(After "The Beautiful Savages" by Georges Barber)
Love flaunts by—out of reach,
in a lure of three: dancers,
or models of costume,
wearing dyed feathers,
in a bright window
full of time’s transitions—
for icy eyes to melt through
with praise, envy, signs.
Mirrors know their secrets,
how they entice, comply—
miming: Choose me.
Sea stars sparkle.
The shore is far and lonely.
A beautiful fish turns into a woman.
Frail moonlight quivers upon the dark sea.
The sea suppresses.
Beautiful woman turns into moonlight.
Her long red hair pulls toward you—
her luminous scales glimmer like gold—
A crown of sea shells holds her hair in place.
She trembles shoreward.
Still she has not reached you.
Her hair tangles away from your touch.
Maybe she is not real—
maybe she is only real to losses like this.
EDGES OF DESIRE
Braid of woven silence and sound—coil
of lines bent according to the weave
—a complexity of pattern and
the materials that work with pattern—
intention obscures thought upon
thought that holds the secret:
white is relief—
as black and gray are relief
to white—center is always reached
—as are the edges.
What is first: Idea or result?
Bind the edges. Let nothing out.
Oh, how I want, and find I cannot have—
I who would challenge everything that binds.
Every restriction—every pitfall—finds
me back at some beginning, nothing to grab
but hands that slip away. A curse—a laugh
escapes my mouth for that far-shining blinds
me still—and my persistence winds
its dull way forward—and its dull way back.
Oh, how I pity me—woe after woe.
Longing, for what it’s worth, does not teach much.
I lick my wounds and wish it were not so—
for still the need continues to aspire
beyond reality’s elusive touch—
and at the end, there is only this desire.
(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 2005)
THE PLACE OF OLD DESIRE
How else am I to arrive at this place
and not be changed, no matter the map.
Old lie. Old truth. The forces here
were lures, attractive and needy.
One merely yields.
That is not what the plot is.
No. This is The Escape, the thrill
of almost being caught. The moon
hung upside down in the heavy water.
We looked in and begged to reach.
An owl laughed. A formless shadow
pushed at our leaning. You turned
first, something so far on your face
I shuddered back.
I left you there, bent away from me,
becoming the center of a vast shimmer.
I grew cold then, torn from something
that I knew and wanted, but not yet.
(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)
SILENCE AS ITS OWN DESIRE
(After "DESIRING SILENCE: Holy Island
from Lamlash," 1994, by Craigie Aitchison)
The blue boat waits on its reflection,
soundless on the motionless water.
The boat is empty and takes this time to sleep.
It knows where both the shores are.
It knows how to go back and forth between.
It lives in the cool shadow of the mountain.
The mountain guards the sunlight.
The water holds the mountain in its depth.
The boat floats on the mountain.
Time is measureless.
The water holds the boat like a trick of reality.
The boat does not keep time.
Time sleeps in the blue silence of the boat.
The boat dreams of the silence.
The red sky drowns in its own reflection.
The calm water bleeds every day at this hour.
(first pub. in Poetry Now, 2008)
THINKING ABOUT LOVE
It is in the superb language of love
that desire meshes with fate—
oh, merely fate,
with its own agenda
never the true—or even the true.
Love is victim to the game,
for game it is—poorly played or
brilliantly. How easy to discuss
the points of review, the win or lose,
the simple tactics, carried through.
Only the thinker knows—the casual
thinker, sitting here, thinking about love.
(After "The Desire and the Satisfaction",
1893, by Jan Theodore Toorop)
Their gold faces speak of desire
such has their love been taken.
Their eyes burn with after-
thoughts. Hers turn away
from his haunted stare.
Gold bells weep into dying sound
along the surrounding wall;
gold leaves fall from the sky—
for it is imperial here
with wealth and power—
except over love.