Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Meeting the Boatman
A SURPRISE FROM THE WEATHER
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Suppose this is nothing.
Suppose the clouds and the candy
Of birdsong, furred flutes of a pile
Of sleepy kittens, are nothing.
Curved flight of an eagle, smooth as flesh.
Pretty carts, yellow with children’s
Laughter, the preening carnivals of
Sleep, laced up with dreams, all pretty they are,
Full of the heart singing the names of God.
Oh the bears and the rivers and the
Blustery hills senseless with the stars,
They are so bright. Turtles, snowflakes
Quiet on the ice of their pond, the beauty of
Your thighs, the little noises that escape
Us when we are suddenly standing on high
Places, the phosphorus of the moment
Burst into flame, all this nothing.
Long ago, I walked here alarmed
That one day, as sure as shooting,
That angel would be walking out to
Meet the boatman, raise his hand to greet
Him and, beautiful rose of life, such a
Thought would rise up, hallelujah I
Find myself saying hallelujah to
The whole orchard, we are here together.
THE NIGHT IS BEAUTIFUL
The night is beautiful
With its lips full
Upon the thighs of Summer.
It swirls the moon
Through clouds and spews
It high and bright and round
The dome of its fine home.
Crickets in their dark
Lovemaking, sing the praises
Of the grass and breezes,
A rhythmic transubstantiation
Played in scraping stridulation
To a counterpoint of August dark.
There, then and only then,
We take our breath out walking
On the milky paths of full moon
Shining and cast our glances deep
Into its lap of dreams, to hold
Just but a moment, for a moment
Only, all the crazy swirl of star
Light unto ourselves that we
May be this way before it.
Summer breaks its face on my arm.
I can’t remember how your mouth
Felt on mine. How your hand was
When I put my lips on your fingertips.
My heart dances on my spine, fooling
Me into believing that love has a name
That sounds like yours but ends before
I can reach out and touch your hips,
Your lips; it, as they said, trips me
Past the dream house built of pale
Moonlight and forever and a day.
Up among the concordance of moon,
Sun and our loving, bop style in mouth
Jazz explaining to each other from song
To song how wild this thing is, wind,
The keys ripping past; candles made of
Fireflies and mission bells. Tearing
Sheets of song into tiny pieces. Oh yes how
And howl, spurl myself dingingly, plutridly
Forniculated, intensely exploding in charcoal
Mouth bar-b-que laughing. There is
No farther town we can be found in.
Every stop on your skin reveals the
Brisk night, irresponsible, tales told
By the blind about how the hands
Know the name of all the rains,
Their particular voice, their night thoughts
On sidewalks, opened at last, no streetlights,
No mouth of song following. I touch
Your crazy traffic and burn acetylene yellow,
Pure green. Aircraft land in the middle of summer.
My skin stretches, explodes and contains all
The mysterious rainbows from which we reconstruct
The language of all the endless nights of our youth.
EDGE OF SUMMER, MIDDLE MAY
In the garden the roses are making
Up their minds as to colors and ways
They might look just after the rain.
There is a way songs begin. The problem
Is we never know when that moment is.
It usually circles around the song title
Collapsing into the lyrics and winds up
Near the corner of the heart telling us
Something we already knew in a flurry
Of delight and secret code remembered
Sometimes, for the rest of our lives.
In the garden the bees are making
Their rounds, fumbling and gathering,
Finding the sweet center faster than
The Buddha did under the Bo tree,
Much much faster with no thoughts.
The sky spins by as quickly as the wind
Will allow, so beautifully arranged it
Seems random but for the birds
Outlining the edges, describing
The parameters of the day.
There is so little we remember after
All. It is only in these moments where
The garden is the world and songs are
Everywhere around us. Here is some blue.
There really isn’t any turning back.
I keep looking down the hallway
Out to the park across
The way. Broken pavement on the streets
Below the window. The cars keep complaining
About the way they fall into time and are suddenly
Gone. Every year a new model.
We don’t notice much of this anymore.
Our friends fall and disappear,
We suddenly are unable to find
The way things move to fit together
As they used to do.
The cars complaining with loud
Horns and a squeal of brakes,
Tires becoming tongues. We
Must find other ways of understanding
Them. Erotica made of wood.
Christ on the cross. A ringing in the
Ears that never seems to stop.
This silence, broken only by an occassional
Voice from somewhere in the neighborhood
Is disconcerting. Usually there are at least
Birds or the noises of cars moving through
The veins of streets and alleyways.
Today there is none of this. The sun blows
Through the day contained by its usual
Concerns and too far away to have to do
With sound and its eccentricities.
I find myself trying to speak. The words
Begin to come out then stop, confused
That they might be mispronounced or tired
From the effort. I know they want to tell
You so much, how much I really care
But they are absorbed like alcohol in an alcoholic.
I was once a farm.
The soft lips of dairy cows
Across my skin. The wheat
Discovering the sun and yes
The vegetables, huge books
Full of them, gardens they were
Called and too the rooster
And the hens and cats and dog,
A lamb, three goats in pens,
A pig, then two and Tommy
Took a horse awhile, and that
Was nice. His day: the pumps
And wagons, tools and working
The while. I was once
A farm. And now, a vacant parking lot
At the side of a Target store.
FOR THE FARMER
—Photo and poem by Ronald Edwin Lane
In this cold cathedral
They wait in shadows
Peering through stained slats
Praying for a touch of sun,
For the farmer to return
And give their lives
That man Leeuwenhoek was like a puppy who sniffs—with a totally impolite disregard of discrimination—at every object of the world around him!
—Paul de Kruif
(The boat photo at the top is our ekphrastic Seed of the Week; make of it what you will.)