Jun 27, 2007

Rosemallows versus Bees

The bees that, together,
in swarms, buzz and
plunge to boozw nectar

from the flowers that croon,
deaf-chorus, Alas, alas,
they steal our water,

and, deaf-chorused, cry
Alas, alas, you rob
us to the bees, yellow-

cargoed round balls
whose gossamer
wings are more still, less

flurry when
their beaks swill and swill
still. They do not heed

the rosemallows' plea,
whose necks are bending in
the wind but not by it.

The bees, full
of nectar, rub the horizon's
lip as they fly away from

the flowers: rosemallows
bending in the wind
but not by it. Then they pass

a hand, and not
a window. Two circle
the hand and stitch

it; how they wobble
in silk-scarf loops
to the ground, full

of rosemallow nectar.

Jun 25, 2007

Any Better?

They Shout

—all day, the men that fail to bring coyotes
out of storm. In the beginning, they poise
in narrow rows like garden flowers, heavy
with hesitance of failure of what happens;

then the thunder and the lightning, and
they spread. Do they find the lightning,
wrapped in yellow, intimidating? Waves
rise, up
to bees, to birdsas though

they are wet, blue answers of Babylon’s
tower, and not just waves; the harbour
rocks in the wind; and men sprawl beneath
tufts and bushes like antelopes for shelter,

a few dead, fallen. They hold and get held
by each other. I attempt to help but no
help is given. If today the light means
the end in its wash-grey— then I will die

here, as the rest, look up, and the light
will turn, the sky become sacredom. . .
What would the flesh taste, if flesh is all
I could taste? I mark the gull that passes

over—in fright—in feathers of course,
imagine, as with a leaf that seems to stop
half-flight, mid-flight, through the light,
the burned feathers of a gull, its roasted
flesh. I lie, in tufts. The sky turns blue to

Jun 24, 2007

They Shout

—all day, the men that fail to bring coyotes
out of storm. In the beginning, they poise
in narrow rows like garden flowers, heavy
with hesitance of failure of what happens;

then the thunder and the lightning, and
they spread. Do they find the lightning,
wrapped in yellow, intimidating? Waves
rise,up—to bees and to birds—like wet,

blue answers of Babylon’s tower and not
just waves; the harbour rocks in the wind;
and men sprawls beneath tufts and bushes
like antelopes for shelter, some dead,

some fallen, how they hold and get held
by each other. I attempt to help but no
help is given. If the light, in its wash-grey,
means Armageddon— I will die here, as

the rest; look up and know and, in knowing,
the light will turn, the sky become sacredom. . .
What would the flesh taste, if flesh is all
I could taste? I mark the gull that passes

over—in fright—in feathers of course,
imagine, as with a leaf that seems to stop
half-flight, mid-flight, through the light,
the burned feathers of a gull, its roasted
flesh. I lie, in tufts. The sky turns blue to

Jun 21, 2007

Explorations of an Idea

An antelope in
the heart.

Like a squall whose voice rives
the sky that bound it, this
mouth from whom syllables are
stressed and consonants expressed.

Jun 17, 2007

Great Poems by Great Poets

For Grant Wood
by Margaret Mackinnon (Poetry)

A shy man seeks perfection in his art:
Across vast acres, color and shape of tidiness,
Iowa's unruly grass submits, blade by blade.
The blue of Mother's dishes tints the sky. Across vast acres, color and shape of tidiness,
sloping rows and rectangles piece a new land.
The blue of Mother's dishes tints the sky.
Like a black quilt tied with loops of green,

sloping rows and rectangles piece the new land.
The reassuring fields of corn unfold
like black quilts tied with loops of green.
Under the artist's alchemy,

the reassuring fields of corn unfold.
Sweet clouds hover like the hands of God.
Under the artist's alchemy,
even winter's leaden skies grow bright.

Sweet clouds hover like the hands of God
as the Thirties' skylines and bread lines disappear.
Even winter's leaden skies grow bright.
A yellow hill rises, like the belly of a woman ripe with child,

as the skylines and bread lines disappear.
Iowa's unruly grass submits, blade by blade,
a yellow hill rises—
and the shy man finds perfection in his art.

Becune Point
by Derek Walcott (Poetry)

Stunned heat of noon. In shade, tan, silken cows
hide in the thorned acacias. A butterfly staggers.

Stamping their hooves from thirst, small horses drowse
or whinny for water. On parched, ochre headlands, daggers

of agave bristle in primordial defense,
like a cornered monster backed up against the sea.

A mongoose charges dry grass and fades through a fence
faster than an afterthought. Dust rises easily.

Haze of the Harmattan, Sahara dust, memory's haze
from the dried well of Africa, the headland's desert

or riders in swirling burnooses, mixed with the greys
of hills veiled in Impressionist light. We inherit

two worlds of associations, or references, drought
that we heighten into Delacroix's North Africa,

veils, daggers, lances, herds the Harmattan brought
with a phantom inheritance, which the desperate seeker

of a well-spring staggers in the heat in search of—
heroic ancestors; the other that the dry season brings

is the gust of a European calendar, but it is the one love
that thirsts for confirmations in the circling rings

of the ground dove's cooing on stones, in the acacia's
thorns and the agave's daggers, that they are all ours,

the white horsemen of the Sahara, India's and Asia's
plumed mongoose and crested palmtree, Benin and Pontoise.

We are history's afterthought, as the mongoose races
ahead of its time; in drought we discover our shadows,

our origins that range from the most disparate places,
from the dugouts of Guinea to the Nile's canted dhows.


The incredible blue with its bird-inviting cloud,
in which there are crumbling towers, banners and domes,

and the sliding Carthage of sunsets, the marble shroud
drawn over associations that are Greece's and Rome's

and rarely of Africa. They continue at sixty-seven
to echo in the corridors of the head, perspectives

of a corridor in the Vatican that led, not to heaven,
but to more paintings of heaven, ideas in lifted sieves

drained by satiety because great art can exhaust us,
and even the steadiest faith can be clogged by excess,

the self-assured Christs, the Madonnas' inflexible postures
without the mess of motherhood. With this blue I bless

emptiness where these hills are barren of tributes
and the repetitions of power, our sky's naive

ceiling without domes and spires, an earth whose roots
like the thorned acacia's deepen my belief.

Sparrow Trapped in the Airport
by Averill Curdy (Poetry)

Never the bark and abalone mask
cracked by storms of a mastering god,
never the gods’ favored glamour, never
the pelagic messenger bearing orchards
in its beak, never allegory, not wisdom
or valor or cunning, much less hunger
demanding vigilance, industry, invention,
or the instinct to claim some small rise
above the plain and from there to assert
the song of another day ending;
lentil brown, uncounted, overlooked
in the clamorous public of the flock
so unlikely to be noticed here by arrivals,
faces shining with oils of their many miles,
where it hops and scratches below
the baggage carousel and lights too high,
too bright for any real illumination,
looking more like a fumbled punch line
than a stowaway whose revelation
recalls how lightly we once traveled.

Gym Dance with the Doors Wide Open
J. Allyn Rosser (Poetry)

When the fog slunk in with that salivary,
close, coyote panting, its hue a very
huelessness, like breath huffed on a glass,
like the void stretched and still stretching past
where we’d thought it could, we felt less wary.
We felt our shoulders loosen, surrendering
to phantom hands and softly vanished feet.
The sensation was a first and last: sweet
to feel the vigilance at last suspending,
the chronic stress of constantly pretending
to know—have known!—what all the others knew.
Loopy, sly, we leered at one another
(what we just assumed was one another)
and did the things we weren’t supposed to do,
grinning as if seated in the back pew
of a church that worshipped fuss and bother,
a dour church where facial expression
of any kind had been prohibited,
and where the chinking, hefty plate we shifted
hand to hand held such a vast collection
of their coin, we pocketed a fraction
for when the fog would lift, if it lifted.
But stealing from them puts you in their power.
Since then we have been paying for that hour.

by Amanda Jernigan

My little lack-of-light, my swaddled soul,
December baby. Hush, for it is dark,
and will grow darker still. We must embark
directly. Bring an orange as the toll
for Charon: he will be our gondolier.
Upon the shore, the season pans for light,
and solstice fish, their eyes gone milky white,
come bearing riches for the dying year:
solstitial kingdom. It is yours, the mime
of branches and the drift of snow. With shaking
hands, Persephone, the winter’s wife,
will tender you a gift. Born in a time
of darkness, you will learn the trick of making.
You shall make your consolation all your life.

Vanquished, Tr. by Rita Dove and Fred Viebahn
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Poetry)

For Nelly Sachs

It wasn't the earth that swallowed them. Was it the air?
Numerous as the sand, they did not become
sand, but came to naught instead. They've been forgotten
in droves. Often, and hand in hand,

like minutes. More than us,
but without memorials. Not registered,
not cipherable from dust, but vanished—
their names, spoons, and footsoles.

They don't make us sorry. Nobody
can remember them: Were they born,
did they flee, have they died? They were
not missed. The world is airtight
yet held together
by what it does not house,
by the vanished. They are everywhere.

Without the absent ones, there would be nothing.
Without the fugitives, nothing is firm.
Without the forgotten, nothing for certain.

The vanished are just.
That's how we'll fade, too.

by James Kimbrell (Poetry)

It's not that I harbor a weeping willow
Shadow's worth of longing for those cloaked
Turns and straight-aways, or that swampy
South Mississippi was ever half as tragic
As I dreamed it could be, but that I still cruise
From time to time in the dope-ripe
Ford Fairlane of the mind where nothing
Has changed, where we remain hopelessly
Stoned devotees of the TOWN OF LEAKESVILLE
Emblazoned upon the graffitied water tower's
Testimonies to love. We believed speed
Would save us, would take us fast
And far away from the junkyard wrecks
Stacked in their mile-long convoy to nowhere.
And though losing the way should
Have seemed the worst of divine betrayals,
We took it as a minor fall from grace,
Tail-spun over the embankment rail, rocking
That flung steel body down as if to play
A bar-chord on the barbed-wire fence.
I'll never know what angelic overseer
Was bored and on duty that night, but we
Rose up and climbed out of the warped last
Breath of that car, no one with so much
As a scratch on his head, not a drop
Of beer spilt, and the radiator hissing
Like a teapot in hell when someone yelled
She's gonna blow! and each of us standing
There, starving for something more,
Something other than the back wheel
Spinning that sudden dark, cricketed quiet.

To Judgement: An Assay
by Jane Hirshfield (Poetry)

You change a life
as eating an artichoke changes the taste
of whatever is eaten after.
Yet you are not an artichoke, not a piano or cat—
not objectively present at all—
and what of you a cat possesses is essential but narrow:
to know if the distance between two things can be leapt.
The piano, that good servant,
has none of you in her at all, she lends herself
to what asks; this has been my ambition as well.
Yet a person who has you is like an iron spigot
whose water comes from far-off mountain springs.
Inexhaustible, your confident pronouncements flow,
coldly delicious.
For if judgment hurts the teeth, it doesn't mind,
not judgment. Teeth pass. Pain passes.
Judgment decrees what remains—
the serene judgments of evolution or the judgment
of a boy-king entering Persia: "Burn it," he says,
and it burns. And if a small tear swells the corner
of one eye, it is only the smoke, it is no more to him than a beetle
fleeing the flames of the village with her six-legged children.
The biologist Haldane—in one of his tenderer moments—
judged beetles especially loved by God,
"because He had made so many." For judgment can be tender:
I have seen you carry a fate to its end as softly as a retriever
carries the quail. Yet however much
I admire you at such moments, I cannot love you:
you are too much in me, weighing without pity yourown worth.
When I have erased you from me entirely,
disrobed of your measuring adjectives,
stripped from my shoulders and hips each of your nouns,
when the world is horsefly, coal barge, and dawn the color of winter butter—
not beautiful, not cold, only the color of butter—
then perhaps I will love you. Helpless to not.
As a newborn wolf is helpless: no choice but hunt the wolf milk,
find it sweet.

Song of the Sea to the Shore
by Robert Fanning (Poetry)

Unraveling velvet, wave after wave, driven
by wind, unwinding by storm, by gravity thrown—
however, heaving to reach you, to find you, I've striven
undulant, erosive, blown—

or lying flat as glass for your falling clear
down: I can't swallow you. So why
have I felt I've reached you—as two reflected stars,
surfaced, lie near—as if the sky's

close element is one in me, where starfish
cleave to stones—if you're so far?
I've touched you, I know, but my rush
subsides; our meetings only leave desire's

fleeting trace. Every place I touch you
changes shape. Shore, lie down—
undo. I'll fill your thirsty bones with blue.
I'll flood your every cave and we'll be one.

by Alissa Leigh (Poetry)

In the beginning, a word, move;
then a plan and then the reasons,
which I do not remember exactly.
I remember clearly only the clothes
we were given for the journey
and the last, silent meal we ate.
We left the place as lightly as we
had come, so many years before.

From a sunlit state of innocence
where white sheets were hung
to dry like clouds over paradise;
from eucalyptus-scented earth,
a red house with a yard swung
between dreaming hills, pillaged
by raccoons, framed with lilies
like trumpets of the archangels,

we moved: into history, a river
slowed by many bends, a village
of peacocks with a hundred eyes;
a low house among fields, with
an iron stove, a winter shrine;
a fireplace blackened by time,
the fragile bones of a sparrow
frozen in the shape of its flight.

When father played his trombone
in the attic, schoolchildren tittered
in the street. In the late afternoon,
the cows assembled at the gate,
witless, waiting for a farmer's son.
Home, the children conjugated
verbs, found variables and drew
diagrams of the human heart.

Evenings, the round kitchen table,
lit by a low Dutch lamp, summoned
poets, players, horsethieves, to glasses
of jenever. An incense of gossip rose
slowly, blackening the walls. Outside,
horses pawed the darkness, breathing
delicate feathers of ice. We courted
the favors of spiders, mice and moles.

Our words grew small and porous as
fossiled bones, our gestures groaned
with the cold. The will-less world of
water, wood and stone taught us when
to yield. When it came time to move
along again, we were four strangers
waving at each other, in slow motion,
across a deafening expanse of ocean.

by Robert Pinsky (Poetry)

I acknowledge my status as a stranger:
Pindar, poet of the victories, fitted names
And legends into verses for the chorus to sing:
Names recalled now only in the poems of Pindar:

O nearly unpronounceable immortals,
In the dash, Oionos was champion:
Oionos, Likmynios's son, who came from Midea.
In wrestling, Echemos won—the name
Of his home city, Tegea, proclaimed to the crowds.
Doryklos of Tiryns won the prize in boxing,
And the record for a four-horse team was set
By Samos from Mantinea, Halirothios's son.

And Pindar, poet of the Olympian and Isthmian
And Pythian games, wrote also of the boundless
And forgetful savannas of time. What is someone?
The chorus sing in a victory ode—What is a nobody?

Creatures of a day, they chant in answer, Creatures
Of a day
. So where is the godgiven glory Pindar says
Settles on mortals?—Bright as gold among the substances,
Say the chorus, paramount as water among the elements.

Not in the victory itself, petty or great,
Of rich young Greeks contending in games.
Not in the poetry itself, with its forgotten dances
And Pindar spinning among tiresome or stirring
Myths and genealogies, the chanted names
Of cities and invoked gods and dignitaries—

Striving, O nearly unpronounceable athletes,
To animate the air with dancing feet raising
A golden pollen of dust: a pervasive blur
Of seedlets in the sunlight, whirling—beyond mere
Victory or applause or performance,
As victory is beyond defeat.

The one who threw the javelin furthest
Sang the chorus, chanting Pindar's incantation
Against envy and oblivion, was Phrastor.
And when Nikeus grunting whirled the stone
Into the air and it flew past the marks
Of all the competitors, Nikeus's countrymen
Shouted his name after it, Nikeus,
Nikeus, and the syllables so say the lines Pindar
Composed for the sweating chorus to chant—radiated
For a spell like the silvery mirror of the moon.

Dio ed Io
by Charles Wright (Poetry)

There is a heaviness between us,
Nameless, raised from the void, that counts out the sprung hours.
What ash has it come to purify?
What disappearance, like water, does it lift up to the clouds?

God of my fathers, but not of mine,
You are a part, it is said, an afterthought, a scattered one.
There is a disappearance between us as heavy as dirt.
What figure of earth and clay would it have me become?

Sunday again, January thaw back big time.
The knock-kneed, overweight boys and girls
Sit on the sun-warmed concrete sidewalk outside the pharmacy
Smoking their dun-filtered cigarettes.

Nothing is bothering them—and their nicotine dreams—
This afternoon. Everything's weightless,
As insubstantial as smoke.
Nothing is disappearing in their world. Arrival is all.

There is a picture of Yves Klein leaping out of a window
Above a cobblestone Paris street.
A man on a bicycle peddles away toward the distance.
One of them's you, the other is me.

Cut out of the doctored photograph, however, the mesh net
Right under the swan-diving body.
Cut out of another print, the black-capped, ever-distancing cyclist, as well as the mesh net.
Hmm . . . And there you have it, two-fingered sleight-of-hand man.

One loses one's center in the air, trying to stay afloat,
Doesn't one? Snowfalling metaphors.
Unbidden tears, the off-size of small apples. Unshed.
And unshedable.

Such heaviness. The world has come and lies between us.
Such distance. Ungraspable.
Ash and its disappearance—
Unbearable absence of being,
Tonto, then taken back.

by Jennifer O'Grady (Poetry)

The long road south, the pavement flat
and black as a dash without end, no signs,

no houses, the heat like an unseen fog
and the sun a swollen crimson clot

above fields where frazzle-haired palm trees rose
sporadic and unwieldy, the miles

of pasture where cattle of every conceivable
color, rust and tobacco and ashen, fed

and nursed their stumbling young,
heavy heads bent to the ground.

And insects that crashed against windshield
so tiny, no body was left behind.

Then a wooden shack where we stopped to pee
and the shock of iron-red flecks against

bowl, the water placid, unmoved.
There was hardly any pain.

What could we do but continue on
as scattered street-lamps gradually revealed

a landscape inhabited once again: the still
shuttered windows of bungalows pink

as scrubbed flesh, the small dark yards of abandoned
Bigwheels and plots of petunias or cukes,

the closed, expectant mailboxes
and the living already dead inside me.

The Third Hour of the Night
by Frank Bidart (Poetry)

When the eye

When the edgeless screen receiving
light from the edgeless universe

When the eye first

When the edgeless screen facing
outward as if hypnotized by the edgeless universe

When the eye first saw that it

Hungry for more light
resistlessly began to fold back upon itself TWIST

As if a dog sniffing

Ignorant of origins
familiar with hunger

As if a dog sniffing a dead dog

Before nervous like itself but now
weird inert cold nerveless

Twisting in panic had abruptly sniffed itself

When the eye
first saw that it must die When the eye first

Brooding on our origins you
ask When and I say


wound-dresser let us call the creature

driven again and again to dress with fresh
bandages and a pail of disinfectant
suppurations that cannot
heal for the wound that confers existence is mortal


what wound is dressed the wound of being

Understand that it can drink till it is
sick, but cannot drink till it is satisfied.

It alone knows you. It does not wish you well.

Understand that when your mother, in her only
pregnancy, gave birth to twins

painfully stitched into the flesh, the bone of one child

was the impossible-to-remove cloak that confers
invisibility. The cloak that maimed it gave it power.

Painfully stitched into the flesh, the bone of the other child

was the impossible-to-remove cloak that confers
visibility. The cloak that maimed it gave it power.

Envying the other, of course each twin

tried to punish and become the other.
Understand that when the beast within you

succeeds again in paralyzing into unending

incompletion whatever you again had the temerity to
try to make

its triumph is made sweeter by confirmation of its

rectitude. It knows that it alone
knows you. It alone remembers your mother's

mother's grasping immigrant bewildered

stroke-filled slide-to-the-grave
you wiped from your adolescent American feet.

Your hick purer-than-thou overreaching veiling

mediocrity. Understand that you can delude others but
not what you more and more

now call the beast within you. Understand

the cloak that maimed each gave each power.
Understand that there is a beast within you

that can drink till it is

sick, but cannot drink till it is satisfied. Understand
that it will use the conventions of the visible world

to turn your tongue to stone. It alone

knows you. It does
not wish you well. These are instructions for the wrangler.

The Dead
by Don Paterson (Poetry)

Our business is with fruit and leaf and bloom;
though they speak with more than just the season's tongue—
the colours that they blaze from the dark loam
all have something of the jealous tang

of the dead about them. What do we know of their part
in this, those secret brothers of the harrow,
invigorators of the soil—oiling the dirt
so liberally with their essence, their black marrow?

But here's the question. Are the flower and fruit
held out to us in love, or merely thrust
up at us, their masters, like a fist?

Or are they the lords, asleep amongst the roots,
granting to us in their great largesse
this hybrid thing—part brute force, part mute kiss?

Country Love Song
by Melanie Almeder (Poetry)

I try to think of the cup of a hand,
of legs in a tangle, and not the thistle

though even it, purpled, spiking away,
wants to be admired, wants to say, whistle

a little for me. O every little thing wants
to be loved, wants to be marked by the cry

that brings desire to it, even blue-eyed fly
to the bloated hiss of death. To love is to be remiss:

the horse alone in the wide flat field nods
its head as if the bridle and bit were missed

or mocked; the cow slung with the unmilked weight
of her tremendous teats shoots a look back over her shoulder

at O lonesome me. I want to say to her need
as if crooning could be enough,

sweet, sweet mama . . . truth be told,
the thousand lisping bees to the milkweeds' honey

terrifies me. When the stink of slurry season
is over and the greened fields are slathered, fecund,

overtall foxgloves tip with the weight of their fruit.
Then I dream a little dream of you

and me, curled like two grubs on the top of a leaf
wind-driven and scudding along the lake's surface.

All night we glide to its blue harbor
and back again. The fattened slack of us

singing O darlin' darlin' darlin'.

lantern festival
by Victoria Chang (KR)

Some open like accordions, honoring the arrival of a newborn,
others hang still like moons,

red ones line up in a row on a metal thread over scents
of sticky rice balls smoking in soup,

round ones glow in the wind, sockets firing up
one after another.

No! I am wrong, the round ones lash in the wind:

they are human heads, gutted and plucked from bodies that were
snipping stalks of choy sum, or

excavating daikon, or stabbing fish in the river, or trimming
pork loins for evening porridge.

And they hang in a row for decoration, foreheads bumping
into each other,

glowing like a galaxy of holiday lights, honoring
the arrival of the new,

that always, always turns into the next target
the minute it is named.

by Susan Stewart (KR)

One boot planted, firm as a trunk, the other shoved down on the shovel,
  shoving with a human weight that barely dents the crust
over the outcrop of flinty veins that plumb through clay and chalk.
  Struck down bluntly over and over, the shovel bounces back,
ringing the facts. Even the dead must wait above ground
  for a hard winter to thaw. Nothing to do but wait, hoping for
the ground to give, hoping the corpse will not wander.
  Freezing up, the bulb cracks, aborting its bloom, and the smaller
half falls away—all things bearing their own teleology,
  all things turning out or not—the husk shrivels back across
the pod and the young mice lie stiff in their nest. Coming to be
  collapses, radiant as a berry trapped in ice.

Under the dazzle of the white light on the whiteness, only
  the forms remain, a solid geometry slumping at its edges;
you can't tell the difference between a rock and a hard place, or a sled
  and a wheelbarrow sunk into the compost. The tar caddies
steam on every block, buckets of hell-sludge go up single file, plugging
  the gaping roofs, or passed down to craters where traffic
ruts and wheels are wrenched away. A tomb is pried up, then resealed.
  Skull-duggery, boneyards, dustbins. The endless digging and patching
of the world. A new wound is cut, then healed.
  The dew evaporates from the softening snow; you can see your breath
and know you are breathing and that is enough to make you want to speak
  in the season of longest nights.

The frail root stirs, a shiver runs down the hinges of the night crawler,
  a slight quiver
ruffles across the hunched neck of the wren. One day a breeze arrives,
  and her winter
wings shake free with each short hop to the seed after next. It doesn't
  take a crowbar
when the door is open. The mud turns to muck, the blood begins to thin,
  the rusted joints
are oiled and move again. The ice breaks and jams the river, sounding
  like distant guns,
while the pitchfork goes in and out with ease. What will come back
  comes back and what
doesn't come back stays, too, somehow nascent or caught within the
slowly losing its name and form.

The broom sweeps up and wears away, sweeping itself into a stump.
  Pebble tags weed
and weed tags clod—fatigue of the soiled world, fatigue-dragging shoe,
dragging shoulder and fist, the effort toward consequence, clenched and
  released in
rhythm. Crops fail or flourish, toys of the weather, and the weather does
  not think of us in turn.
Spirit who needs a lookout, spirit not in our image, he drops to the horizon,
gathering speed. The absolute form of offering repeated, the absolute
  form of earthly
repetition, churning and churning along the furrow.

There by the side of the churning sea, the plowman's bent doubled in
the field, sees
a dark fleck—no, white wings—moving toward the sun, but does not see
  his fall, or even
dream a man could free himself from ground and somehow fly.

Work is wrenched from the thick, from the dense, from the places where
is clotted with stones. The rake gets tangled with sticks and vines,
the scythe chips off and leaves a ragged swath.
Mud muddies the spring and can only be settled by gravity. The sun
  takes aim at the nape
of the neck, the crown, or right between the eyes.
Spoiled saints listen for miracles while cooks sift pebbles from the grain.

What is primitive in memory stays buried in memory. Things made
  of earth
sink deeper into earth and begin to be earth again: a vase blown from
  sand and fire;
the clay lamp shaped by a hand long dead and water long ago drawn
back into its bed; a spoon thinned into a silver lattice soon to be flecks
  of silver again.
Deep in the mine, fire flames from the methane
or shines for no reason from the diamond's splinter.

Dust rolls cells and crumbs and lint and binds them loose with hair.
Amber hardens around the spider, the bones melt into the peat.
The soil lies opened to the gaze of the heavens like a memory exposed
  to light.
Vase, clay lamp, and silver spoon, working loose, come glinting as shards
  to the surface.

Went down to the shore where the beach was hard,
  went right to the edge of the inhabited world,
built a ditch and a castle, a minaret, a drawbridge,
  shaping heads and limbs from the sugary sand.
Then fast-flung, crashed, a single wave
  erasing, though every grain of sand remains.

This was the only world, the world where we awakened, where the sky
  gods hold
one handle of the plow and the gods of the dead hold the other.
The brown gods rose from the mud and the ponds, and crept along
  the paths
and had no names. And then the gods concealed in gypsum fought
  against the fathers,
rising up in fury, inconsolable. When the wars of heaven ended, sky
  held dominion,
dominion over all below.

Deep where the bloodless ghosts assemble, at the still base of the
  revolving world,
the girl sorted seeds in the lap of her apron, letting each one count as a
  month, letting
three count as a season, saying six will count as the darkness and six will
  count as the light.
She sang to herself, sang the whole day through, knotting rings and
  necklaces from
coarsest blades of grass. She sang a walking song and dreamed, her
  corduroy blanket
abandoned to fray and lint for the birds to weave.

Look for her, lie along the meadow; you can hear the hum
  of the stalks and leaves, the full buzz so unlike
a shell's hollow roar. Lie along the field and feel the mineral cold,
deep below the warmth of the loam. Lie in the dead leaves and do not
  make a sound
and love will cut furrows in the soil of grief.

This was the only world: great scar, worn away by reverence and harm.
Permanence out of which all things that perish rise; permanence in which
each enduring thing will perish. Not the earth surrendered or asunder.
Not the earth itself, but tenderness.

Jun 16, 2007

The Bird in Front of the Ox

Shaker of air, possesser of red
feathers, the bird whose wings the bird
catcher straps in front of the ox,
that hater of geranium.

Jun 14, 2007

And so it has come

that I have turned 16.

I got a moped license in birthday gift, which is quite the expensive thing. For friend's money I'll buy poetry books and books on poetry craft (as well as new football outfit and a pair of grass shoes).

Jun 12, 2007


I give up writing poetry. How can Osprey be perceived as better than Heavy-Legged Soldiers? In what ways does the images become better, the syntax better, more challenging? The second example, in every sense, seems a better read to me: rhythm-wise, syntax-wise, in thoughts of wordings. Even the story, although perhaps a bit muddied, is better.

Can someone help a helpless, stranded poet?

Here are the links to each poem:


(Heavy-Legged Soldiers)

Jun 7, 2007

Heavy-Legged Soldiers


All day, the men fails to bring coyotes
out of storm. By sand-banks, in dream—

or not in dream but in a wet, dream

slow reality: soldiers poise, in narrow rows,

heavy-legged as though with hesitance of failure
of what happens—or is about to. Overhead, thunder

and lightning. Do the soldiers find the lightning,
wrapped in yellow, intimidating? By the shore,

waves rise, up—to bees, to birds—as though they are wet,
blue answers of Babylon's tower
and not just blue

waves, the harbor rocking like the one abandoned

soldier to whom, suddenly—come clarity, and black.


There are men in the tufts: some dead, some
only like the antelope for shelter, others,

fallen, how they hold and get hold by each
other. I attempt to help but no help is given

the wind, the bombs, this morning, the light
as though they also were enemies and not just

the soldiers. That the light, in its wash-grey,
means Armageddon, I believe: I will die here,

as the rest, I will look up and know and, in knowing,
the light will turn, the sky become sacredom.


What would the flesh taste, if flesh is all
I could taste? I mark the gull that passes

over—in fright—in feathers of course,
imagine, as with a leaF that seems to stop

half-flight, mid-flight, through the light,
the burned feathers of a gull, its roasted flesh.


I lie, in tufts. The sky turns blue
to sacredom.

Jun 2, 2007

Foreheads in Thick, Plum Letters

..............I name them as though they are stars—
.......Zeus, Pegasus, Orion—I am in love
.lipsticked onto their forehead

..............in thick, plum letters. Their names
.......are carved into wood: aspen
.and birch, bark peeled off

..............to give space to Bill and Molly
.......Forever and this wind, all around,
.in our shirt, filling, emptying

..............the space, this heart brown
......but not red. This silver arrow.
.By the trees, this morning,

...............no raccoons, no peafowl wing
......to flail as against a ghost
.force, no ants, only

............t..the two teenagers in love,
......sharing lips, leaning nude
.and just-showered

...............against the other,
.......against the trees . . .