Prologue to an Adventure

As I walked through the wilderness of this world through the city with the buzzing electric faces and the crowded albatross of the wind dazzling and drowning me that winter night before the West died in a fireworks display.

I remembered the winds of the high, white world that bore me and the faces of a noiseless million in the busy hood of heaven staring at the clinging afterbirth of life.

They who nudged through the literate light of the city, shouldered and elbowed me, catching my trilby with the spokes of umbrellas, who offered me matches and music.

Take away, I told them silently, the flannel and cotton, the cheap felt and leather, I am the nakedest nothing between the pinnacle and the base, an alderman of ghosts holding a watch-chain on the wet pavement, narrator of echoes.

I have Old Scratch by the beard, and the news of the world is no world's news, the gossips of heaven and the fallen rumors are enough and too much for a shadow that casts no shadow, I said to the blind beggars and the paperboys who shouted into the rain.

They who were hurrying by me on the narrow errands of the world, time bound to their wrists or blinded in their pockets, who consulted the time strapped to a holy tower, and dodged between bonnets and wheels, heard in my fellow's footsteps the timeless accents of another walking.

On the brilliant pavements under a smoky moon, their man's world turning to the bass roll of the traffic, they saw in the shape of my fellow another staring under the pale lids, and heard the spheres turn as he spoke.

This is a strange city, gentlemen arm-in-arm making a rehearsed salute, strange gentlemen with strange ladies.

For them in a friendless abode in streets of pennies and pleasures a hundred ladies and gentlemen move in bed.

Time still as night, moon passing over the hot tin roofs.

Grim policemen stand at each corner in the katabatic wind.

0 mister lonely, say ladies forlorn, we shall be naked as baby mice, loving long in the short sparks of the night.

We are not ladies with feathers who lay eggs on the quilt.

As I walked through the skyscrapers, where the lamps walked at my side sparking like an electrocuted man.

Trees of a new scripture jostled the devil at my elbow.

Dogged under the arches lust led me down blind alleys.

Now in the shape of a bald girl smiling, a wailing wanton with handcuffs for earrings, or the lean girls that lived on pickings, now ragged woman curtseying in the slime, the tempter of angels whispered over my shoulder.

Cover Of The Rolling Stone

We shall be naked but for garters and black stockings, loving you long on a bed of strawberries and cream, and the nakeder for a ribbon that hides the nipples.

We are not the finely decked out ladies that eat into the brain behind the ear, or feed on the fat of the heart.

I remembered the sexless shining women in the first hours of the world that bore me, and the golden sexless men that cried All Praise in the sounds of shape.

Taking strength from a sudden shining, I have Old Scratch by the beard, I cried aloud.

But the short-time shapes still followed, and the counselor of an unholy nakedness nagged at my heels.

No, not for nothing did the packed thoroughfares confront me at each cross and pavement's turning with these figures in the shapes of sounds, the lamp-chalked silhouettes and the walking frames of dreams, out of a darker allegory than the fictions of the earth could turn in twelve suns' time.

There was more than man's meaning to the bare skull bogies thumbing the skeletons of their noses, to the marrow-merry snackers scratching their armpits in a tavern light, and to the dead man, smiling through his bandages, who laid hand on my sleeve, saying in no man's voice.

There is more than man's meaning in a stuffed man talking and more in the horned ladies at your heels than a pinch of the cloven delights and the tang of sulphur.

Heaven and hell shift up and down the city.

I have the God of Israel in the image of a painted boy, and Satan, in a woman's shirt, pisses from a window in Damaroid Alley.

See now, you shining ones, how the tuner of harps has fallen, and the painter of winds like a bag of henna into the gutter.

The high hopes lie with broken bottles and suspender-belts, the white mud falls like feathers, there out of Pessary Court comes the Bishop of Bumdom, dressed like a ratcatcher, a holy sister in Gamarouche Mews sharpens her index tooth on a bloodstone, two weasels couple on Shiva-Nataraja's altar.

He who played the sorcerer, appearing all at one time in a dozen sulphurous beckonings, saying, out of a dozen mouths.

We shall be naked as the greased lightning of a serpent striking from within the nest holes at the bases of the cathedral pillars, tracking the margins of four cindery winds.

A mouse tailed woman and a holy snake, the symbols of the city writher before me. But by one red horn I had that double image, tore off the furry stays and leather jacket.

We shall be naked, said Old Scratch emerging, as a Jewish girl crucified to the bedposts.

We are all metaphors of the sound of shape of the shape of sound.

Break us we take another shape.

The snake and the woman stroke a cross in the air.

I saw the star fall that broke a cloud up, and dodged between bonnets and wheels to the ill-lit streets where I saw Daniel Dom lurching after a painted shadow.

We walked into the Seven Sins.

Two little girls danced barefoot in the sawdust.

A negress loosened the straps of her yellow frock and bared a breast.

Buy a pound, she said, and thrust her breast in Daniel's face.

He faced the women and caught the half-naked negress by the wrist.

Like a woman confronted by a tower,

You are so strong, my love, she said, and kissed him full on the mouth

Before the sea could circle us, we were out through the swing-doors into the street and the mid-winter night where the moonlight, salt white no longer, hung windlessly over the city.

They were night's enemies who made a lamp out of the devil's eye, but we followed a midnight radiance around the corners, like two weird brothers trod in the glittering web prints.

In their damp hats and raincoats, in the blaze of shop window, the people jostled against us on the pavements, and a gutter boy caught me by the sleeve.

Buy an almanac, he said.

It was the bitter end of the year.

Now the star fall had ended, the sky was a hole in space.

How long, how long, lord of the hail, shall my city rock on, and the seven deadly seas wait tidelessly for the moon, the bitter end the last tide-spinning of the full circle.

Daniel lamented, trailing the midnight radiance to the door of the Deadly Virtue where the light went out and the glittering web prints faded.

We were forever climbing the steps of a sea tower, crying aloud from the turret that we might warn us, as we clambered around the spiked maiden in the turret corners.

red riding hood

The Fable of the Wolf

Make way for Mister Dom and friend.

Walking into the Deadly Virtue, we heard our names announced through the loudspeaker trumpet of the wooden image over the central mirror, and, staring in the glass as the oracle continued, we saw two distorted faces grinning through the smoke.

Make way, said the loudspeaker, for Daniel, ace of Destruction, old Dom the toper of Doom's kitchen, and for the alderman of ghosts.

Is the translator of man's manuscript, his walking chapters, said the trumpet-faced, a member of my Virtue?

What is the color of the narrator's blood?

Put a leech on his forearm.

Make way, the image cried, for bald and naked Mister Dreamer of the bluest veins this side of the blood-colored sea.

As the sea of faces parted, the bare-backed ladies scraped back from the counter, and the matchstick-waisted men, the trussed and corsetted stilt-walkers with the tits of ladies, sought out the darker recesses of the saloon, we stumbled forward to the fiery bottles.

Brandy forth dreamer and the pilgrim, said the wooden voice.

Gentlemen, it is my Call, said the loudspeaker, death is in my house.

It was then, in the tangled hours of a new morning, surrounded by the dead faces of the drinkers, the wail of lost voices, and the words of the one electric image, that Daniel, hair-on-end, lamented first to me of the death on the city and the lost hero of the heart.

There can be no armistice for the sexless, golden singers and the sulphurous hermaphrodites, the flying beast and the walking bird that war about us, for the horn and the wing.

Because The Night

I could light the voices of the fiery virgins winking in my glass, catch the brandy-brown beast and bird as they fumed before my eyes, and kiss the two-antlered angel.

No, not for nothing were these two intangible brandy maids neighboring Daniel who cried, syringe in hand.

Open your cocaine white legs, you ladies of hollow stainless steel needles, Dom thunder Daniel is the lightning drug and the doctor.

Now a wind sprang through the room from the dead street; from the racked tower where two men lay in chains and a hole broke in the wall, we heard our own cries travel through the fumes of brandy and the loudspeaker' music.

We pawed, in our tower agony, at the club shapes dancing, at the black girls tattooed from shoulder to nipple with a white dancing shape, frocked with snail-headed rushes and capped like antlers.

But they slipped from us into the rubber corners where their black lovers waited invisibly; and the music grew louder until the tower cry was lost among it; and again Daniel lurched after a painted shadow that led him, threading through smoke and dancers, to the stained window.

Beneath him lay the city sleeping, curled in its streets and houses, lamped by its own red-waxed and iron stars, with a built moon above it, and the spires crossed over the bed.

I stared down, rocking at his side, on to the unsmoking roofs and the burned-out candles. Destruction slept.

Slowly the room behind us flowed, like four waters, down the seven gutters of the city into a black sea.

A wave, catching the loudspeaker in its mouth, sucked up the wood and music; for the last time a mountainous wave circled the drinkers and dragged them down, out of the world of light, to a crawling sea-bed; we saw a wave jumping and the last bright eyes go under, the last raw head, cut like a straw, fall crying through the destroying water.

Daniel and I stood alone in the city.

The sea of destruction lapped around our feet.

We saw the star fall that broke the night up.

The glass lights on iron went out, and the waves grew down into the pavements.

Dylan Thomas

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