Confessions of the Dragon Man

“In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man,
clearing away the rubbish from a cave’s mouth;
within a number of Dragons were hollowing a cave”

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Here in this chamber I breathe red
flowers of my will out into the rock-
strewn world. Such a housecleaning
I perform, how all the brilliant dust
flies, a pollen of crushed shells, detritus
gravel raised and carried easily
by wind. I till, I plunge and plant,
I spit words that dig down into earth:
spades and plows, pickaxes and groaning
backhoes, tillers and dousing sticks
forked and bent, pulling toward the aquifers.
Flood waters bubble and rush and boil into steam.

How that rising frees the world
from filth and dirt, all those impurities
encrusted, a tough extra skin
to break and crush and sweep away.
I beat my dragon chest, ring out tunes
against steel-hard scales. I sing
out excavating verbs – plunging
or thrusting or turning the ground,
making deep incisions with boot heels,
curved claws, or fiery, jewel-like
eyes. I speak in metal tenses, my sweat
shines. I sing and breathe and all this disappears.

My voice gouges tunnels,
vaporizes mica, shale
and quartz. Here where exhausted
sun comes to lie, spread thin
over cool darkness, I tend my garden
of coal, of copper and iron and lead.

All night I wear the lantern
helmet, check the fluttering dove
in her silver cage. Here I work the richest
veins, my blood runs with molten ore.
How my red face glows, robes of golden
silk, smoky voice, oh, my vivid tongue of flame!

Steven Klepetar

If you have any comments on this poem, Steven Klepetar would be pleased to hear from you.