Thunderstorm Below the Mountain

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Thunderstorm Below the Mountain
(after Hokusai)

Lacking humility, I take without thinking.
How far we’ve come, to look below for
lightning, the valleys shaken
with thunder, answers

like pebbles flung outward,
each to its own arc, separate
yet of one source, shaded into the question.

Is it for the scarcity of reach,
the reverse view through the bamboo rings
well out of sight, that

breath in the wave’s tuck or
smoke mingling with the clouds
and figures collecting salt,

that I edge myself closer, again,
to this place? To be nothing
presumes presence in absence.
Lacking humility, I accept without thinking.

 

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“Thunderstorm Below the Mountain” first appeared here in March 2016.

 

Landscape with Jar

 

 

Landscape with Jar
(after Wallace Stevens)

What vanishes more readily than the breakable
and transparent? Not here, not now, it says,

never voluble in the morning. I have work.
The horizon exists simply in perception.

Try to touch it – the hill meets the sky
only from afar, offering discordance

up close, no measurement possible.
And among the trees and vines, a glimmer

of spite, twisted open. Moving closer, we see
through. We see rocks, a bird. We see air.

 

 

“Landscape with Jar” was first published in Birch Gang Review in July 2017.

 

What Are You Going To Do?

 

What Are You Going To Do (Cento)

Not everything can be set to music,
you have to understand that.

If I went to the end of the street,
would I be at the center of myself?

Now ends. Now begins.
Still, we sing the same songs;

we live in the sound – no love
of miracle or numbers helps.

I wonder if my body
is outline. A far point rendezvous.

A smoke plume taken, but not
into a hot, dark mouth.

Or perhaps it never had a name.
Bruising’s not the end of it.

 

* * *

Credits: Maggie Smith, Michael Chitwood, Carol Frost, CM Burroughs, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Dan Beachy-Quick, Willis Barnstone, Lauren Camp, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Maggie Smith, Lawrence Raab, Natasha Saje.

“What Are You Going To Do” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo 30-30 challenge, and was published in the February 2017 issue of Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. The lines used were taken from Tupelo Press publications.

 

Some Answers You Never Considered

 

Some Answers You Never Considered

At the cusp of night, before the sun steams out in the ocean,
and blues abandon the reds.

Nothing rests at the core of zero.

Cerulean blue was first marketed as coerulium.

What we consider sky includes only its lowest reaches.

Even considering a dense history with kites, I humbly concede,
and admit sacrifice as atonement, with grace.

No. I say it again. No.

Your visual system constructs the colors you see.

Only when the wind unbuttons its greatcoat, or at the tip
of an icicle, just before the drop catches itself.

Release the line and know the freedom of loss.

Transparent yet wide, unfolded like a fist freeing
a swarm of bees into honeyed air, it contains us.

Your inability to see it does not refute the horizon’s base.

If I knew I’d tell you.

 

* * *

“Some Answers You Never Considered” first appeared in Underfoot in October 2017.

 

Laocoön

GREEK COLUMN LINDOS

 

Laocoön

This figure of complexity
persuades a lingering

glance, the two-fold
inclination entwined,

horror expressed
in tandem, the sons’

limbs compressed
as the father struggles,

realizing true
sacrifice, the inward

grasp of storm and
wrath and serpent,

his face
echoing those yet

to come, breached
walls, a city in

flames, the cries
of warnings unheeded.

 

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Laocoön, through Virgil’s Aeneid, is the source of the phrase “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” The poem, which first appeared in The Blue Hour Magazine, was inspired by the sculpture “Laocoön and His Sons,” which resides at the Vatican. You might find Wikipedia’s entry of interest. Originally posted on the blog in February 2016.

Scarecrow Sees

Scarecrow Sees

Da Vinci maintained that sight relies on the eye’s
central line, yet the threads holding my
ocular buttons in place weave through four
holes and terminate in a knot. My flying friends
perceive light in a combination of four colors,
unlike the farmer, who blends only three. The
octopus knows black and white but blushes
to escape predators, while I remain fixed,
evading no one. Certainly my sense is more
vision than sight, and not the result of nerve
fibers routing light. Crows choose colors
when asked, but a certain shade of yellow
eludes them. And who would hear, above
the flock’s clamor, my claim to see this world
as it is? Grayscale, monochrome, visual
processing and perceptual lightness measures
mean little to one whose space accumulates
in uncertain increments – what is a foot to an
empty shoe? If I painted, which hues would
prefer my attempts, which would distract or
invade my cellulosic cortex, resulting in
fragmentation or blindness? Fear is not
limited to the sighted alone. I look out over
the field and perceive the harmonious
interaction of soil and root, leaf and sun,
the beauty of atmospheric refraction and
the wonder sprouting daily around me. Then
as one entity the crows explode into the blue,
leaving me alone with the shivering stalks,
questioning my place and purpose, awaiting
the next stray thought, a spark, a lonely
word creeping through this day’s demise.

 

This was written during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge, and was published by The High Window in December 2016.

 

Palinode (Hands, Hours, Light)

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P A L I N O D E ( H A N D S , H O U R S , L I G H T)Consider the hand, its breadth, its history in mathematics and limitation. 27 bones, two strokes. Distal phalanges spanning gaps.  You turn and wave at the winnowed tunnel and the drops feathering the glass. The sinister endures tasks of life; right blesses power and assuages guilt. Presuming inflection, I use both hands to tally the absent. Later as we drive through the checkpoint, our way greased by fluency in the language of coin, heaven’s oblique arch recedes and I praise the passage of hours.

I praise the passage of hours measured in terms unknown to some: beyond two, many. Returning, we see streets guided by lampposts, bent trees and the uneven drizzle of sidewalk mendicants blurring through their days. A hanged man’s dessicated hand (pickled in salt and the urine of man, woman, dog and mare) forms the Hand of Glory, unlocking any portal the bearer desires opened: a direct tool of consciousness. Lacking the fat of a gibbeted felon, I cannot properly light the way.

I cannot properly light the way, but we  observe facets in differing terms: the hand, lips, and mouth claim more neural innervation than the rest of the body combined, perhaps a consequence of the primacy of making and sounding. Candles smolder and yield to shadow through dancing hand stories. The wave of acknowledgment, a finger across the lips, the open hand proclaiming innocence, expressing, grasping, creating, constraining, releasing. Extinguishing.

This first appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos, Issue 11.

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