PAST THE GATE
Great cloud masses.
The rivers in the West
Far below the escarpment
A glittering line, twisting.
Sometimes the air is so thick
It would be difficult to put
One’s hand through the storms,
Feel the edges and know there
Was a darkness there
No simple starlight could
Open. No passage for even
The brightest moon.
Go buy me laughter,
The shores of joy.
The stars could barely wait
To come out. The sky
Still had some memory of blue
Caught in it when they began
To poke their way through the clouds.
They had something to say
But no one understands
What stars say. It is like
Listening to angels argue.
You can’t hear a thing.
There were a thousand people
Waiting at the shore.
So he thought it was a pile of dead bodies
Heaped up in the moonlight, all silver
In the meadow, but it was not.
It was a terrible mistake. One anyone
Could make. It was, rather, a heap of angel
Skins that had more to do with inspiration
Than death of any kind. He lit them on fire.
I am the others, he thought to himself.
I am those I do not know, and they have
Found a place to love within my body.
I do not know any of them.
I should get myself a horse and ride away.
But there was no riding away. The best he could do
Was bend himself away from all this and possibly swim.
But there was no swimming either. The fire
From the skins of the angels refused
To extinguish itself. Instead it began
To sing to him, songs of William Blake,
Songs of Walt Whitman.
If I am the others I must have water, he thought.
He began to search for water. His quest became
Unforgettable. He thought he saw more than one
Moon in the sky. Sure, he thought, that is what
All these others want me to believe. But it was not so.
It was just another view of the burning angel skins.
THE BLANK ROOM
The blank room is hard to believe.
It looks as if it was made of water
Trickling down glass
To form walls that were
Not walls at all but
Nevertheless held the shape
Of the room.
It looks to be made of rain,
Yet, no rain comes inside
The room, and no rain
Was falling outside the room,
But its walls were
There as visible as a hawk
On a fencepost.
Inside the room were many
Things one might expect
In such a room.
In one corner bright red ants
Came and went from their dwelling,
Formed different words with their bodies,
Then sentences and paragraphs.
As each word formed, the ants
Went back to their home
And other ants came to begin
The next word.
Entire novels were created
This way, a kind of ant reader
Board scrolling through the
Corner of the blank room.
In the middle of the room
Birds would appear and disappear
One after another like turning
The pages of a book.
They never made a sound.
You could hear their songs
Inside one's head when
Looking at their endless displays.
Around the perimeter
Of the blank room, a line of young
Desert tortoises, slowly moving
Head to tail, around and around.
What could have been rafters,
Sleeping bats hanging close together.
The place had no doors
Or windows. One could see
Through it and enter
And exit at any point along
Its walls of trickling rain.
As sleep builds dreams
The blank room could be
Found anywhere: on the edge
Of a high cliff, deep in
A meadow within a forest,
Atop the waves of the sea,
At the end, the beginning
Of any life,
In the midst of a fierce battle,
Horses falling, men locked
In serious combat,
Within the room, upon a stage,
Caught between inhaling and exhaling,
I deliver this room to you,
Hoping you will note its curious
Blankness, its ability to carry
Us away to strange realms
Before we are able to realize
What has happened, blank
To all that might be magic.
THREADING THE FINEST NEEDLES
The rain began to fall just after midnight.
We had been by the bridge
Since after sunset.
It seemed the space was infected
With spirits, and tears were beginning
To show in my language, making
It hard to understand the words
I was saying.
This had happened on previous occasions
The others knew how to use this. I did not.
They were waiting for the blue flame
To begin dancing around my lips.
I was the razor on the breath,
The long view before plunging
From the cliff top.
“The vacancy is a way the mind
Constructs to hide the details.
I win the protection of the lily.
I wear the armor that requires
Translation. Do not fear the future.”
The blue flame was doing more
Than dancing by this time.
Then the rain started.
I was startled that the others
Had begun to load their weapons.
The bridge began to glow
A silverly glow as if coated
“Here they come,” said Ramon.
I looked up and could see the spirit forces
Materializing in the rain drops.
“Speak,” Ramon commanded.
“There is no bliss in this vacuum,”
I continued. “Thread the finest
Needles. Use the thread of light.”
They commenced firing. There was
No sound. The bridge dissolved
Seconds after the firing command.
“Stop talking,” said Ramon.
The flame disappeared from
Around my mouth. I could hear
The songs of the night birds somewhere
In the rainy dark.
Two of the others grabbed my
Hands and pulled me to my feet.
Within seconds we were shadows
Against the trees. The bridge once more
Became stone. It arched high above the river.
“Your words are our serious weapons,”
Said Ramon. The others remained silent.
My throat hurt, my body ached for days.
I am unable to stand,
Pushing the years ahead of me.
Time, come to this town.
I do not know what they call him here.
The day starts to break down.
It can offer very little
In the territory of dreams.
I pick up all the fragments,
Packing them into smoke
Conversations with the devil.
It is no longer possible
To have the proper key.
I pack myself deeply into the music.
From what vigil I have no idea.
I pick up armloads of sorrow
Hoping to deliver them to a neighbor.
It is already night. I cannot
Recall your name. Are you my child?
I am able to watch Milton
Move his mouth as he writes;
Whitman removes his hat and lays
Next to the sweet soldiers time
Has recreated to make things look normal.
From here on, let us whisper.
We will become tapestries.
Spend the afternoon with me.
I will show you labyrinths made of ivory.
They have broken all my fingers.
They have numbered all my bones.
I have become weak. I can see
An eternity made totally of ink.
If I could pick up a train
Of thought, I would.
I am a traveller, unwinding.
If I have to tell you
The view is beyond description,
Why should I even mention it?