Mortal Coilby Peter Lamborn Wilson
The tablets of Enheduana’s
Exaltation of Innana are lost
In the bombing of my kitchen.
History’s first published poet
Daughter of Sargon of Akkad circa
twentyeighth century highpriestess of the goddess
gone down into layers of
dust & grease. Cracked. Illegible.
I found them in the Tehran bazaar
Cuneiform cylinder seals alabaster
& agate. Mehdi Khan rolled them out
on silly putty or something crisper than
new money. The first published poem
& already it’s War in Iraq
literary equivalent of Picasso’s Guernica
limbs & bulls exploding & gods
drifting overhead like turkey vultures.
Like Gilgamesh brooding on violent
death of his sidekick Enkidu.
Visits Hell. Finally discovers herb
Of immortality then loses it.
He’s drowning his grief in a bar
& the barmaid Siduri the goddess
of barmaids says take it easy
life is short have another beer.
But the tablets of Gilgamesh are
Smashed to smitherness in the midden
of my filing system. The monster
Humbaba has a face of entrails
à la H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu proof
the Sumerians came from Outer Space
but the evidence was obliterated
in one direct hit on the site where
the opening scene of The Exorcist was
shot. Artifacts were looted including
occult extradimensional weapons of mass
destruction such as slavery for unpaid debt
to temples that were also banks.
Sir Leonard Wooley found them beneath
six feet of silt—the Universal Flood—
sealed alive in the King’s tomb
to serve him in Hell.
II. A Mess of Ptomaine in Mesopotamia
the brazen head of very cheapjack
buried under London where it never ceases its
the me that is you.
But paranoia criticism breathes no rosegarden of the mysteries. Oh no
Had the youthful but ivoried panache
of oval cigarettes
naps on divans in winter
solariums listening to some
Oum Khalsoum on
naturally inadequate trans-
scription of unwritten
& wordless sighs.
Give us back our fezzes they say
give us back our heads
& the pharaohs whose power
is absolute because
they’re so conveniently
Verse for all occasions
wedding funerals bar-mitzvahs
viva voce plus handprinted broadsheets
available by the gross. Celebrate ye
rites de passage with verbal
rembetica—the ‘oud of
clay mixed with the blood of martyrs
& moulded into little plaques
sealed with the third eye
or meerschaum carved into Turk’s heads
smouldering with the latakia of
suffumigations. There’s no repetition
in the realm of theophany
Iblis invented the exact copy.
the past is always changing
& initiation must come from animals in
the invisible world
from dreams perhaps
the mummy with a hard on
or from Hafez
by opening his divan at random
on his marble tomb in the usual
rosegarden in Shiraz.
If photography steals souls
by uncanny copying &
if that which is doubled
is dead then what about music?
Will there be music
in the ruins like those cello solos
At least the Ottomans were decently rotten.
The experiment with
is precisely the one to
so throw away yr rosary
& stain yr prayer carpet with wine
or so says
a usually reliable source
known to enjoy the confidence
of the Sultan
of the Unseen
the gray eminence of the Shadow Cabinet
of the régime in exile of the Pretender
to the Hidden Imamship
who fields no battalions & never leaves
the Emerald City
but sits on his throne with his cap askew
facing in an auspicious direction & doing
In other words the absent subject
rather than the present object
the rose of bathos
so poor it might almost be mistaken
for a form of
or else be ripped to gobbets
by rabid dogs or cannibal gods
or policy wonks or prozac
in the reservoirs.
I’ve wanted to tell you
of my love
but every time I take up
my burden you die
in another war
O poet of Baghdad
where I’ve never been
except in your dreaming
III. The Death of Abu Nuwas
a PhD in clouds & smoke.
my life because I never learned Sumerian.
Why bother to hold together rather than
dissipating statistically? Why this
halfway house between form & chaos?
Is Sumerian a remnant of Atlantaean?
Eridu & its fish god Enki a colony
of lost Atlantis. Deltas look like
smoke. Stones move. Metals
The Garden of Eden we all agree
was in Southern Iraq—i.e.,
the very spot
where the long dreamtime of living stones
was overthrown. Two Angels of Industry
guard its gates like cracking towers
symbolized by the twin columns
of Freemasonry—Jachin & Boaz.
we could not endure iron
its negative mesmerism drove us
away toward farther hills always
westward or into the very earth’s
souterrains & painted caves
Now we are smokier
cloudier like objects that might be
particles or waves or perhaps
morphogenic fields with personalities
but unhinged from Time
our language unrelated to yours
came from the sea
beneath the sea
& after the Flood
Kingship descended again
a second time from Heaven
to the Third Dynasty of Ur
& began as Civilization always begins (& ends)
with cannibalism & human sacrifice.
Now Sumeria is everywhere
6000 years for the virus to spread
all the way to the sterilized Moon
we are sometimes mistaken for the Dead
a bureaucracy with ramifications
going back 6000 years the same
offices now buried deep beneath
tells long given over to dust
& cluster bombs—but we
are too deep. We sit
at our desks in dandruffy fezzes
& behind us stretch endless
to eternity with government bumpf
dating back to cuneiform days
of blood & clay
gives you a mere 1800 generations
we know who you are
& what yr family owes how many
babies to Moloch. The archives
(cough cough) go back to Gilgamesh’s
rule in Ur of the Chaldees
& we are wraiths
you can see thru sometimes
our features shift
a kind of revenge
for lost Atlantis.
Peter Lamborn Wilson Mar. 8, &lsquo;06
About the Author
PETER LAMBORN WILSON's forthcoming book is Ec(o)logues, from Station Hill Press.