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Nine Variations of a Cloud
Looking up, I renounce pity and the sadness of wind.
Only lust pulls and shapes more, diminishing your integrity.
It slips through whenever I try to grab it.
Every phrase is a window glowing at night, surrendered to its frame.
Water in another form is still water.
In whose ruins must you survive?
Another shape, another moment desperately spent.
And still you thrive in diminishment.
Bearing nothing, it conceals.
* * *
“Nine Variations of a Cloud” first appeared in Kindle Magazine in December 2015, and was also included in Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry.
A case of the almost
tapping into the deed:
I dance in daylight,
but never on stairs
nor in countable
patterns, the wind
and birds my only
partners. When the
left arm twitches
counter to the right
hand’s frisk, my
head swivels with
the breeze, catching
my feet in pointe,
a moment endured
in humor. Luther
Robinson switched names
with his brother Bill
and became Bojangles,
but my brothers remain
nameless and silent,
flapping without desire
or intent. Why am I
as I am, born of no
mother, stitched and
stuffed, never nurtured
but left to become this
fluttering entity, thinking,
always thinking, whirling,
in sequence, in time
to unheard music?
No one answers me.
But for now, I dance.
“Scarecrow Dances” first appeared in The Blue Nib in September 2016.
Self Portrait with W
One might claim a double victory, or after the Roman Empire’s fall, a reclamation
from the slurred “b” and its subsequent reduction.
Survival of the rarely heard, of the occipital’s impulse.
The oak’s crook performs a similar function.
Shielding myself from adjuration, I contemplate the second family
root, weighted in weapons, in Woden, in wood.
Not rejection, but acceptance in avoidance.
The Japanese homophone, daburu, bears a negative connotation.
Original language was thought to be based on a natural
relation between objects and things.
Baudelaire’s alphabet existed without “W,” as does the Italian.
The recovery of lost perfection is no longer our aim.
When following another, I often remain silent.
As in two, as in answer, as in reluctance, reticence.
We share halves – one light, one shadowed, but both of water.
Overlapped or barely touching, still we complete.
* * *
“Self-Portrait with W” originally appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait series in 2014, and was reprinted in my chapbook, The Circumference of Other, included in Ides, a one-volume collection of fifteen chapbooks published by Silver Birch Press and available on Amazon.com.
Palinode (translation, passway, glass)
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.
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.
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.
At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self
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.
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.
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.
* * *
“At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self” was published in Posit in October 2017.
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.
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.