Rivers

The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

For a Coming Extinction

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

Confluence

I’ ve been here before, dreaming myself
backwards, among grappling hooks of light.

True to the seasons, I’ ve lived every word
spoken. Did I walk into someone’ s nightmare?

Hunger quivers on a fleshly string
at the crossroad. So deep is the lore,

there’ s only tomorrow today where darkness
splinters & wounds the bird of paradise.

On paths that plunge into primordial
green, Echo’ s laughter finds us together.

In the sweatshops of desire men think
if they don’ t die the moon won’ t rise.

Seaman’s Ditty

I’ m wondering where you are now
Married, or mad, or free:
Wherever you are you’ re likely glad,
But memory troubles me.

We could’ ve had us children,
We could’ ve had a home —
But you thought not, and I thought not,
And these nine years we roam.

Today I worked in the deep dark tanks,
And climbed out to watch the sea:
Gulls and salty waves pass by,
And mountains of Araby.

from Gilgamesh: Tablet 11

i

Gilgamesh spoke and said to the old man then:
"When I looked at you I thought that you were not

a man, one made like me; I had resolved
to challenge you as one might challenge a demon,

a stranger-adversary. But now I see
that you are Utnapishtim, made like me,

a man, the one I sought, the one from whom
I might find out how death can be avoided.

Tell me then, father, how it came about
that you were admitted to the company

The Wife of Mission Rock

Nothing curves at sea,
and the men there die abruptly,
in imitation of the fact, except
when the ship rises higher than necessary
and then they must drop suddenly
but for a long time,
so that their deaths appear natural
in the end, and the women sweeping the coutyards
pause, thinking the dust
to be the cause of a specific dryness
in the mouth. They leave half of a
pastry to harden on a plate.
They leave all of the lemons and figs
in bowls. They leave fuschia
splattered on the stone steps leading

How Beautiful

A personal lens: glass bending rays
That gave one that day’ s news
Saying each and every day,

Just remember you are standing
On a planet that’ s evolving.
How beautiful, she thought, what distance does

For water, the view from above or afar.
In last night’ s dream, they were back again
At the beginning. She was a child

And he was a child.
A plane lit down and left her there.
Cold whitening the white sky whiter.

Then a scalpel cut her open for all the world
To be a sea.

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