In the shivering hush between bugle calls the dead
outnumber us – apparitions risen at the ebb of night,
faces smooth as those staring from silver-gelatin
photographs, imagined from crumbling letters,
oft-told stories, summoned by a hand’s caress;
not always done-up in a uniform, so many swamped
by history’s scarlet waves, not always loved or good
or brave or noble, no more than we who muster
on barricaded roads by stones mortared against
forgetting to wait for a bugle to rally the sun.
A filament lighting a dark bulb of shops
the long counter and behind it hot plates
and vats stretch into pallid light out of
the rain. A row of customers waits
hands behind backs in the line’s cheerful democracy
under a calendar of three years ago
Perhaps it was the years. But I know I
thought often of Hemingway, his belief
in luck or none. Such simple words. So I
thought my wise nineteen years were as complete
as his were—with grace enough and pressure
to buy a typewriter, only to write
in pencil on blank paper and ensure
the dialogue was typed, flowing and right
and overheard by that bearded, hurt man
whose early books were wounds he knew about.
Forgive him for the bullfights? As blood ran
with matadors and soldiering? And how
so much was blown apart with a shotgun?
Luck could begin when poetry begins.
I’ve cut two x’s into my wrist
with my pen now I suck
the venom hard the blood
and yellow bile are bitter
the hardest suck I’ve ever done
I’m watching the poison
mercury up the vein
toward the chest pump
but I’ve stopped it
with steady pressure my lips
are hurting the venom
burning exposed tissues
they say you shouldn’t move
keep the limb immobile
if you lose your way
stay with your body
someone will find you
Picturing things in four dimensions—
Gears, shafts, sprockets, chains,
All sizes, shapes, thicknesses interlocked
Pushing, pulling, spinning every direction—
This was my father’s claim to imagination.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
Just as we do with clouds
We see nebulae as shapes and designs
Name them in the familiar—
there is neither flower
what is a poet to do
when the night is so exquisite?
Our world was never round.
There are corners at every question mark
with angles to turn on our trespass forward.
Sight is not a straight line
but a curve that meets itself.
When the hands are done
when the nerves are shred
I’ll turn to rocks.
As I’m floating in a bell
though the tables turn & bite you back
I’m tied to keyboard black.
I had had this fish
nine years and he was big
as half the tank was wide
and he wasn’t much smaller
the day I got him
so I figured he must be
at least eighteen years old
most likely more