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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

For A Fallen Idol


Nemrut Dağı -- now a national park, famous for the antique statuary on the summit, dating back to the Commagene Kingdom
[c. 163 BC-72 AD]: photo by Tony f, 17 July 2010

The repeating dream of the thin old man
wrinkled and withered beyond his years,
gaunt, haunted and broken -- as in the cruel photo --
made a few minutes before the coming

of the end -- arriving in the underworld
alone, unattended --
an image bespeaking
a sadness inherent in things -- a fallen
idol some, without apparent thought, once

would have emulated, envied -- attention
shyly deflected again as in life
in the dream mumbling half-embarrassed farewells

quietly, we look quickly away -- this part

of the scene acute, bitter
sweet as the sharpest of awakened
memories -- again as in life -- while in the dream he is swept
in hard mid-day light, glancing,

across the desert arroyo, now
awash in crocodile tears,
into the waiting black vehicle,
by the faceless army of keepers.

View to the tomb-sanctuary of Mount Nemrut with heads of huge statues in front:
photo by Florian Koch, 2003


Nin Andrews said...

What a surreal dream and a perfect image to go with it.

I love the strange funeral scene in what looks like neon lighting, even in a black and white photo . . .

And the ending - "the faceless army of keepers."
That gives me a chill.

TC said...


Whatever advancing arm of senior dementia has been entering my dreamlife lately caught me around the heart a few nights ago by flooding the dreamscene with this strange narrative featuring a terrible mummified version of our late friend the poet Jim Carroll, alas dead before his time. (Whatever "one's time" is...)

In the dream it was not the "real" sweet, charming, funny, shy, dear Jim of earlier days but the image of a ghoulish skeletal figure created/captured as a kind of spook-spectre by paparazzi in his rather desolate final years, and posted -- grotesquely, unkindly, cruelly I thought -- by Ron Silliman... not once, mind you, but twice within five days... while the body was yet warm, as they say.

Jim Carroll: from Silliman obit 9/14/09

Jim Carroll: from Silliman 9/19/09

I suppose showing someone in the worst possible light can be put down to "historical objectivity". Then again, it could also be put down to sensationalism, muckraking, malice, disrespect, or mere lack of taste.

So yo, "whatever", have a nice day....

Anyhow, those two terrifyingly awful pictures have since then become, as the horrid contempo-cliché has it, "iconic" -- near neighbour to "awesome".

If you go to that idiot trash-bin Google Images and type in "Jim Carroll", those are the two pictures our Mommybot offers first, to remember this poet by.

(My own memories of the man, along with photos not taken in the mortuary lobby, can be found TC: Jim Carroll 9/14/09.)



My memory/interior photo image is of Jim walking with his little dog down Brighton toward the beach, many days, in front of our house, beautiful reddish brown hair, a solitary figure out for a walk -- never spoke to him, Michael Wolfe had just published The Basketball Diaries, those were the days. . .


cloudless blue white sky above shadowed
plane of ridge, blue jay on pine branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

order of events for example,
this made before then

appeared, the second before
that, had not started

lines of waves breaking across channel,
circular green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...


Those were the days, so many, it seemed there would always be more, forever, out on that little strip of land protruding from and in almost every way disconnected from, the rest of the continent... and then...

u.v.ray. said...

" could also be put down to sensationalism, muckraking, malice, disrespect, or mere lack of taste."

As Charles Bukowski said of people:

"They want you to be wrong just so they can be right."

I found the poem posted here quite touched a tender nerve, Tom. I find myself contemplating death often. Not suicide, fortunately. I mean rather the shortness of life.

I've always felt a sense of urgency in my own life, to get what I need to do done sooner; because I fear there will not be a later.

TC said...


Bukowski had an unerringly accurate view of human nature (alas).

About this:

"...contemplating death often. Not suicide, fortunately. I mean rather the shortness of life.

"I've always felt a sense of urgency in my own life, to get what I need to do done sooner; because I fear there will not be a later."

These words echo my own sentiments precisely. One can deny the inevitable all one wishes, still every minute it inches closer, and lo! every time one glances away from the immediate moment, there appear fewer and fewer grains left in the "later" compartment of the hourglass.

I have found that, as one sinks into the eighth decade, there is little respite in these considerations, nor much solace in the alleged mercies of forgetfulness.

(An anxious confused muddle hardly qualifies as enlightenment!)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Disturbing poem/image. We are all Lethe bound, but as you say, it’s not much of a consolation prize.

TC said...

Yes, disturbance. Lethe.

One gets the curious image of Charon as the P. R. guy ferrying the sepia family army across that sea of crocodile tears.

Jim, it should be remembered, toward the end had his own weekly small "breakfast club," where he could get together with trusted friends and be, as it were, himself.

(Indeed it's occurred to me late on that to die over one's work, whatever it was/is/may have been, is at least an act of fealty, when it appears perhaps little else good is to be said.)

ACravan said...

This is beautifully formed (it’s tempting but impossible to select favorite lines, but I’d like to say that using the Fallen Idol image as you have is very powerful), moving and seems so real, sincere and inevitable. This is how we feel about our friends.

I’m kind of glad that I managed to keep Jim Carroll’s celebrity at distance during the “brightest” part of his public career. Knowing his history and associations as a poet, I didn’t want to let the music business p.r. aspect of things annoy me. In the same way I detest non-poet rock stars occasionally publishing (with great fanfare) books of verse, I tend to distrust non-musicians trying to compose, record and perform music with corporate backing.

In Jim Carroll’s case, however, there were some happy surprises – even radio surprises. A friend of ours played guitar in his band for a couple of years and mostly enjoyed the experience and was proud of the work they did. He and Carroll co-wrote a terrific song called “Differing Touch,” which had lyrics that were very good, subtle and…..poetic . It sounds like no other song I’ve ever heard.

Publishing those photos was a horrible thing to do.

TC said...

Curtis, about the photos, I thought so too. Gave me bad dreams.

Of course one prefers the happier memories.

(The title of the post, of course, remembers the movie of the same name.)