Thursday, August 27, 2009

A creekside flower

Porch used to be creekside, and the holm oak
shade matched wraparound vines, dark green, the
willows' weeping soft to the listening
stream, and tea with sweet cane sugar,
lemon slice, in the summer cracked ice. He was
nice to the widows who roamed down the lane, their
moaning like a melody now and again. Now it's
only more silence and invisible men, the
blessing of sneezes before they begin, in-
fectious diseases that "the devil's sent in to
tempt lassitude: that fancy science ain't
no substitute for standard-issue" (cocked,
loaded, and clean) "and the right attitude. Don't
care where a fella's from, or shaped like a
big ol' bean. One shot between the
eyes" (no matter their saucer-plate size and
number) "he'll die. No matter his blood runs
green. Now listen. Ain't no turf-war, like a
few bloody fists and drinks after all's been
done. Son," his voice like the path from
house to garden and back, the gravel and
carbonized dust, "you must", his doddering
head, "a man's enemies are best all
dead. Like weeds. They'll choke off the flowers." As
if there were flowers. He tried to spit,
coughed, got a sputum like synthetic oil,
thick like the habit itself. Crow-colored. He
swug on the bathtub ale, eyes pale and
slack, and mouthed some sunflower seeds. He had
seen him hack at what passed for their throats, a
hand in the guts for no reason soever, just
feeling the alien innards "like biscuits and
crawfish jam", and laugh like a loon. Long a
hot afternoon, the land belly up to the
sun, they came from Mars. Dog days. They
brought heat rays. "Son, see that hedge needs
trimming? Fetch my shears." His mother
speared in the garden, a moldering beam from a-
bove, from the curdling sky. She thickened like
sweet potato pie in the oven, her skin like
unclotted cream. Out of season. A creekside
flower of blood-red steam.


(Edited 27 August 2009, begun 25 August 2009. It seems that, while I slept, I was visited by a range of squatters and their strange preoccupations, viz.: John Milton (master of English prosody), Flannery O'Connor (mistress of southern mystery), and Mr. H.G. Wells (right ideas; wrong country).)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Exposure to infinite space

One's images of love point true, like a
compass, cosmology only out of date. Be-
lieving, therefore, that he'd appreciate a
more precise sign of infinity

-- the con-
formal projection of a
plane tesselated hy-
perbolically --,

what follows is plot, in con-
formal projection, of
hypothetical

{you, me}.

Let
"poor heretics in love there be": just a
few who choose Copernican shapes, and
shed eccentric tears for the flattening
passing of heavenly spheres, for passionate
knees periodic to mystery, hearts meta-
physically made -- in apostasy -- quasars, no mockery of
doting outmoded and fools care-free out-
side lovers' walls for rain or days, notes
faded and hands like the folded page, doors
polished and bright, un-
locked and improbably responsive at night.

Thus the lover's turn to soul's paraphrase

(that
pensive prayer)

turned blithely in towards
what lives there and attracts memory. So

I see us one thing: we're kissing with
grandmother moon out there, past a set of
small cork-stopped and staggered glass bottles

(one of
air, peaty earth, one of spiraling shells, one
bounding uncountable sand, and rocks
tumbled smooth con-
tinuous function of river)

and tree-branch
framed, white, blue of
ultraviolet night, our flight's centripetal
twang of the background webbing, the spider's at-
tention that stalks with ciliac step this
life's finite and multiplicative rings, i-
maginary mood swings of
polar numbers ir-
rational, perfectly and painfully real.

Let
just such a particular personal cataclysm, years a-
go at the schism, stand for the general case, a
place I still know. The ground shook, or said "you
kiss by the book"

(this is only memory at-
tempting permutation and
meaning out of
only combination always leaning
down the emotional path of best fit: there's
no getting around it,
deeper is always farther down),

and
pictures capture only what we see, what
only we see, what we only see, you
see yourself: the microcosm and I her
dark matter, she filamented clusters of
memory attempting meaningful permutation out of
combination, pictures capturing only in-
corporating memory, nebulous and numinous, the
present particles of light drifting by, the
flush of singular events through matter, dark-
ly, pre- and processing forward
faster than the space between can expand

(this the
mystery of limits: nothing inside can
reach without past bounding infinity

[margi-
nalium: look for loopholes in quantum gravity]

),

so
all is derivative, but only partially.

There-
fore, the emotional path of best fit, all
energy dispersing eventually to heat, to
uniform waste and sour gold taste of
plate to aliens image inscribed, and only
in the meantime can
any of it seem
mine, hers, or ours, and I am

(function of nebulous foreground smile with
white dots red, hold sidelong the head

[the
female's zygomatic muscles so typically
so much stronger than a man's, not to mention the
learned and restful inflection of her hands, but
my crow's feet as burned by late-De-
cember sun into sand]

) ...

Let I am
something other than her
memory of me. Re-
membering that evening, this
household of days, in-
habitants all gathered
round to view what is
all around: not a
figure in sight

(the
light must pass by
definition)

just the
fluttering places recalled in quantities
just this human side of precision.

In
place of gods, to a space-based catapult of
carbon rods, spring-loaded, precisely ma-
chined, though not themselves machines, and
in their forceful adoption of the ancient
custom of blistering atmospheres open they
fuck themselves into diamond

(in the after-
glow becoming
Buckminsterfullerines).

So de-
scend all forms, those lifeless and life-ele-
menting ideas, crystals wispy with
urgent heat, the glass undone, crass
big bang spoor, melt to ground floor of
all the most populous cities when they meet.

For this
reason and others the believers have prayed to un-
do my decision, for strength, for infinite length, for rotation through
unknown angle, translation of the function through
space

(for space is time, not a circle, a
line: a circle of infinite radius that
yet feels the funnel -- when it opens or closes its
i -- at its heart, like the tractric)

murmuring vacuum of dark matter spool, the
heat death cool to aspire: the lattice whose
latest dislike is atoms and molecules,
worlds and the god-sized
whorls of seeming stardust at what must
be -- and damn the proof -- anti-infini-
tesimal scales, everything integrated, ga-
lactic pails kicked over and spendthrift slow to upend, their
contents fused to background radiation like
funneled cement, and to harden

(le
dur d├ęsir de durer)

is the
negative one-half dream, awaiting

(the
curve of her, to this very day)

its
conjugate pair. And here I must ex-

press my regrets, apologize to my relict, our
plot of point values polyvalent despite the
crisp black and white

(this the image of our personal
Mandelbrot set: no matter where we begin, we're
certain to get to
infinite points, all of them

{her, me},

a
ring of purely hypothetical identity).

An e-
quation's iterations like this are complex only
in their being well simple: reality really, the
provable things of unknowable mass and the
matter is beauty when seen from a certain
distance

(a photograph when
lit from behind and below by the crabulous
stars, hot mess, the kiss of evaporated
metals when photons graph all the scars, white
balance and red shift, f-stop, fuck this,
stop all the physical laws.

This
sense of Love's usury as delight, I
do not wish

(I re-
coil the film, re-
call an image of a
woman's face, pristine and bruised)

anymore to conclude, much less demonstrate, the
human scale of exposure to infinite space.)


(Edited 24 August 2009, transcribed in part 20 August 2009, begun 19 August 2009. I'd been reading John Donne while revisiting the mathematical bases of modern physics, especially cosmology, and wondered what the former might have done with access to the latter and their conventional modes of expression. Something more consistently metrical certainly, and perhaps more polished; but ongoing understanding of the world is rich with poetic possibility even for rougher moderns.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twelve zero zero

Power outage keeps re-

setting my clock in the

night. First light passes

traintrack by, just a

latterly glare and I'm

left at the station, in-

stead (in my head) catch

giant dog shadow cast

dark on my window, de-

spair of blankets letting

in cold air, they should

know by now: how

waves brush their lips -- like a

blessing, that white-capped and

salt-chapped kiss -- and,

chaste, the land gives a-

way scented ribbons of

sand, sun-screen mono-

grammed, while -- deep in the

slippery rift --, sub-

merged mountain ranges and

waters just shy of

ice -- volcanic! -- em-

brace, espied by

covetous worms, sul-

phuric and blind, eyes

smoothly shut to the

groove, lover's flush, hori-

zontal river rush of

sleep along narrowing

channels in the mind. They grow

harder over time. When you're

older, you'll see, blinking-

ly, you'll glare useless-

ly at the ceiling as

if you might stare sta-

lagtites there down to

end your misery: so

loud the motors all a-

round, drown rumble to

sleep, rumple up separate

sheets and separate bed-

spreads, with separate and

singular and surely un-

treatable depressions for our

heads. At eighty

years there's hardly the

chance for forty

winks. The clock blinks

twelve zero zero. Too

hot or cold or

both and hope my

bladder will hold. This --

tenuous, surly, dis-

jointed and weak -- is what

passes for an old man's sleep.


(Edited 16 August 2009, begun 11 August 2009. Drawn from life -- not only mine --, and intended as an image of those irritating moments that seem so strongly and irrationally to destabilize: the body may feel them animal keenly but believes, in its cyclical senses of time, in their eventual passing; the mind has ideas and -- thanks to linear time -- fears of its own. How much worse could it -- or will it -- be?)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Her face baptismal

1. Her face baptismal from the hospital pillow, ruby
shadow of her jaw; and his back, bedside, of
worsted wool, ironclad, as he stood, and with
old man's lips -- like petals pressed colorless
dry, from the pages of a book -- bent to smooth away
sweat and veiled soot, just a little: she cried, caught her
breath (on the surface of the waters), wouldn't show it or
sound, but sought to conceal what she'd found: like a

smoldering coal on the tongue, a letter like
sky's to the earth, of winter-kindled regret, like the

earth's of hard-husbanded forgiveness.

Thus the image, and more, for the


2. substance of it: mossy and round like a stone in the
hands while standing in tide away water -- as the
shore stretches further, this is what pulls small and
precious in our vision: how the light ages, greys, as its
bodies decay, and the evening rends its
breast in funereal precession, sackcloth and
starlight tears; how every morning is stricken, the
moon a decision she'll come to soon; how a

swallow of ice, child-sized, is swaddled in
straw, crated rickety down from the mountains, un-

like to silvered pieces of the sea.

Thus the thing, and more, for


3. here is her face, pearlescent: in its sway (the
hem of his garment) near to honestly gone, but
in the meantime let the guests in -- gods in
bare feet, visiting, palms bearing gifts --, while
fingers slide restless to cool on the bedside
rails, how white her nails and throat flickers, the al-
lure of extruded and sleepless machines, parched
lips and ice chips and IV drips, trans-

muting the body's leaden ore (al-
chemistry, each and every mystery) to gold. But she is

not so old as to be like buried treasure.

Thus the measure, and more. For


4. speaking, for seeking so clearly to accompany
wild-eyed moments out of doors, out of reach (wanting
anything to last while refusing to endure is
surely a reach exceeding grasp): for this, time
isn't the enemy anymore than water taking
flight from cupped color of palms -- rose, white --, its
flocking liquescent, feather-light: the florid will. (How
deeply we may seem to float while falling still.) None of

this is beyond any known capacity of the
mind, or the body's animal grief:

of metaphor or simile.

Thus the misery.


(Edited 13-14 August 2009, begun 11 August 2009. To call its source 'reading' would broaden definition: this poem came in part from the final scene of a television show, a moment made literally and figuratively to move only in my experience of it, the flipbook illusion of frames refreshed faster than the brain can distinguish, and the emotions demanded in a world both with and without us.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

She cuts his hair

Otherwise, we're the same, only

shorter and colored. (White-

water towards delta, to the

ocean whose name we know

best in the earliest

light and latest evening, in the


quiet and cold, the first

snowflake expression of what

used to be blooming, drift and

dash of days numbered in ad-

vance, autumn trees like

coral in the saltwater


air worn innumerably

smooth). In a room, a woman

cuts a man's shower-wet

hair for the first time in

years: they have gently recon-

nected, never doubting that she'll


help or that he needs it -- he

needs it --, but repay it? He is

only a body, that

barely (is the bare neck

nakedness or nudity?). When she

kisses his crown, he is


taken by surprise -- just

taken --, hardly minds, he is

hardly a mind, he is

built to come running. (As we

do, to the ocean whose

name we express in no


breath, in the stark and cold

fiery glow, the crystal

chalice of light and gravi-

ty, where pendulum

swing pulls divinely on

root and trembles branches -- ever


innocent tree, drink of

scissor-crisp waters or her

thin milk, inner-thigh and

pale vein blue --, whistles

rock down through atmo-

sphere.) We are here, with some


distance to go to the

ocean; we flow con-

centric spheres around the

ripple of wells: gravi-

ty, morality. Tell the

truth: that surely there can


be no hell, for it

isn't and we are, simply,

earth at the roots; it's


not innocence, but the

water we can't (she


cuts his hair) stand to lose.



(Edited 9 August 2009, begun 7 August 2009: a relatively brief interval, with the lines out of a real space between, as I break from thinking philosophically -- for a book -- about silence in Roman poetry and its roles in and around utterance. Some of the imagery is older, helping me to wonder what poetry, etymologically 'doing', _does_ in letting things be said not only audibly but _renewably_ audibly, with even past things ever _now_.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bone-white teeth (an instruction manual)

What's with all the bone-white teeth? Bedridden to the

ground they ought to be, shaggy-


minded and trained to fluoresce in sunlight, all

skins and textiles with invisible crystals of


artificial blue, improvidential, unforseen, tied

mainly to the weather as are old floorboards,


door-jambs, and cross-beams (the great

mead-hall bracing we wish for at night


-- natural brown, or washed white -- while

lying half-lidded, staring half-heartedly at


lesser stippled ceilings -- no demon's arm in sight -- feeling

all of this is rented rooms, passing through, the cobbles


worn and corners bulge hard-boiled egg smooth under-

neath): this pitty moment, like the stone of a peach. So we


mettle some and stock for the virtuous winter,

high season for vice as visitor: his noisy winks, our


bleached thoughts blackened at the corners (old mirrors), his

sandals leaving spots, we're thoroughly homunculated, tracks


oily as prints and intentions undistinguished (note the

risible tongue, its thick and leather clack and babble, the


head's heavy sunflower loll). Parbroiled minds,

babies, and every white body catches cold. (Here


comes the transcriptase instruction manual.) (1) Strip to

bone all the outward social surface of the self, (2) strip


maximum procedure and minimum effect, (3) cup

hands together, palms up, (4) spit. (5) Watch regret like


sand would be water over coalescent time (for when

mineral is animal, all animal is vegetable


matter, all matter condensation on the sunny outer

surface of time.) It's not only a genetic dis-


order, the wriggling fish of the wish to do

better out of water: it can't be, in light of entropy's


campfire glow and compulsory chill. So, try

taking a bite with bone-white: and still, the final


letter of lizard's contribution to brain (evo-

lution, this part of the story, antennae tuned


rabbit-ears ahead to capacity birth): what is

all of this worth? And what's with all the bone-white teeth?



(Edited 6 August 2009, begun 21 July 2009. While on a Mediterranean cruise I saw bleached teeth, read science shorts as well as science fiction stories, and slept in perpetually relaxing and inspiring sinusoidal motion; there was convergence of a sort.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

"More than four minutes in a greenhouse"

Delighted at the ferns that curl away from lightest touch, as we


rush through before it's too late, the day becoming

evening, we discover -- by the pond, close together in a

wooden pagoda -- that all of this presumes a


sort of foreplay: we can't say it aloud, but we


seek to share more than experience with each other:

strawberries for the ride, squash soup at her home, pizza

sitting on the cold stone rim of a fountain -- she


asked me the five-word question; I said "I'm


not sure if I do" --, cool glasses of water we

hold instead of hands at a table barely

big enough for two (it does more than do, keeps us


close in the reaching and listening to more than


music -- explosive watercolor guitar and drum's

principled attack to the gut and deep breathing -- our di-

vided at tension from trying (not) to touch): all of


this presumes more than four minutes in a greenhouse: a


hothouse day grown to date in her town, in the

shared and shaded soil we shouldn't have found, the giddy

flower of latest-night tumbling around the halo-


descent stairwell of the parking garage. We


got lost driving home, finally crossed the right

border with each other, nearly hit deer jumping

headlit across the parkway: "Are you okay?", my


hand behind her head, my

fingers in her hair with lightest touch.



(Finished 2 August 2009, edited 11 and 10 July 2009, begun -- as a single line, a sort of seed -- 7 November 2006, in an email only recently rediscovered during a hurried pre-sabbatical archiving. Just as that email was mine but new to me, so the places and expressions in the poem are familiar but charged with energy of changed memory and dream: as the ferns curl, the feeling curves away from fable towards the reality of only moments.)