March 25, 2021

“Amor Fati,” The Poetry of Vincent St. Clare

“Amor Fati,” The Poetry of Vincent St. Clare

Caption: Darvaza gas crater in the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, said to be the Doorway to Hell.

Amor Fati 
 
I’d like to be happy in Hell 
I’d like to wear my drill-on dunce cap 
Stuffed to the brim with snakes and diarrhea 
And all the same I could laugh all the while 
 
Yes, I could smile 
Like the Indian prince on his deathbed 
Of stone covered in dysentery and then  
Silence,  
 
Despite it 
 
But it won’t be by divine mandate  
That I wash these walls 
Or scrub the floors with a toothbrush 
That’s got nails for bristles 
Or a sponge saturated with 
Brine and boiling metal 
 
It won’t be by right or choice that I 
Cross the fire and into the light 
Or wander circle to circle all the way 
To the big, bright gangbang in the sky 
 
Surmounted by seraphim and the host 
Of cheery cherubim and a cushioned chair 
For every one of your damn 
Undamnable friends 
 
I will stay there with the flaming rood in my throat 
And an empty bowl where the tears should fall 
I will wave away the many devils and, Hell,  
 
Give me that pitchfork, I’ll save you some time 
I’ll stick myself, should you prefer 
 
Well, you know I’m happy here in Hell, 
So swell, swilling this lava, just fine 
‘Can’t beat it when they beat me because 
God thought he got me but I seek nothing 
Don’t you see, as I can’t do much 
 
They plucked out my eyes 
And cut out my tongue 
Soon they’ll go for the fingers 
And thumbs and I won’t be able to write to you 
About all this fun I’m having 
 
I smile wider than endless Hell 
Because nothing looks to me with an eye of passion 
Or persuasion, a day in the caustic rain that I dance and dance again 
Without my coat or umbrella, I am the happiest of men 
 
And, to tell you the truth,  
I’d do it all over again 



 
Danny Didn’t Show 
 
The beer tastes like blood and lentils 
A picture of the pope is hung above the door frame 
 
At the counter I find life all over the place 
A dead mess dragged over the floor 
They beat the living crap out of him, over by the neon sign 
“Open,” it blinks, but to whom? Everything has its place, that’s the claim 
 
Gazing long into the urinal I find life slumped against the wall 
I find him in the eye of the clerk or the palm of a clown 
A mark on the universe, or a cut in the ceiling 
A shingle out of place, and a singular desperation 
 
Alone, that’s it! 
—Without cigarette and smitten with ideal 
Head smashed by time, I ripen and plummet 
Drop and drink with the worms 
 
Thin blood and hardened hearts 
The whole world over won’t make amends! 
 
Alone, 
—Sometimes that’s just the deal 
I think otherwise and suddenly it’s hell 
 
That’s it! that no road leads everywhere 
And all paths make their way steadily downhill  
 
They drive themselves into dust, where raucous red 
And the thin bubbling hum of street lamps fan out 
And upturn the entire universe 
 
What if one day your friend doesn’t show? 
He’s trashed with a girl in that luxury condo 
 
You’re alone, 
So the planets might align, turn over, explode 
Every atom splits and suddenly you’re shitting pure light  
 
Again, it’s life, now he’s come in for coffee, for ice water 
Bags under his eyes, but his mouth pursed into a smile 
He stands under the crooked sign of Pius, the old pope 
with the sun behind his head, ready to fall onto the card table 
 
What can you do, then, but enjoy this beer? 
Your bloody, iron beer 
 
Love it all the same 




Hat City and the Mystery 
 
To think it’s a small town. Really a city. 
To think the whole world was here, in all glory, 
Between Osbourne and White. 
  
It was the starlight in a beveled glass and the smoke 
That rose from behind an emerald awning. 
  
It’s in the crescendos that dance through the halls on the third floor studio 
—A cosmic inferno that rings true everywhere and that the red brick 
Stands in awe of and beholden to. 
  
It’s a man turned misery, squalid and broken. 
He’s tumbling in the trash bins, looking for life. 
  
It’s the fattening squirrels dragging bagels 
Three times their size through thick fog and up stiff oak trees. 
  
It’s the happiness here, the Brazilian food, 
The man selling firewood and the one on a bike. 
It’s his wife, arms folded, waiting in the doorway, 
The beagle run loose down the road at night. 
  
I saw it in the coffee grounds and between the graves 
And the pattering beads of rain. 
It wanders in silence between book shelves and behind bar counters. 
It’s everywhere you turn—but you won’t see it and you’ll never meet it. 
  
It’s the incongruity of man and mean, 
End and being, 
Meaning and truth. 
  
It’s the men in sharp suits passing by the one in the gutter. 
  
White and red, curdled and slow, 
Colors spill into light, round the whole affair. 
He’s tucked away like an old Hallmark card, 
Nothing to see, nothing to say. 
  
Cars barrel down the open road and pull their weight over frozen potholes. 
  
It’s a fleeting sense of pace and place and time. 
They’ve got their routine down pat, you see? 
  
It’s me, it’s you, 
It’s mystery and grit, 
Penetrates and creates and affirms and 
Stands still in an empty sky. 
  
It’s art like a bottle bashed over the guardrail. 
It’s the behavior of politicians as much as that of rocks. 
It’s the blunder and glory, the light that reveals every story in time. 
  
It’s new every goddamn day. 
  
It’s fun, it’s flaky, it’s over there and under the table. 
It’s a tender tale in the eyes of a child and the callous open hands of a poor man. 
It’s spare change and pickled eggs, draft beer and tears. 
  
It passes the blood-brain barrier. 
  
It makes its home in the heart and out on the pavement. 
It sells padlocks and used clothing. 
It liquidates assets and builds housing. 
It teaches and learns and earns a living. 
It’s breathing. 
It moves and ebbs and flows and shows us. 
  
It’s passing through Andromeda and by and by Fomalhaut. 
It’s jammed in a black hole and traverses Virgo. 
Its torpid perfection eclipses the edge of the world. 
It’s a projection. 
It strives for nothing and is something regardless. 
It hums all day long. 
  
I sit here off Main and White, slunk on the road in my buttonless coat. 
New England chill, steamed charm, broken sunlight: 
No glass for affected grasp 
  
—The night is dying, and old as ever it will be. 
 I’m at this place to know what it is I’m saying 
—Why I’m such a fool for shining. 
  
I  
say  
it  
never  
knew  
anything  
but  
understands 
everything. 
I see the liquor and the laughter and I see it in them equally. 
  
It’s still in the pearly bottles and the dim rum and the soap dispensers and silence. 
It’s the pool cues cracking and the clap of thunder peeling off in an uncarved void. 
It’s the crooning in the gutter and all the weariness and wonder in this sorry old world. 
It’s the quarter in my pocket and the lint between the floorboards. 
It is I. 
It is it. 
  
Merely. 
  
All the more: 
It brings me back here, to this, the unripe moment, 
The holy bitter taste at the bottom of my tongue 
That slides up my mind and down my heart and fills me. 
  
It’s spilling over now. 
  
I move along, and let the endless song die down. 
I push past it on my way downtown, cold in my buttonless coat. 
  
It breathes down your neck and is gone at a glance. 
It gives and takes and breaks not a promise, 
Makes not love but whatever’s beyond it. 
What’s to be done? 
I dance and die and forget it all. 
I slip away again. 
  
The red brick brings me back, 
  
The laughter and the saxophone droning on up at the third floor. 
The man in the trash with the squirrels for competition. 
The men in the suits and Brazilian food. 
Firewood for sale and now the bike is too. 
The woman in the doorway found her old dog. 
The red wax melts and the sight of the sun, 
And the sign of this star burns out in the wake of the rest. 
  
Its dark ate Andromeda—and we’re up next in line. 
But I don’t have any time. 
  
I slithered between the road signs on White. 
It’s dark. 
  
The fog is clearing in this little city, 
This little town. 
  
That light dies down. 




One 
 
Through the cold month 
A thin grape vine curls up 
A ruined chimney 
 
Standing in a field, 
Kissed by rain, 
Stone and brick 
Are made the same 




Ward 9 (Hospital–Redux) 
 
Climbing up crest of hill, buckled on seamless white, rolled up to the door 
Shake and pain, sleepless nights—before pills—dixie cup, magic and down with 
Boxed orange juice, down with eyes, up the hall, on the floor, day now new on set 
 
Wings criss-cross, books beaten, minds broken, bodies bent, tune to the dead cries 
Set to the cries muffled—raw this life, moment known, open pain, close pane 
 
Martin—sure, said it all, said things like “Smoke! it’s good,” “Stand, don’t sit!” sat down 
Said nothing, then looked out over the towers and graves that slid down to 
Edge of day, end of time, lap of god—all his head, where angels climb, die 
 
Through painted window you see a church’s gable, the bending roads that  
Came up to this, to this life, to this moment, now memory, not me 
 
Sure, she said not a thing, nothing much, and folded her frail arms over 
Her pale chest, silent, penniless, while blood snaked between the folds in her gown 
Sure, she said a lot with those arms, and those eyes, and nothing left by night 
 
Put plainly, “they’re crazy,” so they thought, thought maybe I was too, maybe 
I’d kick back or shuffle in my socks and laugh and bite my thumb till they 
Rolled me on up and out—meanwhile, stuck in gown, stuck playing cards, taking a 
Stegner book as my great, blank comfort, taking the silence and the dreams 
 
Gales of thought, astral tides in ward nine, on floor three, above me visions  
Of life black, life without, fear without, fear of touch or sigh or sight or 
Future wrought in the truth that tries time, in colored skies and frigid days 
 
Weeks—two in—days circled, seats set round, we sit and we pour out from these  
Half-open hearts, numb minds, libations to certain uncertain happiness 
 
Two weeks done, the doors bled that light and the strange ways of life, there, out there 
I stepped out to that, here, moment wrung of every last, little mouthful 
Of painful memory, of pliant stillness or thought perturbed—so I 
 
Just left with a hand full of pills and not a tear to call my own 




Sanctum Sanctorum 
 
I opened the temple and 
Read its entrails 
—Ash, stone, water, wind 
 
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” 
 
Tragedy strikes! 
But the empty vessel, 
To crack it, break it, 
Turn it upside down 
 
Now that’s just a game 
Nothing to lose but an 
Ill-suited shell 
 
Read the pieces: 
 
“I am whole.” 




I Have the Codes 
 
I have travelled long and far.  
Over the course of eons I have tried my hand 
Busted my ass 
Wrote and read on through it all 
Submitted 
Poems, short stories, creative nonfiction,  
Essays, prose, opinion pieces, and obituaries 
All such literary contrivances  
To a wide variety 
Of magazines, papers, blogs, and periodicals 
Met with defeat on every attempt 
Met with rejection and  
The editor’s pen was always there  
Sticking out of my goddamn neck 
They kicked my ass to the curb 
And I was up and off again 
But now, 
I have the codes 
Yes, 
I have the codes 
I do the keypad 
Like a piano, 
I press the button and a titanium 
Railgun launches an asteroid 
The size of Texas from high earth orbit 
Tracking the brown eye 
Of whatever highbrow 
Editor I desire 
I inundate with 
Explosive penmanship 
Blow your little brains 
With big thinking 
No longer will you 
Ignore my emails 
Or send return envelopes 
Postmarked “fuck you” 
No longer will you offer 
Vague advice and whisk away 
All my hard work 
I oughtn’t to sit with the whisky 
Without a single penny 
Because now, I have the codes 
I am very funny 
And I am witty and charming 
And thoughtful 
I am poetic and resourceful, 
Creative and intelligent 
I storm up rapturous illusions 
And great fables full of 
Foibles and fate, poems 
That siphon tears from flesh 
Philosophy that twists the mind 
Like a crankshaft a tangled dishrag 
Brilliant analogies, masterful metaphors 
Redundant alliteration 
Obnoxious tangents 
All humble and humorous 
But it doesn’t matter what you think, anyway 
Because I have the codes now 
A great writer with 
Force and fire and 
I will not hesitate to 
Use my cosmic power 
To force your hand 
Make no mistake 
I will make you understand 
The anguish and bitterness 
Teeth clenched and fist shaking 
Faulkner and Hemingway 
Couldn’t compare, but then 
Again they didn’t brandish 
Orbital space cannons 
Anyway 
Didn’t have the trigger finger 
Weren’t like me like that 
See I drop names like this is 
Jeopardy, and that is what makes me a man 
Of knowing, a man of skill and resource 
Well, it doesn’t matter if you agree 
Because I have the codes 
You know 
I have the codes 
Now, I have the codes 




Poets and Rock Stars 
 
No one gives a shit about poetry 
That’s why Rumi is still the best-seller for poetry worldwide 
I think he died in the 1600s 
But I could be wrong 
 
I know he had a turban 
 
Everyone else, as I’m sure you’re aware, 
Is relegated to the back of a Barnes & Noble, or, worse, 
Lulu 
 
They, of course, probably don’t wear turbans 
 
I don’t really know how to write poetry 
At least I don’t think I do 
I’ve been trying for the better part of 11 years 
 
Sometimes I think I should buy a guitar, 
Go for music instead, somehow 
 
Let’s be honest: People appreciate music more than poetry 
That’s where it seems like the fun is 
Not to mention the cash 
 
Poets wear sweater vests and button-downs with the sleeves rolled up 
Rock stars wear black lipstick and rubber jock straps and platform boots 
 
Poets are usually old guys in blazers who show up at nursing homes to read to half-deaf invalids 
Rock stars are usually in their 20s and sing to crowds of tens of thousands and travel the world and shoot cocaine 
 
And they get to fuck 
 
Poets maybe make a few dollars hocking their words to brick walls on Amazon or Smashwords 
Rock stars get paid a million dollars for a photograph 
 
Poets get exiled to Argentina 
Rock stars are welcomed everywhere in the world 
 
They could even make it big in Somalia 
 
I don’t think they’re even called “rock stars” anymore 
Now they’re recording artists 
 
I’d say I should be one, be a “man,” 
Buy a keyboard, buy a cowbell 
But I’m strapped and carless and careless 
And my back hurts and here I am 
Still trying to put letter to paper, 
Word to world 
Heart to page and 
Pen to purpose 
 
—And it’s just too bad I have no idea what a chord is 

***

Vincent St. Clare is a writer and self-described armchair mystic from New England. He holds a B.A. in professional writing from Western Connecticut State University. You can view his work at The Grand Tangent.

He would only believe in a God who could laugh at himself. 

Amor Fati
#amor fati#poetry#rumi#vincent st. clare
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