twilight :: henri cole

There’s a black bear
in the apple tree
and he won’t come down.
I can hear him panting,
like an athlete.
I can smell the stink
of his body.

Come down, black bear.
Can you hear me?

The mind is the most interesting thing to me;
like the sudden death of the sun,
it seems implausible that darkness will swallow it
or that anything is lost forever there,
like a black bear in a fruit tree,
gulping up sour apples
with dry sucking sounds,

or like us at the pier, somber and tired,
making food from sunlight,
you saying a word, me saying a word, trying hard,
though things were disintegrating.
Still, I wanted you,
your lips on my neck,
your postmodern sexuality.
Forlorn and anonymous:
I didn’t want to be that. I could hear
the great barking monsters of the lower waters
calling me forward.

You see, my mind takes me far,
but my heart dreams of return.
Black bear,
with pale-pink tongue
at the center of his face,
is turning his head,
like the face of Christ from life.
Shaking the apple boughs,
he is stronger than I am
and seems so free of passion—
no fear, no pain, no tenderness. I want to be that.

Come down, black bear,
I want to learn the faith of the indifferent.

the boat-header :: henri cole

I saw you
unexpectedly
on the street today.
Though it was midday
your eyes were dilated,

and you seemed
almost electrically
charged with thought,
with an increased
speed of speaking:

“I garden, I grill meat,
I prowl the bars.”
But I was having
difficulty listening.
Your teeth were growing.

A muscle
spasmed against
my diaphragm;
I needed
a bag of ice.

Still, I could see
those rooms
with perfect clarity:
the coat rack
and bureau,

the dinner plates
with congealed meat,
the flea market Piranesi,
and the long mirrors
like camera lenses

freezing us
as the boat-header
gave you his final
thrusts, preparatory
to the cutting-in.

green shade :: henri cole

[Nara Deer Park]

With my head on his spotted back
and his head on the grass—a little bored
with the quiet motion of life
and a cluster of mosquitoes making
hot black dunes in the air—we slept
with the smell of his fur engulfing us.
It was as if my dominant functions were gazing
and dreaming in a field of semiwild deer.
It was as if I could dream what I wanted,
and what I wanted was to long for nothing—
no facts, no reasons—never to say again,
“I want to be like him,” and to lie instead
in the hollow deep grass—without esteem or riches—
gazing into the big, lacquer black eyes of a deer.

gravity and center :: henri cole

I’m sorry I cannot say I love you when you say
you love me. The words, like moist fingers,
appear before me full of promise but then run away
to a narrow black room that is always dark,
where they are silent, elegant, like antique gold,
devouring the thing I feel. I want the force
of attraction to crush the force of repulsion
and my inner and outer worlds to pierce
one another, like a horse whipped by a man.
I don’t want words to sever me from reality.
I don’t want to need them. I want nothing
to reveal feeling but feeling—as in freedom,
or the knowledge of peace in a realm beyond,
or the sound of water poured into a bowl.