Thursday, April 01, 2010

Ideas Man Needs Your Help! (No Laughing)

Just like those sad saps on American Idol who are getting old, this is Ideas Mans's last year to enter the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship for Young Poets contest (full disclosure:  I've never actually entered, so I guess it's my first year, too).  However, I have to fit my submission on to 10 pages.  What I have below is about 28 pages.  Read through and let me know which ones you think are definite keepers.  Which ones are definite kickers?





Prelude
The sky is
A sequence of digits, not fingers, not numbers
But counting itself.

The sky is a harmony of ratios,
Led by the idea of a form.
To order itself on the rocks of the world.

The eye is
A harmony of the sky with the earth,
Light unnumbered.

Reconciliation

The soul in its eccentric path
Perambulates slowly through your room,
You lie there quietly and watch it move.

I can’t think what to say as it parades
Away from the noise, the lights, enchanting images
Displaying a medley of torsos thrown and thrown away.

What are the soul’s confessions and to whom,
When it makes its slow procession to your room
Where you lie, waiting for it to say
What is it and what yours?

First, it whispers to you:
I have spent loneliness and pain
While they became lost in their ways.
I have waited for them to come home
To this room, where you and I lie quietly,
Speaking together of each of the two.

All the pasts that I watch passively ---
You can’t say why the soul chooses
What to obey
As it walks in the room,
To decide to see where you lie,
In what repose you pass the time.

Grazing through the looking glass.

And then, it calls to you:
Come back quickly.  I am as empty as if
You had left me entirely.  I lay on my back,
And you were mine.
That was when I last saw you.
You were so full of us you forgot me.
I was left behind, while you were lost in the lonely
Race of time.  You did not look back,
And I became lost to you.

I am the happiest hanger-on.
I am the last supper; You are the table.
The soul is Judas and Jesus,
And it has made peace with itself.
You are a melancholy dreamer.

Third, it screams to you:
I have returned,
In limbs thrown away,
In the white cast of the light in the room,
Where I left you and you returned to me.
I have returned though I betrayed you.
And you never stopped loving me.

Has it confessed this to you,
Or has it been accusing you?




Against Art
We are so enamored
Of our bodies
And what our bodies make
We are ruined for all other forms.


Pop Song For Depressed Kids
[to be sung in call-and-response melody, with the call allegro ending with a ritardando and the response andante ending on a fermata.  Tune should approximate a German Lied, though quality of timbre is discouraged.]

Baby this is your love-song
Though it is all off key
Baby it will come out wrong
Unless it makes you love me.

Baby I’ll be your refuge,
If you’ll be my refugee
Cause baby it was a sad putsch
That pushed your arms towards me.

Baby I’ll hold and console you
Cause you’re my consolation prize.
Baby, those arms that hold you
Pried you from my loving eyes.

Baby I’ll be your solace
If you’ll be my solipsist
Karl Marx he had his Grundriss
And we have our last parting kiss.

Baby my heart is broken.
Baby this ain’t breaking news.
But baby, this song I have spoken.
Because I have nothing to lose.



Your Gorgeous Body

Even
My eyes have learned
How not to love
The sight of you.

Your Silent Hair, In the Dark

You’ve bathed yourself in the sand of another
And washed away what’s impure ---
I came to see why you’d lain down among the shoals
But got lost when you were not there
And then,

When you got lost again,
I lay your head on the sand, in the water
Laden down by the reeds

Your mouth --- up and down ---
The waves speaking in it
Asking where to proceed

I’m still trying to begin.



When I was Still Perfect

It was all of those days that fell without a drop,
When I was still perfect,
And I called you “September,” and nuzzled at your throat.

There were leaves, and they fell, but when I was still perfect
It was always spring:

The pollen was never dustier than that magic November, when I was still
Perfect.

*

There was a long phrase, followed by a long pause:
The lights went up, but the music went on.
The critics called it a failure,
But they were wrong.
I was perfect.

*
I was still perfect then,
You were like the world when the world is like a song
I was constant and present,
You were like the sound of the wind when the wind is strong
I was punctual and tense,
You were winding, you were winded, you were languid and long.

*

I sowed my oats in fields of metaphor,
I called my poems “The Music of Nature.”
They said I was wrong, but I was right.

This was when I was still perfect.


The Mythology of Eros
           
I.  Zeus, At the Beach, With Sun-Bathers

On the golden back of the beach,
From blue eyes in the sky
Watching, for hours,
The hours burning this burnished back
All right, so ---

It won’t be a burning bush
Where this theophany comes to a head:
Those blue eyes do not gaze with the intensity of the eagle for that.

Say rather:
You heavens and you seas,
Before you swallow us up

(but we long for this too ---
when I am with her,
consciousness bobs on the stopped up wells of time
when it becomes ineffable,
so murky blue that it could not be I who sees
so clearly the spectacle for the gods,
sometime immortal sport,
until I enter the passage where we meet,
and the open entrance pours time back out,
and we forget those piercing blue eyes
pinning us in place)

that you will not have us, sacrifice or prey,
that you will save us from divine presence.
o.k.?
see:
mortal hearts also do not stop only in death,
there is a catching of breath
when we see the same fragile beauty that holds even divine eyes.

II.  The Whisper of a Stormy Lover

Only from eternity
Could proper infidelity
Work its way into the heart of matrimony.

The blush of day-in, day-out is what colors dawn:
We know,
This grace is ageless.

But there is no faith in grace,
Anymore than there are no clouds in the sky
To cover us and recover longing.
You see,
We hide because my beloved takes her joy in the
Open,
A paradox no time can resolve.

Let me softly speak no paradox slowly:
I love the purple of your sun-obscured dusk,
The clouded stain of regret in the rain.

III.  Surviving is not the Specialty of Mortals

Sleeping relieves nothing;
I can relive my errors there, too.
At my side,
Faith crumbling and dying,
No night is black enough to obscure the day,
No day is true enough not to show
A double infidelity.
A triple truce:
When I spoke a single word,
She knew,
What lay between us.
But I didn’t say that word.
She did.

Time turned on a dime.
Reason cackled its hideous chime.

We drank potions to leave it all behind
   (I forget who said what)
We forgot who was on whose side,
And twisted our necks to a kiss.
I remembered, when I woke up,
That nothing had changed;
Hearing her crying I knew
Nothing changes,
Into sleepless remorse.
No reason is too unobscure not to hide our lies,
Where we lay,
What lived and what died.

It would take forever to sort all this out.

IV. Faith

Don Juan,
A nameless seducer,
And someone else
Are all asked the same question:
Each gives the same answer
(love)
but means something different by it.

So, each betakes himself to his task,
Some ironically and some earnestly.

But,
Ironically,
Only the last one,
The faithful one,
Passes through the doors of guilt.

V. Lamentation to Maria

O madre de dioso,
O madre doloroso,
You know the places that I sleep,
You know the comfort that I keep.

If now I ask that you go home,
Know that I will not alone.

A grotesque boast,
To mutter to the mother of the sacred host.

A selfish reason,
To assail the mother church with treason.

VI. All Along You Dreamed

All along, you dreamed.
You were awake some of the time,
But you lifted your heart in song,
And this is like a dream.

I saw the golden timbre in the arch of your thighs,
And heard its bells wed
Myth to meaning.

We twinned ourselves,
Albeit in the time-soaked harmony of words,
Though inscribed in the heart,
With the song that is like a dream.

You looked at my face and saw the time.
The hours were passing.
This was our manner of being together.

You I sheltered.
We were ourselves.

There, we watched and waited,
There we fell to our own several sleeps.

VII.  “Love is Less True than Play”

How vulnerably you said the word, “flesh,”
So nakedly, I hesitated to call it real.

You’ll say it’s because you didn’t really say it.  True.
You’ll think this is another game.  Indeed.

“Please stop making fun of me,
don’t think I don’t have a playful side too,
it’s just that—” and that’s all I’ll get
out of you for a while.

Why did I need more?
Truthfully— truth was what had come between us,
So long treated as a friend not worth the friendship.
An indiscreet pal you got rid of on the sly.

The truth would speak. “Flesh” it would say, now
(and would have then too, to be fair to me and also to you). 
“Beloved” would follow, to explain or refute:
what lay between us, namely the truth.

Can we kick it around for old times sake? 
When I was thinner, less hairy,
a more finely-crafted nakedness,
as delicately tuned as the strings
I believed I would hear
when finally you made your way
to me slowly, on trembling
knees:  Chamber music.

Some would call it, in honor
of Sade: “Music in the Boudoir.” 
I don’t speak French though, and neither do you.  
So let’s hope that truth finally decides to speak
to us in French. 
We’ll easily forget it,
and get back to the words we’d really
said to one another:
“trust,” “belief” and “faith.” 
No, wait!
Not “belief” but “believed,”
not “faith” but “betrothed”,
and not “trust” but “true.” 
Once again,
words come down
to me and to “you”. 

We confront them again and I don’t know
what to say, because the truth
is that I lost my tongue
in a most frightful way. 
It fell out on the same day
that it was used as a bell-clapper. 
It just fell out of my head. 
In response you said nothing,
you just moaned and swallowed my tongue. 
Put it into your head where it has stayed.

So was it my mouth that said “flesh?” 
Was it to your soft skin
that it had been pressed
just before . . . ?  Then the truth
would be making a mockery of me!
           
“Yes,” you say,
“when love is less true than play.”


Miscarriage

Rose season, walking Rosie,
Eybler on the earphones.
Oh what a gift the world is
You’ll never know.



Alter Ego
You don’t understand –
Can’t get beyond –
I can’t forgive –

– Time when I’m not with you

I almost unlocked my grief just now.

So I was
Like alright you don’t matter to me
For days.

Tonight I’m not like that at all.


A Song Produced by the Sound of You, Just in the Other Room

Eyes made of water, body of stone.
You are worn away by your eyes
Born along a river of tears
That we watch endlessly keep time.
Watch without moving
Watch wordlessly,
The foamy flotilla ocean-bound.

At which point:
Stone is deposited in the delta,
You sleep in a basket of reeds
On the edges of your eyes,
The horizon of that sea.
The lines of the trees and the earth
Painted onto your face,
A vessel baked out of clay.

Woman With a Telescope

Your eyes are for the moon alone,
Which has no eyes of its own:
When we say, “It looks down on us, beaming,”
This is only a figure,
A play on words
(unless there are eyes buried deep in its surfaceless craters)
and, to me, your figure is that of a hollow mouth,
though I wouldn’t say gaping.
I’d stare for hours at you staring up into space,
We’d both search for a requiting face.
But the moonless day erases from our sleepless gazes
What no eye knows:
In the valley where we were alone,
Where I kissed you,
You refused to speak and our closed eyes
And parted mouths
closed themselves up.
“Light pollution,” you mutter, “People get in the way.”
In the vast wastes and spaces that we call
The desert.


What I wanted more
than anything
was to never feel your breath
leave the cavity where it lay cushioned,
to never let it rest; to feel the force of wind
moving its passage through our lungs
your silent chest
rocking rhythm,
and the passion of your hum. 

What I never wanted
was to feel the stopping
of the pulse that shook you
when you whispered: 
“now slowly, now quickly, now come.”

What?
A Simple Question
What’s eating you,
That could be so little that I wouldn’t notice it?

What kind of question is that?

Please,

Speaks the light-voice,
It so rarely touches ---
When you ask it to,
With words like “Please,”

You might barely notice their weight,
You might wait for them,
Or have forgotten what you expected.

The only thing that slipped between you and I:
Just this once,
Let it be a forgotten little thing,
An angel with blood on its forehead rather than lintels,
A soft voice,
You let it go by.
You watch it go,
It doesn’t stop receding.

You’ll remember its movement,
And it will remind you of something you’ve forgotten,
A rubbished time perhaps,
Perhaps one you’d given up on,
Since you spoke no words not your own.
Then swallowed them all, forgetting
Whether
you’d even thought them
or why.

Time to go home.
Time to bury a big white building.
This digs up in you old memories of monastic life.
But they could not be your memories.
Nor is it that chunk of plaster
And rectilinear wood
That’s graying.  That’s just the sky,
Indicated by a heap of sticks.
On top of that,
Add the wind.
You think it says, “You’ll never be
Able to live this,
Much less to really want this.”

Things We Do with Our Mouths

A little past midnight, Elena woke up.
I went to her room, and rocked her, and sang her back to sleep.

I came back to our bed and moved you up against me.
I wanted to kiss you, deeply, on the mouth.
You were sleeping through your mouth,
It was as though all your breath was up there,
So loud,
Your body just warmth beneath it.

I didn’t know what to say
(How can it have been ten years now
And still I sometimes feel the need to explore you,
Your stranger’s breasts beneath the span of my hand
Strange full lips, your familiar face?)

I wanted to whisper, “give me your body.”
I didn’t want to rumple your precious sleep.

How can I bear to love you?

The Month Before We Met

“The rose is without why. It blooms because it blooms.”[1]
      But tell us, Angelus, when?
“O when, o rose, will your Septembers bloom?”[2]

September began suddenly, and three days early.
We marked it on a calendar;
We circled each Wednesday,
And wrote in a number to track the weeks:
Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five …

Some days, we simply lay in bed or ---
My wife lay in bed while the world moved around her
            Or ---
The world was spinning inside her.

Some days we left home and didn’t return.

Most days my beloveds lay in uncertain embrace,
I waited and measured the time in anti-bio-ticking:

She could see, if she turned her head
Slightly, the green edge of a hill
Where September wasted its last hot nights in florid
Summer dress.

But we were turned inwards, intent upon
Amnios-irregular-dripping ---
She slept between surges of fever and nausea,
Between Phenergan and Erythromycin
                                            Alternately scouring her veins.

It became cold,
                          And we became anxious.
And we became intimate with lab coats, gowns and scrubs
With “procedures”
                               And with the precious tensions
Concealed in the minutest of times,
In time’s slow progress,
                                            Week upon week.
                                           
The month before we met, they told us we’d meet you tomorrow.
This was too early
                                 We said.
We showed them our calendar.
They nodded ---
                                 We cried.

This will all seem so absurd to you,
So distant,
                   But trust me
We looked intently for
                                 Your fullness of times.
(We harbored suspicions that you were playing with us,
Suspicions confirmed the first time you smiled.)

You became intimate with instruments of measurement,
The month before we met you shook a needle’s hand.
(I know because I saw it
                                        Through watery eyes).

The question, O rose, on all but your mind was “When,
                                                                                    O Rose, o when ----
                                                                              Can a lung draw a breath?”
The month before we met, they assured us,
    Your lungs were still
    Far too immature to grasp your first breath.
But,  they said,
                                 Time is of the essence -----
    Ask not why it is her time ---
    Water leaks because it leaks.

Ask not, o rose, what watered you:
It was your mother’s breaths,
Nor ask us why time flows,
                                    Nor ask us how it stops ---
Grace comes in gaps, on time’s ice floes,
When summer melts away,
The harvest is suddenly in,
September a week over-
                                       ripe.

But still ---
                        There will still be time enough to compress,
There will still be time for gashes, for sighs, gasps and groans,
Time enough for you to pause and spill out your cries.
There will still be time enough to wait, and tears enough to go unshed,
                         And water enough to break.

Seventeen hours of rhythmical pain ---
            Then ---
In seconds, the curtain is suddenly raised.

Taste

A judgment of beauty:
What it is, what is it?

The silent, crisp shell: dirt.
Earth, with its life scattered across its wayward sands:
Metal, dusty cold.

Mud:  the smell of bed, the musty quiet sigh.
The oldest rites we know.

Water:  When it filled the mouth,
And the mouth cried for air when the crying finally ceased.
It was crying for pleasure,
They were shouts of annihilation; you mistook them for passion.
They were shouts of pleasure, you wanted annihilation,
Couldn’t stop crying:
It was beautiful, stupid, so fucking beautiful
Don’t ruin this, you beautiful tasty thing.

Strength and Weakness

Am I strong or am I weak?

Judging by the standards of night, I am tired and weak and full of spite.

But the judge who judges by the light of the day is not blind
And says:
You are strong, but weakened and wearied by spite.

Is the water strong or does it give,
And is it really so much less to receive than to give?
How sweet is heaven’s dark plum?

And judges can be bought.
And so I say, my mouth sticky with heaven’s juices
That it is strength that keeps the tongue from being loosed,
That it is virtue which binds the throat with its glue.
And I move a coin in the palm of my hand:

It is heavy, but it moves the souls of the dead.
Even when men pass by it like the meekest of the meek
The dead wing their way around its edges
I can hardly speak for fear of chewing through the past.

We have been together for so long,
Time has knotted us together,
Down to the hairs on our arms ---
Is it strength not to struggle against these bands?
Does it take strength just to move when moving enough for two?

Is giving birth a blessing or a curse?

Strangers Make Better Mirrors than Lovers

We never touch more than when we let graze
A soulless blink, when closed the windows eye
Trades a ring of fire for fire on your cheek.
Desire can bring both to a formless maze,
Both ring and cheek spent in a forceful lie.
The lure of hair that speech and thought deceive.

We, Ariadne’s twisted riddle, wing
A bluff way, corrupted.  We are seduced.
And night’s poor light makes the faithless way free
For light-tipped hands, talk with wordless meaning,
Hair, luxurious rings, braids like a noose,
And, lastly, eyes that the soul cannot see.

Strangers make great mirrors.  When we take leave
We are free to grieve.  We grieve and we grieve.

Contextual Setting of Sunsetting Leaves
Season-old leaves
On vintage trees;
The brown ones are on the ground.
(But you remind me of the changes of just a day,
remembering when
“the bar of light held purple irises,
budding until the red sky blackened,
and they too—”)

The wine stained my throat
Imperial purple,
Put me in a commanding mood.
I bade you put your lips there,
Although they were not nearly red enough,
And you not nearly well enough read.
We came to a full-glottal stop.
So we glossed our tongues,
Till they swelled blue with pleasure.

Another command:
“when your eye reddens,
its interior lights dying out:
let it be a frame
for the sunsetting tree that we coronated
with laurel wreath
with memory
with private-tongued
speech.”

Participation in the Hours

This is day with all its purple intact,
Or all that it ever had.
Plato asked how time could be shared in its parts.
His answer involved the sun somehow.

This is light diffracted,
A prism of your own making:
Interior space, yellow:
Ask what it knows of decay.

This is the sun’s salt spray.
We live in its heat and pray to its rays,
This is the purple intact, today,

And drawn inward, made to bear the hours,
One by one across its span,
Across the yellow and brown sand.

And the day which opens up its parts,
A cave with twelve holes twice
In each part you live in a certain way,
So each hole is a holy one.

The whole asked its part how freedom was dreamt
When it lay so warmly embraced ---
But love was itself uncertain ---
It lay intact, involved, always.

Orphic Mysteries Brought to Light (For You, My Dear)

Eurydice:
Don’t say to me, “It wasn’t worth dying for”
For me at least
From my perspective:

Cool autumn nights, spent more or less alone,
Joined at the hip to sadness,
No need to turn around to feel it,
Nor to see softly following me your ghost:
I had to leave it there,
Your shade in the shade,
Yourself, yours truly
That’s me.

Eurydice,
Her coiled hair, her serpents’ step,
Stepped on one too many toeless things,
Glided lightly and, yes I followed,
But no, with no rescue plan in mind.

Only in descending,
A Novalis ending.

Ode to Echo

Silent muse, do you know how to be seduced?
I’m at a loss where to begin,
And I’m looking to be inspired or bewitched ---
And so let me ask,
And please answer, sotto voce if need be,
But audibly, I beseech:
I have invoked your image
Ceaselessly in the presence of your silent spring,
Where I imagine you bathing with your sister nymphs
Frivolously and shamelessly
(Oh please! Let me keep this sacred fiction of the Western Tradition)
I have,
As I have said
(but you have refused to repeat)
invoked your image ceaselessly,
and ceaselessly invited you to speak,
and I have availed myself of an array of Apollonian tricks,
designed in the event of just such a tryst as this,
But you are no ordinary nymph
(and even the most mundane of these
knows how to flee by turning into a bird, a flower, or a tree).
And so let me ask,
As I have said,
But you have refused to answer,
Where we can meet, whether I can see you,
Whether,
In the loveliness of that lonely spring,
Where you have remained alone
Letting your loneliness bloom to a visionless splendor
Whose severity refuses to be lent beauty
By my anxious imagination,
You will not, in even one single word,
Reveal yourself to me,
And put to shame the vain loneliness of my lovelorn vanity.

Not a Mirror in Sight

I gave you no baubles, no trinkets,
no mirror
to be the self-awareness I asked of you.

I saw you with eyes made of glass
they looked at your mouth made of stone,
we shared a dead moment.  It lasted without breathing.

When I let out my breath, you let out yours too.
I gave you no outward sign I had been crying.
You gave me no symbol of love.
We decided against holding hands,
but set our eyes, a pair of matching stones,
to look at the hills,
a pair of gleaming bones.
To look at the sky,
A face without an eye,
to glance at its sightless eye, winking out,
the start of night,
to have our naked statue-poses grow marble cold
under the rays of the moon.

Lullaby, Sung for the Third Time Tonight

Asleep,
Your body’s warmth is your soul,
Held tight in your furry head —

Your soul’s let out through
Your cracking voice,
Creaking like the door,
Scraping across the room —
Dancing —

(Time, as you know,
a luckless creature,
can be coerced:
thrall to a conductor’s baton,
two tiny fists in the air).

Asleep,
Your soul grows, when it goes quiet,
Time released with your hot, even breaths.

I feel your mouth against my chest,
You’re nestling in:
When I try to let you go,
Your soul will come running out;
It will open the door
When you open your mouth,
And a song to be sung
Someday (when you speak)
Will bud, like a light in the hall.
Largo, Ma Non Troppo

You are splendid but move slowly
I am as patient as the sun,
But tend to think none too quickly.

I want to make the moon of your whiteness,
But haven’t got the time
To patiently form the form of the moon from the chaos
That churns
like a querulous, snoring old woman
Dragged into the light
by an impatient hand
That wants to try its hand
at forming things
Such as moons,
or white thighs,
or the body of knowledge
That stretches from Plato to
the circuits of Deep Blue.

You are splendid, and I move slowly
To the point where I can see
What in you remains unformed.

I want to make the most of our time in the light.
I want to make the most of your languor,
But it turned out that it’s mine ---
I can hardly see beyond the tip of my nose,
My eyes have grown so weak,
So unaccustomed to see

The moon for a walk on a leash,
Led through the sky like a lamb.
I’ll tend to your growth like a flock
For days we’ll do nothing but sleep.
One day, when you’ve grown to be you
You’ll wonder why I was never me.

Joseph

You are rushing at creation.  Don’t pounce.  This requires finesse.

You are a wastrel, wasted boy:  Your years are running you dry,
you’re biding your time, you’re buying and selling
those years of creation, you’d thought had held such promise.

You promised them to another, to another or two, to two others.

You promised so much more, you delivered, you offered. 
You weren’t biding your time, you were living on the fat. 

These were your seven fat years. 
All the days when you were dreaming, the food you were eating. 
The rich calves and the fatted lambs, you loved them, every one. 
You promised to hold it all in your memory, but forgot
every morning with the sound of her voice
(and still, she lay next to you, you could hear her quietly,
and just next door,
you could hear the voice of a child playing.)

These were your seven lean years:  when your mind was too ragged for sleep.
These were the years of your hungry creations.
All the food that you dreamt of, the days you were eating:
The skinny cows and bleating lambs whom you tended, every one.
Oh, and how you remembered to remember those years of plenty,
And couldn’t forget not a one
(And still, she lay next to you, you could hear her quietly,
and just next door,
you could hear the voice of a child playing.)

And still, as she lay next you, and as the hours gnawed at your sleep
How your body was restless, how your arms ached and groaned,
How your mind had no respite and your thoughts wouldn’t cease
But your soul (if there is one) knew peace.

Insomnia

Beloved, in the earth I looked for the dreams you’d
Sleep as you slept beside me.
You’ve kept me at arms length.

I’ve kept you in my chest,
And let the water rock you, quietly,
But I could not sleep.

Hesitant, with the hand you gave me,
I looked through the light for the hand that you hid.
Your eyes kept all my desires on a tight lead,
I lay waiting

Oh lover,
With thoughts that you wished you could wish me,
You kept me in sleep’s warm embrace,
But couldn’t quite dream your way free.

Your Silent Hair, In the Dark

You’ve bathed yourself in the sand of another
And washed away what’s impure ---
I came to see why you’d lain down among the shoals
But got lost when you were not there
And then,

When you got lost again,
I lay your head on the sand, in the water
Laden down by the reeds

Your mouth --- up and down ---
The waves speaking in it
Asking where to proceed

I’m still trying to begin.

The Month Before We Met

“The rose is without why. It blooms because it blooms.”
      But tell us, Angelus, when?
“O when, o rose, will your Septembers bloom?”

September began suddenly, and three days early.
We marked it on a calendar;
We circled each Wednesday,
And wrote in a number to track the weeks:
Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five …

Some days, we simply lay in bed or ---
My wife lay in bed while the world moved around her
            Or ---
The world was spinning inside her.

Some days we left home and didn’t return.

Most days my beloveds lay in uncertain embrace,
I waited and measured the time in anti-bio-ticking:

She could see, if she turned her head
Slightly, the green edge of a hill
Where September wasted its last hot nights in florid
Summer dress.

But we were turned inwards, intent upon
Amnios-irregular-dripping ---
She slept between surges of fever and nausea,
Between Fenergan and Erythromycin
                                            Alternately scouring her veins.

It became cold,
                          And we became anxious.
And we became intimate with lab coats, gowns and scrubs
With “procedures”
                               And with the precious tensions
Concealed in the minutest of times,
In time’s slow progress,
                                            Week upon week.
                                           
The month before we met, they told us we’d meet you tomorrow.
This was too early
                                 We said.
We showed them our calendar.
They nodded ---
                                 We cried.

This will all seem so absurd to you,
So distant,
                   But trust me
We looked intently for
                                 Your fullness of times.
(We harbored suspicions that you were playing with us,
Suspicions confirmed the first time you smiled.)

You became intimate with instruments of measurement,
The month before we met you shook a needle’s hand.
(I know because I saw it
                                        Through watery eyes).

The question, O rose, on all but your mind was “When,
                                                                                    O Rose, o when ----
                                                                              Can a lung draw a breath?”
The month before we met, they assured us,
    Your lungs were still
    Far too immature to grasp your first breath.
But,  they said,
                                 Time is of the essence -----
    Ask not why it is her time ---
    Water leaks because it leaks.

Ask not, o rose, what watered you:
It was your mother’s breaths,
Nor ask us why time flows,
                                    Nor ask us how it stops ---
Grace comes in gaps, on time’s ice floes,
When summer melts away,
The harvest is suddenly in,
September a week over-
                                       ripe.
But still ---
                        There will still be time enough to compress,
There will still be time for gashes, for sighs, gasps and groans,
Time enough for you to pause and spill out your cries.
There will still be time enough to wait, and tears enough to go unshed,
                         And water enough to break.

Seventeen hours of rhythmical pain ---
            Then ---
In seconds, the curtain is suddenly raised

Dinner for Two
Erased be bread and wine, symbolically
Untrace the wounds in my mouth,
The vulnerable words I spoke
Were too quick,
A confession over candle-light.
Cat-called kitty,
I beheld your tongue on my throat.
I worded my way into your pants,
I confess,
After we obliterated the feast,
Given by the bounty of God or nature,
My desirable date:

The men in Spinoza hats cleared our plates.
While we killed time with their aid
I waited for you to invite me to be me,
But did not reciprocate.

Your mouthful of water took the breath from me,
The soul went where the body refused,
Into a wasteland of misconstrued phrases,
A morass of praises.

Praised be God, it grew late.
Praised be the green mouthmeadow, scene of passion; its seat.
(But I’m equivalating,
too lateness percolating with a brown odor,
aroma of dried blood, of my death.
I confess too late that I am too attached to these things).
Create a new matrix from the brown light of a river become blue into sea,
This one does no justice to the waves my hand traces,
Under your jacket,
Nor to the bushy delta of Moses’ coming.
Praise the flow of time that brings all things to be,
And cease to be, or don’t.

We desert the river; for your place or mine.
Neither forgotten wine nor last supper
Nor confession,
Nor communion wafer
Brings memory to our stammered loves,
Bogged down in the eternity of our briefless night,
Unstuck in the light of unwanted day-break.

Fire, Word

The spark of heaven sat in rags.
Child of time, a little instant,
Delivered to a grand moment,
While I lay in darkness waiting,
All my limbs straining ---
Delivered to my ears.

The clock that never stops
Is like a cross.
It sits atop the clock you watch
And holds its hands in check.

But time is heavy and ready to burst.

How long did you take refuge in the past?
The humble refusal, a few short taps, some harsh words, occasional slaps.
Out of revenge
She sets herself into motion,
To everything that walks and wriggles and crawls.

And soon we all were in quite a hum ---
Quite a babble of voices making themselves heard,
All coming forth for the occasion,
When, in the midst of all this ugliness
All these false words, and fake breaths,
She finally got her cue
From what happened to be the truth.

What do you do?
You grow infinitely alone and don’t know where to go.
You don’t want to be alone, and are infinitely aglow.
What can you do?

Smile, talk, laugh
Make pretend (like in the past),
A tent without meaning,
A hole in the wall ---
Bathsheba drawing up her bath.

I Made Echo Listen

A body traced its way over the surface of the mirror,
Must have been yours because you were standing there,
Must have been you,
But not you looking at you as is the fiction of mirrors
The convention that it is narcissism to which we want to hold
Or that we are inflamed of ourselves.

But you wonder, are we really all the same,
These hands, these legs, these eyes and these hips
This body that you’re tracing,
Awe-struck by the mirror, and the “O” of your lips.

Not yours, this trace, not yours,
But
It is to see how passion can be written in the gaze,
How grace is visible
Like a mark across the chest,
Cutting the torso from the eyes,
Crossing the arms across the space
Occupied by the signs of the play
Of the eyes,
Souls incomprehensible as a huntress’s leer.

I look at you,
You do not see me,
You are looking elsewhere, and she is looking right at you.

But time has torn us three, all asunder.



[1] From Angelus Silesius, “Die Rose.”
[2] From Paul Verlaine, Sagesse, 3.3.

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Man, I like them all, and you know how I hate ranking things. Down to 10 pages is brutal, but these are my favorites (not guaranteed to add up to 10 pages):

Your Gorgeous Body
Miscarriage
When I Was Still Perfect
The Mythology of Eros
Contextual Setting of Sunsetting Leaves
Orphic Mysteries Brought to Light (For You, My Dear)
Participation in the Hours
Lullaby, Sung for the Third Time Tonight
Joseph

Am I too late to be of help? I'm sorry--I was at work forever and I fell behind on the Facebook.