It is true—as we make it to be true—
this, our story,
our made-up belief,
How foolish of you to disbelieve.
It is written:
We have researched, interviewed,
read sworn statements:
The unicorn is that forgotten part of life
resurrected in dreams,
in retellings from trusted sources.
The last one is kept in . . . I forget where . . .
but it is there, bewitched,
so it may live whenever there is need.
Who is to say otherwise?
Its sad eyes search. Its old heart waits,
as we all wait, for love to find it,
make it real again.
It trembles at its own existence—
the wonder of it, the lingering history.
(After “Zen Sonnet” by Elizabeth Spires)
We are in a trance of devotional mystery,
no sorrow, angst, or religion
to betray our innocence.
We are nowhere and
everywhere in purity of mind.
We have never traveled like this—
through the glowing rainbow
of a window.
Only the mirrors know we are gone,
though we have covered them,
closing their eyes.
Our old tapestry of sorrow forgets us—
loosening its scenic threads
Walls fold in
like little gift boxes.
Windows vanish into the sky.
Floors become our freed shadows.
All has left our fancy—we are unknown
except through effort and failure,
into the structure of malfunction—
we have failed to become significant,
The tips of our fingers touch,
We are still holding on to each other
in love and desperation.
We are as pure as we will ever be.
We are in a sleep of devotional mystery.
VARIATIONS ON A THEME BY H.D.
(After "Chance" by Hilda Doolittle)
Chance—whatever Chance is—says,
and if I hear right, asks me,
Can you bear…?
And I can bear much,
And Chance says, Sweetheart….
and I blush at the endearment
and take it for my own.
And Chance goes on about
love and loneliness,
and I commiserate,
and Chance confesses
all its fears and longings:
wind, bird, sea, wave, low places and the high air.
And I regret repeating so much of this,
but Chance forgives if only I will
but there is such worriment,
and so much peril in the world,
and Chance calls me Dear,
and says: I’m here,
and don’t you want me
And I consider all the verities
of Chance, and no chance, and how often
Chance has guided me,
and I turn and answer, Of course I want you.
THE INNOCENCE OF ART
(After Shadows, a triptych by Ken Kiff)
First, there is the flapping, wingless figure trying to fly,
a writhing blue tree, and a yapping dog. They are fleeing—
one from the gravity, one from the elaborate blue difference,
and one to a triptych fold where another scene is opening…
Here, a yellow cat peers over a blue sea, set in the sky—
or in the mind of a frightened figure about to be,
possessed by a primitive green delusion that keeps
blurring in and out of whatever anguish thought it up…
In the third panel an original, orange nude steps through
a profusion of flowers that try to keep her among them.
She is touching lovingly through the flowers toward
the struggling figures who are so desperate to reach her…
This is not a scene out of childhood, though childhood
holds the secret. Soon, the children—with their crayons
and life-sized canvas and skills of their imagination—
will tell us what this means, if nobody interrupts them.
Words on stone—abbreviations of life,
succinct, or falling short—
(or delegate) to history’s recall.
Cemetery walkers wander here—and here—
reading these measures of esteem:
the names, the dates, the outworn plaudits,
and marvel at how faint, how worn
they have become, communicative now
to scanning eyes—to whispering voice—
perhaps with bits of reverence
for sentiment most prettily engraved.
DAYTIME BEGINS . . .
(After "Daytime Begins" by Anna Akhmatova)
Daytimes begins . . . how can I steal this
with good conscience : your sunrise,
your observation : the many lanterns
you describe : all those listings.
Why do I hesitate? I want to praise and
honor what can be savored out of pain.
What drives me?—just these two words
that make a path to my mind, so I follow.
There is hardship everywhere—how
can I steel myself from that of another?
Suffering is universal—I am immune from
such fathoming, though I touch everyone
with my senses : life still wants life . . .
this I understand about you.
(After Wooroloo I, a painting by Frieda Hughes)
This red sky, full of anguish, full of fire,
ground-shadows pulling forth,
tendrils of green things curling
as into sleep,
this landscape of stones and shrinking sunlight:
roundness against roundness,
edge into edge.
All is texture.
Time’s meaning is lost.
There is no word for time here.
Everything is swift—is one thing,
then another. No time for description.
It is the sky that suffers—
all that color—for the eye—for the mind,
or even for the sky.
One needs at least a bird here to make a cry—
something to flash
across the last patch of light on the ground.
But day is dying down. The relief
of this is too much to bear. Words won’t do.
HOW I TAKE WORDS
then the letters
then the very shapes and curves
and straight lines of letters
then the thickness and thinness of them
to find the subtleties and
and find the looseness between them
and the stillness
and then the motion
then clump them back together
articulations into words
and their phrases,
sentences, paragraphs or stanzas,
the fragments, speeches, thoughts
—Don Feliz, Vacaville
I braid memories—
follow my family maze
from birth among
whose first services
crave only a smile—
but then expect
athletics and speeches
until I serve myself,
enter life’s literal labyrinth:
shabby noisy rooms,
dark dangerous streets,
costly textbooks, and
sleepless nights through
decades of career.
I reel up memories—
find unexpected love.