Last Song of the Reed Flute


Tim Keane


Last Song of the Reed Flute

for Federico García Lorca



first        outlines,  like cut outs on a paper sea


then the traces coalesce on the water’s surface,


chiaroscuro in the ripples


horse-shaped              shadows             in the fertile lake             near the forest-edge


and then a word-tuning                                     unicorns             and cyclops                        


the image as compound object-act



the motive is surrender

to the unseen agency


the words


on the water’s surface,                         as if an eel were surfacing

and identity only emergence


the pen’s strategy

makes paper and ink consubstantial


as the lowing of frogs


or the muzzle of bees


and then the flute song rounds and sounds the lake’s diameter



frail                                     filtering                         upward


bass notes from the reed flute,


groundwater too, as if the topsoil


pushes up the hot breeze that rattles the cattails



the jasmine chorus,                         a stallion’s whinny,


a sage’s lament,


Preciosa and the wind


ripple across the lake’s littoral zone





now, there are corporal prayers for glass roosters


and carnal hosannas                                     flavored by nectarines

and a ruby-gilled soprano struck dumb by the force of stars


aqueous stones,             celestial shells,             like curious Venus, risen late


in autumn midnight,

the word             goes down––and also up––a fettered spectrum


word,                         carved-out,       pulp-like,  cupped,            a pomegranate’s yield

word, yellow,             like a Chinese scholar’s robe


word, green-blue,  painted syllables like Tahitian fish

and these insinuations feed the nerves

the never-ending reflections of quiet things



like to be,            graduated into music:


tinny cymbals,             tambourine quakes,

a clatter                         and crisp pattering,                         like rain on the first




promiscuous images                         toward counter-verse,


rise from his lips,                          signed by air,                          spelled out in gitano

present,             and unparalleled


nature             in a suite             nature in a letter

and nature in a lake,

mossy, a recess, mirror-like,                          or marble


notes that can never lapse            into reveille or lullaby


even when a signal torch draws near


and hooves,                         the galloping,                         the general

who uses straps to bind


bare flesh to gloved police,             law, the code of pure denotation


and knowing price

by ignoring value                                      and demanding use by quashing promise



how long until

that boot-clad crush


and dismal fact,             and steel force,             studded by practical metrics


kicks in the door


and rapes every source of private song?




chant for the winter moon,                         the opening lotus,            the littoral zone


chant so as to slip into images

as if into cold sheets in a torrid summer


for dying peace drives love ahead if its decease:


fornicate, in the white delirium of cloistered lights


accrue progeny                                     from metaphor and truth

and negate the drill                         and neuter the trigger


while troops tie their horses             to the nearby trunks




they tear weeds from the wedding of manure and sun


and interrogate the evening till it bleeds


they sodomize the moon, and throttle the innocent midwife, drain the lake-bed

and smash the reed-flute in two,


and torture the solstice, drown it like a captured spy,


hoisting canisters,  they dump petrol in the lake

set fire to the water             (rage             coerces and converts

profanation into fuel


and then puts that fire in charge of the capital)



the water flames,             blazes,             and the serpentine general


blindfolds the poet


and names him––on three––one of the despised maricas de todo el mundo

and––on four––the goons cackle and aim

and––on five––gun him down like a lame mutt,


his body plashing


writhing             in a bleeding pool


the rifle-kick                                    and blasting echo                        sends birds

scurrying from the sanctuary



the last song of the reed flute                        siphons nothing from the earth


and mirrors sun and moon in equal measure

as his arms open wide in a blood-caked mire

still, he mutters a staccato rosary             and sees the lotus flower open


one last time


and sees the broken flute, driftwood on a smoldering lake,


while a dragonfly lifts transparent wings

and his shadow glides into the watercourse.