Drift

 

After many years, the river ran into the river,
     and the wilderness thickened beside it.

Body overgrown with moss, love made
     a hunted sound calling from the nether layers.

Clouds of birds rose to pin themselves 
     to branches. They looked so much like leaves.

Dirt rained down when I shook them loose
     and they pooled like dark pods in my hands. 

Every time we looked for the moon,
     a different planet floated into view.

Follow those flashes of light and see 
     where islands disappeared. It's said

every lighthouse is visible underwater,
     a cake topper ringed with flickering candles.

Grown now out of their first abandonment, 
     the children know only this shore:

haze of vanished honeysuckle stenciled
     on a trellis, burns and coppered bullet shells.   

Imagine a dream like air that used to live
     inside a gold balloon, and the string 

just out of reach of our hands. Imagine
     each day a new season, change after change 

knocking to be let in, and quickly--- are those 
     the same curtains that billowed over Hiroshima,  

Leyte, Manila Bay? They still make the sunsets
     unbearably beautiful--- gold-streaked indigo,

mutinies of tamped-out fire where
     warships, rigs, and galleons once docked in

navy shipyards and blue coves. Once, 
     we smoothed the sands and painted stones.
 
Once, hundreds fell out of the sky and into
     the waters they hoped would save them.

Place a hand on a headstone and the other
     over your heart. When you feel a tremor,

quietly pick up a stick and write in the loam
     the first name that comes into your mind. 

Remember the taste of a fruit you know now
     only as a color: red perhaps, seed and heart, 

spikes encasing the smallest knob of tender-
     ness. At night, someone calls for stories:

tales that begin in dread and finish
     with three or more tests that must be 

undertaken--- Except we need to be careful:
     it also means the business of undertakers.  

Ventriloquists for the dead, somehow
     they know how to interpret last wishes.

We should be so lucky to have, in our own
     time, a representative of the most internal.

Xanthates, acids, alkali in the soil; bleached
     particles of all that's disappeared before us.

Yeast bubbling in the wood, soft, spongy
     pockets that open wherever we walk. Endless

zooplankton: another name for wanderer; eternal
     jellyfish wrested from home, adrift in the universe.






 

In response to Via Negativa: Flow.

Sheriff

Up, and my wife and I by coach to Bennett’s, in Paternoster Row, few shops there being yet open, and there bought velvett for a coate, and camelott for a cloake for myself; and thence to a place to look over some fine counterfeit damasks to hang my wife’s closett, and pitched upon one, and so by coach home again, I calling at the ‘Change, and so home to dinner and all the afternoon look after my papers at home and my office against to-morrow, and so after supper and considering the uselessness of laying out so much money upon my wife’s closett, but only the chamber, to bed.

I open a velvet coat
and am oak
a place to hang
and itch
and change to paper


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 8 January 1666.

Listening up

(Lord’s day). Up, and being trimmed I was invited by Captain Cocke, so I left my wife, having a mind to some discourse with him, and dined with him. He tells me of new difficulties about his goods which troubles me and I fear they will be great. He tells me too what I hear everywhere how the towne talks of my Lord Craven being to come into Sir G. Carteret’s place; but sure it cannot be true. But I do fear those two families, his and my Lord Sandwich’s, are quite broken. And I must now stand upon my own legs.
Thence to my lodging, and considering how I am hindered by company there to do any thing among my papers, I did resolve to go away to-day rather than stay to no purpose till to-morrow and so got all my things packed up and spent half an hour with W. Howe about his papers of accounts for contingencies and my Lord’s accounts, so took leave of my landlady and daughters, having paid dear for what time I have spent there, but yet having been quiett and my health, I am very well contented therewith. So with my wife and Mercer took boat and away home; but in the evening, before I went, comes Mrs. Knipp, just to speake with me privately, to excuse her not coming to me yesterday, complaining how like a devil her husband treats her, but will be with us in towne a weeke hence, and so I kissed her and parted.
Being come home, my wife and I to look over our house and consider of laying out a little money to hang our bedchamber better than it is, and so resolved to go and buy something to-morrow, and so after supper, with great joy in my heart for my coming once again hither, to bed.

hear how a raven
can be true but broken

how the quiet comes to speak
privately like a kiss

and art inside-out
is heart once again


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 January 1666.

Magical thinking

Up betimes and by water to the Cockepitt, there met Sir G. Carteret and, after discourse with the Duke, all together, and there saw a letter wherein Sir W. Coventry did take notice to the Duke with a commendation of my paper about Pursers, I to walke in the Parke with the Vice-Chamberlain, and received his advice about my deportment about the advancing the credit of the Act; giving me caution to see that we do not misguide the King by making them believe greater matters from it than will be found. But I see that this arises from his great trouble to see the Act succeede, and to hear my name so much used and my letters shown at Court about goods served us in upon the credit of it. But I do make him believe that I do it with all respect to him and on his behalfe too, as indeed I do, as well as my owne, that it may not be said that he or I do not assist therein. He tells me that my Lord Sandwich do proceed on his journey with the greatest kindnesse that can be imagined from the King and Chancellor, which was joyfull newes to me.
Thence with Lord Bruncker to Greenwich by water to a great dinner and much company; Mr. Cottle and his lady and others and I went, hoping to get Mrs. Knipp to us, having wrote a letter to her in the morning, calling myself “Dapper Dicky,” in answer to hers of “Barbary Allen,” but could not, and am told by the boy that carried my letter, that he found her crying; but I fear she lives a sad life with that ill-natured fellow her husband: so we had a great, but I a melancholy dinner, having not her there, as I hoped. After dinner to cards, and then comes notice that my wife is come unexpectedly to me to towne. So I to her. It is only to see what I do, and why I come not home; and she is in the right that I would have a little more of Mrs. Knipp’s company before I go away. My wife to fetch away my things from Woolwich, and I back to cards and after cards to choose King and Queene, and a good cake there was, but no marks found; but I privately found the clove, the mark of the knave, and privately put it into Captain Cocke’s piece, which made some mirthe, because of his lately being knowne by his buying of clove and mace of the East India prizes. At night home to my lodging, where I find my wife returned with my things, and there also Captain Ferrers is come upon business of my Lord’s to this town about getting some goods of his put on board in order to his going to Spain, and Ferrers presumes upon my finding a bed for him, which I did not like to have done without my invitation because I had done [it] several times before, during the plague, that he could not provide himself safely elsewhere. But it being Twelfth Night, they had got the fiddler and mighty merry they were; and I above come not to them, but when I had done my business among my papers went to bed, leaving them dancing, and choosing King and Queene.

the pit is my guide
it rises from my own
make-believe sand

do I imagine a chance joy
or live with nature
having no cards for king and queen

the mark of the knave
is buying love
I find my wife in bed with the plague


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 6 January 1666.

Winter trees

A new videopoem using footage that Rachel shot from the Amtrak back in December. Do read her blog post about that journey, which includes a different clip from the same footage. I particularly liked this observation:

Trees! So many trees, their leaf-free branches strobing the setting sun when it was behind them, turning pink gold when it shone on them, revealing the geological contours through their branches of the land on which they grow.

Landscape scenes shot from moving trains or cars are so common in videopoetry, they’re almost a cliche, but this is a new variation on that theme, I think.

Self Portrait at the Fish Market, with Scales

They’re clean, said the man
          behind the counter; they’re gutted.
                    Meaning the gills had been taken out,
meaning he’d drawn with the tip
          of his knife one swift incision and slit
                    from the anus all the way till the head
of the fish. You wonder what they did
         with all the slick guts that spilled
                    out of their bellies, on whose grill
the long floppy sac of roe will char
         and sear. At your sink, you unwrap
                   the bodies from newsprint and see
they still wear their armor: there are some things
         that don’t get taken away.  They shimmer

                  like crushed gems you’d touch to your lips. 

 






	

Flow

I with my Lord Bruncker and Mrs. Williams by coach with four horses to London, to my Lord’s house in Covent-Guarden. But, Lord! what staring to see a nobleman’s coach come to town. And porters every where bow to us; and such begging of beggars! And a delightfull thing it is to see the towne full of people again as now it is; and shops begin to open, though in many places seven or eight together, and more, all shut; but yet the towne is full, compared with what it used to be. I mean the City end; for Covent-Guarden and Westminster are yet very empty of people, no Court nor gentry being there. Set Mrs. Williams down at my Lord’s house and he and I to Sir G. Carteret, at his chamber at White Hall, he being come to town last night to stay one day. So my Lord and he and I much talke about the Act, what credit we find upon it, but no private talke between him and I. So I to the ‘Change, and there met Mr. Povy, newly come to town, and he and I to Sir George Smith’s and there dined nobly. He tells me how my Lord Bellases complains for want of money and of him and me therein, but I value it not, for I know I do all that can be done. We had no time to talk of particulars, but leave it to another day, and I away to Cornhill to expect my Lord Bruncker’s coming back again, and I staid at my stationer’s house, and by and by comes my Lord, and did take me up and so to Greenwich, and after sitting with them a while at their house, home, thinking to get Mrs. Knipp, but could not, she being busy with company, but sent me a pleasant letter, writing herself “Barbary Allen.” I went therefore to Mr. Boreman’s for pastime, and there staid an houre or two talking with him, and reading a discourse about the River of Thames, the reason of its being choked up in several places with shelfes; which is plain is, by the encroachments made upon the River, and running out of causeways into the River at every wood-wharfe; which was not heretofore when Westminster Hall and White Hall were built, and Redriffe Church, which now are sometimes overflown with water. I had great satisfaction herein. So home and to my papers for lacke of company, but by and by comes little Mrs. Tooker and sat and supped with me, and I kept her very late talking and making her comb my head, and did what I will with her et tena grande plaisir con ella, tocando sa cosa con mi cosa, and hazendo la cosa per cette moyen. So late to bed.

such light
full yet empty of people

all that corn
thinking to itself

a river
running into the river


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 5 January 1666.

We Are Trying to Make a Country (A Cento)

When it is a tent, we slit its skin to let in the rain.

                        The bronze star points
north but never resolves.

In my country our shamans were women
and our gods multiple.

When I reached down to touch the earth it shied and fled.

I walk to see the quiet that has colonized
everything.

My name a two-hundred-year-old word for Please
My soul keeps trying, trying 

I escape to the same places and same words.
Bodies were dropping from the trees.

Like telegrams, the gathering of crowds—

To have a country, so important,
to run into walls, into streetlights, into loved ones, as one should.

Each an ambition bird.

*

Source texts/lines:

Claire Wahmanholm
Mia Ayumi Malhotra
Claire Wahmanholm
Rick Barot
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Rainer Maria Rilke
Tomas Tranströmer
Claire Wahmanholm

Ilya Kaminsky
Anne Sexton


Abundance

It is a kind of comfort to put on 
earphones and listen to a woman

named Claudia give a free, live 
webinar on cultivating abundance

in one's life, rather than to the rabid
pronouncements of the self-proclaimed 

savior of America as he continues to justify 
the building of a border wall. While he's   

once again painting a picture of the violence  
allegedly sown by immigrants and illegals, 

Claudia is telling me and thousands of other 
listeners to close our eyes and remember 

the first moment we ever felt cut off, left 
behind, unworthy of any of the world's riches 

or radiance. She is telling us it's possible 
to change those beliefs; to picture, instead of 

a fence, a gentle light radiating from the universe 
all around to envelope us in benevolence and natural 

abundance. We don't have to be that hurt,
lonely child anymore: don't have to believe

our place is always in the dark, don't have
to accept that only debt or poverty or struggle  

is our destiny. Thoughts are things: which means  
the greedy, power-tripping haters, the ones who never  

give a fuck about others, will live in a narrow, joyless
world. She has us envision the life we want: reminds us 

to never abandon the idea of goodness that not only 
remains in the world but still overflows in it.  

Wolf at the door

Up, and to the office, where my Lord Bruncker and I, against Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes and the whole table, for Sir W. Warren in the business of his mast contract, and overcome them and got them to do what I had a mind to, for indeed my Lord being unconcerned in what I aimed at. So home to dinner, where Mr. Sheldon come by invitation from Woolwich, and as merry as I could be with all my thoughts about me and my wife still in pain of her tooth. He anon took leave and took Mrs. Barbary his niece home with him, and seems very thankful to me for the 10l. I did give him for my wife’s rent of his house, and I am sure I am beholding to him, for it was a great convenience to me, and then my wife home to London by water and I to the office till 8 at night, and so to my Lord Bruncker’s, thinking to have been merry, having appointed a meeting for Sir J. Minnes and his company and Mrs. Knipp again, but whatever hindered I know not, but no company come, which vexed me because it disappointed me of the glut of mirthe I hoped for. However, good discourse with my Lord and merry, with Mrs. Williams’s descants upon Sir J. Minnes’s and Mrs. Turner’s not coming. So home and to bed.

against the whole table
a tooth of night

pointed at any
glut of mirth


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 4 January 1666.