Afterwards Is

oct 2013 trip 02 crop grain rsz

maybe a room with a window, blue, hazy
maybe night or almost morning,
outside that place where everything is
that’s not in here
maybe waking from a dream or almost
remembering something—that’s the feeling,
someone’s going, someone’s gone
or just feeling that cascade of wrong
that dying is
then the stillness
a train stopped at a station
where no one ever arrives
lost things and lost creatures,
lost to you, not that you’ve done it
not that you could have undone it
afterwards, everything just seems patched
and wrinkled, not much sense in
smoothing out or getting your pens in a line

Still

iphne gulf shores oct 2013 114 RAIN RSZD

Down on the coast, the smell of the rain arrives before the rain does, its shadow moves under the water, it’s the dark with a fluorescent light inside it, an x-ray of the part of you that’s like the Milky Way.

Where were you when I was there? One day like another, drowsy, hot, the mind off somewhere with a sand bucket, unsupervised. Floating in the ocean stretches you out till you are bodiless. You forget it’s the same place you saw stingrays gliding up inside a tall wave before it broke.

I sat inside my life like it was mine. I was only waiting for your arrival until waiting became not knowing where you were. After that, waiting became knowing that your not coming meant you were staying away. Then there was all kinds of knowing things I didn’t want to know.

When we used to write letters, there was something of yourself you gathered up to send, it wasn’t even in the words sometimes, it was like opening up the thing that’s solitary about someone when they are thinking, you could enter in to it, you could fold it up and carry it around, open it up and marvel at the little creatures inside. That was what treasuring some absent someone felt like. That was what the past felt like till I knew better.

Driving into town, seeing somebody’s boat up in the front yard where the last hurricane left it, everything about the place askew. Thinking it could be that someone just finally gave up on it and left. Then thinking that even that wreckage could be a sanctuary for someone’s tenderness, someone could be in there asleep in someone’s arms, the smell of his skin like a balm.

I remember one day taking clothes down off the line before a storm and having to chase down a shirt of yours the wind got hold of–it made me laugh, all the world was alive. If someone had told me then that that would be my happiness in life, or that my happiness was already over but I didn’t know it yet, I wouldn’t have known what that meant, it still would have been just another day like all the days I loved you, that it might not be still wouldn’t cross my mind.

Tending the Body

Tending the body of the beloved, you see
something mortal there that love cannot cure,
as if you cannot think the body tended still
has arms to hold you, as if already
this one you love belongs to some other
estate where we only ever go alone,
as if pausing at the edge of a wood
one says let’s turn back now and the other
says I think I’ll linger here awhile,
go on without me, I’ll catch up.

 

 

 

Blowback

You discover that space is flat
but you prefer a surface more like
an interface, or something that if turned
on its side would go straight to the bottom.

You want to turn your face to the sun,
you want gravity. Everybody else
will sit around eating and joking
all the way up to the end.

Names and other things have curves
where secrets hide or can be planted
to blow things up later. Unlike the
rolling boundaries of the things
you care about.

So you track it down.
There’s an improved experiment.
Before there was nothing there wasn’t
something. Your last refuge not to
beg the attribution.

The brute–it was all underwater but
like sadness it wasn’t an even thing–
more like a cryptic note or rather
a partial note. Acquiesce, it said.
a mean overseer with a whip.

Did it say “depth” or “death”?
Another way of saying it’s not true,
probably not true that you’ll be anxious
now in any scene set on a spacecraft
with the short guy in the tight coat.

That blowback from the future is such
an absolute affliction you wonder
how it is that something that’s
over hasn’t surfaced yet.

The god who lives in a shack always
leans a chair up against the nearest
outside wall to sit in the sun.
Everything he says is so crafted it’s
like clothing. Each day we wait to hear
from you. Are you there?

 

 

 

Slip

the sky thick with crows and then
trees ripe with them—not a day
for beginnings or endings or
brushing up against your heart’s
fleshy O-ring and plans for flight

mulberries thick on the ground
a spindly persimmon tree–fruit
mostly seeds, flesh best when
on the verge of putrefaction
how things were ready when they fell
that was how you learned
the meaning of time passing

someone might recall every color
and heartbeat in a distant day
as if recollection were true, as if
something numinous could emerge
from a paste of surmised details,
feelings dressed up as solid things
the locular all locked up, as if
one could get past glassy surfaces
reflecting only everything
that cannot get inside

you slip away from living so much
you forget how the day has
its different times and moods
how the mere sound of a human voice
conjures things words only leave spaces for

Untied

Reluctant happiness is
not to bear, is not
to pen
that spirit scrimmage.
Wind from nowhere,
open the door.
The cut that tears,
the trap of momentary
fickle good.
The universe so in
the head’s voice-over:
polyphonic
despite its fix,
unhinged
despite attachment.

In the Woods

They have been many days in the forest walking and not getting anywhere, always in the same gloom, a shifting curtain of shadows sometimes shot through with arrows of golden buzzing light revealing spots of dappled green ahead of them like stained copper, above them, the dark closed green of the high heads of tall pines.

They walk always in the same direction even when they turn around. They’ve been here so long they no longer know how many they are–one or two, so long they no longer know if they are thinking or speaking aloud the things they think, so long that when one of them says something, they don’t know which one of them is saying it or if they have already said it a moment ago or a week ago or a month or yesterday.

Suddenly the forest opens up. They are not looking for a temple, but they find one, though it has been mostly gutted by the latest round of haphazard malice, wrecked but not destroyed. Past the relief of finally just arriving somewhere, one is astonished then relieved to be in a holy place that like most holy places seems always to have been there, awaiting finding and supplication or gratitude. Even here among the cracked columns and crushed idols, one is seized with the wonder of belief.

The sacred pool, mostly dry and muddy now, embellished with the empty bottles and candy wrappers and condoms of the wrecking crew–he is standing at the far edge of it, looking out over the valley that shades off into the city in the distance. He turns to you and says, every time we get to this part, I think the same thing and say the same thing, but I never can remember what it is. Oh, you say, I remember–you say, ah, the end  of empire, documentation and storage and then just victims and middens from here on out.

 

 

 

 

 

O hear what remains

kircher-musurgia-echo-mechanics

O hear what remains of
our utterance, this our proud
device. In this wasteland,
we clamor for amore, then
for more, our stately echo
proceeds to rock your naked
foundations, that ridged affair
you thought to fool us with.
True, our installments
explain away our voice,
but our concrete love
catches your heart off guard,
and while our mountains
cluster on the verge,
our sunny messenger
outruns our faun.

image: Athanasius Kircher http://standrewsrarebooks.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/52-weeks-of-inspiring-illustrations-week-42-athanasius-kirchers-beautiful-musurgia-universalis-1650/

Rue

No news here since the last famished
liberation, I’ve settled in silence
and the odd letter, embroidery
no one can see. When all you wanted
was bright bonnets and quaint skirts,
you got a skint knee and rue
prim as trimmed whiskers
to pass on to me along with
the magic of wash-and-wear.
Now we know you were the brave one,
now we know what that cost.
I’ve not forgotten how you sewed
my clothes–a velveteen collar on
a little coat, a flowery button on
a sleeve–or how your mother
made a quilt from what was left
of all you’d made for me. If only
you’d taught me gratitude and
how to scry unspoken expectation,
I’d not be so sorry now for all
the things that then I didn’t know.

A day longer than a day

A day longer than a day—
water under a piling,
plying sand and silt away
till everything is water
and sky—heat lightning,
ponderous clouds.
How off the track the wheel
of other lines, the little you
the big one orbits round,
the last lost creature
In the spirit jail.

 

 

Slide

What slides
rules sideways,
it can’t run. When
sidewise dreams infiltrate
things we know, they
never are the things
we know again. If in
this makeshift paradise
time passing merely
imitates time past, the
dreamer never knows.
Something in us insists,
something else lets go.
Everything here that’s
flat invites a fold,
anything that can linger
is already gone.