Claudia Rankine pushes me to think. Read these excerpts from from prize-winning book, Citizen: An American Lyric. Listen to the recording. Inhale. Exhale. Think.
Difficulties arrive in waves,
lending weight to the theory of threes,
the plunging fund, a failed engagement, the self’s
doubt, all combined to inflict the particular
misery of the ongoing, the continued, inelegant fate
that declares us human. Look,
she says, the hummingbird flits from leaf to
flower, its wings beating 58 times a second,
a fact not to be trifled with, for what may we duplicate,
contemplate, even, at that pace?
Say the hedge gets clipped, the ring whirs off the finger
and back to the jeweler, and all you know for certain
is that you don’t know. There is no why, no how. No
way. Or life’s reel unwinds and plays only in
reverse. Where do you stop and splice it, forming new,
uncharted worries? And what about that damned
bird, buzzing around your head in territorial fury? Yes,
yes, I know. These things are not my concern. Not really.
But they arrive in unending repetition, one after
the other, in clumps of three – lovely, lonely,
triple-threaded lines of vicissitude lapping at our ankles,
saying nothing, saying everything, saying it used to be so easy.
* * *
Originally published in Eclectica in July 2014, and first appeared on this blog in July 2015.
The tenth of a series of twelve written at a shuttered window, and originally published in the anthology Terra Firma in 2004, with a reappearance on this blog in 2014.
Withering inside, it remains fixed
and free of device, the shadow’s carapace
dwindling with each
impulse. One word, one tremor,
and the regressions begin,
broaching the lamp in refusal of that
issuance to the end,
a victim of eloquence,
the precursor of the seed.
Returned to darkness, it waits in silent apogee.
In the land of two-dollar mornings, those things
we barely sense take precedence: uncaressed
skin sheathed in ivy, the punctuation mark diverting
power. Insidious corn, the cries of distressed trees
(cavitation in the xylem), soubasse, the ghost note,
prickling from below. Singularity. The appointee’s
hubris. The defining weight of a zero’s center.
A zero’s center defines emptiness, meaning nothing,
or, diverted light, a vacuum. Regard plenum: an air-filled
space, or a complete gathering of a legislative body. And
how did we arrive here from there? From the body we
compose units of measure: an ell, digit, fathom, the mile’s
thousand paces. I expose film to light, concealing yet
establishing a rational point.
Concealing the point implies position without extension,
a moment shedding its cracked sheath and giving rise
to the divine: above, below, male and female, hot or
cold. Reconciliation. A plateau. The still place linking the
infinite to the open hand, limitless black. Burning, I
calculate oxidation and dispersal, tendrils, a flaxen leaf,
its proposition to endings.
This first appeared, in slightly different form, in ditch, in January 2014.
My poem “If We Burn,” which has appeared on the blog twice, is featured on Imperfect Life, an Australian online magazine. It is, sadly, topical.
Ode to Being Placed on Hold
The music rarely
but I find
the notion that
I’ve been inserted
in that peculiar
speech and the
of care and
orbiting my head,
with bites of
a gift, you see,
like rain in
a warm voice
“Ode to Being Placed on Hold” was my 23rd offering of the Tupelo Press 30-30 marathon in August 2015. Many thanks to Mary “marso” of the blog “marsowords” who sponsored and provided the title.
The Geography of Silence
1. Laundry drooping at midday.
2. She dreams off-key, in pastels.
3. With misunderstanding comes anger.
4. Mata! Mata! Again!
5. Ashes crossing the ocean.
6. Sweat, and the taste of separation.
7. Reaching for past moons, she cries.
8. Death’s shade.
10. Self-sacrifice, the centered gift.
11. Inward, always. Inward.