I want sunlight now,
the brightest winter affords,
shine enough to cow
clouds from robin’s-egg
imperial windless sky
bare as a nude leg
tan in strong June light.
I want abnormal warmth now
to touch off song-flight
in the shyest birds.
Pour music in me, daybreak,
blue that summons words,
not this chalk-milk strain:
low nebula or nova,
stalled galactic rain.
Diaphanous, the layer of slight mist
that veils these Folsom hills from morning slightly.
A bride’s face hides in gauze that dims but lightly
her bloom and contour, no less lovely kissed
by gossamer that distances the blissed
curved lips yet stirs at puffs of air. Forthrightly
breath bells out that veil faintly. Vows meant brightly
scarce penetrate her mask yet still persist
drawn up from a dry throat. A husky voice
murmurs her I thee take. So nearly silent,
we strain to catch the Bible poet’s verse.
So dawn, release each hill, each granite island
to strain adoring vows through winter haze.
Shy birds sing distant turquoise from strange bays.
ONE MORE GIFT
It takes so very little effort to see you
as gifted among all women of this earth.
Yet hard to describe how vital that from your birth
sprang thought that bloomed and branched so fiercely true
it wells from your speech and in everything you do,
not easily convenient but of great worth
when honesty serves as fodder for cheap mirth
among the wrong and strong—who are not few.
And yet you grace your force with improvised humor:
your mimic’s intuition can channel my thoughts,
our family’s, total strangers’, even our pets’:
by face and voice, you clarify far-off rumor,
make comical sense of animal secrecy.
This gift, of your truth: no small dexterity.
FOR A WORKFRIEND
You left at just the time we drew more close;
friend bonds to friend, mysterious in a way,
but just as ought to be when we suppose
our tastes and interests harmonize: the clay
you contour signals your talent, music mine.
Yet different without difference as all arts
prod artists up or down a like incline.
Then you flew far; we might be vectoring darts,
sent scattershot from one’s fingers, left hand, right.
The sun is warm, yet now the books I read
seem written gray the shade of rain-gorged clouds.
Not funeral gray, and yet words, letters bleed
dull gray. Their jackets, gray, yield up some light,
the dim light crypts emit, strange radiant shrouds.
THE WAR OF WARM AGAINST HOT
No stranger to anger from others, you can calm
the Celtic upsurge that wells red within
ancestral veins I blame. Call it my sin
to let fly Irish cholera and no qualm.
I hate, though, how you must maintain your charm
or wit or deal what talking-to squelches the din
of coarse complaint that sparks beneath my skin.
Let truth be you sustain no lasting harm
from my wild moods. Let clement days suffice,
let human sandstorms pass over you, disperse.
One more thing: please believe the so-called ice,
that splinter thought to lodge in the heart of all verse,
sticks not in me, or softened at your first gaze.
Your slow heat melts man-glaciers: such, your ways.
W.B. YEATS AND THE SATO SWORD
In Portland, Oregon, in 1920,
a sword is proffered, sheathed in brilliant silk.
After some hesitancy, in tones of milk
poured into whiskey, Yeats accepts the bounty
from the reverent hands of Junzo Sato.
Ancestral samurai keepsake, one of plenty
lovingly swaddled, carefully stored, but not to
relish its dangerous edge. Imagine the Henty
boys’ yarn into which Yeats must translate that
gift of blood ethos, feudal politesse.
Ceremony (Yeats’ play at Noh). Mere swords
exist not so much to brandish, hilt and flat,
but to keep silk-involved, all gore and mess
potential, oblique even in the most pointed words.
Who, Yeats or Sato, wields more edge-bright beauty?
Or discerns, wound in a silk scroll, the sharp essence duty?
(Earlier version previously posted on Medusa’s Kitchen
and published in the chapbook, Twenty Two)
—Medusa, with thanks to today’s fine contributors: Tom Goff and Michelle Kunert!
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