Palinode (translation, passway, glass)

window

Palinode (translation, passway, glass)


(translation)

What falters in translation? The dove’s silhouette resides
on the window three months after the sudden refusal. I
observe wingprints, the skull’s curve, a history of assumptions
angled in the moment of impact. And after, residue. Light’s
incident rests. One body whispers another’s shape and the
next rumbles through the narrowing passway. Traitorous,
I call it fact. I name it truth, and naming it, reverse the coat.

(passway)

I name it truth, but considered denial, root of the renegade’s
term. I have a bird to whistle and I have a bird to sing. Misperception
in flight. Betrayal’s gate, unhinged. What comes next? Sunlight
slants through the window each morning, and departs, bending
in reversal. Stones all in my pass. Dark roads. Another naming,
another transition. Trials waged in the grammar of refraction.
The deflected word.

(glass)

The deflected word reciprocates and the sky opens, outlining
its missing form. I have pains in my heart, they have taken my
appetite.
Derived from wind, from eye, from hole. Once through,
what then? Mention archetype, and my world dims. Mention
windows, and I see processions and enemies lined along the way.
Boys, please don’t block my road. We select certain paths, others
choose us. Wingprints on glass.

* * *

Notes: italicized selections are from Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway.”

This piece first appeared, in slightly different form, in ditch, in January 2014, and last appeared here in July 2016.

alley

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

1 (reflection)

Six iterations, alike but lessened in sequence, and always in pairs:
front and back, oblique, the two mirrors becoming four, then six.

A perfect mirror reflects and neither transmits nor absorbs light.

Tilting my chin, I accept reflectance according to its distribution.

Retina as transducer, producing neural impulses.

The images consume no space but the effect is of distance.

Vision is not simply the retina’s translation
but counts inference and assumption among its influences.

The sum and product of its parts: 1 + 2 + 3, or, 1 x 2 x 3.

Angles achieve distinctions apparent at each adjustment.

Turning slightly, I detect movement in each replica.

A six-door cubic cage depicting the bondage of sense and elements.

It is possible to withdraw from this frame.

2 (answers)

Does the weaker eye perceive less.
Who conceals the shadow’s death.
Is a distal truth a lie or merely implication.
How do you rid the mirror of its ghosts.
What resonates in the echo’s decline.
Did the light switch subvert the blackened image.
Apparition, projection or visual representation.
When do waves not disturb.
At what point does belief transmute sight.
What fixes the mirror’s image.
Who closed his eyes and saw light.

3 (prosopagnosia)

I sip coffee and gaze out the second-floor window.

More light enters my neighbor’s office than mine.

Calculate the difference between illumination and glare.

Looking ahead, I claim no face and recognize no one.

The eye converts a signal from one form of energy to another.

Accepting light from external objects, I perceive reflection as the true arbiter.

The dissected path impairs transduction.

Face as identifier: to make, to do.

Translation: imperfection: diminishment.

Blink.

* * *

“At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self” was published in Posit in October 2017.

One Day I’ll Market Your Death

prickly

One Day I’ll Market Your Death

Do not mistake this phrase for one contiguous with threat.

Even its flower knows the theory of attractive quality.

An ideal medium for cochineal production, the prickly pear
shelters a host of creatures we seldom caress.

Which displays greater motility, the cactus or the cochineal?

Life-cycle of attributes, packaging, excitement, the unknown.

In the Aztec language, the word meant prickly pear blood.
The insects’ bodies and eggs yield carminic acid, which mixed with

aluminum or calcium salts yields the red dye.

Reaching for substance is neither metaphor nor effect. Sessile

parasite: carmine. The product of Dactylopius coccus
became the second most valued resource in Mexico, behind silver.

Opportunism unveiling itself, revealed, or, layered greed.

What appears to be fungus is wealth.

One-dimensional / attractive / indifferent. We look together
through the window and observe our separate selves.

dead

This poem originally appeared in a slightly different form in Otoliths, and was included in my chapbook length work, The Circumference of Other, published in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, by Silver Birch Press.

The Ecstatics

chimney


The Ecstatics

Divisions and separations, a summing of consequences,
the brother whose ashes remained forever lost. Two cities
and their survivors’ shame. The loud, kind young man
whose words fell to the restaurant’s floor, unbidden.
What came next in the drift, untoward and misspent,
in the grammar of between? Darkness, suppressed.
Smoke. Pleasure and fear, unclothed.


sorrow bw

“The Ecstatics” first appeared here in January 2016. It’s an odd piece, part of a larger sequence that I put on hold several years ago. Perhaps I’ll return to it someday.

Mockingbird

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mockingbird

Withdrawn, it unfolds
to another
voice, like that

of a child lost in the wind.
Or, lonely, it rises from its place

and sings, only
to return and start again.
The pleasure we accept derives from

the knowledge that we are not alone.
Each morning we walk out and sit
by the stones, hoping to observe some

new patterns in his life. What we
see is an answer. What we hear is no song.

* * *

file5231249687751

“Mockingbird” made its first appearance here in January 2015. It was written
in the 1980s, probably around 1987-1989.

Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

file0001285095497

Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

Why tremble
when nothing
arrives to be seen?

The architecture
of the day
comes and goes

in the same
heartbeat,
a disturbance

more felt than heard.
But listen.
The grosbeak sings

his presence
and departs,
leaving behind

the echo
of a motion
blending with night.

The air is cool.
A leaf utters
its own message

and falls
unnoticed.
Nothing awaits it.

* * *

This last appeared in November  2016.

file8891250781951

Self-Portrait with Knife

file2771300036063

 

Self-Portrait with Knife

Lacking benefit of prayer or belief,
it slips through flesh,

praising its temerity. Or,
parting the onion’s core, reclaims
the right to weep.

How many nights have we shared
these pleasures? I smooth the blade

with steel, listening to the fine hum.

 

file000758750048

 

“Self-Portrait with Knife” first appeared here in January 2015.