- Four Poems
The Time of Day
They are inspiration without purpose, the cut shades of ravens in the sun, under the sun, in morning’s tender light.
They sail and shrink across tarred roofs, their black now blacker sailing there, the flight of shadows that cannot fly,
an astonishment on the wing of the air, shades of no underworld that go in search of shadows they do not know the shapes of yet.
As It Were Upon the Tongue (Or “Who Ate the Jam?”)
Breakfast again, like the one once here with that one he lost—we become so lost in the sorry whiteness of our kitchens, and like children lost in a monstrous wood, we panic. It’s too hard to find our way. There is no way. Acid overnight coffee, fig jam, her star-flecked pajama bottoms’ flannel firmament, her bed-messed hair like unlicked wings. We must forget these things. We who don’t forget to fantasticate what shepherds and star-gazing seekers left to piss-poor parents and glamorous child. There are worse moments, no lack of them among ruined people that people our ruined planet. [End Page 123]
So (again) here sits the depleted man, at breakfast, with fig jam Griffino made, crushed from fruit G.’s flyboy father planted, after shooting down mucho MIGs, hotshot sky king who for love slammed his loving son not against the adolescent trees, whose leaves fanned flies from the child’s eager face, but against the cowboys on his bedroom wall and its happy horses, during happy hour. The depleted man spreads the Christmas jam, recalls the teeth of she who munched the seeds while Baghdad’s bombs poofed from the radio. Unasked-for gift. Fey cowboys on the wall. How compare anyone’s loss to others’ loss?
We lack world-love, and mercy. Why do we turn from joy? Helpless love aspires to taste heaven while eating dirt. This is our way. In fig leaves we read winter’s short lifelines. The imagination craves what heavens have. He sees the planets reabsorbed by sun. It is the way for we who weep for lost love, lost things, sorrowing things, ring, eyelash, figs, on subways, in mangers, in darkened orchards, who taste the seedy rub against the tongue that once in winter touched another’s tongue, O sweet preserves, O raspy, tickly fruit once fresh, brandied, simmered, now spread upon this stale, isolate, day-after-Christmas bread.
Imagination Running Away
Stars our needy selves once thought were gods— the same ones visible, finally, outside town, that we’ve re-imagined into excited gasses, carbon, boiled airs, uneternal embers flashlight-in-the-forest white to us . . . They’re looking down, though we know [End Page 124] they’re not really looking: you and I, like children on our backs on fresh-cut grass, while canister freight-cars roll through town like heaven’s bull-roarers. What did those gods see? Ether oceans, green deserts, soiled spines and ribs, and deep in our nappy bush they now see us hopeful watchers listening, as if for music of the spheres, glassy choirs heard so long but never really heard, yet we watchers wait, measure our lives by such hope, these ardent liquid lights propagating more of their kind, huger than time, though what can be so? We’re here, we wait for a voice, a shared song of some kind, a stellar hum like orchard bees, something more than our own clingy words, a voicing that we also know won’t come, not tonight, while we lie here, live out our starry night desire, and know again how small it is, this human largeness we believe ourselves to be.
The estero swells with winter rain. Some run toward not away from stress and trouble. We want to get closer to the rising waters, wait and watch them flush from and back to the terrifying ocean. Nothing comes from nothing. No. Everything comes from nothing. The heavy clouds settle on the hills, an egret’s cry peels through thick wind, cattails lean landward. We’re aroused by [End Page 125] our small...