[from The Tower of Diverse Shores, forthcoming from Talisman House (Fall 2002)]
By what word to find our way?
Shiny boulder anchored in solitude.
Statues, lacerating rain,
lips as red as rowan-berries.
Such a male thing
to limn the woman's limbs,
drawing an orchestral sweep
around each movement
he's the one to shape.
Gorge caught in owl's hoot,
long drop down.
Wall I kicked, temple in tears.
Your tears of course; I cry less.
What did you say?
How did you say it?
Borne from the brine, the hot tub
of the sea, the mind une meduse.
To log myself into your light.
To form a diptych.
To believe in a screen.
The sky a boat
whose boatman squints back:
spire, swallow, sun.
Sparkle of distant snow.
Pitch black rock for miles around,
every inch of it younger than myself.
Test of vision: to see this crust
as thirsting skin.
Along a stream opened
to forms of song other than its own,
losing control of image's course.
Ancient power of fright and lust.
Must have been trying for many hours,
suddenly conscious of a large magpie.
Morning, no sleep, but at least morning.
A tigress, from insomnia conjured,
attests to the antique She;
woman, paw, bushy bee
slender as a curved sword,
drawn so near to death.
A finger rubbed against Creation:
what pertinent electrical storm?
Cliffs experienced as clarity, train tracks
drowned in cloud forest.
Please practice magic in me,
for I feel overwhelmed by what
I lusted for, who came
jealous of language,
devoid of all human dress.
Canal driven, camel drawn,
restless creature glass-trapped,
coming on the glass.
Moving dunes impossible to map.
Motherland, desert poplars:
ripest fruit well out of reach.
Are they cops? What gold chain?
Unspoken words block the raid.
Shiny boulder anchored in solitude.
Mass quivering with thought
beached jellyfish even looks like brain.
Things inanimate and without life
remain inanimate and without life:
great abundance of hair,
thick, black, rolling.
A golden crow
living only on special apples.
Missing gas pump,
roadmarker you don't remember passing,
a yearning to linger, to loll far far
longer, avoid the grass next door
whose populace shore
fakes such moving cradle.
Cave goats with whom
a monk runs naked, assuming
the cave's dimness conceals his shame;
suddenly, enlightenment strikes.
Heavenly Mountain in a snowstorm:
camels and goats block the road, their gazes
red beams in the headlights, Kazaks on horseback
herding animals towards even higher grazing.
Casting about hungrily
for light to build on,
fantasizing stony landscape
our possible shrine.
Aphrodite trapezes over objecthood,
the somber sky its backdrop in us,
never firm. Watching a crater bird bank
and rise, steam vomiting to all sides.
Wrestling in the flower, to form
a diptych. Unchiseled boulders
joined perfectly at each edge:
nimblest objects inured to age,
each stone speaking to the others.
Hadrian's Wall, Wailing Wall,
Great Wall: Inca Roca tops them all.
So MOMA makes itself over, sculpture garden
sculptures gone, the whole garden shuttered.
Here, this long blue poignant jellyfish tentacle
doubles as his spine.
--America's brightest source.
Super intelligent tiger loose near
Mt. Rainier, the local game warden
reading it Rilke, hoping
to draw the beast into the clearing.
I was peeking into the alley
where women show their thighs
when it dawned on me: I was asleep.
An arcade atmosphere, lurid,
illicit, late at night.
Later that morning the best available hounds
tree the tiger; before any trackers arrive
the cat transforms into a crow, flutters off.
The lionness allows her lids to droop.
Her tail scoots away the flies.
Of a single great revolving goal
we only get guerilla glimpses.
As the mind makes loopdieloops:
scarves, eyes, long shapely legs.
Lips as red as berries pleading for their name.
The dreamer is always distant.
So going around consciousness.
If it weren't for crippling sexual desire
I would never go, never get.
Longing to seize some hinge essentially unseizable.
Tangerines in a bowl, olefactory anticipation.
Every stone is talking to every other,
as per America's dream.
Climbing the hairpin coast
out from town, surviving each curve
to round higher, into the headlands.
To remain in the turbulence
one's mind adrift, working the waves.
It dawned on me this was the law
or logos, the law or pathos, the law
or a fine wine spilling on the floor.
I walk among olive groves, I meditate on
Manhattan's fabled energy, favored cliches.
Volcanic eruption, tiny trickle, lava
oozing from a dark, distant mound.
Loss piled on loss: sensory find, sensory find.
Condors line the last tree's limbs.
Nearly midnight in the cold highlands.
Barking of a dog beyond any conceptual framework.
Mind never quite freed from brine's first foaming.
Powerful forces bind beings together,
bending our shapes, spatter after spatter.
"Tongue" is a word, so is "tip".
Anticipating elation, ever alert.
Enameled dolmen anchoring the plane,
Europeans medivaced out of the gorge.
I'll manage without certain of their curlicues
if that's what it takes, I mean tone down
certain tendencies, tune out some sirens,
those that I can. Mind spawns
minds spawns mind spasms.
Cherished work, probable earth, mutest shell.
Who season after season adds something to the brew.
Always only wanted those grapes, still cool,
on a plate in the afternoon sun. OK then.
Grapes on a plate: afternoon sun. Cool.