fusiturricula lullaby :: gjertrud schnackenberg

A visit to the shores of lullabies,
So far from here, so very far away,
A floor of sand, it doesn’t matter where,
And overhead a water-ceiling sways;
A shell is summoned to materialize—
The holy life, a spiral, hushed and pure,
Complete unto itself—a spiral shell
Is summoned from a substratum of wonder:
And all is well now, hush now, close your eyes,
Around a primal, ragged nucleus
Accumulated layers crystallize:

An embryonic seashell pulls itself
Through being-portals intricately placed
In seas of non-existence; caught; self-caught
In nets of pasts-and-futures synchronized
In present-nows: the Many and the One—

It doesn’t matter, really, how it’s done,
The how of it; the why; it doesn’t know
How atoms in the ancient paradox
Can pass from unseen particles to seen

Or why a chain of atoms interlocks
And manifests in blurry pink and green;
It doesn’t matter really, where it’s from—
Descended from an ancient nacre-dream,
Self-fabricating through genetic codes
Without an archetype to utilize,
As if the wondrous deed it’s summoned to
Were all that ever mattered, seam by seam
Volutions from a nacre-nucleus
Of violet iridescence: being-whorl
With everything in play, and all in play,
And all is well now, hush now, close your eyes—

A shell appears—Fusiturricula
And uses its inherited clairvoyance
To plot a logarithmic spiral round
An axis of rotation evermore
And evermore-forevermore unseen,
Through pre-existing numbers, one-two-three,

And shyly browsing algae as it ponders
Angular momentum; symmetry;
Successively self-generating curves
Projecting helixes, the axis fixed;
Then tilting on its axis; torsion-tilt;
Compulsion and desire mixed with toil;
An overhanging cusp becomes a spire
By pushing up and forward on the coil:

Irregularly oscillating whorls
Are flaring out in ruffled calcium;

Pure rhythmia;
                    Slow motion suturings,
With no one there to sew them, perforate
The apex, boring through: a water-vent,
Inhalant and exhalant;
                               knotted threads
Are pulled to fasten equidistant nodes
Along a helix-rim;
                         a clockwise twist
And twirling stripes through interrupted bands
Are darkly lit, through brilliant whites and creams,
Like lightning bolts in violet-tinted brown
That zigzag in slow motion, down and down
From node to node to node; a lightning dream
Descending ridge by ridge:
                                      Sensation: Fizz
Salt water circulating past and through
The ruffled aperture—existence is
A taste of ocean water on a tongue—

And then Fusiturricula, intent
On browsing, sets in motion moving veils
Of sands that long ago and far away
Were magma rocks with twisted veins of ore
From which the sand was ground and empty shells
Like lightning-stricken spires, surface-fused
With used-up bolts of lightning, lie around—

Nacreous, in almost-silence, hushed
Among the lulling engines of the sea—

But hush now, close your eyes now, all is well:
Underwater ink enlarges, blurs,
In violet-brown across a spiral shell:
A record of volutions fills a scroll
With wondrous deeds and great accomplishings,
A record of a summons not refused:

Of logarithms visible and fused
With thoughts in rows of spiral beaded cords
As X goes to infinity; impearled;
Violet; and inviolate; self-endowed;

Itself the writing, and itself the scroll
The writing’s written on; and self-aware
With never-ever-to-be-verbalized
Awareness of awareness of awareness,
Instantiation; all in play; a sole
Immaculate example of itself;

And in the aperture, the remnants of
A Heavenly Question, lightly brushed across
With opalescent ore of consciousness:
The universe is where? Is hanging where?

And overhead a water-ceiling sways,
And all is done in play; in heaven above

The ceiling of the sea is drawing streams
Of shining answers through its question-sieves:
Is matter the enchanted lathe? Or mind?
But which one spirals from the other’s blade?

And all the waves at the beginning-end
Of all that comes and goes and takes and gives
And all in play and all that dies and lives
Materializes; dematerializes;
Five, and four, and three, and two, and one—
And all is brought to being; all effaced;

And all that could be done has now been done;
And all is well and hush now, never mind;
Fusiturricula slowly withdraws
Its being; self-enfolding; self-enclosed;
And all it toiled for turns out to be
No matter—nothing much—nothing at all—
Merely the realm where “being” was confined
And what was evanescent evanesced;

And then a spiral shell washed by a wave
Is carried forward in a foaming crest;
But that was long ago and far away,
It doesn’t matter, really, when it was,
And close your eyes now, hush now, all is well,
And far from here, so very far away,

A wave sets down an empty spiral shell
And draws away, it doesn’t matter where,
Among the other waves that come and go,
And other waves appear and disappear
And hush now, all is well, and far from here

All heaven and earth appear; and evanesce;
A self-engulfing spiral, ridge by ridge,
That disappears in waves that come and go
And all that could be done is done; and seven;
And six; and five; and four; and three; and two;
And one…and disappearing…far away…
Enraptured to the end, and all in play,
A spiral slowly turns itself in heaven.

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just now :: peter campion

a ladybug, its carapace blown open
so a translucent trace of orange gleams
from its body, has ascended link by link
the smudgy silver curve of my watch band.
It must have helicoptered past the sill
while I was slumped here squinting in the paper
at the ashen packaging another bombing’s
made of a minivan. Made available
in the photo like the homeless in a poem.
The pain is far away. But then for moments
utterly clear: molten metal guttering
down from the Milky Way to fall on us.
And sometimes, God, it lands with all its will.
My spluttered prayer for it to hold its distance:
how ludicrous to blurt it from this comfort.
Still it impels itself from me. Please stay
away from me. Please stay away from this
insectile soul who only weeks ago
was wind and shit and jasmine leaves and rain.

last night as I was sleeping :: antonio machado

translated by robert bly

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

dying languages :: kim dower

One language is lost
every two weeks. Researchers travel the world
to interview the last speakers.

Quiet, and you can hear what they say:
“She left the parrot in the car,”
“Cut off his leg to make it stop trembling,”

“Keep me safe from myself.”
What kinds of languages get lost?
Not ones we speak in Los Angeles

New York or Miami.
A language from a place so hot and humid
words can no longer form in people’s mouths.

A language so cruel that people have to cover their ears
so as to not be contaminated.
A language so silly each time a phrase is uttered

people in the streets die laughing.
Now and again men, women, children, goats
faint after overhearing the stupidest thought.

One language will never be lost:
the language of poets struggling to understand
why we die with one word on our lips.

caterpillars :: brod bagert

They came like dewdrops overnight
Eating every plant in sight,
Those nasty worms with legs that crawl
So creepy up the garden wall,
Green prickly fuzz to hurt and sting
Each unsuspecting living thing.
How I hate them! Oh, you know
I’d love to squish them with my toe.
But then I see past their disguise,
Someday they’ll all be butterflies.

the lemon trees :: eugenio montale

translated by lee gerlach

Hear me a moment. Laureate poets
seem to wander among plants
no one knows: boxwood, acanthus,
where nothing is alive to touch.
I prefer small streets that falter
into grassy ditches where a boy,
searching in the sinking puddles,
might capture a struggling eel.
The little path that winds down
along the slope plunges through cane-tufts
and opens suddenly into the orchard
among the moss-green trunks
of the lemon trees.

Perhaps it is better
if the jubilee of small birds
dies down, swallowed in the sky,
yet more real to one who listens,
the murmur of tender leaves
in a breathless, unmoving air.
The senses are graced with an odor
filled with the earth.
It is like rain in a troubled breast,
sweet as an air that arrives
too suddenly and vanishes.
A miracle is hushed; all passions
are swept aside. Even the poor
know that richness,
the fragrance of the lemon trees.

You realize that in silences
things yield and almost betray
their ultimate secrets.
At times, one half expects
to discover an error in Nature,
the still point of reality,
the missing link that will not hold,
the thread we cannot untangle
in order to get at the truth.

You look around. Your mind seeks,
makes harmonies, falls apart
in the perfume, expands
when the day wearies away.
There are silences in which one watches
in every fading human shadow
something divine let go.

The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets of the sun.

[little tree] :: e. e. cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see         i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look         the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”