I threw my heart ahead
Of me into the night,
Hoping it would light the way.
The light was very narrow.
It is, however, inscrutable.
I wasn’t born to understand
How nothing leaves and how
We are never dismissed.
I have a special verb for you
But you must wear it on your lips.
The closer we come to the center
The more unapproachable the center
A talisman, a father, one
Of your own children might
Provide light. Please hurry before
All that can be explained
The snow crunches beneath my feet.
I have come from the far cities;
Behind my steps dreams
Cluster toward me.
I have never spoken of this
Before. Behind every door
I speak of, there is nothing.
I came to you this way.
It is all I have.
There is only emptiness.
The sword. The morning.
There is only my memory.
Can you help me?
Is this how we shall
A PERSONAL KINGDOM
I have a small kingdom I would
Like to give to you.
I ask only that you read
A little further.
Please be careful. The horizon
Waits in ambush for you.
It knows how to make words
You may recognize all too well.
I’ve used pain to build a mountain
And to be possessed by the sea.
Try not to meet too many
Others once you decide you
Want this kingdom.
It is as substantial as waking in
The middle of the night upon
The insistences of what your body
I’ll try not to let you down.
Here, I’ve carved a river
And a simple God.
You may never be my lover
But I am constantly your lover.
This is as unending as gardens
Constructed in dreams, except
That I can feel your skin exactly.
My face recedes from me.
It is a caprice of tales
Begging forgiveness that they
Must be told this again and again.
I did not do this on purpose.
I supposed it would always be this way.
This feeling is huge, like Mexico
Or a carload of mirrors
Tumbling from a cliffside truck because
The road was too acute, the track muddy.
Why must you want everything?
THE NIGHT RUNNER
No one speaks like this.
The dragon turns his head
To look back at the burning village.
Miles of broken mirrors.
Lions crouch around pools
Of Mercury, drinking as quickly
As they are able.
We are the last ones to remain.
There, over there, that man
Is the son of heaven.
People continue to kill
I dreamed I was correct
I dreamed all of your fathers
And all of your mothers
At one time.
They all loved you.
THEY HAVE CREATED ROOMS FOR
VARIOUS PARTS OF ME
They charge me money to enter them,
To learn what my body is doing.
They seem like islands and each one
Has songs unlike any other.
Even now I see Shere Kahn
Whenever I walk the streets.
My uncle Cristobal
Has promised me a ship.
Then we will visit empires.
I have been given sunrise and sunset.
I must find a place to use them.
If you join me at the top of the Red Hill
We can watch the ignorant armies
Clash by night.
How I wish we were not exiles.
THE DESERT LION
These dead eyes were once those
Of a king. He would watch
The coming of the evening and hold
His queen in his arms, singing
Softly to her. She would smile.
I know you every night that I dream.
Sometime you are the most beautiful
Sometimes you are the nightmare.
You probably will never speak
Right now my skin burns
Like a morning filled with swords.
An infinity of things finds its way
Into my mouth and I am asked
To make a song of such stains.
I find myself wandering the ruins
Of Persepolis, marveling at the
Capitals of the columns. Hearing
The roars of the the desert lion.
These metal images used to
Be people long ago
Or so they tell me.
I tried stitching images of them
So time would think they were
Still among us.
Time doesn’t care about this
Kind of thing at all. Both my
Mother and my Father are dead.
Is it always the same birds
That cross the evening after all
These centuries? They sound
Every day I write words other poets
Have spoken and make them in my mouth.
Someone has gone into a nightclub
And has killed people for no reason but
To make them die at his hand.
Please never name the dark. Leave it
Without any name at all.
—Ome Shushiki (1668-1725)
—Medusa, with deep thanks to D.R. Wagner for his poems and photos today!
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