We came upon a pale landscape plain
Made paler by the moon, white past
The white of death with bushes white,
Upon which horses roamed, whiter than the
Whole of what we saw.
For most of night we were a silent crew,
Tired from too many mountain passes,
Descents into forgotten valleys, then up
Again toward snowy peaks that gleamed
Like teeth and drifted white with snow,
Borne by the coarsest wind
That tore into our skin and face for days.
Yet here, upon this night, the landscape
All seemed careful to our eyes.
We knew that we belonged to another world
And took a curious comfort in our own
Shadows. It was as if we walked upon
Detritus of some senseless time, that archeology
Could not undo or yet explain.
Still there was a sweetness there that
We felt resembled eternity or what
We thought eternity might be. It trembled
And looked to protect secrets.
Our dreams and half-dreams flooded
With so many yesterdays we could, at times,
Move only by following echoes and paths
From one another’s memories.
These places did not depend on us
To reckon their distances and plains.
We finally trusted that the heart would
Know the way, bring our sweetest bliss
Back to our stories and our now frozen lips.
And so, we traveled on, imagining ourselves
Cold historians, transforming all we
Saw into fantastic tales that we
Could tell to one another, hoping
That each one would tell us who we were.
THE BREAKING OF THE MAIN
A refutation of time bubbling up
From a dark kingdom, filling the shoes
Of the traveller with blood, opening
The next day with fierce cuts that
Will take weeks to heal.
On the far side of the door we remain sleeping.
It is within thick shade we dwell,
Ambiguous and ancient.
One has not heard such words as these
Spoken at these thresholds since
All things dead tumbled on the land.
If it were a mirror, it would be
Faded, dim and darkened, but still
Able to reflect from its mica heart
Your own childhood, colored as one
Would color a coloring book, thick with outlines
You know by heart but are unable
To articulate without the edges.
Collapsing into the unsubstantial,
Becoming hollow shades, fountains,
Long dry from the lack of our
Wonderful bewilderment of first
Knowing the things of the world.
The main collapses. This is no
Accident, no one picked an apple
From a tree and chased you with it,
Claiming it was your own blood.
Watch! This song rocks back and forth
Like a lullaby or an elegy, caused
Only by a faint recollection
Of gardens and patios, of the order
Things seem to take as we
Walk through the outskirts of our
Lives seeking a refuge we can barely
Retain, even with the best of dreams.
A WOUNDED SOLDIER
This is not my war, he thought
Finally resting on the brown hills.
He had deep wounds in his shoulder
And fell in and out of dreams.
They came like breezes with the sound
Of cicada wings flying close to his head.
There would be knights and green vales
To calm him and he did not know
What plains he looked upon and no longer
Recognized the Spanish countryside.
He awakened to a short man
With kind brown eyes
Washing his wounds and dressing them.
Before he fell back to his last gift, sleep,
He asked the man, in Spanish,
Who he was?
Mi nombre es Sancho.
Tengo que montar.
Yo sirvo a un caballero
Va a estar bien. Sonando.
You will be well. Dream on.
The soldier was full of music.
He could hear it at the end
As he caught up with the two riders.
for Meg Pokrass
Certainly stranger things have happened and I suppose, even more fantastic things as well, but this seemed so real. Even the car felt real, even if it was a crapola invention.
A racing striped, super fast model all nastied out with licorice black racing slicks, a crazy jagged lightning bolt painted across the hood and a super fancy, super tricked-out interior with more treats than could be imagined.
Truly we are inhabited by the most incredible of beings, capable of dressing us in leotards, making us dance, making a choreography turning any moment into the most brilliant of pauses, an ah that is impossible to paper clip to consciousness.
Bring it all on, music of everything from a flurry of cat hair seen in the light of the afternoon, across the room in a dance of dust, lint as a language of movement never seen before. On a diet such as this we grow and glow, unable to make choices when confronted by such beasts: Cocoa or coffee, tea or pure dreaming, slender musings of vehicles even more powerful than these cars that race though the imagination.
We reach up and consume the juicy fruit such pleasure brings, touching ourselves, knowing we cannot quiet or quell such an eroticism no matter what we do. Shhh.
A GIFT OF KNIVES
A gift of knives. A gift of blindness.
The smell of blood. The taste of blood
Inside the mouth. The way the lights
Of the railroad station look as if
They had something more than an electric
Glow to them. Someone is crying.
I make a call on my phone to see who
It might be, but no answer came.
The fire in the pampas began just as the day
Began to lose its way, backing up to allow night.
The animals came ahead of the fire,
Until there was a stampede of shadows
Backlit by the greatest of flames.
I stepped from the landing boat, looking
Toward the town. There were lights
In the bars and the houses showed a
Yellow-gold glow through their shades.
It made the entire street pulse.
I knew the reason we were here.
The fire on the pampas could be seen
On the far horizon. Soon the animals
Would be here. There was only the town
Between them and the sea.
I felt for my knife. This would
Be all that I needed. I would be gone
Before any fire could reach this place.
There was no waiting.
I ran down the side of the road
And began making a list.
The last thing I noticed before
The whole thing began was the sound
The ship’s bell made. I turned
To look at the ship.
It was beautiful.
I thought it was a candle.
The gift of knives.
We send the word out once again,
As Noah sent one bird after another.
Black bird. White bird. Finally
Bringing back a twig with green
Leaf upon it and the sun shone
For thousands of years since and no one
Has found anything more powerful
Than this music that greets the
Combining of letters. We, say.
Meaning has its own trucks and finds
Itself out in history searching for images
Where there are only cool abstractions
Built of letters, market places.
I will dream you a market place.
Here you may use your intellect
To unravel a theater, if you care to,
Caravans full of flickering violet light.
We dream paths through Yeats,
Or Frost, or Browning, Emerson, Baudelaire.
We search for them and soon
We are not able to discern what woods,
What bird, what limit, ‘there was a ship’, quoth he.
Ah, we are dreaming again. A band
Of sunlight bounded by the sea below
A scud of clouds, darkly gray, above it.
We are certain of this. A dream of geometry
That brings us to the verge of fear
Lest this be true, lest we doubt
What we see. A sword. A room
Full of such sorrow words shrink
Away from it, unable to introduce
Comfort, nor the sun, nor the moon, handfuls
Of stars thrown in for measure.
Nothing is much use to us. Mystery
Remains staring at itself in the mirror.
It carries sacks filled with the hours,
And even more words which have become
Unreadable, of no use. We are unable
To learn from them. They are wet,
Shredded by the waves, trying to describe
A beach, a shoreline, your face even.
Still we send them each day. A blur
With no accounting for anything,
Aware only of their lovely journeys.
A ROSE AND BORGES
Jorge Luis Borges who is dust,
I have come here to ask as you did
Of those same roses gone from even
The memory time had of them,
The self-same favor you asked
For Milton, the very final rose
You held, in your own labyrinthine
Garden with so many bushes of roses,
In colors seen by magic, that you held.
That it too will live here, in between
Your fingers, unseen, except in this poor poetry,
“Gold and blood-covered, ivory or shadowed"
Your rose, dear Borges, invisible.