Cassiopeia

April 11, 2014

…how
strong (as strut or wing, as polytope, as things are
constellated) how
strung…
—Charles Olson
Each night, Cassiopeia came so near,
Andromeda was able to study her cat-like poise
With such a friendly gaze it seemed just noise
From earth. But what she sensed was fear.
Her mother had grown monstrous with age, feline
In the worst sense, cat-quick and sensual—
As if each act could be consensual,
But wasn’t—for not even sex, as sublime
And quick as cats are, sufficed to calm her.
When morning came, the music in her head—
Crescendos, decrescendos—stopped her dead:
Her eyes out there, her eyes forever closed.
She’s trapped, like you and I will never be,
A constellation—and its atrophy.

I don’t know if it was inspiration or not, but you might like to listen to Alice Coltrane’s Andromeda’s Suffering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfsYmrqB8EE


The Ghost in the Machine

March 31, 2014

It’s true, the light does stay on when the door
is closed. You can sit inside the fridge all day,
turn blue against the white [and low fat] milk,
until your feet fall asleep, and you breathe
the last of the breathable oxygen.
Perhaps the light stays on so you can see what
it’s like to freeze to death, to see its shadows
against the eggs and think them ghosts—
like Galahad and his gal who are galloping off
into what they think is the sunset.
You could be that white knight, you know,
the one that thinks white means holiness,
that frost that’s left from winter could be a poem.
So, bon voyage, my friend, safe trip, safe home.


Ultimatum

March 29, 2014

How often had she breathed her last,
only to discover it was not her last breath at all?
Was it to be the penultimate one then?
Or even the antepenultimate breath?

Or worse, to find out it’s to be
the ultimate breath all right,
but in an infinite series of breaths,
for breathing never stops now, does it?

You just change places,
switch up to some higher breath,
something to sing, or maybe just to listen to,
tap your feet, give birth to—

Ah, yes, the ultimate breath
you take is in bed, isn’t it? And you’ve
been counting it all wrong—
3, 2, 1 does not end in death.

No, not at all.


Untitled

March 28, 2014

pale1a


Echoed

March 25, 2014

A shout shouted,  a gunshot shot—
each echo echoes the plea
for a new silence.
A car crashes, a flight turns to violence.
A belief is lost in the night,
the night itself, a state of fright,
an act of active imagination,
a kind of poet’s poem sung to music—
music that you used to play, my dear.
Isolde, say. From one chord to the next,
the discord of love, by a man-god who
changed into all the harmonies
your child-soul could take.
A baby crying all night,
a cry just to keep alive the twilight
as twilight echoes dawn—
as twilight echoes dawn.

Shouted.


Another Apollo and Otter

March 14, 2014

Oh, John. What you said. Life changing.

This new poem respectfully dedicated to John Stevens, who gave it life.

*

Apollo and Otter gave birth to a two-headed fish
in the sea  as they emerged from the sea.
That sand is the mother, they thought—
which left four eyes to shine above the tide’s
high water mark—two mouths to feed.
A perch, Apollo called it. A sea perch.
But there are two fishes here, Otter said.
There must be two souls as well.
Look at us, said Apollo. No divisions here,
just a fable or a parable or something—
something that  ties my soul to yours.
Otter, you held my breath to help me swim.
You hold me still, for I am the mighty Apollo.
What a strange sun this water brings to shore.


Apollo and Otter

March 12, 2014

Apollo and Otter kill a two-headed fish
in the sand as they emerge from the sea.
That sand is the killer, they think—
which leaves four eyes to shine above the tide’s
high water mark—two mouths to feed.
A perch, Apollo calls it. A sea perch.
But there are two fishes dead, Otter says.
There must be two souls as well.
Look at us, says Apollo. No divisions here,
just a fable or a parable or something—
something that  ties my soul to yours.
Otter, you held my breath to help me swim.
You hold me still, for I am mighty Apollo.
What a strange sun this water brings to shore.


Sentenced

February 21, 2014

Those first words would disturb her.
More a fragrance than a sentence,
more a lisp, than a hiss. Just  slip
into a farcical exoskeleton,
the mere costume of which—
the forked tongue tasting the air
beyond all human needs or noses—
suggests the smell of termite nests
amid the posies, a pose of earth
as it rises out of its mold to breathe
the altered air, the spring breezes.
Why shouldn’t your every sentence start
with the formality of a birth?
Why not conjugate before they tear it apart?


Penelope on the Beach [For Valentine’s Day]

February 9, 2014

It was only day. It was Ulysses and it was not.
—Wallace Stevens[i]  

When Penelope bathes, she wades
into the wake of the wave he has left behind.
Her hands still shake remembering that his hands
had grasped nothing, nothing of her mind.
She’d said she must hide so as not to seem
to be bidding him goodbye. Transformation
would be her suitor now, not her guest.
He’d said, if she went swimming in the sea,
her mist would complete a marriage vow,
one made to him and to the approaching sun.

How bright the morning is.
How brisk the wind.
Penelope was on the beach
when the light flashed
and the earth cracked apart.
Ten thousand birds lifted her into the air.
Who or what was out there?
Was it the mist or Penelope’s whisper
he heard throughout the stars?
 I will be a different person when
you return, my love.
I will still be your fate,
but I will know you only by your scars.


[i] The World as Mediation.


Landscape

January 30, 2014

His style can be a farce, an insect instinct
to bite and bite hard—
as if you were a piece of chop meat—
now charred.
Her style can be like a dog who wants off its chain
to wage war against diaphanous gowns,
torn silk shirts, a perfume, the rain—
anything with a license for renown.
Imagine, his grace found in an abscess of fear.
Imagine her plan to let all her children disappear
in darkness. How could they know that one is always
alone, that under the earth is a land
where love is lost or stolen every day,
and that their landscape had turned to sand?


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