George Stanley: Two Poems


I am unable to focus, I don’t want to focus
on desires I can no longer feel.
Desires for power over
a younger, slender guy, a boy,
a son.  A surge of anticipation
of the first touch, but first the words,
now mild, now menacing,
touching and talking,
touching after first talking, explaining
why this was good for him — and admitting, sometimes,
I knew it would hurt him more than it hurt me.

As flat on my back, I’d play with my cock
I’d toy in my mind with the boy’s emotions,
& touch his imaginary naked shoulder
paternally.  And if it went well,
if the flow of pleasure came unhindered
at the last moment by interruption —
a holding back out of reconsideration —
then I could forget all about it, feel relief,
no different from a good, satisfying shit,
expulsion of waste matter recommended
by all the liberal scientists.

Waste matter of the body, semen.
Waste matter of the soul, desire.

But if at the last moment, the moment of release, I felt qualms,
then the qualms would pursue me throughout the rest of the day
until the decision had to be made about drinking or not,
to either blot out the knowledge of who I am
or go trembling with it into another night.

Memories of desire, memories of guilt,
of the primal scene of father and son reenacted,
the son now older than the father had been when he died.

Memories of desire, of longing, to repeat
the rite of submission, but with the roles reversed,
the fantasy son now reassuring the fantasy father,
yes, it is all right, for you to touch me, to talk to me that way,
I forgive you, finally.

Memories of desire, that now
do not reawaken.  Father, again I forgive you,
says the son who never became a father.

The White Hawthorn

for Scott

The white hawthorn, its spread, its blossoms and its
….bowers —
It is there, by all the paths we have walked on —
A great bush of it, by the wooden gate
we had to push open to get into the Field
of Moytura, at night, hung over the stone teeth
at the south end of the Circle,
its delicate whiteness
hidden in its darkness
like a climax of stars
in shrunken space.

White hawthorn by the roads
next comes to mind — sprays of it
rising from the hedges
enclosing a road over a hill
between cow-fields.  It was in
the presence of white hawthorn
that we learned not to speak.

The woman at Cong
told us not to cut it,
of the danger.

We did not cut it.

My eyes are dry now — all of Ireland
has receded back into a stunned silence —
even that West part of it, enclosed as with black paper
by drunkenness, boredom, and the futile
attempts to feel for each other
we made (like on Sainte-Catherine
in Montréal — I am rushing
through the personal into a resolve
with myself in the abyss I am in —
it is too painful remembering being out of it —
Before, before —

When we traipsed the lanes of Ireland
in happy silence through the white hawthorn


& I am, in a way, trying to get back inside
(the house (of human life (& I am caught
hanging half inside & half outside the window
& I wish I were not climbing
up, but had guts to stay outside
in the fields; I feel slipping away from me
the knowledge of what it is like
being outside, seeing the human habitation
as construct.


We would enter the House of Life as we would
the House of Poetry.  The furnishings for each
picked out to be enjoyed, to be admired
& ourselves in retrospect for their choice,
& also the windows, looking out onto the fields
or the burning city, placed
for perspective.

//////////////We are flung down the
/////////////////Broken Tower
happily.  But now see us patching up
places to live.  Could we not live
out here, recognizing our inadequacy
& our hopes?

the petals of the hawthorn
unseen — the universe
strode over in our Seven-League Boots —

the laughter of the fairies unheard

Vancouver 1971