are syllables just
and you put them
in their place
a painter using his stroke
so the spot
where the article
we could find
in its most intricate
slashed as it was with color
For why am I afraid to sing
the fundamental shape of awe
should I now begin to sing the silvered back of
the winter willow spear
the sparkling agate blue
would this blade and this sky free me to speak
intransitive lack –
the vowels themselves free
That night the wind stirred in the forsythia bushes,
but it was a wrong one, blowing in the wrong direction.
“That’ s silly. How can there be a wrong direction?
‘It bloweth where it listeth,’ as you know, just as we do
when we make love or do something else there are no rules for.”
I tell you, something went wrong there a while back.
Just don’ t ask me what it was. Pretend I’ ve dropped the subject.
No, now you’ ve got me interested, I want to know
exactly what seems wrong to you, how something could
Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and rearing.
We can hear it always. Earthquake, starvation, the ever-renewing sump of corpse-flesh.
But in this valley the snow falls silently all day, and out our window
We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in our little house,
We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the snow-clad trees
So graceful. In our new bed, which is big enough to seem like the north pasture almost
That gaunt old man came first, his hair as white
As your scoured tables. Maybe you’ ll recollect him
By the scars of steelmill burns on the backs of his hands,
On the nape of his neck, on his arms and sinewy legs,
And her by the enduring innocence
Of her face, as open to all of you in death
As it would have been in life: she would memorize
Your names and ages and pastimes and hometowns
If she could, but she can’ t now, so remember her.
Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.
I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.
The spider, juiced crystal and Milky Way, drifts on his web through the night sky
And looks down, waiting for us to ascend...
At dawn he is still there, invisible, short of breath, mending his net.
All morning we look for the white face to rise from the lake like a tiny star.
And when it does, we lie back in our watery hair and rock.
Ancient of Days, old friend, no one believes you’ ll come back.
No one believes in his own life anymore.
The moon, like a dead heart, cold and unstartable, hangs by a thread
At the earth’ s edge,
Unfaithful at last, splotching the ferns and the pink shrubs.
In the other world, children undo the knots in their tally strings.
They sing songs, and their fingers blear.
sparrow puts all his
to encompass denser
meanings, I’ m
to catch: it’ s
one song, an over-reach
sun or cloud,
song — simple, hard:
I know if I find you I will have to leave the earth
and go on out
over the sea marshes and the brant in bays
and over the hills of tall hickory
and over the crater lakes and canyons
and on up through the spheres of diminishing air
past the blackset noctilucent clouds
where one wants to stop and look
way past all the light diffusions and bombardments
up farther than the loss of sight
into the unseasonal undifferentiated empty stark