There's a dark deep down in ordinary things Resists our bringing them into view, Or else in bringing them what light we bring, As if to ask the question 'Who are you?' I do not know what answer I would make Being myself, and, so, invisible-- Although I know when I give or when I take, Outfitting my days as I best am able. There's a dark deep down in ordinary things Resists us, the way a mirror pushes Until we're left again with things as things, Alone among our daylit doubts and guesses. I am one keeps to himself, and although I do, I do not keep the dark alone.
As snow and snow will in snowing meet, What slid down danced into a wild sleet And randomly clung, each to each, Resisting ocean's disassembling touch That undoes the individual who falls And in that fall returns to ocean's all. There was nothing there in what was of sky, No help of light to help say why, Only usurpation's snow-deadened hiss That ended each self-formed singleness Distilled from upper vagueness and the cold. They did not fall because they had been told. They fell because there was nothing else to do But fall, and this the ocean knew.
It lay self-entangled, curled as ramshorns, --And pushed the belly into being mother-- Who, to be herself, had first to the Other,-- Which looked as if it didn't want being born. Its sideways was more, and worse, than backwards. It had to be sawn out to be itself a lamb, Startle the clover and bleat "I am." The bowie knife came handy without a word. A tense scarlet torn sort of giving-in, A clattering shape cauled on scattered straw, Ungainly upright legs besides the ewe's, Shook me wet and bellowed out of pain. What had come too soon would need a mother's milk. I pulled all night through wetness with raw silk.
I look into the portions of my thought, cold and dull. Wheel in wheel unsettles the quiet mill asleep And puts an uneasy harness on all I feel. The river like a clock runs fast and deep. Soon there will be paper, deep and white. Wet slush from the chute, heaps of pulp and dust, Driven by the living water to be a blank in sight. A haaing gear gives my cheek a buss. I pole a belt to the drive shaft, and all begins-- Horses in wheels turn, turn in their dreams; Floorboards shake with purpose, dark and dim. The razor nibs of the saw-wheel start a seam. I weep, weep for sleep and do as I must. I look into the cold dull portions of my thought.
The provident power of hurt and harm The provenance of an eye ingathers, (Its certain witness of a moment's charm That lightly changes a life forever), Bluely demonstrates in this morning glory That measures us, our smallness and our fear, With too blue an eye to ever bear Until a touch of night shuts its story. Then we dream, with a certain sort of blue rue, And wonder in sleep's deep wanderment If the sun will show us what to do Or if dreaming can tell us what we meant. An eye perhaps has followed us all day through, But we do not know the eye's intent.
Having grown long words in fieldgrass daylong, I stepped into a wooded brook to dip Ink-worded hands into the snickering quips Offered up by the silverquick stream; I wondered just what the water had meant to mean, Whose loose stones insist the water into song. Many times I had lost what footing I had felt, Suddenly cried out, or laughed in despair, By hard wet things beneath thrown over, Raw agony raised to the eloquence of a welt; And, with water in my mouth, I'd often remarked The sincerer operations of the lark, Spilling a slippery noise above taciturn rocks That break bones and never forget.
Three dark junipers shadow where time stood, Representative of my brothers and Myself, from earth and water grown to good Plain wood on the township's public land. Huddled under them by the neighboring pond Fireworks cracked to color July the Fourth; We then, as I now, beside the dawn-like mud Stood every year we'd been on earth, Three stranger brothers our divided folks Reaped as seedlings from the brick adoption house Into a home too shy and shamed for such a name. Now torn away ourselves to spouses And lives, from rooted things by time unyolked, I stand between the trees without a name.
I wake in dark. The air itself seems stained. The dark appears a darkness self-sustained By whatever of darkness must remain Even at whitest noon. But this is not noon. This is the dark without a shadow, without a moon; A dark that won't stay shut in rooms; One that follows even the ripest mood And rots there, and will not give way to good. This is the dark wolves build in woods Who have no hands and whose teeth are sure. This is the black that cancels the cure; This the emptiest hour and the deepest hurt. This lies behind eyes and bottoms every heart. This it is that makes a faster beating start.
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.
The dilemma of doing's to 'have done,' And by choosing from Many be left with One. Addition's chief mischief is dubbed a sum; The unwary mistake it for a total solution. The wise contend that all is confusion, Or at best a formal intuition. To act presumes belief, or so I'm told, And am pointed onward, backward, or upward to God, (And reminded not to mind the length of the odds). The less done the better is my subtractive reaction. I'm not quite afraid to feel quite forsaken, (Except that, of course, I might be mistaken). One thought is left me, with which I'd begun: "The dilemma of doing's to 'have done.'"
There's a rhyme at the joint point of knowing. There's a place, a way of saying, that clearly makes "Good" and it opposite resonate, and even ring The way a glass cries out when struck-- Sharing its invisible essence like a singer. Glasses, brim to abyss, display a range Of interchanging tones to the ringer Who bangs the magnanimous Strange. Does a sip sip the Good, or a sip sip the Bad? Either way the song sways, half-empty, half-full. The opposite of Good's not Bad, but Odd, whose disobedient music's beautiful. What words can we sing, for the Good, for the Odd, That will make them ring out, spoon-struck, like God?
Once upon a time, I had slightly Bruised my fingerend in tying Unneedful knots too brutally. The knots were sonnets, gracefully Losing bout by bout in rhyming, Despite my careful scratching That annulled no spot of itching. I had not thought that writing Was so much like fighting Or two witches bitching So under-epidermally. I stayed at it relentlessly Tying tying tying Every Musing, Bruising Blossom stylistically. The daisy- Chain was for no one particularly (Or perhaps I am lying) You know how things get tangly When we practice firstly.... The lengthening String of words got too stringy And self-involved in singing That should have taken flight more singly By whistling Unconcernedly And not too self-consciously, The way A clumsy Kite, so sprightly Can climb all day By dodging More effortful breezes, never too longly Lodging, Never aloft too lingeringly Until the crisis of a knot too thoughtfully Unthoughtful cripples the so skyey Thingy Into a crooked tree.
A midnight ocean and a stippled snow Greyly perceived from a rail I know Shared the grainy dark of here and nearer. What water was above me seemed uncertainer. What rolled in mist below rolled solider. As snow and snow will in snowing meet, What slid down danced into a wild sleet And randomly clung, each to each, Resisting ocean's disassembling touch That undoes the individual who falls And in that fall returns to ocean's all. I could not tell just what my seeing meant Nor how long soundless darkness had been lent; There was nothing there in what was of sky, No help of light to help say why, Only usurpation's snow-deadened hiss That ended each self-formed singleness Distilled from upper vagueness and the cold. They did not fall because they had been told. They fell because there was nothing else to do But fall, and this the ocean knew.