—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Every reader involved in the Bible
sooner or later puzzles over the flight
to Egypt. Berlioz set it to music. But what
notes can hold the fear of Herod tingling
down Mary’s spine, coating Joseph’s face
with blotches, as they took turns holding
the supposed easiest, most ever-tranquil
of babies? In my sand-mind, scattered as are
the details, two moods present themselves:
translucent, flesh made glassy in the burning
day-lens; black, chill relief and dread mingled
in the obstinate dark no moon-silver visits.
For this is your unconscious, my love, now
is your dark sojourn from, through, and forward
into the fear, your internal Herod killing
your child inside you who was to be you
the lone woman womb-sprung fully figured,
this lovely Book of Autoparthenogenesis,
the one book of the Bible you needed to live
your legend into, just to survive, whose pages
my fingers may never brush, let alone my eyes read.
Darling, don’t be the wild creature
circling the giant fire we’ve lit in sand with
the last scrap wood and never edging near:
stay wild, but come. I will tender on my fingers’ ends
a just-seared remnant to tempt you with. I promise
never to civilize you, never to hold you when what
you wish is to hurry on in fear. Snap my offering
out of my hand and go, fleeing the Herod
outside you, the animal and the Christ Child
Turning ten wisdoms I find my own nine errors.
These errors hang around, with feline lives.
Misdeeds ninefold face me like feral mirrors.
That one good wisdom yours—and how it knives.
These errors hang around with feline lives:
my catkin harem, all cut from the same long silk.
That one good wisdom yours (and how it knives).
Purring for time, and mewing for their milk,
my catkin harem cut from one long silk,
that one great cat my woman divided in wives.
Purring for time, and mewing for their milk,
these cats converge on my life’s core mistake.
All one great cat my woman, divided in wives,
mouths yawning serpent hisses and snake teeth,
these cats converge on my life’s core mistake,
slim weapons glinting from each footpad sheath.
Mouths yawning serpent hisses and snake teeth,
misdeeds ninefold face me, nine feral mirrors.
Such weapons, glinting at me from footpad sheaths!
I’ve turned ten wisdoms finding my own nine errors.
trovato anche in queste voci di Eugenio Montale
I’d banished, condemned, dismissed a time
I’d given to hell, consenting to walk the riverside
wilds with her. American River silver-spangled,
the clay of Sacramento Bar many-spouted.
Such equipoise: shade-chill, sun-glow.
Figs downshaken now blended into ground,
the branches healed, torn little green vulvas.
Disappointment as real a taste as the unbitten fruit.
What grainy, exquisitely mealy flesh and dark seed
have their beginning in me, now that you’re gone?
Overhead, faster than we can catch, flights
and faux-hawk cries of Northern flickers,
their rose-rust underwings our conjugal sign.
Mild Canada geese preening, cleansing, airing
feathers to shaft the arrow, flight: or canopy
that cold wind, a long stay. A usual order.
Turtles sunning on logs, beings emergent
from marsh and mud,
as from a marriage.
At a bend, water-throned, unmoving,
elsewhere-gazing, a cormorant.
Your dark majesty, plumage so like
your brownly downglowing hair. In full
sun, breast-glitter, ornament and essence:
diamond, from heart up through skin.
Emblem of my error, sign that through this
winter, I vow to assume your suffering: a garment
lovely to don, rough only on my skin. Like a bird
turned staff in a miraculous pair of hands,
Cormorant bars the door from outside,
leaving me in this daylight chamber of mistake
from which you’ve already slipped, my nightfall.
It is a modern Crusade of
accusations blessed with
hallow point bullets
to pierce and shatter
one will be tested
against the standards of
rock solid, Venus perfection
trail blazing leadership
Heavily leaning to the
some of the Amendments
are jettisoned as so much
Except for the right
to bear arms
except if that is
a nuclear arsenal
and you are Iran
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Scrub doorway. Wipe the mirror's face.
Rain makes mud after drought makes dust.
Hang cobwebs where the spiders creep.
The new boss is a zombie creep
knocking at the door. Happy face
is a mask. Light the pumpkin. Dust
and vacuum, rearrange the dust.
Pie from the oven. Down its face,
meringue's gravitational creep.
Wear a bat-face. Watch the dust creep.
In the garden, one pumpkin under crows
waits. If it dreams of Jack o' Lantern masks,
it trembles at the knife that cuts the eyes.
A cloudy evening dims its western eyes
and over-leans a gathering of crows—
don't call it a murder. A night for masks
transforming what we knew of life—its masks
that can't entirely conceal the eyes,
the wayward thoughts like hungry flights of crows.
Two crows put on their masks and light their eyes.
—Olga Blu Browne, Sacramento
Against the harvest moon,
ritual of chant echoes in this
place of beginnings
where mountains are mute
and rivers are sacred.
where ancestral voices draw
spirits from flames
(first pub. in Brevities, 2012)