Counterpane

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Nothing lasts, nothing keeps 
its original form. In stories, a room
full of wheat will make you want
to think of gold filaments, wires 
curved cunningly into miniature 
trellises. A body covered with leaves 
could have been a windfall that floated 
out of the open sky. Doesn't it look
familiar ? Across a quilt there are
thousands of stitches. How can each 
one of them, that tiny, anchor the weight 
of so many nights of sleep?
 

Approaching Equinox

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
A late summer of relentless sun:
yet hard green figs hide in the foliage.

Some leaves are yellow and falling;
perhaps they think their season's done.

The cheeks of some fruit never flushed
as though from tinctures of mandrake,

never turned purple as nightshade.
No chalky crimson where the heart

might be,  just a mossy  silence sifting
from farther away or overhead.



“Saying ethereal is too easy…”

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
 
                 ~ after Karen An-hwei Lee

Mystery is to waterdrop,
as fractal is to skeleton.

As honey thickens
in the lung or in the hive.

The rubber tree gives its sap, 
engloving the  hand that adjusts 
a patient's lifeline.

Loving is an act of many
dimensions—

As waters warm,
corals bleach but they
are not yet completely dead. 

What other things
have given up their color
for you?



This is Not the Beginning

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
 
~ in the manner of a Craig Santos Perez "recycling;" 
    and after “Aristotle” by Billy Collins


Almost everything has perhaps happened.
This is where we’re stuck, searching for
that original light, how it’s gone from the eye of the fish that wriggled onto land,
the words from a lost eden indecipherable from textspeak on a screen.
Think of Aristotle’s idea of beauty, his first principles of order and symmetry,
a dancer dead center on a stage performing;
multiplied as virtual, through millions of screens.
Is this the beginning of the proverbial end?
As first-person narrators introducing ourselves,
sometimes we’ll talk of chosen rather than biological family.
A child whistles an old movie tune in the alley, not knowing 
       where he first heard it.
Ultramarathoners are studying the terrain and weather,
pulling long swigs from gallon-sized BPA-free water bottles.
This is still early on, years before the very last final thunderclap; no 
       rescue ship, no rosy-fingered dawn.
Skateboarders congregate below the expressway to admire
murals a la Banksy on gray concrete
though they didn't learn figure drawing with charcoal sticks.
They'll try a new flip, kickflip, impossible.
This is an opening perhaps, a move:
something that proceeds, refreshingly, without cold calculation?
This is the part 
where the wheels of gas-guzzling vehicles begin to turn up in empty lots,
where quiet electric cars and hybrid vans whiz through the streets
before or after the bridges’ brittle collapse.
This is the in-between.
That thing once called complication is better
addressed as liminal space. Not simple, but not untenable.
Overnight, more new cities emerge out of the fog, 
populated by migrants from all of earth’s quarters—
a billion visa stamps, a billion “real IDs.”
Distrust still patrols the terminals in a nondescript uniform
         with sagging hems.
He waves a metal detector. 
He opens knapsacks, turns luggage inside out, asks whether 
         there’s curry or dried fish.
This is the part where the plot could still be if not reversed,
then  jettisoned in some audacious, unexpected direction.
 
 

Of pleasure,

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
 
and the signals sent out from
the lighthouse of the hypothalamus:
of peptides and neurotransmitters
that regulate and release. 
You repeat, pleasure—everything 
from the silver of paper-
heart leaves to the wrought
filigree surrounding a tamburin; 
skin-sheen after exercise or sex;
the syllables mouths bubble
to go with please or delicious.
On craggy hillsides, 
even the goats nuzzle 
the grass they feed on: one 
thing is pleasure, the other is work
or a wage. Of horsehair 
woven around bright beads,
and at their ends a row
of brass cast little bells. 
Putting a necklace
back into its drawstring pouch,
you stop, trying to remember 
what saint or scent 
used to lie inside its glass-
walled reliquary. 

brown cartography

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
"Naming, however kind, is always an act of estrangement."
                                                                   ~ Aracelis Girmay


brown the soil, brown the sand we call sable that water 
               paints before it recedes into itself; brown 
the shutters of heaven from which the eyes of ancients 
               regard the world they left with us.

brown the sides of wooden ships swelled with 
               elegies of blind ambition, so certain
of following the fateful stars. brown the beautiful 
               bark of cassia shavings, the dark-

tipped nails of clove, the red-tinged roots
               of galangal. burnish the sides of brass
hawk bells until you can no longer tell their gleam
              from gold. the reefs are lined with coral,

the straits with subterranean eyes and mangrove 
             roots. crack open a rock to learn of lineage—
turn up the earth, run your brown fingers along 
             the burns and fading scars.  
       
               

Physiology of the Blood

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Blood cells are born 
in the marrow. They flood 
the columns of the pelvis, 
the ladders of the spine, the bones 
armoring the breast and its collection 
of soft organs. Somewhere in the factory,
a lever or switch flips the numbers,
electrifies the circuitry, multiplies. 
One day you're born or wake 
with too many lunettes; unchecked, 
they'd proliferate so skin bruises easy, 
as if a crimson dew formed beneath 
its outer walls. I don't know how
to keep you from this delirium 
that seethes within, mostly
unseen. In early morning light,
I scan your body for tell-
tale marks, watch as breath 
curls around the curve of your throat: 
in the shape of a stone fruit, in the guise 
of a hive clotted thick with syrup. Aspirate, 
from aspiratio: an exhalation. How a mouth 
forms the sound of audible breath,
the low hum of a quiet engine.

Automatic Writing

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Spores that flower along the grassy edge:
bread-like and brown, fruit of the lightning.

I don't talk to God much these days
except through words scratched on the sill.

Of questions, of rants, and bottled pleas:
more than enough to fill empires of pages.

You think I play in the dirt when I keep to my silent labors

—more than enough to fill empires of pages;
of questions, of rants, and bottled pleas.

Except through words scratched on the sill,
I don't talk to God much these days.

Bread-like and brown, fruit of the lightning:
spores that flower along the grassy edge. 


Millions of Monarchs Make the Rarest Sound

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
"...for the world is laboring
to eclipse us" ~ D. Bonta

 As waterfall— rain of wings
and bodies that did not perish,
purling from the arms of pine: 
clouds that feed on milkweed 
and wildflowers, that filter
light down to the forest  
floor.  What bright-striped
tribes, what vapory tapestries
made to make themselves
over every season. Who 
taught each one to bear one
flimsy pane of light, one flap 
of sound through the bars?
A maw opens at the top
of the canopy, waiting 
for the unbearable 
cascade of beauty:
for now, this certainty
that they will come,  
until they don't.