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John Moat 19.09.2014 02:19
JOHN MOAT - The (re)GENESIS POEMS - Book of Genesis - Bible

An OVERTURE about Adam & Eve - and her deceiving art, and two later full poems about GENESIS and about ADAM's MISSING BIT

The poem below is from "Twelve Overtures" in John Moat's book "Thunder of Grass" from 1969. It was reproduced as the 12th overture of the "Welcomb Overtures" from 1987. These twelve poems form a sequence that is integral part of a larger uniform work of sixty-nine 15-lines poems entitles "The Overtures". In them, John has much developed the art of 15-line poems. (John had also two complete books of strict form short poems, "SKLETON KEY" of 3,3,3 lines poems and "HERMES & MAGDALEN" of 4,4 and 5,5 lines poems)


I love you Eve, and the lawless vanity

That dared you to steal an apple from the tree

That you might wake in Adam's dreamless eyes

A mirror to that lofty infamy.

We are not beautiful until with art

We patch in leaves a tentative surmise.

We weren't made beautiful; our beauty lies

In the contrivance of a mystery.

And Eve guessed this. She sewed about her parts

A little privacy, so when the skies

Grew sulky we could take the rage to heart

And the ruined garden to our destiny.

Now whether a second Adam should grow wise

Before he tips the goddam apple-cart…

That rests with Eve – and her deceiving art

OVERTURE 26 - John Moat - Bible - Book of Genesis

In 1990, John Published his unique book "Firewater & the miraculous Mandarin", in which he returned fully to the Genesis theme - with a mid-size poem about God's concerns, called "GENESIS" and the following more lengthy poem about Adam - "THE MISSING BIT", which are both posted here: (Pending addition is the complete saga of ADAM AND THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN)


God was lost in meditation
His own name was the mantra
There could be no distraction 

But then God had another idea
If he chose he could become aware of his own breathing
He took a deep breath - everything came alight
He let the breath go - everything became dark
In their own way the light and the dark were equally good 

He took another breath, his second
This time the idea was like a bubble, completely round
Probably it was microscopic, though it seemed enormous
Either way there was nothing one could add
It fitted him completely
God felt excited - this was good 

For a moment he thought his third breath had been a mistake
The bubble had burst, the whole thing was getting out of hand
It was like a greenhouse,
It was beginning to run riot
Then God saw that he'd had another idea
Everything had suddenly come into flower
Next moment there were seeds everywhere
Each one complete, each one a little bubble
God saw the joke
He laughed, a good belly-laugh
The joke had been at his expense 

The next breath was painful
There was still the bubble
But it was beginning to come in two
He must have had the idea that it should be red
Because the pain - it was enough to break one's heart
But when he breathed out, that was the first sigh of content
He felt at home
What had appeared a bad idea was turning out for the best 

God took a fifth breath
It occurred to him maybe he was a monkey
This idea stuck in his gullet
He realized he could as easily choose to be a bird
Or a fish
But no, it was this monkey idea that insisted on taking shape
Now when he breathed, the air whistled down inside him
Where it became water fire stone and blood
It was the source of intense excitement
The possibility of getting on in the world
But also of slipping back into a bubble
Or of escaping into chaos
God had no option but to take another breath 

The sixth breath - the light hit him between the eyes
It almost blinded him
It was as if he had held up a mirror to his own light
As if his whole experience had assumed a single form
There was the light and the shadow
There was the bubble
And the garden getting out of hand
And the heart come in two
And everything in the balance of one breath
All this in a single figure
As if his I am mantra had been translated into form
Soahum, he heard himself say
And with that the image of the man -
Or was it a woman? -
Began to come apart in the light
I am that - God repeated the mantra
The figure had almost disappeared
It had been perfect, the image of himself
It had after all been an excellent idea
- that I am, he concluded 

Somehow his own name had acquired a new meaning. 

God took one last breath
It was complete
Once again he was lost in meditation
Now there would be no further distraction.


Adam woke
He'd had a terrible dream
That God didn't love him any more
That God had simply torn him in two -
And left him feeling inadequate

He tried to piece himself together
But always the important bit seemed to be missing
It made him want to howl with frustration -
Until he found what maybe he was looking for
Without much shape to it -
But difficult to see a way it would fit 

He tried it every conceivable way
Then he had a brilliant idea
He stuck the bit in his mouth
"Mumma" he said with his mouth full

For a time he felt full up
Then he realized he'd made a bad mistake
He yanked himself free
He was back where he'd started 

He began to examine the bit minutely
It struck him maybe it was perfectly beautiful
Just looking at it was like heaven
He wanted to lose himself in it
But there was a problem - it was untouchable 

Adam was beside himself with frustration
Until suddenly he lit on this wicked idea
Just the glimmer
Like after dark - a forbidden quarter
He felt fired by the idea
Here was something that might really take off


There was more to the bit than he could ever have imagined
Or so it seemed for a time
Until he thought he heard someone coming
He lost his nerve
What if he was found out?
Quickly he dug a hole
Shoved the bit underground and stamped the earth back in place 

He felt good
He felt full of himself
He even felt prepared to forgive God 

But then night came round
And he discovered which bit he hadn't managed to bury
It was the wicked idea 

He had trouble getting to sleep
The garden was full of whispering
And then he was dreaming
He was having his old nightmare about snakes
He woke back where he'd started
Frightened of the dark
Unable to get himself together 

Adam was out of bed
Was hunting around on all fours in the dark
That bit, he couldn't be without it 

There, he had found it
But could he be sure?
It seemed changed
In the dark it felt smooth and round
There was no way this was ever going to fit
Suddenly he had an inspiration
He had missed the point entirely
He opened his mouth and swallowed the bit whole 

Next thing he realized the moon had risen
The garden was glowing a kind of moony blue
The grass blue and the clover like glow-worms
The night air was a blue syrup of stocks and syringa
Around the tobacco flowers in the tubs
There were hundreds of loony moths
Glimmering like lamps on the blink
Shot on the moonlight
Their wings humming - mmmnmuummmm 

Suddenly there was a hole in the sound
Dark, like the night-print of a foot on the lawn
Then another and another
Approaching along the grass path beside the bamboos 

Adam was astounded
God was God, but who on earth could this be
He held his breath
He could hear the wrong side of his eardrums
Soft as a finger placed on his lips
The beat of his heart
The soft soundless approach of the footprints. 

The girl - so how does one describe her?
She was unexpected
She was carrying a bouquet of blue Christmas roses
She was in her element
She walked slowly, a procession of one
In the silver grass the trail of her hem was dark
She was wearing a blue wedding-dress 

And while Adam watched, too amazed to be shy
And while the night air tingled like cold fire
She came and stood in front of him
She didn't look up right away 

Adam had begun to worry
He felt sure God was somewhere at the back of all this
He felt probably there was some catch
He felt worried about his role
He felt he was bound to get everything wrong
He felt for instance he might be falling in love
Or that he was about to come up with some wicked idea
He knew something was going to have to happen 

And when she did look up
And when Adam saw the blue of her eyes
He felt he had seen through everything
She was like a mirror mirrored in its own reflection
Mirroring itself back and back into its own blue depths
He knew she had taken his breath away
He knew even before she smiled
That she fitted exactly
That here was the mystery that set the seal on the mystery
And when she smiled it was like being given his breath back
And when a moment later their lips touched
The darkness seemed to heal over the two of them
The darkness inside became the darkness outside
He had been turned inside out again
He closed his eyes

It was the estuary, a summer night
The still moment, the night-change of the tide
And then the oak trees on the bank shift in sleep
Like steady breathing
The black starry water is moving back
It is changing everything
The pain of being alone
The indrawn breath of the sigh -
To -
The outbreath
The dark water suddenly free
The tide flooding back into the lungs of the open ocean
All one
All one... 

Adam had drifted off

The sleep seemed to last for aeons
And the dreams, they were all in the future

He began to feel he was prying on other people's dreams
For instance what was this flood?
And how come he was the sole survivor?
For instance why should he be wrestling with this Angel?
And at the same time be aware of his mistake -
That the angel had been trying merely to embrace him
And then he dreamed he was getting over-excited
And that he might be being tempted to pry on God's dream
And that that could be the most dreadful mistake
But there was nothing he could do to prevent it
Because look, it had already happened
The dimlit stable and the girl in the blue frock
And the mysterious child laughing
And its terrible wound that would never stop bleeding
And this musty earthen smell
Like the smell of gentians
Or of being trapped underground


The dream was coming to an end
The earth was opening
And the light splintering through
Bang between his eyes 

Adam wasn't sure whether he was still dreaming
He had a curious heady feeling
He was tempted to believe he was God
He knew then it was imperative that he wake up immediately
Before some darkness happened
Like it was at the outset
He knew he must come down to earth 

He woke
Everything was wide awake
He thought he must have just screamed
He remembered nothing
But felt he must have had that same wicked dream
He felt the same pain
He felt certain that this time God really had ripped him apart
So he screamed again
And opened his eyes 

Eve was looking at him
She was sitting up beside him in the bed
And was looking at him and laughing
And then she looked at him
For one almighty moment
They knew everything
It was as if they had known each other in a previous life
There must have been some evening in the garden
The cool of the day
And the sound of the fountain
Or as if they had slept together
And everything had been perfect
They laughed because there was nothing to be said

Their only thought was that they shared this one thought
If they were to utter it they would use the same breath
But then it was as if something had distracted them
A word whispered somewhere in the laurels
Or someone moving in the dry brushwood
The other side of the stream
They looked away           

When they looked back each saw the shadow in the other's eyes
They sensed it was their own fear
They felt they had come apart
They felt they had never taken a good look at each other
In many ways they were completely different
They no longer knew what to think
And down in the clearing there was someone in a foul mood
Yelling, calling them by their separate names
They agreed that at all costs the two of them had to stick together
Adam said they must cover themselves
Wasn't this the moment they always ran and tried to hide?
But Eve said No
This time we're going to see the thing through.

Like this series of poems, John's paintings progressed at times in stages. Here is a sample of development of an alchemical painting from sketch to full blown picture:

JOHN MOAT - The (re)GENESIS POEMS - Bible - Book of Genesis

For buying some of John Moat's books:

For viewing and buying John's paintings:

A special blog about John Moat:

John Moat at Poetry archives:

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