THE SHAPE OF THE COIN IN ITS HISTORY
She said: “There wasn’t supposed to be a room here.”
And he agreed, opening the door onto rows of houses
In streets of every color, pouring what remained of the memories
The dead could no longer access into the roadways where
Great animals and hungry ghosts flocked to find what they thought
They were looking for. Every house faced away from the world.
He said: “I am an eyeball rolling away from a body, blue then mud.
Blue then mud over and over, into a lake of fire fueled with unused
Words, forests of them, given to those seasons we had to discard
When we were required to have only four.” And someone imagines
They are the words to a song and begins to sing them. There are
Deafening explosions every time a mouth is opened. “See—the hills
Are still green.” A four-inch hose full of a pink substance begins
To spray over everything until it all loses form and begins bubbling.
She said: "Redeem us.” But here were too many children who
Had no idea what she was talking about and began picking at
Her clothing until it was gone and her red skin hissed and bubbled.
Entire populations relocated, hoping for a better weather.
He said: “The clocks have squandered everything. There is no
Botany left.” We tried again and again to return him to a waking state.
He looked up at us and we could see him in the dream. He was drowning
But still using as many bullets as he could command to rid himself
Of his forebearers, as if they were corridors in a fragile palace.
Full of images, all for sale and warlike to the touch, as sentence
Diagrams fight against their respective places, gazing longingly
At adjectives used for mausoleums, full of ancient faces,
Full upon the sea, gobbling their adventures without a tear.
She said: "We cannot continue this way.” And exiled herself
With some forgotten king who only existed in a bit of Antic
Muse, unable to decide if she were happy or not happy.
She listened to the conversations of women walking the plains,
Smelling of good food and constant mornings as if they had
Never known anything else. She became unable to perceive dusk.
What we shall not know is their blindness five hundred years
From now, lifting from the garden, no longer children and barely
Glimpsed by anyone who could narrate more than the principles
Of madness, its firmaments and angels so intimate and musical
No one is able to notice them. A hand holding a fine and fragile globe.
A BIT OF THE ENCHANTMENT, MIND YOU
This was the path of the enchantment.
The dark blue-black tricks of the night
Lifted by their skirts to dizzying heights.
The ability to know the waves, to call them
By name and have them bear our bodies high
Upon their crests into the great storms, fly.
To hold the fairy light within the hands like this.
To see the glow and cast it out upon the world
Where few would ever see or even know.
The naming of the mythic beings and kings.
The places where they ruled soft upon the tongue,
Spoken to the firelight, built on harps, then sung.
The casting of enchantments spells.
Thought foolish things by nearly everyone
But not by you or me, what can barely be undone.
The Yuan Dynasty blue and white
Dishes both feature a stylized fish, fins erect,
Mouth open, surrounded by beautifully
Figured aquatic, decorative motifs. The plate from
Sometime in the 14th century, as is the Wine
Jar with similar decoration. They echoed a dream
Of the veranda with its coolness in late afternoon.
The memory of the clay was long and perfect.
The magicians had crested an almost unreal
Time in the depth of the glazes, mirrored
Stories full of changing figurations, horses
Ridden to the edge of the pools in the pavilions.
The great fish rising from the waters to speak
From prophecy and a promise of endless
Evenings to be enjoyed by those whose sword
Was sharpest, commanding all that could be
Made beautiful to be made for themselves,
For their single delight. All of this time wrapped
Deep inside a dynasty alive now only in the scholar’s
Memory. Days of the Khan, all dust blowing
Through a labyrinth made of objects.
The blood has long ago dried and decayed.
Only these vessels remain, their fishy presence
Porcelain mirrors, trinkets belonging to time,
Who rules kingdom after kingdom of ghosts.
Your name spelled out in spilled salt.
The lengthening of the day and figures
In the garden walk into the twilight.
Your arms covered in charms
To ward off the momentary.
The changing of mirrors
Prevents our walking on kaleidoscopes,
Vehicles transporting souls
Back and forth to the bookshelves.
The silk of the spider
Bearing all our weight.
The reminders that the dream
Will not undo me, an
Empty ship we can use to
Ply the night. Sound
Walking away from all things.
The vision remaining, tenuous
As any city. So many things
That cannot be. I will
Stand here on the beach
With you. We will wait
For the sound of the waves
You send someone
To bring it back.
THE SEVENTH DAY
Soon the lights will go on again
And I will be able to see your face.
We were laughing in the dark.
There were secrets that escaped
Our lips and had form only when we spoke.
I heard your sorrow and
Your heartbreak, your breathing,
Confused as a seventh day.
The solid cut of our bodies
Shaking hands in the darkness.
Soon the lights will come on again
And we will be
At the corner of 24th Street
And Cleveland Avenue. I bite deep
Into my leg so I can taste the blood.
For ten thousand years
I would be asleep.
Objects would people my sleep:
An iron ring, anything that might
Be called a mirror, fantastic
Deer, some bright red, some green.
I would be able to count all
The drops of water in a rainstorm.
I could sleep beyond the ambiguities
Dreams demand of us as we
Become dust, bit by reflected bit.
I could hear the inside of a symphony,
Think other possibilities for the cellos,
The viola, the beautiful melodies
The clarinet uses to have us lose
Our way in the music. Your features
Would remain indistinct and I
Would nod in my ten-thousand-year sleep.
I would weave you a multicolored heaven,
Full of visionary shadows and
Millions of things that vanished, as smoke,
Curled out of a forgotten chimney.
The order of things would not matter
To me. I would be humble
In my sleep and embrace its hours,
Knowing how quickly ten thousand years
Might pass and how haunted
I may become by the inaccessible
Robes of time. Watch him walking
Away, seeking some other embrace
That might not have such memory.
I will have forgotten how strange
All this seems as it drops
From my memory, as Adam
In paradise must have felt
Before he knew a thing, and all
Ineffable lest we be required
To open our mouths and speak.
I will stand in the garden and on
The patios and they will always
Remain strong to whatever body
My sleep might conjure.
All would be precise as in the placing
A bullet requires to find the exact
Center of a target.
Come, then—sweep the past with me
In all its strangeness. Death would
Not be able to understand my sleep.
I would return accidentally from
My obsession and seek the life of
I would await the return of poetry
To the dawn, to the shores
Of Ithaca, with its marvelous intent.
Sail upon this river then.
Who has not changed?
How to identify a particular
One? Perchance to recognize eternity.
We're going to get drenched in this storm, I said.
We had better take off our clothing.
But it was already much too late.