Tears from wounds. The sound
Too many stars make when they catch
In our dreams, harvesting the pain
We were unable to express in a way
That would soothe the orchestrations
The heart had damaged in the name of love.
I never abandoned you. I could not
Take the depth of the drama that consumed
The very air I was trying to breathe. I
Needed to see myself, the mirrors wrinkling
As I gazed into them. I had forgotten my name.
Later in the day there were great mists.
They cleared for moments at a time
And each time a different view came upon us.
When they showed us the garden with its
Strangely shaped fountains and the surrounding
Labyrinth, we hesitated for a long moment. Wasn’t
Just being here enough? We were handed fistfuls
Of photographs of places we could not identify.
“These places are in your heart,” they said.
Many of them showed brutality and police activity.
“We are locking you in your car for your own safety.”
Finally we were each given a deck of cards.
Each card showed a particular doorway on it.
As we played them on the table, we came farther
Apart from one another. Looking up, there were
flocks of brightly-colored birds. Someone began
Reading a list of names. We continued to walk
As we listened. I never abandoned you,
Even as my breath began to catch fire
And made me speak in this strange way.
MAY I ASK YOU A QUESTION?
While we were talking
A tree began to grow out
Of his mouth but he could
Still make words. There was
Rain in him as well.
I didn’t mind; I liked
The rain. I wanted it muddy.
I wanted to be walking
I could see other figures
Moving in the dark.
I knew they could not see me.
The morning gone, like little
Red boats illustrating
A children’s story. Its architecture
Forgotten as soon as anyone
Sees a tree and knows
What it is for.
There were lights at the gate,
Thank goodness. We were given
Robes and whistles and a candle
By which I could see your baby
Just inside the tent. You were naked,
Warm and full of light.
I could not believe my eyes.
Everything looked as if it could
Never perish, not even before
Flames or the great walking
Of the beast across our
Acres of flowers, trampling
Everything it touched.
I followed the sun down
There to see if we might
Travel any further this way.
“Wait for morning.’, they said, using
The pinkest of their words.
Somewhere deep inside
This poem there are children
Hidden away from the most
Horrifying of circumstances.
Some things never happened
But this wasn’t like that.
It was like one could still hear
The engine sounds but it had been
Years since the car had flat-out quit
Right on the edge of the desert
Where the road ran out.
You could see two or three coyotes
On the top of the next ridge.
One was sitting and the other two
Were walking around, looking
In his direction.
The dream kept coming back
And kept coming back,
As if it got lost and had no idea
Of where to go next,
So it went back and found him again,
While he was still in bed,
While dawn was only an idea.
It wanted him to know
Something...that it was always
Going to be like this out here,
That the wind had a job to do
And here one could watch it.
The wind knew his face.
It knew when he was sleeping.
It was those damn coyotes who told the wind
When to come.
When they were sure he was asleep
And could do nothing about
Such a visitation.
He bolted awake,
Sitting straight up.
The dream was already at the window
Sill. It didn’t even look
Back at him when it jumped.
I would be years before it
Hit the ground, yet he could
Always hear it falling.
He learned that song it sang.
Someone had told him
It was crickets that made
That sound, but it wasn’t
Crickets. It always sounded
Like something that never
Happened. The car not
Starting but he was able
To drive it away anyway,
The starter bendix clicking
Madly like an unanswered telephone.
THE FURNITURE OF ETERNITY
Little winged insects
Would touch his lips.
They would fly around
His head and eventually
Shatter against his face
As if made of fine flameworked
When they did so, they would reveal
Flowers of a most exotic kind,
Colors and shapes that defied description.
He knew he was being watched
As he moved through the long corridor.
He could see the ships signal
To one another using flashes of light.
“He is coming this way,” they would say.
“Look how his garments shine,”
Said another. The air seemed
To thicken, become almost solid
Enough to bear some weight.
The ceiling cracking, a leg sticking
Through. Not enough to think about.
Someone kissed his hands.
The flying insects continued
To shatter, making his feet
Bleed to walk upon their tiny bodies.
“God help me,” he whispered.
But he was always alone.
This was the furniture of eternity.
That curl on the side of your neck,
When I put my mouth next to it,
It wrapped itself around me and I
Was transported, required to be in
The court of birds and angels. I saw
Them rise, I did. I saw them rise higher
And higher, each bearing a name I
Wanted to call you, a word I wanted
To use to tell you how this is, kissing
Your neck, the slight hollow of the neck,
The soft bulge of an artery, my mouth
On your bloodstream, just below the skin.
“Did you see the birds?” I said. You
Looking to the sky, sparrows, starlings,
Mockingbirds and jays. “Oh yes, I did,”
You said. “They flew out of your mouth
Didn’t they?" “Yes, yes, they did. I thought
THE LINE OF VISION
for Eduardo Carrillo
“I’m going to have to get past light,”
Ed told me, his hands moving across
The table, holding, making tiny curves.
“That was the trouble with the
Impressionists. Just light, nothing else.”
Golden nets descend. Long lines
Of children move by, silken winds of
Voices rising through ice:
“There were some really rough characters
In them woods back in eighty seven.
Nobody lives near there now, just
Icicles catch the moon. The children become
Snowflakes. Ed’s hands move back to his side.
I look into his left eye and watch the fires.
Words pass me. I talk about
A cold I caught getting
Angry. He smiles.
I take a photograph. Golden
Nets flow by. The neighborhood
Becomes voices of children.
December runs her fingers up my back.
They are busing everyone
With new ideas to a single
Room. It is huge. They are
Assigned a single letter of the
Alphabet and are told to
I don’t go. I am able only
To speak in numbers.
Some of them are significant.
I recall there used to be
Noises coming from the sun.
I thought it was music.
A single wave breaks in
The collective imagination.
The room of ideas is opened.
It is filled with the sea.
Language floats upon it
I am asked to explain this in numbers.
These are visual calculations.
They are made with language.
SPEAKING IN IMAGES
When I listen to music—
A welter of strings
From some far time sliding
Into the moment, the conventions,
An understanding of the light
At a precise few instants,
Draped in cellos, skirting an elusive
Figure in the bass viol—
I like to think some secret
Is being told, not just to me,
But spoken in this way, that
One may understand it implicitly.
Not in eras or a period,
Historians do that,
But by arpeggios to bring
Oration on, a speaking voice.
Instrumental music, totally devoid
Of words, alive again, moving
In my own life as I work,
Listening, recognizing particular
Patterns, essays, discussions, pronouncements,
Lodged in the present again.
Pictures, plain as any painting.
And I too am marking time,
Stitch by stitch, my visual images
Emerging into this conversation,
Fueled by the same desire
That draws the pulse of time,
As music, across the mystery
Consciousness delights us with
In its manifestations—dance after
Dance. These words collecting themselves
Here. The room filling with light,
Assured that this too is speech,
Anchored in poetry, so one may find it
Completely engaged, while merely reading.