“Tiou, tiou, tiou, tiou- Spe, tiou, squa- tio, tio, tio, tio, tio, tio, tio, tix- Coutio, coutio, coutio, coutio- Squo, squo, squo, squo- Tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzu, tzi- Corror, tiou, squa, pipiqui- Zozozozozozozozozozo-zozo, zirrhading- Tsissisi, tsissisisisisisisis- Dzoree, dzoree, dzoree, tzatu, dzi- Dlo, dlo, dlo, dio, dlo, dlo, dlo, dlo, dlo- Quio, trrrrrrrrrrr- Lu, lu, lu, lu, ly, ly, ly, ly, lie, lie, lie, lie- Quido didl h lulyfie- Hagurr, gurr, quipio- Coui, coui, coui, couri, qui, qui, qui, gai, gui, gui, gui- Goll, goll, goll, goll guia hadadoi- Conigui, horr, ha dia diadill si- Hezezezezezezezezezezezezezezezeze couar ho dze hoi- Quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, quia, ti Ki, ki, ki, io, io, io, ioioioio ki- Lu ly h le lai la leu lo, didl io, quia- Kigaigaigaigaigaigaigai guiagaigaigai couior dzio dzio pi.”
~~transcription of a Nightingale’s song made by a French Composer
Published by BLAST PRESS
The Night Orchard
Petal falling followed falling petal Till all apple trees held was sky above; Such a burst of sweetness discharged from air Put mind out of reckoning for its cares. We walked laughing through the snowing grove Whirling the fallen in splashes back up, Widening soft confusions in our wake, Chapleted in blossoms that all spring throve, Like trees ourselves glowing with tree-petals.-- Earth and air to a fantastic whiteness blown, Shining as puddles from yesterday's shower. Yet trees, for all their loss, did not look to be sad. To rely on having is to be had. New leaves yattering new green to new leaves Talked for all the world about the breeze, As if blossoms had kept them quieted as snow And, having shaken off their winter calm to play, They did not know what to say or know And so said everything in a single day. Evening found them standing solemn with the stars Thinking how little they were themselves Beneath bright things hung up so far. Starlight cast down starlight like sky decayed. All the night orchard stood restored to blaze As if no single petal of them all Had suffered earthward a single fall.
The Wind Trees Keep
Trees that have it in them to be a wood Gather dark thoughts where bare hilltop stood. Branch to branch entreats, and root goes out to root Entangling dirt with movement deliberate As worms, and mix their living sinews With cold dead earth, its coldness to renew And above the burning hilltop bring A shadowy wing never alighting. Starless night hovers where noon once reigned And exiles grass, and laughing feet detains With extricating minuets of wait And then pass on,-- a guardless garden gate Forever shuddering in the wind trees keep, Murmuring night-long while the world's asleep.
The Black Pony
A pony came whose coat was black as pitch, Whose blood was broody as water in a ditch. Her eyes were saucers of red command, Her teeth grew square on the taste of hands. Wildflowers grew more wild at her passing scent; Like nerves through skin she raced where she went. There was more than strangeness in what made her so. There was more of night in her hooves than men know. Proud, unobeying breed of tameless hills, Storm of strength with a godless guideless will. What light burned behind her being may Not have been heaven sent, but burned to stay. An inner star served as her only lamp: None took her, none kept her, none triumphed.
The Old Quarry
The old quarry's flooded echo came back To him almost exact, but left a blunted blank For song, a lack of deadened cold echo In so much dank; the quarry air was too Soft and queer to sough a song out right,-- Yet still the listening stone, it seemed, white, uptilted, Knew that song might be meant, to judge by crevice And shadowed device and looks that meant no peace Nor gave advice beyond the dusty tans Rained down on singing man. One saw then, The quarry was all quivered walls and rocks A mocking water swallowed at the bottom. It resembled nothing so much as a tomb. Man's voice rolled all against the abandoned lot, Echoing himself his repeated tune again Like nothing else in nature that to voice pretends; He was his own superior echo then While song pursued its end as if never begun, And time dilated some in jarring after-echo, Or made itself felt as one,-- as dark burns on in coal While fire unfolds fire. Here, some soft after-noise (As in the mare the moaning foal) made some alloy, Forging voice and form alive in the willful quarry To totter and rejoice alone where dead water stayed, -A second singing voice came from bland clay, And was heard some way. It seemed, for once, The offence of voice had persuaded voice To once not stay remanded in veined marble But grace half-garbled, but half-audible, The silent singer's startled ear, and speak Some talk of the theme he'd followed half-awake Into the choked dark of the watery quarry. What he caught of what came back made him wary. "I won't be sorry. I won't, I won't--" He straightened up half-sighing, as if he'd meant Never to hear his own want in song he'd given All his graven morning to, and that, if spent above, Would have vanished less riven into eve Than the grave day that the quarry gave.
Liberty has two edges still, One to keep free, one to kill.
Clear-headed time at a touch Shows all too much. The resentful body grows old; Youth and strength have gone Disgraced from the stage. Vague as a notion, The room swims into view; Dawn stutters into motion. Time has done to you Things time shouldn't do. An old man stares out From an oval steel mirror, Your face in one clout The face of a stranger: Cataract-eyed, his blind Grip gone round a razor.
The Thrush at the Sill
Bright beyond belief the morning sun Presents a double blazing image Above the sink, bewitching just enough of dawn For me to throw both windows back in homage. I went forgetful about my round of chores, Touching openness neither less nor more Than I was bid by my round of chores. Sunset had sun exit as it had come, In doubled glory. A thrush burst out at once Loudly loud, as if woods and house were one And eaves leaves.-- And thank, yes, forever thank Such song for how it came and its coming in To wake indoor woods beside my sink. Thank thrush for landing home in homing in.
A Late Milking
The upper pasture gate creaked padlocked. A wading lantern to show the latch Flared where invisible things attach, Carrying light snatched up for open use To home a tricky key and save a curse. To burn out opposing night and burn day back, And give dark description where words must lack, Light's concern was kept narrow as the lock. At a click, light soon waded on to earthy dark,-- Swung wondering in a guideless hand Familiar with the black of pasture lands; Sudden cow or knoll indifferently stood stark. I followed from below as I was, restless To see how aimless light in darkness does.
The Broken Boxcar
At an unsteering speed of stoppage, Detourned from straight tracks and wages Into a listless field gone over Mostly to pale thick-blossomed clover, A boxcar keeps still its steel rails Going both ends nowhere in parallel. At the blackness of the door A bandit gathers gold once more, Pulling yellow raspberries From some single spray above the weeds, Reaching the rarewire richness With nimble hands and quickness, Palming sunset tears from thorns; The racoon drinks them one by one. Nothing comes to the rusted hitch Clawing air above a gopher ditch, No iron hand arrives to steer And with knuckled coupling make a pair, To clasp its open mate from the clearing Into a sky of tear-streaked stars Where time would hoist a husky boxcar From its slatted stall and decay To paradise, all the way. Yet in the eye of a ruffed robin, On her hopeful nestful throned within Where the red roof caves in From leakage and mineral rain, Glints a hint of levitation-- In her high eye alone it seems A flying boxcar bursts with wings Like eyelashes; below it, everything Lies amiably disordered, Earthbound and solemnly sordid, While heavenly visitors to her nest Feed her safe chicks, and she rests. So much of vision came to eye, and awed. A unpersuaded caw cawed From the litter of the field The hunching crow refused to yield, A black bold spot that picked for trash In weeds gone bright to whiteness. Now only time, for what it's worth Flying still on its changeful path, Turns the structure in its soft clutch Like a moody sleeper back to earth.
Where a single steeple keeps the sky And a scribbled wet of charcoal darks Laps lapsing to meet the day, --Crosshatched by wind's artistic lark,-- Monday quiet's come, as quiet may Upon one meditation-taken; After-silence serves some way For all the echo left the lake. The boathouse goes down to dock On knees of battered pilings. Suppliant to greet common rock, The dock goes flat as filings. Astute, the musing rock Lets the mirror water watch What it has mind enough to mock:-- Searchers who seek a latch. There is no back or access side To such a thing that is all is; And if you say inside, And take inside out to see what 'tis, I'll say, 'tis better far to glide Whatever offered surfaces And decode what pleasure there resides In such interstices Than creep through dark, however wide The open crosshatch seems or is, To pull apart, to peer at tides Whose motives are their business,-- And trouble them enough alive To wash our prayers with their sighs.
I longed for something something like too long. My ablest eyes had two ears of seems-- Each tree I heard, I heard shake some human song; Two eyes never looked but I saw two stars along, No weather raved but trailed some inner storm. My analogizing mind knew but what it deemed. Nothing brought what it had meant to bring, No shape manifest but in related form. Of what I'd been gifted I got nothing, no thing. Alone in life's simulacrum I saw or heard Less than one third of every third's third. All my blessings blessed transformed. Ready at last to be, no matter being's marr, I'm satisfied with sighing is and are.
Like the flower near at hand I grow Upwards by light into all I know; Buried in ignorant dirt by a downward thumb I bend dumb beneath rain into what may come. Like a flower in summer now I grow tall, Concentrate a seed out of all I've been, Put half my something into that seed to fall, Drop it unseen on wide ground, and then Name that something put my all. Is that something put experience gathered in? Or is ignorance all when any all begins? My ignorance decides me-- I cannot tell What seed, in growing there, may yet become Besides new ignorance beneath the sun.
The Burning Anvil
My breast is a burning anvil Cannot hammer a likely shoe Stern enough to trace unglued A racing lifetime through and through. My breast is a burning anvil Full of causal smokes and coughs, More than youth at times had thought, Between hammer and anvil caught. My breast is a burning anvil That sparks with the loss of heat When edge and edge, hard and hard, compete To shape each and each to mate. My breast is a burning anvil Cannot cease to pause or cool,-- As industrious, dedicate a tool As any I'd forgot I forged. My breast is a burning anvil Full of tragic din and error As any beating thing that mirrors The hotness of my terror. My breast is a burning anvil Cannot pound out a likely star As real as evening's first clear At whose clarity I stare.
Something about where the pebbled path in day Splits, or in evening even trines, Makes me wonder about the purpose of the way. How many must have used their footsteps just to come, And in coming here pass on in time, As if all wheres we go are comparable to when. And yet, time's a path more linearly ordered, One whose steps will not divide, No matter at what shady banks or grasses we loiter-- We may not, cannot, no matter how tried, Reverse the going flow, or, breaking it, abide.
How small a snapshot lies in hand That held such grandness in its lens. A perspective granted only once and when. What we see of what is just depends. Bounded by a regular white of lack, I look at the detailed littleness; A thumb occludes a mountain in the west Like a painter perhapsing a sketch on scrap. Snapped charm of vistas that had turned my head, Develops charms of Time new-enlisted To re-focus a moment visited. Out of the frame winces one of my dead; I turn the flat for date, and recognize How loss and tears consume what's snapped by eyes.
A spider, web, and alderberry bush Arranged December in a quiet crèche; The spider's stitching straw was soft and fine As anything that ties us to the divine; An afternoon of hidden breaths condensed, Strung with dew as if of dew composed, A blazing cobweb out of cold mist-- Dew-prism looked on prism, all in all, And saw summer's wonder from before the Fall Until every thread of light was put out by the loss Of sun. Twilit dews sparkled into frost. Each gentle juncture hardened to a cross. Stiff additions of still more strength and grace To dropleted water, by increments erased Weave's living give and left a stony place To which the chapel spider was not accustomed. A rigid web in an alderberry niche, Still and silver as a collection dish. From her holy central belly it spiraled out,-- A frozen wheel or prayer-mat to invite Chilly fervors of the not-yet devout. You couldn't think such religion altruistic, And could only thank it if a mystic And believed all troubled birth a pause Between our cyclings back to Cause. The spider didn't think it mercy, that's certain. She rushed behind her tautened curtain To lay a landed fly into her winter stock And knit the praying fly a little silver lock That has only a mystic key. She sought to bead a new dew to see, Since day had gone blinded down to night, And one more dark into her web was caught. But even a spider with her sticky tricks Can find occasion to make a slip On such transparency gone slick; The icy wire and her dainty claw-tip Met without resistance, though her weight was there, And that gave a tumbled feeling of unfair And brought spider slipping past the fly Who looked at her with all of his eyes, Gave an inch leap, and was gone. The diamond web with ice was diamonded. The spider threw a line to save her pride And back toward the frozen center slid. She poised unpleased, ready for dark dispatch,-- A philosopher at a damaged treasure-latch, Meditating what Fate might have brought In the richness of the fly near-caught, And then what wealth of blood denied, The treasure chest a blank inside. Perhaps the spider, if she had tried, Might have persuaded the praying fly He'd be in for blessings if he died. (Too bad he'd already taken off on his Aerodynamic errand or business.) Wheels within wheels and layer upon layer. Death would rank him up a rung, Nearer You and I as human beings -- Or two rungs up. Yes. To convince the buyer, Persuades more than a hundred prayers, Thought this spider to herself, cool and sly. But there was no nimble buzzer skating by To heed the sales-pitch of the spider, Save those flies already saved inside her. With eight great eyes and eight great arms, And well-equipped to deal out harm, She resumed half-folded her coldly central position As ready for Fate as anyone Defeat had bruised and brought Hungrier for what she had not caught.
It's been a well-worn Year since my iris has gone Whose dark-headed heightened grace Had tripleted heart's pace And made the threatening waters Irradiate the lighter For her being something darker. She brought her blue-black laughter Like an aftereffect of thunder When lightning rare as wonder Makes a landscape dark as murder By its too-much light, and, lighter, Touches earth and sky together. Now the garden, disused and mossed, Grieves green, and I am lost As rain that runs away, As a thought that will not stay, Or childhood song that refuses to play. My iris in her wonted place, Sensed through broken mist and lace, In tree-shadows lifts her face.-- I see her here returned, Nor may I this wish unlearn As long as dew in dawn's-light burns; Every shady curl of worth That my flower had leased from earth In sable richness reappears, Full of rampant ribbon-shapes, Taking all of root and stalk To reach to light, and, silent, talk.
I come to stare at leaves as deep as snow, That have sent the roots to sea, that know A restlessness I, restless, know. I come to stare at leaves as deep as snow. I turn the rake, send tines upended Not to use as I intended But to lean and stare as if deep in snow And hear the restless things I know: Too many things put aside or shunted That had been centered when I started, Too many things a life must ask us,-- So quick a quiet moment will unmask us. A moment's thought, and all disguise Resolves itself into surprise; A moment more of wonder, even more, And ignorance the disguise restores. Leaves unsheltered by the coming wind Rub the half-bare trees where they began; They move as they would there once again Climb to be leaves returned by wind. Deep behind the mask, a whisper knows There's an old hole of light to show Just where we've come, and yet may go, Among restless leaves as deep as snow.
My conscience is grass
My conscience is grass surrounding every side Whispering, whispering. No help, no guide. When I at last lie down, it will lie by my side, Never saying do or go, but only: be, abide.
The Wounded Woodsman
I passed a knoll and passed it every day Along the same soft deserted loam Until a track as bare as bone Followed along my way. It was in its going I saw it first: Narrow willows in a lovely copse Where the wounded woodsman lops The last to lay with the first. I had not noted the knot of wood, Or taken the view to do myself good-- Although the fresh-cut white of the willow-ends Made some temporary amends. [Versioned from Edward Thomas' "First Known When Lost"]
Build the storm-brought wood till its right to burn --A civilization, an amended word; Completion and destruction turn A dead-end rhyme as mated words. The long matchstick cracks, a broken finger, A wail to salt the self-subsuming wood; --As if no injury could make ginger Our conscience to aid the good. I know myself, and play my hand Shadowless in the flame and briny fire Until a new pink hurt like stinging sand Bids hand withdraw, and I perspire.
A Summer Prayer
All our hours vacillate Like summer clouds gone sliding by Clotted, vein-veiled and late, Froward or deadly shy Apparitions of the empty, The essentially empty sky, To dissipate in an hour's downpour. All our hours, all our hours. Our most famous nimbus And more hallowed halo are Our only blessings, bare and lent By God, devil, or doubtful goal In dance of dread amusement. Each day we eat and ache, Something dark for its own sake Laughs at our glittering fate; We tend our hours like a wish, Alone but for some softer guess-- Our heart-happiness uncertain As divinity's parted curtain. What remains of marvel here Of all that drifts to dust Beneath a sky irremediably clear Is the irascible particular; The him of him, the her of her. Listen to the wind and to me-- Let lending lend in leniency An open, ageless, real reprieve (In which unsafe hearts may yet believe) To all our human tenancy Defined by that proscenium Under which we're born and moan Full of voice and softness, Full of whispers and of curses. With the individual soul, --With that and that alone,-- Wherever soaring moves above Or going goes in having went, Be thou communicant. And this as well I wish and say To one and all or the all-in-one: Touch whatever in touching comes, And, -brave beyond what may be saved By what such touching has engraved,-- Never one instant's kissing shun.
Chain Chain Chain
[sonnet version] Once upon a time, I had bruised slightly My Fing- Erend in ty- Ing Unneedful knots too brutally. The knots were sonnets, rhy- Ming Not gracefully, Losing Bout by Bout despite my Careful tying. I had not thought writing Was so much like fighting. I stay- Ed 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 leng- Thening 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.
Chain Chain Chain
[sonnet format] Once upon a time, I had bruised slightly My fingerend in tying unneedful knots Too brutally. The knots were sonnets, Rhyming not gracefully, losing bout by bout Despite my careful tying. I had not Thought writing was so much like fighting. 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.
It was summer's atmosphere of doubt, I said, made me uncertain what I was about; Earth was warm and sure, I was not. I made myself feel the closeness of the crypt. To be by so much richness troubled When wavery air gave me me myself doubled In the very nothingness I breathed and stumbled Was to curse a wealth of gifts assembled. I did not have what I had wished; Nothing did as I did insist. Summer's ripeness came to a million ifs, I had nothing but summer's million gifts. All the lauded grace of giving was Time's; All grace crowded close as living rhymes.
Who incised this river here by writing hard Forgot to leave with wetted alphabet The charm of a cipher. The river rambles on, Until caught up by the roots that shade My going on in woods, although my coming here Where river spells and spills into hard wood Was open plain enough. And that's another kind Of hard-to-see from too much looking: Field and sky-- at night, earth-dark and stars-- Flat each to each like paired mirrors with Nothing caught between. So I'd crawled here Morning long, the weather hugger-mugger nothing And the fields off-rotation for bearing crops, And, so, lively with wildflower wilderness' Play-day maybe and beginning mischief Of sorting out itself without the help of hands. I thought, once, coming this way years back On a similar sort of errandless errand, I had caught, once, some evidence of pride Running through the wild wood gone half-back From cultivation to dark unplowed bewilderment. I saw a line as straight as a forearm Run a hundred yards between two equal Tangles of trees-- fair straight-- the way A stick will write out a line and raise a rim In level leaf-mold chewed even by the time. All this before a hidden storm the weather folk Had laid odds against, and, so, I had dismissed. And then a thinnest silver filter fell And brought already damp woods as wet.... And I stood in the turn of atmosphere As sunset brought a gold to all the air, Infecting silver with light's last despair, The way a fever brightens sickness to a shine In eyes and cheeks, and brows grow dewed With inner causes. I stood thus and wiped my face, Interested to see such simple changefulness, And not knowing why I displayed such interest, Nor indeed why I had such interest to gift To new wilderness come up since man had left. But, slowly, as winter eaves will gather ice, This line fallen before my feet, uncrossed, Became a trough for an element not itself, And rose cupping changeful water until dark, And past dark, myself become as sodden As my coat, my hands gone home to pockets Like squirrels asleep in leaves,-- until overfull Of rain and moonlight. The line laid out A silver bar, shining from end to end Like some fresh first cuneiform stroke in clay; You know how clarity can come on after storm, No matter how minor the stirrings warned. But I wondered, as I would. I wondered anyway. What had taught the line to be, when clouds Cleared away to re-present the moon to me? What straightness lay here inherited? Nothing came to drink of what had swollen, A revelation strange as rain that'd left it To puzzle one who seeks for things in things And wants to know just what to tell himself, Forgetting weather's made by being out in rain.
There is no learning but to yearn and yearn, And by wanting see what we think we are (Composed of stuff from a farther star).-- Desire deep-in to recklessly burn; Desire to assemble what all we are By partial parts into one whole complete; To work out the sum where integers meet And write an answer without a scar, Without a stitch where kissing incompletes Tell-out by telltale the nightly labor Used to unify our dawning wonder That recklessly burns with day's own heat-- Until our in-dark echo cries for night, Cool and apart, and all away from sight.
Down to Clouds
I'd thought life without Love no life at all, And my life like a parachutist's fall Had readied-up with a silken snarl And without a parachutist's safety-pull. I was dead-ready to meet the all-in-all; I had all needed: gravity and a fool. My heart never mistrusted God was cruel. On my way down to clouds, through clouds to clods, I thought how the silk weight on my belly pulled, How silk and air stretched tight would make a shroud, And what an act, inordinate and proud, Living on would be -just as if allowed-- Before the cruel throne and crowded face of God, My life one long fall as if dead and mourned.
By Shadow Known
I did not know how clouds could crowd The weathered Earth by blowing round, Or drop deep shadows by their light, Too much lightness in sun's too much light. 'Til one day their dark put me dark-- Crowded me out by high-shadowed marks From old communion with the sun; Daily now my darkness comes. I, who had been a burning cloud, Now in noon-night perform my rounds. Were I to shred their silver dark, New light would blind by being stark.
The wandering mind that wanders far and late And wanders where from causal clouds the lightning breaks And rivers thunder from blank riven air Unhouseled by light. The mind is there. Deep and deeplier, into the most low lightless grotto The mind pursues its darkness unaware Of how it does increase the dark it brings and bares Where still the shark sleeps. The mind is there. Out beyond this room, beyond the moon, beyond, beyond, Behind the seeping dark that inhearses every darting star, Beyond pale planets, back beyond where shooken concepts jar And Time is dead. The mind is there.
A snake Takes The yard and Garden, Sways As haze Does; Buzz Of bees In leaves Insist He list And cease His Hiss. They sing Of Spring, The beautiful, Mutable And mutual Goal Being Is bringing To yard and Garden. The snake Takes The song-- Gone As one Flash Through slashing Stale grass; Returns With burn Sounds Round The garden Fountain Curl- S asleep and full.
Walk in the Hush
The wind that tenses in the hollow And re-weaves what grass I kick, Goes over my length for pillow, Weary of crags and dirt. As I approach a higher place, Barren and brown, the dust Wind-blown into my onward face Fingers my eyes and hurts. I less and less the height approach That further and further Recedes; all that I now closer touch Is the push of Other. Why has wind come, why a stranger, So close and harsh to me, Who has no wish, no wish, to linger, Held by what he cannot see. When over the lapsing hilltop's crest At last came sudden rest,-- I knew not who I was in the hush When no gust pressed.
Was it sudden ease, or the sudden cost, That made us most feel we were not all lost, That step and step had still some place to go, That all the world wasn't but wilderment of snow? For my part, I did not gauge the cost (Or rounded figures down at worst or most). I had no interest in what interest others took. For my sole self my dual eyes do look. I see the thing itself as it appears to be, Visible from somewhere on vague reprieve; Then I look where eyes look eyes-closed And seem to hunt up a memory of shape at most That rises toward some overwhelming feeling, Rising, rising, as all else fades out failing-- Rising to what I always call my meaning.
Our sullen retreat into the ever-there, Our reliance on the invisible Or recourse to given revelation, Brightens my minute's thought to crucible And pulls some lasting gold from my flame's care, As if we knew our wishing and the wish were one. What do we need of what seems infinite? The partial glare of being here, just here, Is enough of heaven to round our minute And puts a light, however lone and bare We cry for things more determinate, Into all we seem to see and share. I will not falsify my fire, but answer all and one: No answer yet but becoming to become.
Assembling the Earth
Look with me at what we call, Substantial or ephemeral, All of Earth, where we must end, And all of sky's over-awning All: Sense the sub-stratum and the theme Dawning out of sincerer dream. Note how dark must always end, How Earth's quickened sharps of light Coalesce by pixels until we see Lightly lightninged twig-ends, Dew-draped, shiver and invite Greater light, or light's dark reverse The odor of more crowded trees Blends with the musk of night. I sort my knowledge into verbs: I did, I can, I do, I can't. And other more what-ifs I list: I shall, I wish, I shan't, I want. And a thousand thousand others Unvoiced, unheard. All that puts a soul at ease Enough to stammer and confess The inconvenient, the gulped absurd, Or to think a something mystic Rather too simplistic, Brings the daunting Earth to words, And helps to carry, as you guess, Our everything to is. I kept a million themes beside my bed In a rosewood box with a turtle, With one working tin hinge beside The turtle decaled spread-eagled; I left the springed hinge untried, And added blanks to the map On the warm rosewood back Of the rose-boned wooden turtle. It was better, or so I deemed, To live unknowing and to dream Than know every meaning's means. I kept the box beside me a thousand days, An indian symbol of the Earth, Unopened save as a question may Discover unbidden worth, The way a kiss becomes a question, A new-burned feeling without borders, A meeting, this meeting, --here,-- Solemnly together without a seam In loving and in waking dream A part or portion Of the natural order, Opening and answerless, In a realness of air.
The Wild Hunt
A reindeer head and human breast Prove hunger no mere beast But a yearning, foreign fire all, great To least, carry to life's living feast. Tarry constellations stoop to whisper In ears sharp as fine feathers on a shaft What makes the unbrave whimper And holds the brave man fast: Undulant hills are too lonely To have what raves in every heart-- Too unready to live solely And nurture the dark feast that lasts. Eat my starry heart, my body and my brain! Nothing in Nature's self-renewing fast Can feed what hungering thought may gain From imagination's last and least. With a light, clipped clop Dunning into bright bell the dull rock, The man with reindeer-headed top Hunts the night, nor heeds the cock Rawing dawn into existence, The one near star whose agony stoops To burn us hungry out of inward pense With overwhelming wilderness for crop.
The Timid Leaper
Where an ArrowLine desert bus Came exhausted to a standstill, And made small swirls in the greater dust, A long-eared hare on a hill Listened to the engine's cooling clatter, Saw pasty faces at grimy sills Look out at what was the matter. With fingerfine lips, from a cactus, A stolen blossom became the hare In the open purview of the bus, One-sided with a crowd of stares. Almost the timid leaper started,-- Taken by a kisser's shyness To see so many lips half-parted. Stilly as a waiting blossom does, The hare attended the airy all That sighed a quiet from the bus (Attentive now as if stalled), The arrow mastered enough to wait For what the desert deemed or willed. At unbidden wind, from dead-still Into dead dust the leaper leapt.
Two eyes followed me out of sleep and dream. I could not dream what seeing things could mean. I had deemed all an oblivion unabated, A sordid compost of all I loved or hated. Such was all, and all I knew of what Dreaming sleep to wakeful reason brought. But now these howling eyes unsocketed by pain, That did not bear any look of ease or rest, Stared green indelible thoughts into my brain And came, unofficed officers, to my arrest. The sheets I turned in, on me had turned, As if in skins and grave-shrouds I had been wound-- My blinded body moved unmoored beyond my sight And turned to return to dream in interrupted night.
A tree must burn to be. When summer's fellow ardor Comes, they sway up, the trees, The way that flame and flame Combine in a making game When what they are is brought too near, And are pulled apart by wind Playfully alone again. A large sweet-smelling cedar Held itself all summer As constant-shaped as flame, With a slow, slow burning sound Of leaves, and the settling tick Of branch that knocks on branch. Where the woods blaze thickest There comes a woodsey whoosh That undoes my breath; All the leaves alloyed sun-molten. The fall will show them golden. What have trees but trees To prove that inside fire might be? Trees have no effigy to burn.
This quick collection saved my life.
June 29th - July 28th 2001