Archive for October, 2011

The Word Witch

October 30, 2011

The earthquake is finished, the flood is over,
even the plague of ghosts was completed a long time ago.
Why, you can see for yourself how the tower
is struck day after day by the same bolt of lightning.
Truth is, we are only speaking today so that the Word Witch
can become a sort of reminder of all that has been done.

Sure, you can still ride your broom up to the top
of the tower. You can still peer through the tiny windows
and see the garden down below. Go ahead, dream of the vast ocean
as it sweeps across the fjord in a muscular arm
of waves and foam and sea, but remember the Word Witch
remains an experience in which you cannot believe.

I mean, what if she was never there?
What if she was never stooped and waiting
for the ocean tides to clear her ancient tarn of snakes?
What if she was never lost while looking about the garden,
sanguine as a primrose? Why, what if she had never thought
to be the Word Witch at all, not even for a day?

Woodside, New York

October 29, 2011


October 24, 2011

Why I have Her in Chains

October 17, 2011

She’s like sugar poured sweet into your veins,
so enchanting, a mistress of the foliage…
but don’t forget why I have her in chains.

She’s like a proto-bird that remains
above the sky, the ultra owl of the ledge.
So like sugar poured sweet into your veins

that she seems to sing your song in refrains
so pure  that words are like wings of knowledge…
but don’t  forget why I have her in chains.

She can float to the moon and back. Her brains
are like students forever in her college—
so like sugar poured sweet into your veins

that she can have sex for you—if what remains
is enough for casual carnal knowledge…
but don’t forget why I have her in chains.

She can stop boils and pox…torrential rains.
She’s total oxygen, queen of bondage.
She’s like sugar poured sweet into your veins…
But don’t forget why I have her in chains.

In Vitro

October 7, 2011

A fireplace with wood carefully laid, unlit;
a worn leather chair in which to sit and read
these tomes, the Readings from the Javelin
—suggests the flight of light from heat,
suggests the days when hunter and leopard
were actually set ablaze in, let’s say, Borneo.
For in vitro, sunlight is lush abeyance.

For the leopard, it’s hard to die. With each step
her muscles seem to rip and bleed,
as blood through cloth, her skin on fire.
Can the leopard fear her own death, the slicing blow,
the rush of air, the whoosh her lungs make
and the thump of steel against her bone?
Can she know where her life ends and where it begins?

The leopard/ hunter dies. And if they leave
behind a daughter, as it were, in vitro, well,
she has their picture in the Readings to look at. But
there is no terror in their walk, no strife in their neck.
The blood in their lungs is venal blood, no longer red—
for even the late afternoon sunlight can be replaced,
in vitro, or so it seems. So cheap is life.

Johnny China on Farafor Island

October 2, 2011

When he first wrote to us from Faraway Island,
he wrote, Just think in sentences, damn it.
A pink postcard, rough serrated edges.
The pinking shears again, dianthus pink,
which prevents all unravelings. The fabric of
the sentence is thus cut to match
the fabric of the world: fabricated
to be beside his all too glib,
all too pellucid poetry. Listen:
I count, I look, I write, I see. I take
no liberty.
Impersonal and intimate
excoriations, Johnny China on
the shelves, rattling, about to break
both skin and shin, belabored breath, the tide
about to break the dawn…

Such sentences are indeed written from Faraway
to Farafor every day. A sentence-strength
prescription from a world so far afloat
we might have found it in a bottle. My name
is Johnny China. I’m awash on Faraway.
Send help, goddamn you, not more words, for there’s
a pirate’s parrot here. It eats a preposition
every day. Do you understand me? On Farafor.