Moratorium

We await a more capacious state
of being, less trembling in our stirrups,
kindness, perhaps, or just some not quite hope
to hedge the aftermath. Something loud is
about to happen, air rushing away
from us already, clearing a future

space for itself. For us, no place but the
verge and the dreamy underside of things
we thought we knew–it’s just as well the cure
has emptied memory of everything
but moiré landscapes seen from rapid trains.
Still, there’s something not like sadness that

we almost feel, though we mostly want
to break a lot of things. We don’t know if
this monstrous skin is transformation or
revelation, only that forever is over
and this human heart cannot compass
even the slightest human thing.

How the water

How the water was the water
And the sky the sky.
How not itself was anything,
How truth be told was lie.
When the weather was the weather
Mild, torrential, chilly, high–
Fog like aspic, rain like needles,
Storms your hazel eyes.
How the marvel was the marvel
That we loved from side to side,
That we carried when we carried
Soft or sharp or still or wry.
How we suffered when we suffered
The cramped room of rhyme.
How we metamorphosed then
And thought we outran time.
How the secret was the secret
Of the plow and lullaby–
How you loved me and I loved you,
How we thought we’d never die.

who knew

rock on ice lhl bw

where was the lord when the grinding began
the rock rolled then, the torture was going
badly–no common language, we heard things
drifting, dissipating, what was left, a
few furs and old money, a persimmon
seed, dust in every groove, an empty
bottle or two, a brass chain, where were they
living, who knew the last war would be so
invigorating, so short on supplies
and hallucinogens, our offerings,
insensate, so deeply felt and cheap, so
ephemeral, what were we doing in
the hideout when the boy shipped in, we had
drinks, we had cornbread and pot liquor in
the shed, had fried snake and old potatoes,
it startled us, all that steam and bother.

Up All Night

up all night, when day comes one doesn’t
belong to it somehow, having traveled
great distance to arrive in a place
materializing for the first time,

or discovering the world has gone on
without you and you’re something of a ghost,
still, there’s a peace in it, the morning with
its birds and garbage trucks, and the usual

sensory disturbances, meteors,
distant fireworks, and that damned noise always
in your head like a world full of June bugs, the
sound of those swamps along the Pascagoula,

like places people have never been or
should not go into, all that ochre mud
and oppressive moss and cypress trees,
you don’t remember fishing, just that

someone caught a gar, but you remember
the boat low and slow and being afraid
to dip your hand in, all those prehistoric
things under that muddy water and on

the banks tiny creatures popping up from
the mud like strange flowers blossoming,
unless you’ve conflated that with another
time and place, South Carolina coast

a host of small crabs erect and waving
as if telling you to go away, the
things one’s mind returns to, though when you get
down to it, you don’t have a memory

for fine detail and suspect other people
invent that lavishment they recall,
while you recollect only flashing
images and feelings words can only

sneak up on and stall the revelation,
now this morning sky and you’re thinking how
you’d like to spend the day just watching clouds,
just watching the way they do, without

thinking they look like anything else,
just trying to look through seeing,
to get clear of seeing, that magnetic
pull to make the world cohere, though of course

one is clear of all of it soon enough,
that wash of feeling one could have been
anywhere but here one is, till letting go
comes upon you more stringently than

hanging on to what anyway—dreams and
expectations, things that seem to have
continuity because they don’t exist–
how panic can feel like exhilaration

as if one has things still to experience
that bring joy, not mere release from sorrow
but something that busts up into the room
with its own kind of glad, how to get

the past to let go of you, you have to
relinquish what it has taken that’s gone,
how now I know you talk to the cats when
you think nobody else is awake.

Future Past

There’s always something from the past–
perhaps unnoticed then, perhaps not even
from a past in which you were alive–
there it is: lurking in a nearby future,
waiting with its duct tape and its cable ties,
its boat idling in an unmapped cove,
a lashed-palm lean-to on the deck where
the weary torturer takes off his plastic shoes
to take his naps. If later comes, you will recall
you knew they had you when you knew
you’d seen it all before—the implements
and makeshift generators, the manager’s
motto taped on the wall to motivate
your captors, those who do and
those who merely watch: be the cross.

Escape

the disappearance explained mod 1

When death stopped by the room was ready–
the dark with its luminescent sonar,
the tedium of equipment, its scrawl and bell,
forced breathing like a turn signal still on
when you forgot to turn, sounding like tires
on patchy road, or like an ocean outside
a closed door, the sound of saying taken
from you, the sound you swam beneath already
far away from us, leaving, gone.
Just the week before you joked about more
elegant transmutations, that breathy
speech saying you wished to be encrypted
for retrieval at some better future date or
aged in a barrel and sipped neat cold nights or
milled to feed the trees that shade the porch.
We hope you’ve forgiven us for not acting
on such worthy desires—finding you now
each day in places you didn’t even know,
we’ve happily concluded that you
maneuvered past the end there on your own.

image: The Disappearance Explained: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/17/illustrations-from-a-victorian-book-on-magic-1897/

Almost

A shovel and an axe
she says–one to kill and
one to bury. A flower,
a bow–one to shoot,
the other to remember
I forget, you protest:
a garden, a forest,
my heart, your dress?
Never mind all that
she says. We’ll wear
bearskins in summer
and go naked for all
dire occasions. Or we’ll
wear the latest shroud
you say. So there she says
take that, we’re dead and
laughing like always on
the wrong side of the joke.
You are thinking: now we
are sliding only half out
from under the stitching
over what tries to get out
to get in again until there’s
nothing to grab onto.
Metonymy you say. Hell
she says is all mirrors—
nothing is reflected
if everything is. It’s
the absence of things
we take as proof they
exist. Oh you say merely
call it a ghost and it
once lived almost still lives.
Yes like words she says like
love like illumination–
wherever it’s dark
it once was.

Inside

the burning cropped resized

The first torment is isolation–the blindfold
it takes to get you there so you don’t know
where you are, your mind hollering run
hide, but where can you run or hide? Thus
excised from the world you knew, you begin
to feel what’s done to you is some kind of
penance, you begin to think of your captor
as the agent of your deliverance. Something
in the intimacy of your suffering makes you
feel complicit, makes you hide yourself so
deep away that ever after you will feel like an
impostor—outcast, mis-cast– and the only
thing that feels like choice is renunciation of
what you no longer have. Still, even in this
dark captivity, there is the shining mind, the
scintillating vision of a heaven of light and sky,
and then all the ecstatic words you conjure up
to explain it. No one now can forbid you to
make a devotion of it, this expansive freeing
space you’ve found inside.

 

 

 

Ghost

noaa lightning bw scratchy mod 3 stretch resized

if and if not we between
ways that were not human ways
whispering next door that thundered
lightning that ran blue around the room

nobody would say monkey first
so we were always alone afraid
it lived there more than we did
chewed us up from inside out

how loud must alarm be
before we give it up
how much alarm
before belief

the road from there was so straight
and hot it burned up to your brain
we saw each other walking there
and pretended we did not

First, Then

first, then last, then in between
the cicada buzz of consciousness

just maddening, like intention, like
things postponed in some other life

tunneling futures you won’t have
dogging you in retrospect, it arrives

on thousands of small wooden feet, nothing
as riveting as war’s sloppy calculations

but like death in key respects, relentless
talk of things impossible to know