TOUCHING MY BONES
There is no place for stopping
For the moon is sick in its rising
Swollen and a sorry yellow, slit
In half and hiding behind trees
That would be well to let it go
So it might do what it must
To this night. It was such a pretty
Thing. It gathered so much to itself.
But now, there is no place for stopping.
I cannot be here any longer
Beneath your window, for I too
Am wounded and all that was wondrous
Causes me to shake. My life
You already have for real things, for things
This earth brings forth.
I thought it was love.
That we were one.
That we were responsible for one another.
What do I have that you want?
They sit at the table near
The top of the hill drinking
Their tea, clicking their spoons
Softly against the fine china.
Make of it what you will.
I just do not want to stop.
I will go round and round again
Like figures on a vase.
I can touch my own bones
And now must wear disguises
To pass through these same villages
Twisted by this sick moon.
I continue to move farther away
From the noise of these creatures.
I listen to the lion roaring on the hills.
I think all this is wonder
And they tell me to stop and rest
Awhile. I shall not stop here.
Black winds push me forward
Until I find the seasons have returned,
Find love bursting from every heart.
DOWN TO THE CREEK
I am walking and the stars are out
Walking as well. We have agreed
To meet here at night when
We can see one another easily.
They are like cats, hissing and popping
Up from behind clouds suddenly,
Backs and presenting themselves to me
As packages of light and flashing.
I have left the room, never to return.
There are no answers to be had here
Any longer. I may even have forgotten
“Where are you going?”
I don’t know. Perhaps down
By the creek to read a book.
This may take hundreds of years.
I’ll be back before evening.
I later recalled seeing us in a tapestry,
In a museum. You were embroidering
A coverlet for someone of high rank
Who had died.
I was trying to calm a horse
Frightened by the noise
The stars were making.
“TREES FRIGHTEN ME A LITTLE,
THEY ARE SO BEAUTIFUL.”
I am not here. I could not save myself.
I had weapons but they have fallen
Beneath the ocean where there are no
Monuments to images.
I was unwoven even as I walked
The labyrinths pursued by shadows
I never knew were ignorant of chance
And named themselves as power
When there was none.
An interminable playing on a board
That refused to be still while I
Chipped my lines into it.
Shifted and boundless,
Echoes, and undertows that
Amounted to no more than whispering
To myself toiling on the edge of the sea,
Perhaps believing I might be some
Kind of lighthouse with a heartbeat
Standing insidiously in a language
I could barely understand.
THE NIGHT MARKET
Tonight the sky crowded with stars,
The streets crowded with shoppers
At the night market. The pale yellow
Eyes of hundreds of lanterns swaying
Above the heads of the camels, above the stalls
Selling nutmeg and cardamon, cinnamon
And ginger, sage and a wealth of sweet
Incense. Patchouli permeates the air
On the corner where the seller of tiger
Skins and monkey skulls plies his furtive trade.
The maker of knives polishes his wares,
Keening the edge of his fine daggers
So they might flash intent even under
The dull light a crescent moon might cast.
The dogs linger near the meat sellers,
Tables of red and red and shadow.
He moves wasp-like, hovering over the cuts
Trimming, arranging them in layered rows
Among the piles of yellow fat.
The maker of string instruments
Plays an oud with a long
Plectrum, loosing memories from each note
That search for the stories they
Begin to tell of love and battle,
Destiny and the life of the sheep
Herder and of lost loves found,
The black ships searching the sea
For the beloved. Occasionally he
Finds the words to quell such yearning.
They get lost quickly in the corridor
The tents and walls of hanging carpets
Create, so far below the hissing
Stars, the cacophony of colored lamps,
The arguing and and bargaining roiling through
This market, a wave of fates and
Sounds, dreaming and not dreaming.
A great human zoo brought together
Here by a golden ambience of the muse
As I sit on the edge of the balcony
Watching it invoke, then consume, timelessness.
Pan, seated near the mouth of a river,
Talking to the Zodiac as if it were person.
Hang your heart where you will, he says
Heaven yawns to see you play this way.
Much of the road between here and the shore
Had been destroyed and a thick milky residue
Issued from the ground, covering the sands
And exuding a scent not unlike slightly spoiled milk.
The ropes that bound my body to the river bank
Were coated with a rime ice that cut into my skin,
Reminding me that I wasn’t blind; I had just shut
My eyes tightly so as not to see the pain. I could
Hear Pan begin his noodling on his pipes.
The Zodiac began their dances, the goat, the bull,
The water-bearer, the lion rampant, the twins with
Their perfectly matched steps. the wistful virgin,
Dreaming the Archer and the crab, the fish chasing
Across the river of the sky. And I was bound by the scales,
Carefully balancing a scorpion and a great ram against
A world I thought i knew but could not make speak.
Watching it slowly cover itself with a milky pain
That did not recognize compassion and glorified
Desire. Everyone finding their own car and driving
Away from the light into the sunset, headlights aflame.
I could feel the ropes loosen around my body, the
Ice begin to melt, the poem unwind itself from the roving
That made the rope and my eyes finally wide open.
The stars beginning to spin madly. This one trying
To make a song of it all, opening my throat to feel
The rush of words across the mouth of the river.
THESE ARE MY ARMS
I thought divinity a great house
That rambled and sometimes all was glass
And sometimes all was mirror
And sometimes there was blood coursing
Through, on an adventure so inscrutable
We would never read of it
Or run through it with open eyes,
For what good are such eyes
When all remains unreadable?
This house, unaware of itself,
In love with the mysterious,
With its own presence and we
Would be given over to what tomorrow
Might bring with what that hourglass
Might find a fondness for and abandon
Us near a church we wander into,
Thinking it only one afternoon on the plaza,
Or a cache of old coins, or fragments
Memory finds broken yet full of surprises,
Like looking deeply into your eyes
And seeing myself reflected there.
THE MUSE LYING
Spurned by the champion of fire,
I can hear her beginning to push
The poem into my body, picking at the details,
Mouthing the words, not caring if I am
Goethe or Shakespeare or pale Homer
Mumbling his Greek on some hillside
Grazed by goats and hexameters.
I yield to the growling of the vowels,
The slip, verbs use to pull me
Under their spell, telling me to be not
Afraid. An intimate music already
Too well-known as I walk into the evening
Touching my forehead, feeling for the fever,
Guessing the name of the spirit as
I climb the three steps to the porch
To where I can catch a well-known
Glimpse of the sea, open a vein
To keep the gnawing at bay and
Try to refuse to answer to anyone,
Pretending the dream is the most necessary,
Should I forget it and find death
Has plagiarized everything I suspected
Could be recognized as a poem,
As my own event.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!