaphor, God on one knee, Saugus. I
am not a stranger. I breathe with you, find shelter and warmth when you do, know
the single star haunting the edge of your horizon, know best of all the magic when
the sound is right, Oh, Thomas! when the sound is the music of one word  upon
another, and it tears two parts of soul to four because nothing like it has been heard
before, when the word dances on its consonants, slides on soft vowels, when
the spine knows the word is known by every ganglia, thong and sinew of the body.
The coring.

I am Saugus and you waste me away, cast me aside. I who carry all sounds of
memory, cast me aside at breast-panning, when you lose the music down in some
phantom crotch, when a sweet ass ties your brain in knots. Now, just now, Thomas,
feel the core wind in. Feel the word rock in you. Find the word rock. Chip at it. Let
the chisel fly, the sparks dance out globally, the word broken away from the granite
source in you. Don’t you know me, Thomas? I am the gate tender. I am the one who
lets you find the word rock. I am the keyman. I let you into that vast field of yourself
where the rock grows. I am Saugus, and I tend that field where the rock lies in the
sacred cairn. We meet so infrequently. I keep myself here waiting on you, the gate
eager to rise, the field waiting to know your tread, the rock waiting to be beat upon
by the hammer of your desire. I am lonely when you wander. It is dark and fearful
without you. And yet I can make you cry when I am lonely. You don’t believe me
yet… I am Saugus who makes you cry.

You can’t tease me, please me, appease me. Just use me. I am servant of servants. I
am Id’s Id’s Id, ego sans ego sans ego. I am to be used, exploited, submitted. And I
guard that huge rock in you, tend it, know what filled it dense as hardpan that time
in Boxford field and you hurt all over; dense as the frozen earth DeMatteo dug fox
holes with C-3 and it finally blew off the back of his head and Colonel Mason said,
“Shit!”; dense as Vinegar Hill or Indian Rock or that rock wall outside Schenectady
and you stopped to change a tire at her waving and she slid down that wall at her
back motioning to you her bodily gratitude. Dense is that word rock, full of all your
lore and legend bricked with every movement you’ve ever known, all sights and
sounds and music of the words; that special place where the thing rings in you, that
place of core vibration.

Jesus, Thomas, take my hand again! Walk in the field with me. We belong together,
you and I. Dispel me of doom. Let the music of words come, let them dance first in
your eye, roll on your tongue, live to die on the page. Let them vibrate on your spine,
get kissed of your skin, shoot out of here in flight of geese, and mournful sound of
heading home when there is no home, steaming freight train whistle calling you from
a circle of blue nights, self shout at the moon still shining on a hill East of Cleveland,
South of Yang-du, East again a long stretch from the Chugach given you in a word
picture, West of a cliff near Kerry and rain moved as a god laughing at the rootstock
of your silence, Celtic mummery, God buried in stone. If you can’t come with me,
Thomas, you are the loser, lonely, forsaken. I can take you back to all the hard
places,  to the adjectives and verb ends; to the quadrangle in Japan in 1951 and the
cool wind coming through Camp Drake and the voice of death talking in it and
calling Maciag’s name (Body Hunger) and little Salazar (Arab Dagger) and Captain
Kay (Memphis Peon) and Billy Pigg (Cowpoke and Stoney Mason (the Pennsy
Slateman) and Anadazio (Bread You Can’t Imagine) and Dan Bertelsen (AKA The
Knife) and you listened and it didn’t talk your name and you still felt sad and knew
you were the only ear. In three weeks they were gone, all gone, and their voices went
into ground, and all their words, and they built on the word rock and now they still
dance sadly… such words that make you cry with music still in them, and they come
long and slowly out of another time funnel, like Billy Pigg saying, “Shit,” as he rolled
over in your arms and Captain Kay saying, “I just want to go home for a little while
and tell Merle and Andy I love them. Just for an hour or so.” Do you remember,
then, later, far from the Land of the Morning Calm, the room in Ireland, that space
of pewter walls, made hard by the anvil?… The spark spray of peacock’s fire, head-
tucked-under-wing smell ripe as working acids, dead melons; tin-plated, throat-
sucking water weaving its skin of iron dust thick as magnetized talcum; the unknown
and unsure shapes of heat, cool in its third form, introducing friction to mattered air,
the sound a gulping sizzle that swallowed bar, froze form, and the voice of the man
at the end of the hammer and the end of your poem, saying, “That poem, my man, is
iron. You made a good pour, a good draw. You beat it well. It’s iron.” And all the
words come out of ground, out of rock, erupt and blow at you.
Ah, Thomas, come home again. Come home again.

I am Saugus. I can make you cry. I remember more than you the sound of silence
just before the word breaks. I am the edge of all things, the point of it all, Saugus.
I will be here forever for you.

~Tom Sheehan

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