by Wim Coleman
Part IV: Tarot Trumps
© by Wim Coleman, 2011
All rights reserved.
Trump IV: The Emperor
King Solomon sits on his sceptered throne,
obeyed and adored by his vassals of lore—
but all that he does, he does all alone.
Once he was aided by jinn by the score
who did his bidding by their wondrous art.
They did all he asked, and asked to do more;
he wanted one thing—a sagacious heart.
“O King that we love, this sorrows us sore!
For you have commanded that we must part!
“O King that we love, to serve you we swore,
but now our service you have outgrown.
O King that we love, we flee from your door,
“relinquishing you to your sceptered throne—
and all that you do, you’ll do all alone.”
Trump VI: The Lovers
“So tell me—what is love?” asked Socrates.
The banquet guests fell silent in their cups,
covertly craving inebriated naps—
until the comic playwright spoke this wise:
“The Trickster Titan labored many days,
molding our race from river clay by the scoops;
twin souls he devised, combined in single shapes—
twin-male, twin-female, or coupled he’s and she’s.
“Zeus feared the might of our three-gendered kind
and cleaved us double with his lightning spear,
then threw our halves to the dispersing wind.
“So what is love? A phantom-limbed desire,
a quest for something just beyond the wound—
an aching palpability of air.”
Trump VII: The Chariot
See—the conquering hero comes! This way
to get a better look! You folks in front,
get down! You folks in back, don’t shove! I can’t
see over you! Too bad! Make room for me!
His chariot’s drawn by sphinxes—they fairly fly!
His armor’s beaten gold—behold its glint!
They say he’s come to free us—that’s his intent.
And yet I wonder—is he really free?
Look at that canopy above his head—
all indigo, painted with moon and stars;
the man beneath is surely vain like death.
He fancies he’s some sort of airborne god
lighting the skies with messianic fires—
and not some idiot sun scorching the earth.
Trump XI: Strength
That lion would have killed us all;
blows from cudgels only goaded him.
But lavish lady, in time you came,
your hat eternal, your dress a bell.
With lilac’s might you made him heel,
shutting his jaws with gentle palm,
leading him by flowers from harm.
All this is true—I tell no tale.
Tonight the lion’s your scarlet slave.
Naked you ride him; in your arms
aloft you hold the chalice of
abomination, feral with flames.
Lady, when waking, I believe;
now help my unbelief of dreams.
Trump XIII: Death
I told you once (or should have, anyway),
this card of Death—mounted, massive, grinning
at kings and paupers falling by waning day—
is really the right emblem for spring cleaning.
You know what I mean; you taught me at home
it wouldn’t do to move the rug and chair,
make a few passes with the mop and broom,
then put things back exactly how they were.
Toss out the cord that powered some lost appliance,
the books you never really meant to know,
the relics of forgotten gods and giants—
but not that purse a Thai friend once gave you,
its elephant stitched bright with beads and thread;
that’s for your nieta, a token of the dead.
Trump XVI: The Tower
The alchemist and his wife made gold at last—
excuse me, transmuted it from lead. (Or tin,
maybe—I’m not sure which.) From it they cast
a giant crown and flaunted it to men
by perching it atop their far-flung tower.
Ah, hubris! ’Twas lightning they strived for next—
to yoke and harness the forbidden power
of sulfur, coal, and salt-petre. God hexed
their plans with his own ready thunderbolt,
blasting the tower, the crown of mammoth weight,
the prideful fools themselves in their revolt.
I took some satisfaction in their fate,
for I manufacture thunderbolts to sell;
the Lord buys his supply direct from hell.
Trump XVII: The Star
I wandered through the desert night
thirsting for a sip of sight;
the stars were streaming liquid light.
I cupped my hands, hoping I may
catch just a little taste of day;
through my fingers it dripped away.
But then a woman from afar
came carrying an earthen jar
and filled it from a spouting star.
Beyond my grasp she held it high;
weeping dark tears, I asked her why;
she left me, saying with a sigh,
“Wise pilgrim, learn this bitter rule—
no one may drink light but a fool.”
Trump XVIII: The Moon
Once in the Borgo Pass
while the moon was shedding the dew of thought
and the children of the night howled their Te Deum,
I came face to face with Dracula himself.
That morning in a wayside inn
a peasant woman had given me a crucifix—
“For your mother’s sake,” she’d moaned,
which seemed irrelevant somehow.
I thrust the cross before the fiend,
and he smiled like a some medeival painted saint
all pierced by arrows or with a hatchet in his head.
“Impious soul!” he murmured like the moon.
“Who are you to wield that thing
against one who believes?”
Trump XXI: The World
Up here so high that you and I
can peer into the secret deep concavity of the earth
and no one can hear us speak
I dare to tell you
that hope is the scar from some unnecessary surgery
that faith is the overabundance of oxygen
that every word is a lie
and that love is here
here tangled amid these raptures of ice
or else it is nowhere
for when we fall from this place
(as we must, we surely must)
our hearts shall be devoured by little stars
reflected in the water of a well.