THE BIG TIME
A gull, pitched across the sky
In front of a serious storm,
Lightning, great thunder, hail,
Raindrops protesting their call to duty.
This storm did not show us an agenda.
On the lake a freighter was lost
In a matter of moments. In the video
The sailors looks like blips of colored light,
Saint Elmo’s fire on the masts and radar wands.
The ship glowed orange for a moment and disappeared.
I was inside a small building overlooking
The docks, near a lighthouse that was hit
By lightning hundreds of times, crackling,
Loud. It was impossible to speak aloud.
By the time it passed, the whitecaps
Remained, full of the storm. They glowed
Purple and lavender, white and the color
Of bone newly exposed to the air.
It was as if our skin had acquired a memory.
Highways of sparks and fractal energies
Flitted over our bodies for hours.
When we opened our mouths to speak
Our sounds were high and bird-like,
Impossible to understand. We realized
We were very fortunate to have kept our bodies.
GUNNERS: RUNNING WITH THEM
Do you have gunner emissions over fifteen?
Then dismantle the entrances that will allow
Dwarves into the concrete factories. We do not
Want them there. They always make those birds
That frighten everyone, especially when it is snowing
And the snow sticks to their outstretched wings and those flocks
Of adolescent boys begin to make their haunting sounds,
Thinking they are attracting females of the species.
Along the edges of the meadows there are rows
Of clear glass bottles with tight lids, full of flies.
We are told they put them there for the pulsing music
They make in the night. By dawn they are all dead.
The jars must be refilled every evening so that the old
May not lose sight of the roads through towns and villages.
Some of these villages have been gone since World War I.
The soldiers attach bayonets to their rifles and wade into them.
The veterans are stiff-faced and never show a trace of fear.
They drop like dropped ventriloquist dummies, straw spouting
From their bodies, piles of sliver coins pouring from their chests.
They were followed around for weeks, trying out the war
To see who would give them money or something valuable.
Some of them shot themselves in the foot; flocks of bright
Parrots gather in the trees above the camps.
Work shall set you free, dear children. They are sprayed
With rainbow-colored bullets and fall to the ground
Just as full of holes as any vision that surrounds them.
We must run into our buildings and hide. They
Can come back at any time. We play cards
With electric hot stick linemen and talk to them
About transmission of the spirit. They seem to know
This intimately and prepare sermons. We decide
To go deeper into the jungle. “It will be fun."
Even the devils smell of gun emissions.
But not for long. Not at all, for long.
A CHANNEL OPENED TO SHOW SORROW
This could be any street. It is, because
The Night has gained possession of it
So that it is able to so manipulate one
As a tango might infect a landscape.
All movements become furtive,
No matter how beautiful they might
Appear to another’s eye. The street
Pretends to contrive the personification
Of sorrow. It is Night. We cannot see
How it moves itself through our bodies.
We feel the clarity of its sorrow
But realize it is not sorrow at all
But a channel slit into our life space
That has found a way to access
The deepest of our pain as it flows
Through the locks we find so difficult
To revisit again. It tears our scars
Open once more, like visiting these hells
With Dante, but unable to speak with him.
When we awaken in the morning
All of this is forgotten. We strive to
Understand why we feel this way,
Why we feel this so deeply.
We look for traces of this channel.
We discover it is our own circulatory system.
For years, as a child
I thought the telephone poles
With their cross arms, carrying wires,
Were crucifixes. On rides with my parents
I would look for Jesus. He might be hanging
From any one of them. They wanted to keep
Him in our mind any way they could.
I found it difficult to talk on the telephone.
I knew my words would pass through his body
At some unknown point and he would know
Everything I had to say and what I might be about.
OWNING THE MOMENT
The thin white line where her lips
Came together. It was as if she would
Never part them again, that words
Had discovered roads that no longer
Had anything to do with her mouth.
The moon slit a hole in the clouds and slipped
In over the gardens. Names were given to
Every being who dwelt among the plants.
The names would be theirs for one night only.
These were her children. Their names were:
Rain, in the hollow of tree stump. Shadows
Know what I am talking about. Grief, caught
With both hands deep inside the heart,
Pulling, always pulling, made of wisps and whispers.
Parting, the hours peeling away from the body
Until one could see the blood on the bones,
The bones still pulsing. Prayer, hands raised,
Filled with the soft flame of the heart. It flickers
In a gasping breeze, formless, yet carrying
The ideas we have come here to collect.
It has never been proper to speak of these things.
The eyes would wish to unsee them, the ears
To abandon whatever one might be calling music
On this terrible night. Do not reach out to touch
The children. They will shatter like those tiny
Cordial glasses, blown in colors, each one different
From the others. She barely opens her mouth.
She is recognizing something that is not herself.
It slips thousands of fingers, daggers really,
Into her face and its stations of perception.
From across the lake we begin to hear the train
Approaching. Soon it will be time to part again.
I raise her hands to my mouth and kiss her fingertips.
Over her shoulder I can see the sparks flying
From the locomotive stacks, see the clouds of steam.
When I opened my hand a moment ago
A moth flew out of it,
Into the room and disappeared
Into the night. I had no idea how it got there,
What it was doing or how the moment
Became filled with such insistence.
How like a poem it was,
Small, winged and extremely quick just
To see if I was noticing.