Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bhanu Kapil

Bhanu Kapil [Pratt Institute Writers' Forum]

from Bhanu Kapil's Schizophrene:

3. A Healing Narrative

Fragments attract each other, a swarm of iron filings, black with golden flecks but without a soul. I stroke them with my finger so they scatter then relax.

In correspondence.

In the involuntary response to being touched.

On a plate.

Against the tree, a woman is pinned, upright and strung with lights or gunpowder flares and nodes. Who stuck her there?

Her body is covered with mud and at the same time it possesses the invisible force of an architectural element encountered in a post-war structure. Did I literally give her life?

I wrote about her body, the vertical grave she created in my mind and in the minds of anyone who heard about her, this anonymous and delicate "box." This imprint. This metal animal. This veil of charcoal and vermillion powder, smudged to form a curtain of hair falling over the face. Like an animal almost in flight, but possessed, restricted to the band of earth that precedes the border or follows it, depending on which way you cross; the woman stares, focusing on a point. Someone else is staring too.

Can you smell her burning fur?

7. Partition

One day per room. It's raining.

My mother's mother put a hand over my mother's mouth, but my mother saw, peeking between the slats of the cart, row after row of women tied to the border trees. "Their stomachs were cut out," said my mother. This story, which really wasn't a story but an image, was repeated to me at many bedtimes of my own childhood.

Sometimes I think it was not an image at all but a way of conveying information.

This is something that happens in the second room, in the city that the room belongs to, and it functions (the information) as a grave.

12:20 on the third day; notes from the glass coffin. Schizophrene.

Because it is psychotic not to know where you are in a national space.

Friday, November 29, 2013

29 November 2013

Riding the Bus to Montevideo

Pan de Azucar, 79 meters
is Uruguay’s highest peak
outcrops of golden flowers
mustard or rape, hills
worn by lifetime rides
snagged in a pond white
plastic masquerades
first as jackal, then horse
highway & neighborhoods
smutted with trash
tin roofs, local stops
acacia kindling, empanada
oven, cypress trees, pine
forest burned to the ground
wooden teepees rise
from stumps, primary colors
clothing store inventory
swings from a fence
pickles & mushrooms
at a roadside stand
the earth is sand
flying fast, patchwork
of clouds the sky, torn
sacks of oca tubers, yellow
& orange, purple & red
balloon a pickup’s bed
El Rey del Lubricante's
festival of rusted junks
forecast a smoother sail

29 November 2013

a page from Susan Howe's Thorow [Modern American Poetry]

from Susan Howe's Sorting Facts: or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker:

Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman were all using montage before it was a word for a working method. Their writing practice (varied though it was) involved comparing and linking fragments or shots, selecting fragments for scenes, reducing multitudes (chapters or stanzas) and shots (lines and single words) to correlate with one another, constantly interweaving traces of the past to overcome restrictions of temporal framing. The influence Whitman had on Vertov through Mayakovsky is well known. Is the Melville who wrote Typee, Omoo, Redburn, "The Encantadas," and "Benito Cereno," a travel writer, a beachcomber, a reporter, or a poet? Moby-Dick is a poetic documentary fiction on a grand scale. Often I think of Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts as "Drawings in motion. Blueprints in motion. Plans for the future. The theater of relativity of the screen." With an important difference: if kino-eye signifies, among other things, the conquest of space — "I am kino-eye, I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, show you the world only as I can see it" — Dickinson's pen-eye aims at the conquest of mechanical reproduction. It seems after reaching the age of consent she refused to be photographed. . . .

letters as colliding image-objects and divine messages. "Association, so far as the word stands for an effect, is between THINGS THOUGHT OF — it is THINGS, not ideas, which are associated in the mind. We ought to talk of the association of objects, not the association of ideas" — William James. "If he [the author] make of his volume a mole whereon the waves of Silence may break it is well" — Henry David Thoreau. Needing to translate words into THINGS THOUGHT OF could be the mark of North American poet. . . .

A mark is the face of a fact. A letter is naked matter breaking from form from meaning. An anagram defies linear logic. Any letter of the alphabet may contain its particular in-dwelling spirit. A mark is a dynamic cut. Dynamic cutting is a highly stylized form of editing. Sequences get magpied together from optical surprises, invisible but omnipresent verbal flashes, flashes of facts. A documentary work is an attempt to recapture something somewhere looking back.

Chris Marker [radical philosophy]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

C. D. Wright

C. D. Wright [Brown]

from C. D. Wright's Like Something Flying Backwards: New & Selected Poems:

Floating Trees

a bed is left open to a mirror
a mirror gazes long and hard at a bed

light fingers the house with its own acoustics

one of them writes this down
one has paper

bed of swollen creeks and theories and coils
bed of eyes and leaky pens

much of the night the air touches arms
arms extend themselves to air

their torsos turning toward a roll
of sound: thunder

night of coon scat and vandalized headstones
night of deep kisses and catamenia

his face by this light: saurian
hers: ash like the tissue of a hornets' nest

one scans the aisle of firs
the faint blue line of them
one looks out: sans serif

"Didn't I hear you tell them you were born
on a train"

what begins with a sough and ends with a groan
groan in which the tongue's true color is revealed

the comb's sough and the denim's undeniable rub
the chair's stripped back and muddied rung

color of stone soup and garden gloves
color of meal and treacle and sphagnum

hangers clinging to their coat
a soft-white bulb to its string

the footprints inside us
iterate the footprints outside

the scratched words return to their sleeves

the dresses of monday through friday
swallow the long hips of weekends

a face is studied like a key
for the mystery of what it once opened

"I didn't mean to wake you
angel brains"

ink of eyes and veins and phonemes
the ink completes the feeling

a mirror silently facing a door
door with no lock no lock

the room he brings into you
the room befalls you

like the fir trees he trues her
she nears him like the firs

if one vanishes one stays
if one stays the other will or will not vanish

otherwise my beautiful green fly
otherwise not a leaf stirs

Scratch Music

How many threads have I broken with my teeth. How many times
have i looked at the stars and felt ill. Time here is divided into before
and since your shuttering in 1978. I remember hanging on to the
hood of the big-fendered Olds with a mess of money in my purse.
Call that romance. Some memory precedes you: when I wanted
lederhosen because I'd read Heidi. And how I wanted my folks to
build a fallout shelter so I could arrange the cans. And coveting
Mother's muskrat. I remember college. And being in Vista: I asked
the librarian in Banks, the state's tomato capital, if she had any black
literature and she said they used to have Little Black Sambo but the white
children tore out pages and wrote ugly words inside. Someone said
if I didn't like Banks I should go to Moscow. I said, Come on, let's go
outside and shoot the hoop, I've got a jones to beat your butt. I haven't
changed. Now if I think of the earth's origins, I get vertigo. When I
think of its death, I fall. I've picked up a few things. I know if you
want songbirds, plant berry trees. If you don't want birds, buy a
rubber snake. I remember that town with the Alcoa plant I toured.
The manager kept referring to the workers as Alcoans. I thought of
hundreds of flexible metal beings bent over assemblages. They
sparked. What would I do in Moscow. I have these dreams — relatives
loom over my bed. We should put her to sleep, Lonnie says. Go home
old girl, go home, my aunt says. Why should I go home before her I
want to say. But I am bereft. So how is life in the other world. Do
you get the news. Are you allowed a pet. But I wanted to show you
how I've grown, what I know: I keep my bees far from the stable,
they can't stand how horses smell. And I know sooner or later an old
house will need a new roof. And more than six years have whistled
by since you blew your heart out like the porchlight. Reason and
meaning don't step into another lit spot like a well-meaning stranger
with a hat. And mother's mother, who has lived in the same house
ten-times-six years, told me, We didn't know we had termites until
they swarmed. Then we had to pull up the whole floor. "Too late, no
more . . .," you know the poem. But you, you bastard. You picked up a
gun in winter as if it were a hat and you were leaving a restaurant:
full, weary, and thankful to be spending the evening with no one.

Stefan Zweig

Stefan Zweig [Le Nouvel Observateur]

from Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday:

perhaps none lived more gently, more secretly, more invisibly than Rilke. But it was not wilful, nor forced or assumed priestly loneliness such as Stefan George celebrated in Germany; silence seemed to grow around him, wherever he went, wherever he was. Since he avoided every noise, even his own fame — that "sum of all misunderstanding that collects itself about a name," as he once expressed it — the approaching wave of idle curiosity moistened only his name and never his person. It was difficult to reach Rilke. He had no house, no address where one could find him, no home, no steady lodging, no office. He was always on his way through the world, and no one, not even he himself, knew in advance which direction he would take. To his immeasurably sensitive soul, every positive decision, all planning and every announcement were burdensome. It was always by chance that one met him. You stood in an Italian gallery and felt, without being aware whence it came, a gentle, friendly smile. And only then you recognized his blue eyes which, when they looked at you, lit up his otherwise unimpressive countenance with an inner light. But this unimpressiveness was, precisely, the deepest secret of his being. Thousands may have passed by this young man, with his slightly melancholy drooping blond mustache and his somewhat Slavic features, undistinguished by any single trait, without dreaming that this was a poet and one of the greatest of our generation; his individuality, his unusual demeanor were only apparent in a closer association. He had an indescribably gentle way of approaching and talking. When he entered a room where people were gathered together, it was so noiselessly that hardly anyone noticed him. He sat there quietly listening, lifted his head unconsciously when anything seemed to occupy his thoughts, or when he himself began to speak, always without affectation or raised voice. He spoke naturally and simply, like a mother telling a fairy tale to her child, and just as lovingly; it was wonderful how, listening to him, even the most insignificant subject became picturesque and important. But no sooner did he feel that he was the center of attention in a larger circle that he stopped speaking and once again sank down into his silent, attentive listening. Every movement, every gesture was soft; even when he laughed it was no more than a suggestion of a sound. Muted tones were a necessity to him, and nothing annoyed him so much as noise and, in the realm of feeling, all violence. "They exhaust me, these people who spit out their feelings like blood" he once said; "that why I swallow Russians, like liqueur, in small doses." No less than measured conduct, orderliness, cleanliness and quiet were physical necessities; to ride in an overfilled streetcar, or to have to sit in a noisy public place, disturbed him for hours thereafter. All that was vulgar was unbearable to him, and although he lived in restricted circumstances, his clothes always gave evidence of care, cleanliness, and good taste. At the same time they showed thought and poetic imagination; they were a masterpiece of unpretension, always with an unobtrusive personal touch, such as perhaps a thin silver bracelet around his wrist. For his aesthetic sense of perfection and symmetry entered into the most intimate and the most personal details. Once I watched him in his rooms prior to his departure — he declined my help as superfluous — as he was packing his trunk. It was like mosaic work, each individual piece gently put into the carefully reserved space; I would have felt it to be an outrage to disturb this flowerlike arrangement by a helping hand. And his sense of the elements of beauty accompanied him to the most insignificant detail. It was not only that he wrote his manuscripts on the best of paper with his calligraphic round hand so that every line was related to another as if measured with a ruler; the choicest paper was selected, for even an occasional letter, and even, clean and round his calligraphic writing filled the space. Even in the most hurried notes, he did not permit himself to strike out a word and whenever a sentence or an expression did not seem correct, he wrote the letter a second time with his marvelous patience. Rilke never allowed anything to leave his hands that was not perfect.

This muted and yet integrated quality of his being impressed itself upon anyone who came close to him. It was as impossible to think of Rilke being noisy as it was to imagine a man in his presence who did not lose his loudness and arrogance through the vibrations that emanated from Rilke's quietness. For his conduct vibrated like a secret, continuous, purposive, moralizing force. After every fairly long talk with him one was incapable of any vulgarity for hours or even days. On the other hand, of course, this constant temperateness of his nature, this never-wishing-to-give-himself-completely put an early end to any particular cordiality; I believe that few people may boast of having been Rilke's "friends." In the six published volumes of his letters, one rarely finds such form of address, and the brotherly, familiar du was hardly ever applied to anyone after his school days. To permit anyone or anything to approach him too closely burdened his extraordinary sensitivity and everything that was pronouncedly masculine caused him physical discomfort. He gave himself more easily to women in conversation. He wrote often and gladly to them and was much more free in their presence. Perhaps it was the absence of the guttural in their voices that pleased him, for he suffered particularly from unpleasant voices. I can still see him before me in conversation with a high aristocrat, completely bent over, his shoulders tortured and even his eyes cast down, so that they might not betray how much he suffered physically from the gentleman's unpleasant falsetto. But how good to be with him when he was kindly disposed toward someone! Then one sensed his inner goodness — although he remained sparing of words and gestures — like a warm, healing outpouring deep into one's soul.

Shy and retiring, Rilke seemed most receptive in Paris, this heart-warming city, and perhaps it was because here his name and his work were still unknown and because he always felt freer and happier when he was anonymous. I visited him there in two different lodgings which he had rented. Each was simple and without ornament and yet immediately assumed character and calm through his dominant sense of beauty. It was never a huge house with noisy neighbors, rather an old, even though less comfortable, one, in which he could feel at home; and no matter where he was, his sense of orderliness made the place meaningful and harmonized it with his being. There were only a very few things around him, but flowers always shone in a vase or bowl, perhaps the gift of women, perhaps tenderly brought home by himself. Books gleamed from the walls, beautifully bound or carefully jacketed in paper, for he liked books as he liked dumb animals. Pencils and pens lay on the desk in a straight line, and clean sheets of paper perfectly straightened; a Russian icon and a Catholic crucifix, which, I believe, accompanied him on all his travels, gave his working cell a slightly religious character, although his religiousness was not connected with any specific dogma. One felt that everything had been carefully chosen and as carefully preserved. If you lent him a book with which he was unfamiliar, it was returned faultlessly wrapped in tissue paper and tied with colored ribbon like a gift. I can still recall how he brought manuscript of Die Weise von Liebe und Tod into my room as a precious gift. I have kept the ribbon that was around it. But it was nicest to walk with Rilke in Paris, for that meant seeing the most insignificant things with eyes enlightened to their meaning. He noticed every detail, and he liked to repeat aloud the firm names on the signs if they seemed rhythmic to him. It was his passion — almost the only one that I ever observed in him — to know every nook and cranny of this Paris. Once, when we met at the home of mutual friends, I told him that on the day before I had chanced upon the old Barrière where the last victims of the guillotine had been buried in the Cimetière de Picpus, and André Chénier among them. I described to him the affecting little meadow with its scattered graves, rarely seen by strangers, and told him how on the way back I had seen in one of the streets through the open door of a convent a sort of béguine, silently telling her rosary as in a pious dream. It was one of the few times when I saw this gentle composed man almost impatient. He had to see the grave of André Chénier and the convent. Would I take him there? We went the next day. He stood in a sort of entranced silence before the lonesome cemetery and called it "the most lyric in Paris." On our way back the door of the convent was closed. And now I had an opportunity of testing the silent patience which he had mastered in his life no less than in his work. "Let us wait for an opportunity," he said. With head slightly bent, he stood so that he could look through the door when it opened. We waited for perhaps twenty minutes. One of the sisters of the order came down the street and rang the bell. "Now," he whispered softly, with excitement. But the sister had become aware of his silent waiting — I have already said that one sensed everything about him from afar — and came up to him and asked if he was waiting for someone. He smiled at her with his gentle smile that immediately created confidence, and said warmly that he much desired to see the convent corridor. She was sorry, the sister smiled in turn, but she could not let him in. However, I advised him to go to the little house of the gardener next door where he would have a good view from a window in the upper story. And so this too, like so much else, was granted him. Our paths crossed a number of times thereafter, but whenever I think of Rilke, I see him in Paris. He was spared the experience of its saddest hour. 

Rainer Marie Rilke [Turmsegler]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

26 November 2013

Santa Cruz, 24 November 2013

The ocean’s dotted swiss —
seagulls and pelicans,
their breeze-brushed crests,
surfing pods of sea lion,
their simmering black skulls
& sea-serpent bodies.
November swarms
with invisible fish.

26 November 2013

from Ellen Bryant Voigt's Headwaters:


not unlike otters which we love frolicking
floating on their backs like truant boys unwrapping lunch
same sleek brown pelt some overtones of gray and rust
though groundhogs have no swimming hole and lunch
is rooted in the ground between short legs small feet
like a fat man's odd diminutive loafers not

frolicking but scurrying layers of fat his coat
gleams as though wet shines chestnut sable darker
head and muzzle lower into the grass a dark
triangular face like the hog-nosed skunk another delicate
nose and not a snout doesn't it matter what they're called I like swine

which are smart and prefer to be clean using their snouts
to push their excrement to the side of the pen
but they have hairy skin not fur his fur
shimmers and ripples he never uproots the mother plant his teeth
I think are blunt squared off like a sheep's if cornered does he
cower like sheep or bite like a sow with a litter is he ever

attacked he looks to me inedible he shares his acreage
with moles voles ravenous crows someone thought up
the names his other name is botched Algonquin but yes
he burrows beneath the barn where a farmer once

dried cordwood he scuttles there at speech cough laugh
at lawnmower swollen brook high wind he lifts his head
as Gandhi did small tilt to the side or stands erect
like a prairie dog or a circus dog but dogs don't waddle like Mao
with a tiny tail he seems asexual like Gandhi like Jesus if Jesus
came back would he be vegetarian also pinko freako homo

in Vermont natives scornful of greyhounds from the city
self-appoint themselves woodchucks unkempt hairy macho
who would shoot on sight an actual fatso shy mild marmot radiant
as the hog-nosed skunk in the squirrel trap both cleaner than sheep
fur fluffy like a girl's maybe he is a she it matters
what we're called words shape the thought don't say
rodent and ruin everything


before it's too late I need to study the great religions time
is speeding up in the bad movie of my life months fly off
the calendar or the camera stays fixed on one tree
in leaf no leaves in leaf sunrise sunset
as the great Yiddish musical says

and then the chuppah the goblet smashed delirious dancers
parading the newlyweds in chairs like royalty but why
give up those beasts whose hooves leave valentines
for us in the muddy sty and why so much anxiety
regarding women ditto Mary's
beatific smile but I like distinctive hats on those in charge
and I know I need a little intercession spilt salt
flung over the shoulder a daily lineup facing east
though some of us have to pray in our personal tents
like snails
                      a wedding in a garden
suits me fine the flowers left unsacrificed
it's Adam and Eve except that Adam had no mother
no one who worried about that missing rib now incarnate
wearing white like a young birch beside my boy who's grown
bewitched looking nowhere but at her I know that look

a Druid with his chosen tree he might as well
be on his knees he needs an altar something old something 
once revered perhaps I could volunteer bring on the saw the guests
can bow their heads and count the rings the years

more poems from this book:


My Mother



Hog-Nosed Skunk

Lost Boy



Spring & Sleep


Monday, November 25, 2013

25 November 2013

Bernadette Mayer [Nicole Peyrafitte]

from Bernadette Mayer's The Helens of Troy, NY:

Helen Parsons Sestina

hello, this is paris
i used to teach in cambridge, i'm from whitehall
everything we do is pretty much archaic
the teenage world is very egocentric
helen melville lived in lansingburgh
this is a 1920s house

there's a library in this house
helen of ancient troy's lover was paris
the history channel did a documentary on lansingburgh
it was not white hell but whitehall
to feel that you or the earth is the world's center is egocentric
to feel this is true is incorrect & archaic

swimming in an unpolluted lake might be archaic
especially if the lake is near your house
a narcissist is like a teenager egocentric
once i heard a woman say "mon dieu" at the musee d'orsay in paris
do women make love in whitehall?
they must make love in lansingburgh

troy's most bourgeois area is lansingburgh
to have children is both archaic & not archaic
once i met a man off the grid in whitehall
if the sun didn't shine, he couldn't watch tv in his house
maybe i should've called my son NYC the way paris was paris
to think NY's the center of the world is egocentric

to think your son's cute & looks like you is egocentric
safest part of troy could be lansingburgh
you never think of dangerous places in paris
but i'm sure there are some though the ideas are archaic
as having a gallery in your house
in ancient troy not up-to-date whitehall

let's hightail it to whitehall
in the 21st century full of egocentric
copernicans, build a sun-filled house
& pretend we're safe in lansingburgh
where even video games have become archaic
& we'll make better love than paris in paris

i wonder if there's a paris in whitehall
is it archaic to be egocentric
like a balloon released in lansingburgh, big as a house

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

20 November 2013

René Daumal [Luc Dietrich]

from René Daumal's Mount Analogue:

One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size — a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called a peradam. Ivan Lapse remains puzzled by the formation and root meaning of this word. It may mean, according to him, "harder than diamond," and it is; or "father of the diamond," and they say that the diamond is in fact the product of the degeneration of the peradam by a sort of quartering of the circle or, more precisely, cubing of the sphere. Or again, the word may mean "Adam's stone," having some secret and profound connection to the original nature of man. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal's great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops. The peradam is the only substance, the only material object whose value is recognized by the guides of Mount Analogue. Therefore, it is the standard of all currency, as gold is for us. . . .

"What do you mean when you talk about 'analogical alpinism'?"

"It's the art of . . ."

"What is an art?"

"The value of danger:
                temerity — suicide.
                Short of that, no satisfaction."

"What is danger?"

"What is prudence?"

"What is a mountain?" . . .

When you take off on your own, leave some trace of your passage that will guide your return: one rock set on top of another, some grass pierced by a stick. But if you come to a place you cannot cross or that is dangerous, remember that the trace you have left might lead the people following you into trouble. So go back the way you came and destroy any traces you have left. This is addressed to anyone who wants to leave traces of his passage in this world. And even without wanting to, we always leave traces. Answer to your fellow men for the traces you leave behind.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

19 November 2013

George Oppen [New Directions]

from George Oppen's New Collected Poems:

Discrete Series

This room,
                    the circled wind
Straight air of dawn
                                            low noon
The darkness. Not within
The mound of these
                                            is anything
To fit the prying of your lips
Or feed their wide bright flowering.

And yet will movement so exactly fit
Your limbs ——
                as snow
Fills the vague intricacies of the day, unlit:
So will your arms
                                     fall in the space
Assigned to gesture
             (In the momentless air
              The distant adventurous snow.)

When, having entered ——
Your coat slips smoothly from your shoulders to the waiter:

How, in the face of this, shall we remember,
Should you stand suddenly upon your head
Your skirts would blossom downward

Like an anemone.

As I lift the glass to drink,
I smell the water: Suddenly,
The summer.

When my socks will be thick in my shoes

And the room's noise will go dim behind me
As I lean out a high window,

My hands on the stone.

Myth of the Blaze [excerpt]

night — sky           bird's            world
to know        to know            in my life to know

what I have said to myself

the dark to escape in brilliant highways
of the night sky, finally
why had they not

killed me why did they fire that warning
wounding cannon only the one round I hold a

because of this        lost to be lost        Wyatt's
lyric and Rezi's
running through my mind
in the destroyed (and guilty) Theatre
of the War        I'd cried
and remembered
boyhood       degradation           other
degradations and this crime I will not recover
from that landscape it will be in my mind
it will fill my mind and this is horrible
death bed        pavement         the secret taste
of being lost


clown in the birds'
world what names
(but my name)

. . .

read "The Mind's Own Place," Oppen's essay on poetics, here

Monday, November 18, 2013

18 November 2013

Allan Peterson [Poetry Foundation]


I have written it five times or more, each uneasy.
Drafts, as if wind blew uncomfortably through and the loose door chattered,
the toilet spoke with its moan voice, the deep pipes shuddering.
After a long wait trying to remember his name,
I touched the phone book and it came without opening.
I felt a chill.
Then I wondered the whereabouts of the South Star
since a North existed and touched the Ephemeris. Nothing. No one had.
Another symmetry misspoke.
And for the second time Terry's own blood left the table,
swirled through the room and tubing before return.
Imagine its migration in a single room,
petrels in the blood from far away as South America.
After the machinery it came back.
You could hear it like the whump of wind refilling sails to the shapes of colters
on the way to the self-centered idea of the New World,
well, new to some Spanish.
But it was the same world, now in miniature, the masts relaxed
in their neck rings, then teased up on ropes like a path to the Western Ocean
which was the Eastern Ocean
through a miracle of circuitry and cruelties.
In the last draft the patient became an explorer through his blood
which traveled in pinwheels though he stayed put, whirlpools,
all aspects of weather on a sphere which revels but does not survive,
and the story almost unrecognized from where it started.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Renee Stout


after the shooting, I recognize
I am not in terminal three
I am not dead or bleeding
I haven't been trampled by others panicked & fleeing
I hear no shouts, see no ambulances or IV poles

no, here in terminal five
we sit connected by rows of chairs
fingers & eyes on smudged screens
reading words & hearing voices from people we love
lucky they are not here
not donkeys kept for seventeen years at the bottom of a mine

hours pass before a bald man in a blue shirt
snap fasteners, sleeves rolled
phone in his pocket, asks me:
Are you a hippie?

Friday, November 15, 2013

15 November 2013

Charlie Bondhus [Baltimore Review]

Sharing a Bed

I remember the first evening in bed,
making love with the lights on.

Outside the window, a hanging basket
of red impatiens
and a ruby-throated hummingbird.

In late spring's greenish light
my head was a bowed peony,
            your torso,
            a grand urn
            of tissuey ranunculus.

Summer found us sharing a home
with mismatched furniture,
plagues of ragweed and clover
choking the thin, dark spaces
between our together-time.

Like angel's trumpet, I craved
the cool white suddenness
the moon brings, 
and when it came
            silent as a cloud
our limbs were not the marble of roses,
or the patrician regularity of zinnias,
but the cheap, unsung beauty
of daisies, wild pinks.

Hornets nested in our heads.
Butterflies settled on our eyelids.
Morning's first finches began to sing.

My arms were full of nettles and lamb's ear.


We split up when spring
and summer came

together in late May; the heat
was too much, not enough

iced tea in the house
to cool our tongues

which were hot
with language,

chalky with gunpowder.
We focused on packing

my books and dog tags
the photo I took in Afghanistan

of Mendoza posing with a scorpion
skewered on the end of a combat knife,

my pornos and wrestling videos,
grappling gloves and athletic supporter,

tournament and combat medals,
the complete seasons of Mad Men on DVD.

You didn't want this, but you can't live
without answers. I have answers

in the unlit part of my brain, tethered
by a wire-thin neural tightrope

which words are too cumbersome to cross.

I can't make you understand
that everything is dangerous now;

that you can't slip your arms around my chest
and pull me to the carpet anymore;

that sex feels like crossing
the Korengal Valley without body armor;

that when you try to pin my arms
my instinct is to kill you.

And I've said all this
with my silence, my sitting

in empty rooms, my leaving
the lights off, my looking

at my chin when faced with a mirror.
It's not that I hate myself,

it's that I can't find myself
even when I'm dreaming

that I'm in Afghanistan and it's night
and I have a flashlight, but all there is

is desert, desert, desert, dunes
pockmarked with mortar canyons

and there's no sound,
like that moment of ringing deafness

right after an explosion,
and I'm looking for something

but there's nothing except sand
and silence, and darkness outside

my cone of fluorescent light.
Then I remember

what I'm looking for
is my own body and that's

when I wake up, and I see you,
sleeping dreamless. Part of me

wishes you were dead,
not because I hate you

but because then I'd finally
have something to cry over.