The intrigue of numbers, rolling through
the clock—the wakened eye
following the wondering of
the thought: how count the
sameness, fasten to the meaning,
the quick ascensions and descensions,
little stairs of counting,
what a notion,
they have no meaning,
but you can sense a meaning in
this little trick of numbers—
small rows of them that
flick past, like silent castanets of
lure you calculate and
wonder at—play at superstition.
A CONSIDERATION OF HANDS
A circularity of hands,
hands manipulating gestures,
Hands offering and taking away.
Quick hands of light
with numerous life-lines
and rivers of veins that pulse
and glow with sensitivity.
Hands that are empty, that seem hollow
and without expectation.
Old hands that cannot hold steady.
A hand holding a note
to be slipped into another hand,
a hand that will swiftly pull away,
or grab the wrist of the other.
Hands that need touch,
hands that avoid touch.
hands that are afraid of throats.
Inarticulate hands of clumsiness;
jealous hands that were made to caress,
that now would kill.
Hands with gesture
and wills of their own,
hands that own us as we use them.
After "Mother Nature" by Ben Kwok
The stars align and turn hot to the eye.
She appears as an old warning—
this day draped in red sunset
slanting behind her.
A forest of burned trees hold back
the terrible distance of her power.
She is who she says she is, if you
choose to believe her.
Her orange hair tangles
in the green-leaved wind.
She is halfway between moods:
benevolent and destructive.
through her hair.
Love me, say her eyes,
treat me well,
Her eyes smolder,
but not with love.
Something whispers around her,
turns to you. It’s a secret, she says.
MOTH FLUTTERS DOWN
tricks all my
aim and skill wi-
th its diffus-
has such as
much less a sub-
one can kill wi-
th full annoy-
(first pub. in Minotaur, 1998-99)
He could love past the one he loved to the one
he could have. She let him weep and heal.
She held him. They made love
on his tantrum of grief and he was hers.
He was happy then, since he needed
happiness. She became his chameleon,
wearing a red slit dress and playing down
the room with shadows.
They had their years out— clear to her
widowhood. Whatever love he took with him
was all his. She knew that—and let him go with
his happiness and kept what was left.
It filled an envelope,
and she put a ribbon around it
and placed it in a treasure box, where it stayed,
safe in her mind, behind her smile.
AVOIDING THE POOR
They dragged in here and tried to sell their chains.
They talked about the distance and the woe.
They tried to buy our pity with their stains
of tears etched deep—as if we didn’t know
those old professionals—
were on to them—
we’d heard those tales before—we knew the tricks
the lost and useless use—the way they beg—
the way they hate us when we turn away,
or press a bill or coin into their hands.
It is the way you treat light—
as if you owned all its properties,
you the magnet for its releasements.
You own the word : Light—
you who own the darkness, too.
You make it find you.
You rim the dark with light—
trying one against the other,
as if you could both blend and separate.
You make form out of nothing—
all your will surrendered to art:
She is gold light
personified into woman—
you see her through half-closed eyes,
how she appears at the edge of
your disbelief, how she seems real.
Believe in her.
She is there
for your imagination—
All her thoughts are transparent.
Do not fear her. She is only woman.
She is only light. As long as
you are not shadow,
she will exist.
playing tricks on
me, I find time does
not matter to my plans.
I have become very good
at plausible explanations.
—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam for today's sumptuous fare, and noting that our new Seed of the Week is Rivers of Doubt. Send poems, photos and artwork about those rivers (or any other subject) to email@example.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though.