Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Infinite Kiss

Crawdad Nelson


If the sauna doesn't cure you, death is imminent,
the old man said; if the cure doesn't end you,
keep moving—

lie there praying to be killed or know you haven't been
meanwhile, another spoon
full cold water on

cracked rock, like a dangerous
ghost, out of nowhere

into my eyes, the suffering
that comes with attachment—

you stood there glowing pale in the unlit
steam bath, wet,
short black rubber hose
streaming cold water
on thick white breasts;

we couldn't be lovers that night,
I had to watch you dress: dark bush captured
in light sexy things, clean strong thighs and hips,
your now pink body,
dressed, I believe we had a few drinks later,

you asked what I expected to discover
staring into my own reflection
in mud puddles all day,
or whether there are omens in the rising vines

I might have said there are miles of wild coastline
where that sort of thing is approved of
but not around here,
and that we seek into sources,
or else we are stuck hoeing weeds;
my needle shall forever indicate True North,
amid the conflicting desires of the masses;
our grave attachments, my stray eye,
lone witness to the world's torn underwear
and early-morning rites, wanting to taste
the untouched, she who runs,
and she who leaves, and she who doesn't know,

I might have said there are wild patches
of timber yet, protected by irregular facts,
you might have thought I was a little goofy,
squirreled up in my forest hideout,
the competition for light, the sound of logging equipment
starting up in the chilly dawn, and old rain disturbed
by mechanics, the sputtering breezes of light industry
diversifying landscapes,
in a world so delicate—I found frogs on the road,
and deer stuffed into fouling bushes
either by wild cats or by sheriff's work crews,

and I once saved someone
from yellowjackets in the early fall,
after guiding her deep
into lands otherwise unknown:
every foot of land had already been fought for,
I stood like a deer listening;

a bear had dug them out
in his own pursuit of beauty, left a haze
of angry drones burning
square in my path.

(first pub. in Spectral Lines anthology, Romania, 2012)



Down on the water the salmon have massed, under whitecaps
Ready to drive upriver,
The blueblossom has all been trimmed to the quick,
A four-pointer with a black brow stares in the picture window,
The apples are rolling off the trees and up the hill, unbruised,
Into buckets near the woodbox—
The sauna's hot
The quail scatter at our feet when we stand in the morning
looking out over the fog which bowls forth, invigorating wind,
the dogs are counted and put away, sleeping it off,
a bumper crop of twin fawns stand around in the yard.

The tools are cleaned up right and put away, the chickens,
a pony, a horse. A silver dollar squeezes up
and spits itself out of the earth, discovered near the plum tree.

It looks like a pretty good year in the orchard, in the berry vines,
In the chard patch out behind the shed. There are lots of potatoes
In the ground already, thickening, and the huckleberries look prime.
A bear has been biting the stems off and breaking a trail,
Salmonberries dangle in the shade near the old pumphouse like gems
created instantly in last week's rain, the stump suckers in the yard are now timber,
It looks like a pretty good year.


Over the summit, Redding to Blue Lake,
Rattlesnake Creek in the cruel high canyons,
within timber shadows down the Avenue,
high in the chaparral, waddling through Capay Valley
on hot rubber, blaring oldies, windows wide,

counting miles by now how many golden lanterns
are there on wasted shoulders,
next to flattened chrome details

that lie crossed over leathered serpents
who died one at a time
in the glaring California burn

golden lanterns in the sun,
all the way down the redwood highway
and every tarred town,

prayers to the dollar sign
that rises at 8,
like a policeman, watching,

sinewed freightliners singing
and memorizing routes over lost passes
tossing out an offering every fifty miles,

all that coffee
turning yellow in the sun.



All night in the elderberry patch
down the creek
something seemed dying, out of breath
and in the morning it turned out to be a cow,
quite lost
thinking she had found her barn

and thus we drove her out, a wild eye
rolling at the dog

later on that day a red-tail settled
among us
and ate a quail
while staring at the clouds and eyeing
the cat

then a salamander emerged
kinking across lawn, flower beds,
like a wet shadow, chirping;

a tree fell, for no known reason
out along the fence, crushing the old shed,
grease-buckets, empty glass jugs.


Venus and Mars above earth
south by southwest, a dim horizon:
bull pines built tough—

putting in under Trinidad Head
triangulation against wrinkled swell
climbing soft ridges.
I can not touch it, it is not there.

Pelicans, dependent,
glide mindlessly north

eyes serene
lifted on
slipping out of sight.
Paddling murres, a cloud
of birds with dark lust, crying on the water,

Fighting the fish,
a flash of light above me on a wave
quickly out of sight—I pay out line
then bring it back, saltwater.



The world is too small:
I cross it on a bike
the other side is on fire
I'm peering through the fog, a curtain,
—pardon my stare—
I let myself churn. Secrets of the deep
scar my underside,
a sea-dog, tipping,  just ligan, after all.

The infinite kiss

is cold and wet like the sea's clammy hallways
and everything around here is actually very old,
as when the spruce woods shuddered & sank
& squid were invented.

I'm looking into the sun, caught halfway,
short on definitions just now, taking a peek,
I smell dynamite & remember what I've read in books.

when the ice cream truck goes by
heat separates the fence

we were caught when the wind backed around

and here we still are,

embraced like the spines of old woods,
far below. lancing through fog,

a world occurs

only in raw outline
with a hollow sound like the whistle buoy,
barely understood. The water
erases my tracks.


Our thanks to Crawdad Nelson for today's poetry! Crawdad lives in Sacramento where he works as a writer and as writing tutor. His work appears in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, Sacramento News & Review and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a novel.


Today's LittleNip:

Oh that novel look of a first lover—take cover!

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


—Medusa, reminding you that there are THREE readings tonight in the Sacramento/Davis area: one at Time Tested, one at Luna's, and one at Logos Books in Davis. Scroll down to the blue board at the right of this for details.