Spagyrica Nova

Robert Kelly


There exists: one flower for each person.

Does that mean each individual or:

person/persona/persun = mask,

= one of the Available Identities on Earth.

There exist 1,728 Masks of Humankind

(for Christ’s sake didn’t anybody tell you that?)

which one did you put on with your first breath?

and a complete life will allow each individual to make contact with all 1,727 types other than her or his own

(we are not merely stupid but sophibolic, casting any wisdom away that we might hear or encounter)

there is nothing here, just the voice inside the flower

Everybody has known everything always.

That is the point, also the problem. Every culture forgets. What we call technological innovation is in fact the strategy of forgetting,

and over Kuala Lumpur and San Jose and Geneva and Shanghai rises vast the great blue rose of Oblivion

Proposal: locate the Simple for each of the AIEs. This is the one task that Green Hermeticism could perform which would relate deeply to the fundamental identity issues of the planet.

For want of a clear image of one’s own identity (one’s heraldic bearing, one’s true name, one’s Lost Word, one’s true flower) people succumb to the fiercest and cruelest –and dumbest—identitarian politics, linking with easy obvious moieties: colors, creeds, ethnicities: none of which will you do the least bit of good.

I am not a white man, a heterosexual, a Buddhist, an Anglo-Norman-Irisher, an American, a poet, a Sagittarian. I am me, and the sooner I figure out how to be that, do that, the better for all of us—

and find out too: what flower is mine, what flower leads me into the intricate streets of my own rhythm, my own needs, my own satisfactions.

This is the real Flower Power. Not sifting petals on policemen, but finding the power to encounter yourself. Jihad: finding the self and overcoming. The struggle to know yourself. Oh that old thing. That old friend. My best enemy.

Now find the flower.


Meet the standards of exacting null.
The primrose you spied last Gemini
will cast a little yellow light along your road
–enough to falter, tell earth from air
and both from water suffices. Fire
speaks for itself. I flower. Or 1 flower
depending on how you read.
So much of me depends on you.

That is the Art Spagyric. Not some automatic
Squibb effect loosed from passive blossom but
a danced quadrille amongst you two,
two is plenty of population. Since each
brings a myriad of incarnations to the dance,
infinity of instances and here you are.
Not what the flower does but how you coax it
to coax you, ogle it till it stares back at you
suddenly with your mother’s eyes
and licks your wound. Her ears explain you,
demanding, assuring, finally whispering
the natural vows. To be. Do this.
A flower is a vow you find in the field—
you pluck each other and you heal.

Image in the calyx of the chosen one
the Buddha, seated. The one you find
at the brink of your mind, where your mind
ends in something else beginning.
Picture Buddha in the flower, bow slightly,
shyly but sincerely, the way the flower
dips in wind, we have lost almost all
of our grand ritual gestures, but you can do
this much, dip your head and say
You who are better than I or any me,
you who can be found in or through me,
you who are as easy as a flower as a cloud
rearise from your flower and settle in my heart
bringing the good news of pollen and alkaloid
so I can breathe all this information in and be it.

Grandeur has something ridiculous around the edges
by which we are privileged to come close to it.
Examples follow: [despots from Georgia, Austria,
China, Cambodia, Cuba]. Stifling frightened laughter
we condescend to royalty. But never to a flower.
A flower is a pagan thing, a tragedy in suspense,
a flower makes you smile but never laugh.
It grieves forever. Only you can heal its withering.


A song could be as short as wait for me.
Daisies once upon a time for instance.
This cheesy oracle never fails. Flowers
always tell. Somebody always love me
somewhere or else I fade away before
I know it tells me we both are wrong.


What do I know (kennen)
in the way of flowers?
Not just know by name but
have some on my way.

= = = =


is what we need,
the empery of the rose
say, or lily heresy

atop the iridescent glimmer
of petrosolvents, car stalls
sticky from their ooze, the lovely
summery wooden slat floors of garages,
really, doctor, you should smell mes fleurs.

Now Amaryllis A is wilting a bit
in its second flowering, the first
quartet of crimson lasted
many a day,
and B along the sill is listening,
Bach might help. or Marc-Antoine Charpentier, intermède from Le Mariage forcé
that piece of his where girls
bark like dogs and men meow
and both do donkey braying,

this will confuse the flowers
in their strange indoor seasons
and the scarlet blossoms of bewilderment
shrug their epaulets in morning light.

And in all this beauty find no cure.

No effect. Since spagyrica is tragic too,
that we pass at twilight
and cry out their names
who cry to us from hedgerows, from roadside culverts,
from Ruth Oja’s garden below the rock wall
sedums and such,

or even summer soon the irises, irides,
call and nothing answers,
their story ended, long ago as Oedipus,
blind flower, and the wind leads him by hand.

What name are you calling
yourself these days?

Swamp water ever
orchid shadowed horror—

we share this planet with other forms
of life, we share this mind with life.

We share this mind with living.
When sensing-spiralling is all you want
(lack or desire),
cactus blossom every year.
Wallpaper cabbage roses
serve you – polygala
rarest of springtime flowers.
Most common vinca. Vetch.

Towards the geometry:

To solve the immense mystery of what a crystal is,

a crystal is the dream of numbers when they sleep,

or their sleep is our waking,

or a crystal is (to speak in the language assigned to flowers) the sugar of time. Sac. Temp. it will say on the old apothecaries’ jar.


In every fire

Bruno is waiting—

it was his door

to another room

where he’s still at work

Those who die in fireBruno, Jehane, Empedocles

or in waterKings of Atlantis and the rowdy poets, Shelley, Heym

or in earthMoses, Osiris, Oedipus

or airEnoch, Edward Kelly,

or in the ÆtherGuru Rinpoche, The 12th Imam, Jetsun Milarepa


all are still at work in each his element

to make the green Spagyric work


our planet and its flower-foot


and far beyond it lost in time to come the Blue Religion.



At a certain moment
at that one
everything green turns blue

then it is to be culled
with the thumbnail tip
of an expert virgin

or does it say experienced?
It is the color we’re after,
rub it on pure white linen

her shawl or apron
then discard the leaf or stem.
Only the color matters.



Take the color and refine –
this fire takes no fire
and no heat you can feel.

Keep bringing the color to itself
using the purest water
from dew-cherishing flowers or

that stream below your meadow
or from her lips for that matter
we are seeking is omniform,

lucid, lucent, liberal
and water has a color of its own.
Beat color gently with the wing of time and see.



Question the alternatives readily,
speech. There are better ways to flow.

Spell the flower into the dark
then read its ardent letters glowing
straight overhead, where the stars
conjugate universal affections
into purest balsamique flux.

You have found something better than Language—
You have found the stone.

= = = = =

Leave tracks behind
when you leave the human world
so we can follow you.


There is a flower
whose name we may not say

it grows nearby,
six or seven inches over your head,
you can reach it easily
but grasping it is hard
and no one can uproot it
no matter how hard you try.

Jaguars, flowers
that look like.
Tiger lilies. Trout
lilies. I am God
in this small
world the word.

Only Paracelsus was so bold before me,
licking the pollen from the air in May,

and later the aromaless hibiscus mauves
evening light that we call Rose
of Sharon as if another God
(a better one, son
of bitter sea, son of man)
had touched it.

A little yellow etcetera flower
high on the embankment by the Metambesen
like a child’s stuffed airplane
he clutches to his frightened chest,

Are you me?
Do you know the things I’ve seen,
the fireworks over Montriond
or Yamuna shallows shimmering in heat?

How dare you say the flower that I name
Crisscrossa dubitosa, ‘my-life-for-yours’
is not a real one, how dare I name
something that actually exists?

Words are for the other stuff,
the drug you eat in dream
that cures you when you wake,
the strange fermented cabbage on your plate,
Li T’ai Po left it when he sprang
out the door to fetch a pipe of wine
and never came back,

how dare I name a name
that is not only a name,
his Persian accent, his brocade Tibetan rags,
chang and foolishness and beauty absolute—
there is no absolute but a naked man.

= = = = =

The blind man
kisses the rain
and knows its name,
such wetness
a flower’s fragrance
keeps it
from the common air

= = = = =

I say it now to be political and clear—
what happens is the only flower.


But the flower of sound
is not music, not just music

it is the proposition grammar sings
or this said thing sung,

through sound alone
the meaning knows.

A thing is what happens to matter
and in matter

only when a word is spoken ,

a word that will later come to be thought of as its name

(the word comes first, and from the shimmer of its meaning’d sound, matter is summoned from nowhere, and shaken down into form)


from the Invisible Pharmacopoeia:

And then at dawn to drag
pure white woolen blanket
no sleeper ever sweated in

drag it through the dew
till it’s soaked through
then run through field and wood with it

outspread like a little sail
to pick the dust and yeast and pollen all
then bring home quick and squeeze out the wool
till every drop collects in a glass basin.

Let the water quiver, settle, calm
in the sun a little while – this
is the mother tincture. Well before noon
take a silver spoon’s spoonful of it out
into a clean bottle. And nine spoons more
of pure well water from your own land.
It’s lucky if thunder happens.
Cork the bottle and tap it firmly ten times,
not nine not eleven, on the binding
of an old leather book –not a bible—
then take a spoonful from it
into another clean flask, nine more spoons
of pure water from your well, then agitate.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
This fine dilution of a May morning
is all you need. Maia matuninalis 6x
is ready for you now. Take
three drops of it beneath the tongue.
You have used the day itself to cure the day.

Now dance around
the May Pole all
thou likest,
no bone
will bother thee,
no sinew strain,
no allergy allege
its specious info
versus thee.


At last when I had begun to doubt if not despair,
on May sixteenth the Rose of Sharon put forth little leaves.


It is Time that heals us
but we must take time,
take it, borrow it from space
as I have shown,
dilute it and succuss it,
beating time, beating the time
to make this hour Ours.

To take time in.

We don’t lecture here about flowers,
we listen.

Then we speak songs that help flowers grow,
I don’t know

how it works but work it does,
and helps us human sisters human brothers know

what it means for us to have a flower
that there are flowers in the world

these living crystals whose axes run through time not space.



Now, all too late, few axioms:

A flower is
what it makes you think

that is the real alchemic work, the Opus floris

A rose doesn’t look
systematic at first glance

or a hydrangea or a stand of hollyhocks---

you have to study it
to read the design.

So that is how it is with poems: a floret, a book of poems, a flower. Not a bouquet, not an ‘arrangement.’ A book is self a flower.



It is the poet’s business to make assertions.

--These assertions may arise from thought, experience, or from operations of whatever kind with language.

It is the reader’s business to test these assertions.

-- Note that the poet is a reader of the poem too, the First Reader (which might be a better, humbler, title than poet), so is also bound to examine and test the assertions the poem embodies.

Where is the test performed? In the laboratory of the heart.

And where is that facility? In sleep and waking, in every day and nowhere, in lust and loathing, in the sea and in between anything and anything else.

What instrument is used in testing? The heart’s own tool, the breath.

-- A poem begins to be tested by and in the breath of the one whoreads it.
-- A poem is what happens to the breath.

The poem is not complete until its assertions have been tested and come to rest in the Experienced Calm Surface we call the mind, and thus become part of what they had briefly disturbed.

It is the reader who completes the arc of information. The reader (say the Second Reader) completes the work of the First Reader. Together they comprise the poet.

The poem is not written until it is finally read.


From texts of 2006-2007 composed towards, and presented at, the Conference on Green Hermeticism that took place at the Suluk Academy, New Lebanon NY, 18-20 May 2007. This text was read in part, around a dozen or so poems of mine from Lapis, Threads, May Day and Sainte Terre, on Friday evening, 18 May 2007.

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26 February 2009

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