Archive for November, 2010

Frog Pond Frieze

November 30, 2010

The Morning Frog cannot speak to the Evening Frog,
not directly. And if she sticks her tongue out now,
it is only to better find his place inside what could be a single cell,
so magnified, so that he can use it to swim in this
soon-to-be hibernating world.
Her body has not slowed, nor has her skin gone pale
as his did, and it is not his smell she hopes to taste.
Her tongue is placed inside that child, who came to hide
among the lattice weeds, to sink amid the mud.
It is as though the Evening Frog is listening there
inside a microscopic metal frame
amid that ancient choice he made for both of them,
his choice to live forever in another’s throat.

All our thoughts are coins, he’d said,
to drip back tongue by tongue
into the pond, as though they’re little metal boats,
he’d said, all in a row.


What is Submerged

November 22, 2010

The last shout growth
and fruition will have this year,

another dawn,
all jellied, all whiskey lids.

How they’re like ears today,
paused to listen,

as if it’s part of a progression,
half slave, half manumission.

For what is old and swollen, held
in kidney shaped hands,

protected from the sky,
a shadow all  through winter

—a late born pup, perhaps, part hound,
part something else—would  die.

Yes, Pops, I know. Would die.
Left behind the fences.

What gnat, what grapes,
what  a nice dog, set barking for

the breeze. What is submerged
and stolen from  us.

One Hundred

November 10, 2010

Let be be  finale of seem…
—Wallace Stevens

Seem, pull off that skin.
Let’s begin again, shall we?
Let’s dig another hole, deeper this time,
so deep the mind that can’t believe in ghosts
can see  the soil.

Bequeath to rocks.

I never thought it would
be you, Seem, to die first, like a seam of gold,
not my friend to my illusions any more.

Stay ghost.

Stay and haunt me forever,
a little longer,
please, Seem, seem to stay.

Molecular Baby

November 8, 2010

We saw the Cartier-Bresson show in New York
and then in Chicago and now
it’s here in San Francisco.

This picture, though, is
from The New York Review of Books,
a picture of a dirt courtyard in Dessau, Germany,
in 1945.

Refugees, the caption reads, in a transit camp.

A woman sits on a suitcase; a man
is on his knees. They are embracing in the shade
of a huge tree—

It’s probably a nice fruit tree too—Cherry Pink
and Apple Blossom White
, as the old song
would have it.

The war is over.  The woman
is starring hard at Henri and his camera,
as if the future is out there, as if it’s in that camera,
not in the picture at all.

It’s as if the future is like that truck
somewhere west of here, driving them past
a camp full  of dysentery
to those cousins in a place she thinks is
called Kleve Lund, to a man she must
call Uncle John, aka Johan,
if he gets the papers right,
or if he even tries…

If they get there.

For in Cleveland she’ll dance to Perez Prado’s
big hit in 1955, and she and Herman
will mambo and cha-cha-cha
and in 1960 they will do the twist with Chubby Checker.

Herman will marry her too, as this picture  seems
to propose, for the future
is a sort of receding pane of glass,
she thinks, something you can
reach out and touch, maybe even walk through,
a glass so clear and clean you might slip through
like a kind of molecular baby, born
anew, free of all the old ideas,
the old prejudices. Free of the old ways.

This is in 1945.

The future could be like a new lens
for an old camera.

Or it could be any old piece of glass.

Henri, a picture of a dirty courtyard, please.

Take it now.

The Sentence Warrior

November 2, 2010

(Día de los Muertos, 2010)


The warrior died. 7:36 am, dawn.
In the Timpani Tympanum.
While drums and cymbals clashed.
After a brief period.


On the walls of the Timpani Tympanum
are portraits of an ancient goddess, nameless now.
Each night the warrior would
erase her face, would paint each wall blue,
only to see her face bleed through with the sunlight.
He filled the Tympanum with drums
—the true symbol supremo in the halls—
only to have the sun clash quotidian cymbals…
A brief period indeed.
He died while such symbols clashed.


Dying—the halls the warrior had filled full
with drums and cymbals, filled anew with gods
and goddesses, each so all-knowing that,
his screams  of death simply fulfilled his death,
fulfilled by his un-seemingly blue lips.


The warrior was cold and dead,
so cold they feel his kiss as frost, all space
as his embrace, twig thick and vibrating—
enough to shake the walls, as if the hue
of sienna blue could fill the Tympanum
again and again  with the scream of  death—
It’s like the skin on a drum.
It’s like the clothes they wear.


It’s like the part of words we find in piles
in the shades and shadowy hues that clash
anew with each warrior sentence—as left
to wander in the Timpani Tympanum
as a part of the words we can pile up when
we start to think about the great shadows
they have, not the iris, not an old canvas
left in an old sun-drenched bath, a painted bowl, but
the shades thereof. And as another warrior is dead,
each so professional, each so all-knowing,
each twig-thick and wearing the hue of sienna blue
on lips always so cold they could freeze in earth’s kiss—
as painted there, as in the blue earth, yet
as another appears.
—And each face so lurid!