Thursday, August 11, 2011

Language Climbs Into Bed With Time

Now THIS is a bad day......

—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

Matt summons
a car to pass
on a rainy street
rubbing his blackening eye
then anticipates the splash
the Pontiac will make
on his hurt,
unclean body
doubting the spray will cleanse
the daily sins away.

The rain is sparse
as are West Covina storms
in early fall
his joys are not many
yet the rarin' Firebird
absolves his guilt
just a little bit
under the glen plaid pants
brown loafers
and the briefest
of underwear.


—Michael Cluff

I am wearing my layers today
three-piece suit
perfect dimpled tie
Italian loafers atop
a red-stained wife-beater
two-dollar tong
and less than 98-cent flip-flops.

camoflage pants
tie-dyed orange and green t-shirt
and Doc Martens,
no socks

Yet lower down
is a teal tuxedo
with large butterfly bowtie
and platform shoes
circa Elton John 1974

and near the last
a track suit
and cup
for you-know-what.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Why do you seek her?
     Smooth lies the skin of roses under the rain
     Fresh petals spread their pungent lure

Where will you find her?
     Dirt roads wind through harboring valleys
     A tree gives shelter like a leaf in the storm

How will you love her?
     A simmering voice vibrates across the stream bed
     Pebbles muffle the sound of rushing waters

When will you leave her?
     Sunset withers the hot horizon
     Grass breathes cold air at sunrise

Will you see her again?
     Paths are hidden in the chance of the moment
     A mountain grows too large to climb


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

The schedule said
“lists of chores and rules
and orders.”
She said “cathedral pines”
and “pewter light of dawn.”
He said “watch the landscape
unwinding” and “peel
the rhythm.”
The third said “mourning
doves in the turkey
They couldn't agree,
their lines and strophes
wouldn't lie
still in a logbook.
One went down the fire-
escape, one climbed
to the roof, the third slid
down a spiral pole—
each of them
filling their pockets
with images
that now and then burst
the decorous
seams of syntax.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

I reap your strophes and glean
Their images and phrases, peeling
The rhythm of a syntax, your
Keen acoustics, pulling your adjectives
From their punctuation and fulfilling
Liaisons for my own pleasure,
Use your eyes to consider,
To avoid a point or stand upon
One, watching the landscape unwinding.

It is done without thinking.
Close on your heels, listening to your
Dogs across the field fulfilling your own
Intent or finding it the same
As mine but seen from a different
Height or allowing the whole thing
To swallow itself as night does
Its irrefutable clinging to its form.

In love with words again,
Not knowing where they may choose to
Go, for I have purchase to make them
My own then toss them back
So you may find them as something new
Or something recognized but changed
Forever by a few steps so that the
Dance itself has not yet been seen
By other than yourself and seeing
This you make the steps your own again,
So all the waters may have these waves.


—D.R. Wagner

Language climbs into bed with time
Performing a kind of bondage that intensifies
Its meaning and stretches its nipples out
As far a possible so that we can only
See the line of letters across the page,
Exciting the senses as it attempts to make
Us believe that communication can
Show us its restraints; a grammar
That we seldom question so that
We may experience the evidence
Inside the nouns and verbs, gathering
Impressions in a most terrifying
Manner as we believe we have
Found the truth and it
Is something we are unable to discuss.

We toy with the situation. We find
Ourselves consumed by
Shape, our intelligence on that
Thin line, so much like rope
Or twine that binds language
To us in a single act or cognition.


—D.R. Wagner

We are liable to find much broken
Should we find Hell of a perfect morning
Just below the hill, just below the pasture,
Just below the words we drape
Upon our descriptions to give
Them that special stink that
Thrives when we feel we are being
Clever about some point, or
Feel for the trembling that we might
Know more than children do.

Such a sickly light rolls across our
Rooms as we are forced to pick
Up the million pieces and assemble
Them as we move toward our own
Demise. What is good to eat? What
Is not? What love might smell like
Had it an odor that was not something
We would recognize at first sniff?

The songs of birds slamming into our senses
Testing this moment, fitting a chance
Encounter into our gun barrels and shooting
At the lovely countenance of such a silver moon.


—D.R. Wagner

A slow-moving train
Slips on its sanded wheels
And sparks fly into the air. Traction
Is what it will take to make this all possible.

The snow actually seems to be making
The softest of sounds as it falls
In the blue silence, into the circle
Of light around the street lamps.

I am sitting on the edge of my bed
Once again having read a small
Part of a book I can barely
Understand. Why one would want
To write such a thing? ...and it begins

To sound interesting and the room
Suddenly becomes bigger as the
Port and starboard lamps on
The dresser bounce off the end
Of the pen I am holding.

I look out the window at the night.
I cannot see a single blessed thing.


Thanks to today's poets, and thanks to Katy Brown for coming across these photos on the Internet. And Carl Schwartz ("Caschwa") writes: My thanks to Taylor Graham’s “Another Summer” [see yesterday's post] which answers the question: What do sheep count? Carl has also sent us today's Question of the Day; see the green section of our b-board.

Note that the deadline for Sac. Poetry Center's Quinton Duval Chapbook Contest is this coming Monday, Aug. 15; go to    Speaking of SPC, they held their elections last night. Results: Bob Stanley, Pres.; Tim Kahl, V.P.; Laura Baumann, Sec'y (replacing Frank Graham), and Sandra Senne, Treasurer.


Today's LittleNip: 

Summer grasses,
all that remains
of soldier's dreams.

—Basho (trans. by Lucien Stryk)