All Stories, General Fiction

A Salutation to My Saugus, Embassy of the 2nd Muse by Tom Sheehan

He has come out of a dread silence and given himself a name; Saugus, he says.  He bleats like a tethered goat to come out of that coming, to be away, dense spiral to the core of self, to the mountain call, bird arc across such slopes of pale imaginings.

Saugus, he says: I am that part of you cries not for the love but intimacy of words, light touch of skin we dread and seek, owning up of self as if in another. I am that part of you named endless searcher, thirsty one, guzzler, sufferer, warred on, the starved and the wasted, that part of you you can’t turn over by yourself. I have the secrets you do not know you know. I am lodged in a far corner of mind, some fallow place at reins’ end, waiting to be routed out, turned up, to green a page again. Has it taken you so long to find me, or do you ignore me and try it on your own? You cannot avoid documented lightning, shock of metaphor, God on one knee, Saugus. 

 I am not a stranger. I breathe with you, find shelter and warmth when you do, know the single star haunting the edge of your horizon, know best of all the magic when the sound is right, Oh, Thomas! when the sound is the music of one word upon another, and it tears two parts of soul to four because nothing like it has been heard before, when the word dances on its consonants, slides on soft vowels, when the spine knows the word is known by every ganglia, thong and sinew of the body. The coring.

 I am Saugus and you waste me away, cast me aside. I who carry all sounds of memory, cast me aside at breast-panning, when you lose the music down in some phantom crotch, when a sweet ass ties your brain in knots. Now, just now, Thomas, feel the core wind in. Feel the word rock in you. Find the word rock. Chip at it. Let the chisel fly, the sparks dance out globally, the word broken away from the granite source in you. Don’t you know me, Thomas? I am the gate tender. I am the one who lets you find the word rock. I am the keyman. I let you into that vast field of yourself where the rock grows. I am Saugus, and I tend that field where the rock lies in the sacred cairn. 

We meet so infrequently. I keep myself here waiting on you, the gate eager to rise, the field waiting to know your tread, the rock waiting to be beat upon by the hammer of your desire. I am lonely when you wander. It is dark and fearful without you. And yet I can make you cry when I am lonely. You don’t believe me yet… I am Saugus who makes you cry. 

You can’t tease me, please me, appease me. Just use me. I am servant of servants. I am Id’s Id’s Id, ego sans ego sans ego. I am to be used, exploited, submitted. And I guard that huge rock in you, tend it, know what filled it dense as hardpan that time in Boxford field and you hurt all over; dense as the frozen earth DeMatteo dug fox holes with C-3 and it finally blew off the back of his head and Colonel Mason said, “Shit!”; dense as Vinegar Hill or Indian Rock or that rock wall outside Schenectady and you stopped to change a tire at her waving and she slid down that wall at her back motioning to you her bodily gratitude. Dense is that word rock, full of all your lore and legend bricked with every movement you’ve ever known, all sights and sounds and music of the words; that special place where the thing rings in you, that place of core vibration. 

Jesus, Thomas, take my hand again! Walk in the field with me. We belong together, you and I. Dispel me of doom. Let the music of words come, let them dance first in your eye, roll on your tongue, live to die on the page. Let them vibrate on your spine, get kissed of your skin, shoot out of here in flight of geese, and mournful sound of heading home when there is no home, steaming freight train whistle calling you from a circle of blue nights, self shout at the moon still shining on a hill East of Cleveland, South of Yang-du, East again a long stretch from the Chugach given you in a word picture, West of a cliff near Kerry and rain moved as a god laughing at the rootstock of your silence, Celtic mummery, God buried in stone. 

If you can’t come with me, Thomas, you are the loser, lonely, forsaken. I can take you back to all the hard  places, to the adjectives and verb ends; to the quadrangle in Japan in 1951 and the cool wind coming through Camp Drake and the voice of death talking in it and calling Maciag’s name (Body Hunger) and little Salazar (Arab Dagger) and Captain Kay (Memphis Peon) and Billy Pigg (Cowpoke) and Stoney Mason (the Pennsy Slateman) and Anadazio (Bread You Can’t Imagine) and Dan Bertelsen (AKA The Knife) and you listened and it didn’t talk your name and you still felt sad and knew you were the only ear. 

In three weeks they were gone, all gone, and their voices went into ground, and all their words, and they built on the word rock and now they still dance sadly… such words that make you cry with music still in them, and they come long and slowly out of another time funnel, like Billy Pigg saying, “Shit,” as he rolled over in your arms and Captain Kay saying, “I just want to go home for a little while and tell Merle and Andy I love them. Just for an hour or so.” Do you remember, then, later, far from the Land of the Morning Calm, the room in Ireland, that space of pewter walls, made hard by the anvil? The spark spray of peacock’s fire, head-tucked-under-wing smell ripe as working acids, dead melons; tin-plated, throat-sucking water weaving its skin of iron dust thick as magnetized talcum; the unknown and unsure shapes of heat, cool in its third form, introducing friction to mattered air, the sound a gulping sizzle that swallowed bar, froze form, and the voice of the man at the end of the hammer and the end of your poem, saying, “That poem, my man, is iron. You made a good pour, a good draw. You beat it well. It’s iron.” 

And all the words come out of ground, out of rock, erupt and blow at you. Ah, Thomas, come home again. Come home again. I am Saugus. I can make you cry. I remember more than you the sound of silence just before the word breaks. I am the edge of all things, the point of it all, Saugus. I will be here forever for you, cast upon the sand I see every day from my favorite window, looking down over the Iron Works, history astir, where I labored for parts of eight years in this life of mine, where I dug up the 500-pound hammer, a piece of history stuck in my mind.

Tom Sheehan

Image – Wikicommons.

2 thoughts on “A Salutation to My Saugus, Embassy of the 2nd Muse by Tom Sheehan”

  1. Hi Tom,
    Brilliant, lyrical and moving!
    I’ve said that many times about your work and the strength of your words never diminishes!
    Superb as always my fine friend.


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