Friday, March 25, 2011

Winter Landscape (Sesshu)


Black and white, foreground,
Background, horizon and sky—
There is nothing to describe.
No word for it has been found.
Fingers pinch bits of glass,
Mouths blow rings of gas.
Stone spires, numberless grass,
Poised like celebrants at mass.
This is but approximation,
Sounds approaching shape,
Silhouetted imagination,
Not a poem, but its ape.
Inked paper, here, in your hand—
This is what you understand.



Chasing Kansas twisters, I interrupt
The moon floating above a thunderhead,
God pondering his coffee cup.
The locust lullaby in the trees
Is a song to stars, or to the dead:
Fireflies die where I cannot see.
Above the hood, the shuffling storm
Is a man on his knees, slobbering,
Roaring for his severed arm.
Behind, the sky is empty and clear.
The earth recedes quickly, quivering:
Ground heat cracks the icy air.
The radio reports a sighting—
Funnels by flash of lightning.

Another World (M. C. Escher)


At the cold core of a molecule
Something sentient ratiocinates
In mathematical ridicule
Of everything that loves or hates.
It has one goal, one idea,
Which is for the molecule to be a
Functioning integer in a sum
For articulation of a vacuum.
I have seen molecules with faces
Posed in momentary stasis.
How they smile. Knowing, simply,
But in fact, that they are in control,
They smile and stare unblinkingly
Beyond the nucleus of my soul.



Not chaos, because each moment is real,
Here is where you learn to learn.
Instruments, musical and scientific,
Tools, the blade in particular, reveal
There is no progress, only return
To the moment, each moment horrific.
Fires illuminate. No passion or fury
Drives your jailers, only the calm stare
Of the man made of egg and tree
With feet of boats, whose inside is air.
Eaten and shat, pierced and hanged
By creatures cobbled from your fears,
You'll endure, pipes blown, drum banged,
Harp rasped, without your ears.

(The right panel of Hieronymus Bosch's
famous triptych, "The Garden of Earthly Delights".)

To view the entire work on a single page, click here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011



Here there is no thing I cannot kiss,
No texture or form I cannot caress.
We've learned how to smile from birds,
From beasts the uselessness of words.
I've spent my hours in the glass globe,
In bubbles of wood, shell, and rind.
I have ridden the pard and the antelope
(And, in secret, the female of my kind).
We do what we're meant to do, it seems.
Why else stroke fish, feed apples to owls,
Perform handstands in midstream,
Or let birds nest on our bowels?
Childless, we treat bloated fruit like toys.
We enjoy it all, of course, but without joy.

(The middle panel of Hieronymus Bosch's
famous triptych, "The Garden of Earthly Delights".)

To view the entire work on a single page, click here.