Saturday, February 7, 2009




I am seduced by the stoppage of time,

like Bruckner with his endless symphonies

pushing back the inevitable

silence of the unattended moment.

For the next ten seconds nobody dies.


Late afternoon—the maple goes darker,

cell by cell darker in the slant sunlight.

I can’t be sure the leaves were just as red

ten years ago, or that John Milton’s blood

wasn’t a fraction thicker than my own. 



             I wield shears

                beneath honey locust—


                grown to ground—

            scissor and step back,

                watch the fluttering

            stem-bound leaves

                follow the branches down.


            I bundle new deadwood;

                three green needles,

            like fangs, guard each twig;

                black bark thorns,

            driven by the gathered droop

                of leaves being lifted,

            pierce through leather

                the flesh of my palms.


            My mind, cuspidate

                in my fingers, moves

            through the patterns of thorn

                proliferating pain.



            The sound of somebody

            dropping the doorknocker

            just once . . . I flee

            unremembered phantasms,

            hold eyes closed tightly—

            tongue like paper—reach

            for the glass of water, see

            the glass in the dark

            and dilate waking.  Setting

            the glass off the table

            edge, grope, settle it on

            the corner.  More sleep.

            Go to sleep.  Eyelids pinch

            a thread of sunlight spinning

            through the curtain dust.

            The radiator knocks . . .

            just once.  Vagueness spreads

            an exit through counted time

            past another me I meet

            fading, questioned in sodden

            stillness and crepuscule.

            Quick manufacture of deep

            inconsequence—someone not

            I overhears singing I have

            not composed, conversation

            rendered without regret,

            the voice of the homunculus

            at the core of the blood cell

            and metaphor.  I’m billiard-

            brained!  Blood and ivory balls

            percuss on clipped green

            and blue crystal; in each

            sphere a ray is loosed

            to sublimate the ricochet.

            The angel’s share offered

            and unattained (air breathed

            in sleep), a rarification

            of spirit I can’t sniff, taste,

            pour into existence, but

            think is a wonder of wines.



 What interior thing sleeps with memory,

knows the certain locus of nothing

and the time of any new thing only

in the night-light of its circumscription?


What does this slumbering watcher feel

waking beside a lover of years past

who’s discovered herself under wild skies,

in a land contoured by the height of sand?


His eyes pinched, his ears stopped,

his dream-worn senses insinuate

the wonder of that endlessness

and expatiate like a ticking clock


on what he thinks he knows of his own death.

Seeking out the reality three

dimensions deep within himself, his mind,

that strict lump that can explain a bird,


that cagey bastard, calmly discourses

on phantom and fading gods, while his warming

beauty evaporates and mingles with his breath

ecstatically generating weather.



         It was perfectly smooth, the earth

        I woke to—featureless, without

        mountain, grass, sand, bird, lion—

        skin-tight, a bald head.


        Balloon on which plaster is packed,

        this world before a world; I stood

        in dark after moonless dusk, and

        said, nonetheless, this is my world.


        I recognized the horizon,

        the leavening of gravity,

        the proximity of sky.

        A fit of rain sprayed my face.


        The lazy Susan landscape threw me

        down.  My first sweetheart limped

        up on the brace of her polio.

        Naked, I rolled on my belly.


        I woke, the nixie gone, salt water

        on my lips.  The moon rose, pulling

        water back into a great wave,

        holding it back above my head.



             Johann Sebastian Bach is


                                    into this room.

            Buddha croaks

                        and Bach


                        walks into this room.

            Walk the road,

                        stop, cough,

                                    crack the bone

                        of sound—

            Bach is walking

                        into this room


                        a grager.

            Through stained glass,


                                    berry trees

                        and sun swizzle—

            Bach is waltzing




            Clap your eyes!

            Johann Sebastian

                        Bach is



            this room.



         A creaking ecstatically extended

        wakes me early in the night.

        Winter air binds board in stone (a

        hairline runs down the façade,

        splitting bricks, parting mortar from its

        hold) one more fraction of an inch.

        Prone, I imagine the house shift

        off its load-bearing edge

        and topple into the basement.

        When will it stop, the house grind

        out its antagonism of stress and nail

        to silent, unlevel motionlessness?

        Or will I stop waking to this house?



             Water on the beach

            and the pebbled surf—

            the air is full


            of milk.  A hand

            touches me; there

            I hate, but not


            the hand.  Nature

            is the second

            displeasure, when


            the first tips

            the world and drinks.

            Round, hard, the pebble,


            and black.  Not

            much else.  Wet,

            it shines.  Dry,


            dull.  I keep it

            in a dish of green

            water.  The blunted


            shard of glass,

            the charred stick,

            the aluminum bent


            to a coin, the

            dimensionless dream

            of sand, calm


            if I look at them.

            As I age it is not

            that I like people


            less, but have less

            to do with them.

            I can say the one


            thing—about the pebble—

    but the other comes

in white noise,

water on the beach.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I am a man of efficient word and so here are two responses to "Stoppages".

Silence is the mind's recognition that it is not God....

Silence stops time and puts emphasis on the infinite.

It is an interesting precept that, in awareness, a mind, which has been conditioned to be the master, would willingly step down from the throne of control in favor of freedom. This is true intelligence.