His dusty body goes backwards to be dust. On dust more frictionless than ice A frantic slipping ant will make us wince To see a crucible mind no more than claw; A mind that harbors no dark thought to appall But shapes his perpetual falling wall. He does not jump for justice or to be just. Summer's first rain-drop rolls in dust a world Whose wet invites all wetness hints of growth (Such a world may we recognize in drought). Silent and dry, he emerges like a roar And makes the molten tension burst, And drowns himself with water, nothing more. And a something unrepeatable is learned.
John Muir’s queer and sundry quotations and exclamations shine through pane after pane of Yosemite Valley’s buildings. Less a ghost and more of a sacred mascot, his bearded visage seems to hang down from every shaggy tree and to impose itself in the crinkled cliff-shadows on every side of this immense religious fosse into which tourists pour as amply as blood or wine. “How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountain!” “I never saw a discontented tree.” “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”
This poem has no details If you won't carry water 100 miles in your hands. Break through the skim of ice In December, right behind that silent glass factory All one tall shadow on the Raritan. Watch your hands shiver. Feel your wet cuffs the first 20 miles Until the sky is a shard in your palms, And you fret about cutting your wrists Accidentally.
Kneel down in darkness Beside my dark. Flow your free hand Into the rolling stack. Each breath anticipates the next. Excited, we lean Nearer than the night. Nearer than the spur Of sparks about to start. Hold my hand. Hold this match with me.
I don't belong here, in this creation. The clear air flies around me, One frenzied blue wing escaping. The path up is all grey wrecked stones Made naked where the runoff comes bursting in Spring. They hint at the uppermost, topless spot All bald flat bold long rocks Veined with autumn-leaved vines and dry ivies. Now I can see what I have been pushing for until My head and shoulders are slick with afterbirth. Over the cliff, the landscape patches itself together. A bare, thin Cigarette smoke of veiled haze Puts a varnish finish to the valley. The Delaware lays like a wet, crooked stick Abandoned in a ditch. From up here, At the brownish prow of lookout rock, I can almost see my whole stupid life. Clouds assemble, whispering frigid things against me. I have no idea why nobody's here with me, Why I have no lovers at my age, Or why I'm tearing my loafers out on a mountainside, Scoring water off of strangers And trying to forget my face With my back Against this cliff.
Deliberately I drove until The only thing I was Was lost. Scrub pines hunched Like dwarf men under the lowering roof Of eggshell heaven, each man bent into his own Posture of Dantescan agony. I kicked uncomfortably Against the sterile pinecones large as a fist Or dud handgrenade until they rolled into the shadows Full of needles, with a sound like crumpled paper. The patient preoccupation that had bade me lose my way Loosened like pneumonia phlegm with every cracking kick. Now, at last, quite lost, I laughed! Not even my own troubles could find me here, Shadow-mottled as a forgotten fawn. Under a wing of vines, beside some swirl of wet, I sat contemplative in my self-forget. The vine-leaves' yellow eyes, all rimmed with red, Offered inedible tears of berries cheerily, Which, if I ate as offered, would let the sick inside Slide up slick as a roar. I smiled aside My wry temptation to see Just what it was was in me, And pulled my fingers from the vines like a half-plucked harp. I put away my need to know Just what had gotten lost when I had gotten so, To see it sized and sorted on some obscene plate Curiously served up For I and eyes to eat. Low above, on a white dry pine bough overhead, The sinuous weight of a great black snake Waits in its hisses.
Better off dead, I keep poking my pillow with my elbow, Looking for sleep-- The cold pleasure of unconsciousness,-- An apricot kept at the back of the fridge Sweating quietly in a lightless box Until the sudden click of dawn Bares its teeth.
There's something crappy in the sand along Belmar's shore. The grains are too big, or there's too much weird junk To run it Smoothly between your palms. Tar from the pier pilings sticks In your dungarees. And the Shark River inlet, no longer busy With chaotic traffic or crab traps Keeps spitting at you. Even the dying flounder From some old drunkard's afternoon haul Stares up at you to go. But you stay, Stuck on your perch and your thoughts-- A little helplessly. And when the oil rig lights twinkle on like an evening dress All along the bottom of the sky's deepening scythe of green, It's hard to know what to call it. If anything.
I feel trapped in my old life Like a hermit crab that won't abandon its shell It is so intensely curled Into its stiffened whorl of habits. The seashore wails and wails Its single, filial demand-- Repetitious as a herd of commodities brokers Shouting in their calico patchwork of blazers Until the final bell. How can I change if the sea won't? My yearning stands straight out like a flag, same as ever. Seaweed everywhere, Beaten brown and soft as a drenched felt hat, Fits itself alluringly To the suavities of the rocks, Adapting crash by crash by crash.
Nervous and warm as mice The skinny cot at Camp O Squeals with our comingling. Wet nose to nose, past midnight We whisper the dawn awake. How can we talk about love when everything's wrong? We touch through frayed fingerless gloves It is so cold. It is so cold, Our breath wets the cinderblocks And almost freezes. Our shoulders get sore, Facing each other in the dark. Light comes into the room Like a page turning out of its shadow. Before I could see your eyes, --Before I met you even,-- I would cry remembering them.