—Evan Myquest, Rancho Murieta
in her youth
set up a booth
to charge for truth
when she got old
she got very bold
scraped off the mold
& recycled what she earlier told
& then in the big money rolled
MUSIC BOX BALLERINA
With every push of the switch
Opening of the box
What you are doing
You must be
Tiny psycho dancer
And that makes me afraid
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Fresh from listening
to Arnold Bax’s robustly keening,
bristling and windswept, rain-drenched glistening
November Woods, I seek out the meaning
why and how such surging ardent tunes
come trimmed in heaven’s warmest ermine,
as if to soften gray daylight’s mourning gaze:
My whole intent is to determine.
this Scotland-lowland fine gray cloud
lingers with one vast gauzelike eye,
gaze welling up with misty grief
amid the flames of autumn redleaf.
Trick it out as you will, a shroud’s a shroud.
The earth is breathing one wisp of breath.
We seem decades away from Junes.
Here comes a mist-enveloped ghost.
Ghost turns to girl, and you are there,
November Woods’ rich second theme
luscious with cellos, violas, clear
soft peals from the icicle rainbow celeste.
My inner chill reclaims, from cool
to softening warmth to kettle steam,
the youth you bring in on silent feet.
From your ear you tug a bright musical clatter,
attend to my word-stumbles as we greet.
We say to each other precisely nothing,
no chord, no melodic hint or motif,
much less a fugal theme to trade
as tree-enspiraling squirrel and squirrel
swap turns of tail, pursuer, pursued,
in maypole-twining spins & nutlike bursts
from spring’s long-vanished wheel and whirl.
Yet we convey what we convey.
You smile: elusive, rosebud-shy
mouth lipped with honey. Your snow-soft grin
incisors its brief gleam: spearmint, peppermint.
Then, my thief,
you steal into your green and umber woods,
ghosting your coat of olive and gray
along with you into lostness, fir and pine,
distancing earbud music and girl
till both girl and Bax turn brittle, crystals in dimness.
You’re hiding the sweet deep wintry you
away in this far dark-needled November…
Wonder widens the eyes, opens the mouth, stops the heart, freezes thought. Above all…wonder both diagnoses and cures ignorance. It reveals that there are more things in heaven and earth than have been dreamt of in our philosophy…
—Lorraine Daston, “Wonder and the Ends of Inquiry”
INCESTUOUS WONDER, MURDEROUS WONDER
Term paper topic: does Hamlet love Ophelia?
That Kobayashi Maru test of English:
exploit sad Hamlet, generate student anguish
and no one the Shakespeare-savvier, not really.
Contemplate Denmark’s prince, with open doublet
bursting her maiden doors as becomes a rapist,
affecting to “draw” her, not drawing her out. A stray mist
filters them, word-torches quenched. A tacit Hamlet!
If only he’d speak of the wondrous, cold, star-scarred night,
drunk king-noises off, and that uncle-drunk a killer,
the night-softened curve and glint of ghastly armor
versus the mirror-clean planes of a dead sword.
Such wonders just reek of secrets, atomize starlight!
Is love true love that leaves so much undeclared?
And doesn’t she also hold wonders, some hidden dimensions?
Whole firmaments he’ll never see, so busy my lord:
the instrument of her bawdy largesse and splendor,
the instrument too of all that sword-struck dementia…
—JoAnn Anglin, Sacramento
We writers steal apples from fenced-in trees,
surreptitiously riffle mail that others leave out,
take pennies from tip jars, bounce away the ball
left on the grass. We happily carry our oversize
handbags, slip on the coats with large pockets,
some hidden, take the steak from the freezer, snag
flowers from our neighbors’ gardens, deftly slide
in to cadge the caress meant for someone else.
Innocently we explain how we must borrow from
those who may not understand. We want their
grieving and lusting, regrets appropriated with purest
motives, must tuck away significance they could
misplace. How can we not cherish the objects of
other owners? Pretend not to hear if somebody asks,
How much did you pay for that?