The Sin of John Milton
by Jenne Kaivo
Written inside Seattle’s downtown library
Epigraph: “Before the Gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seem'd Woman to the waste, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fould
Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd
Milton most oedipally made Sin a mother.
In library halls I recall all my reading.
These lingering halls recall me to Sin.
They pervade and they call me to silence
but drum-beat my hoof-beats in statacco echoes,
Call out my foot-beats with floors fearsome-hollow.
Sin with hounds all thronged ‘round her,
With hounds ducking in her and out her to feed on her giblets,
The hall’s painted red, curving softly-
It reminds me of things I would rather not think of.
If I stomped too harshly I’d puncture to organs.
I’ve stepped far inside
of a monster whose gaping wound called me;
I’ve hatched in the side of a monster
Like a maggot whose mother
out from her womb thrust me
To a hole in the side
of a dog in an alley.
Sin from her second-time incest made pregnant,
and dropping the dogs out both hay-foot and straw-foot,
Upbourne by the mass of them teeming.
The multitude packed around mother so strongly
there’s no room between them.
Packed like the speckles of dirt in a mountain,
And she at the snowed peak, her snake-tail all wriggling,
Stroking the heads of what children she can,
And I, feeling maggot, can wriggle as graceful as she.
The hall is now over and done with,
the worst part, all curving and red, I am passed through.
I stand in the brightness,
the glass-light like light in a nightmare.
Sin smiles sweetly in Stygian blackness.
Sin, the Madonna, gazing fondly at multitude,
Close on to infinite, hounds,
Giving much more than a mother-bird pukes
in the mouths gaping open beneath her.
I care not a whit for my organs.
Little worms may dwell in them and I will do nothing-
There may well be cities inside me.
The bookshelves, laid out very firmly,
As artsy as bookshelves can be, are not soothing.
The spiraling downwards of hallways
that drift from headquarters to floor
Is not easy.
I tell you I find it unnerving.
There’s this green neon paint job like I’ve never seen,
It’s like watching a saint with a halo,
Do you think that the halo would calm even you
With the faith of Saint Urho?
It glows like a thing I could not even dream.
Sin, as the mother of myriad mutts,
Humming them hymns, very likely,
Hymns that can barely be heard
under yipping and yowling of dogs of all sizes,
Dogs she can’t possibly train,
I tell you that Sin should be sainted.
At the highest I’ve been, the library’s peak
A balcony stands and I stood there.
The ceilings were padded and speckled with fountains.
The floor far beneath was painted with pond-pads.
The floor far beneath was scuffed by black sneakers
But was white and it glowed
like glass frosted at noontide.
Was like standing inside of a star that stayed distant-
It’s as near here as Virgo in there.
It’s as far as the ribs must appear
To the worms in my guts, which aren’t harming my organs.
How could Sin be not sweet feeding mongrels her organs?
Well, it’s scarcely surprising.
It’s clear as can be,
she was made so because of the only life Milton could bare
being maggots and leeches and fleas.
The elevator, even, that’s glowing and green,
Even that seems as open
As inside a pyramid would were it not full of labyrinth.
I assume Sin is hollow, her organs all eaten.
Therefore, she is lovely, like all the fine maidens
I’ve seen since my birth.
She is good as a martyr
and blonde as a Monroe,
Though her bottom half, formed like a naga, leaves plenty to want for.
I assume I am ugly,
Surely, at least, in this modernist hallway.
In this book-house fluorescent
all that lets eyes rest easy
Goes by in the length of a day,
in a day that the eggs of flies laid
In a womb stinking open could hatch
Into children that feed
on the gore of whomever
they’re fostered inside.
And I would, if asked nicely, let a parasite feed on my gizzard,
If paid nicely I’d eagerly carry the child
Of someone not known to me slightly.
I’d responsibly hold it inside me
And leave it as easy
As flies leave their shit at the end,
When they’re formed
and can buzz
to their Lord.
Sin with her serpentine body could scarcely be tempting.
Sin with her womb bared wide open,
And formed as the mouth of the viper,
Unreachably perched at the apex
of dogs in their pile,
Invisible there in the darkness of Hades.
This is not Sin as Succubus Milton made written,
However ideal be her savory torso and face.
Thusly Sin should be glass,
stained and outlined by pewter,
softly filling dark places with day.
She’s not near to this building that’s empty and glowing
Who sang to me outside
and will not release me.
But the library’s lovely
to those who see clearly,