When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
See the writer again
at the gate of memory?
The land cracks open with wind
and shots of rain.
She should drown her pages
in the sky, take to the ground
like a dogged gardener.
Turn the soil into something new —
Survive the past.
Whispers at the barbed wire
no longer suffice. What works is singing
from the cave of the self
where memories of knives
and clouds shaped like tiger faces
live together like children
unaware of their potential.
We will live forever misaligning the changes
into further time stinted tricks
giving up post kickflip failures
scribbling prepared remarks to notebooks
unlocked over dry spells flooded with demand
salt crystals crushed, the past flashed
and I was a working writer, nursing the pools
in everyone’s hearts, disembarking
soothing the air around a final question
away in the country toweling off
my doing the most proper thing turned
somehow slick, of feminine wiles, a clap trap
case book, the dream at the end so delicate
and put out. Makes light so pained
two reclining long in the turn of the neck
in like stride, imparting poetic asides
(bored to tears in Taos) cross out words
and tunnel the line, the guts will sit atop
glistening, hand stamped valves really
toying with release, a lighted display
corresponding controls, to repave
an entire arcade in release of our well
whiskey texting back dimension
We are poor and not cheap, in love
with the same little song slashed booklet
At nine, my father couldn’t stop
placing a shotgun near the temple
of his grandfather, who couldn’t stop
pulling switches from birch trees,
nor unbuckling the unbloomed hips of my aunts,
who now cover their couches in plastic.
Potpourri coats my aunts like wool,
their lips damp in a fever hum of Amens.
By eleven, my father knows the shape of moonshine
in a grown man’s mouth,
cannot remove the rot
that roots my aunts
at the trunk of their grandfather.
Sundays my aunts dress like roses,
wear smiles hard as Baptist pews.
They do their best to catch the spirit,
though he has a sprinter’s legs.
You know that it is there, lair
where the bear ceases
for a time even to exist.
Crawl in. You have at last killed
enough and eaten enough to be fat
enough to cease for a time to exist.
Crawl in. It takes talent to live at night, and scorning
others you had that talent, but now you sniff
the season when you must cease to exist.
Crawl in. Whatever for good or ill
grows within you needs
you for a time to cease to exist.
It is not raining inside
tonight. You know that it is there. Crawl in.
If Art would only talk it would, at last, reveal
itself for what it is, what we all burn to know.
As for our certainties, it would fetch a dry yawn
then take a minute to sweep them under the rug:
certainties time-honored as meaningless as dust
under the rug. High time, my dears, to listen up.
Finally Art would talk, fill the sky like a mouth,
clear its convulsive throat while flashes and crashes
erupted as it spoke—a star-shot avalanche of
visions in uproar, drowned by the breathy din
of soundbites as we strain to hear its august words:
“a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.”
Salt Lake City
here in our state of yes and smug
crystalline over mountains and horizon melt
such pretty clouds such drifting light
who is it enough for what kind of person
lives in this sweetness this clear
beauty and does not utter a single oh or no
or even I my hand clapped over my mouth my tongue caught by
what’s left in the right hand the dominant and clenched
what’s right in the left hand easily tossed
catching instead malaise a coma of indifference
swirling in our stunning vestibule
mourning the self just getting by
in a theocracy of pretense and defense
here in my state of smog and so what