The Sky Refutes East and West

nest

The Sky Refutes East and West

Here, the horizon lingers.
The open eye, the mouth’s shape.

A hoop, the circle without iris.

Does the screech owl acknowledge latitude and hemisphere?

The Semitic alphabet contained no vowels, thus O
emerged as a consonant with a pupil, morphing into a dotted ring,

and later, with the Greeks, an unembellished circle (which of course

they cracked open and placed at the end). The female lays eggs

on the remnants of earlier meals lining the bottom of her den.
If you listen at night you might hear the purring of a feathered

cat (the Texas screech owl’s call varies from that of its eastern cousins).

The difference between sphere and ball.

To pronounce the Phoenician word for eye, sing the lowest note possible,
then drop two octaves. They usually carry prey back to their nests.

Screech owls are limited to the Americas.

Coincidence and error, the circumference of other.

 

***

“The Sky Refutes East and West” was first published in Prime Number Magazine, and also appears in my chapbook The Circumference of Other, included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015). It made its first appearance here in May 2016.

eastwest

With These Nine Figures

zero sign

“With These Nine Figures” is included in Purifying Wind (now available as an Ebook for $4.99,  and in print for $12.00), an anthology of pieces about or mentioning vultures.

 

With These Nine Figures

   … and with the sign 0…any number may be written.

                                                                 Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci)

We attain from emptiness and the Sanskrit shoonya, from safira and sifr, zero.
As in unoccupied, as in void, as in what brims the homeland of null.
I once counted thirty-four black vultures orbiting my neighbor’s hill.
Despite appearing in Mayan codices, they neither sing nor cipher.
Fibonacci’s Book of the Abacus introduced the decimal system to Europe.
Regarding the tyranny of mathematics, is nothing something?
From alterity to belonging, its provenance assumes an absence of being.
Which is not to suggest xenophobia or superiority in order.
Whether depicted by empty space, wedges, or hooks, it held place.
Representation not of the object, but of its purpose, its path.
Black vultures do not smell carrion, but pillage from those that can.
Obliterative in the west wind, subtractive, unbound, they spiral.
Are the circlers in the sky symptomatic or merely symbolic?
Comparing negative infinity to its positive sister, I observe their way.

 

 

* * *

“With These Nine Figures” originally appeared, with a companion recording, in Clade Song in summer 2013. I had asked a friend for five or six words to use in a poem. She provided tyranny, emptiness, xenophobia, pillage and at least one other that I’ve forgotten. But it wasn’t nothing.

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Let It Remain

image

 

Let It Remain

Comfort of name,
of pleasure

freshened in
repetition, unformed

pears falling, and
the mockingbird’s

inability
to complete

another’s song.
I will take no

moment
from this day

but let it remain
here in the knowing,

in the tyranny
of the absolute

and its enforced
rhythm desiring

both flight and
maturation,

the ecstasy
of fruit grown full.

 

image

 

“Let It Remain” first appeared here in September 2015.

 

Dark Rain Ahead, Hummingbird

image

Dark Rain Ahead, Hummingbird

The black-chinned hummer buzzes my flowered shirt,
bringing to mind the letter H, its history of an inferior life among

letters, and a Phoenician origin signifying fence.

An aspirate dependent upon others, or a line strung between posts,

even whispered, H does not contain itself.
Disconsolate or annoyed, the bird moves on.

Do names depend upon the power of symbols, or do they power the symbols?

In the 6th century A.D., Priscian disparaged H, saying it existed only to accompany.

Clouds shade the way.
The black-chin extends its grooved tongue at a rate of 15 licks per second.

Alone, the H’s voice is barely audible.

Through the trees, across the crushed rock driveway and beyond the barbed wire

and chain link, I hear deadfall snapping under hooves.
At rest, its heart beats an average of 480 beats per minute.

Modern Greek denies its existence.

Say khet, say honor and where. Say hinge, sigh and horse. Say depth.

image

Originally published in Prime Number Magazine, one of my favorite online literary journals, in 2013,  it subsequently appeared here in June 2015.

Hummingbird (3)

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Hummingbird (3)

Arriving from nowhere,
its mouth opens

but what escapes
comes not from within

and is never complete.
Words, too, falter

in this space,
struggling to remain

aloft, challenged yet free,
an exchange

between air and wing,
of sound and thought,

occurring as it must
without design

or desire, simply
there, then gone,

a presence one notices
in its absence.

 

* * *

“Hummingbird (3) made its first appearance  on the blog in December 2014.

words

 

Hummingbird (2)

humming moon-2

Hummingbird (2)

It embraces what the mind cannot.
To touch, to be
acquired in the way that light

is drawn to the seed’s
core, one must imagine
silence in the purity of

space – that emptiness between
thought and utterance – filled
with what precedes

intent. The movement
has no end; it is

the breath inhaling us all.

glasshummer

Hummingbird

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Hummingbird

The thought makes
trembling so

incomplete, a consequence
of knowledge attained. I look out

and see leaves flitting in the dusk,
the air closing around them

like the mouth of an old well
swallowing light. Such

hunger we find difficult
to comprehend. The wind shivers

through our lives and repeats itself,
though differently each time.

Every departure is a return.

“Hummingbird” made it’s first appearance on the blog in December 2014. I wrote it in the 1980s, probably between 1987-1989.

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Poems Live at The Big Windows Review

 

scarecrow and crow

 

My poems “Scarecrow’s Wealth” and “Cells” are live at The Big Windows ReviewThank you to editor Thomas Zimmerman for supporting my work, and to Charles Payne for sponsoring/inspiring the scarecrow poem. 

 

The Mathematics of Dying

grackles


The Mathematics of Dying

Always the sense of negation, of winnowing those bits you once were.

The male grackle struts and displays his tail feathers.

Everything slanting towards null, even the treetops.

The female’s smaller body lacks blue overtones.

A misread signal, the unheeded warning, ignored pain.

Counting beaks, adding wings, subtracting heartbeats.

The image I possess magnifies with age, observing protocol.

An annoyance or plague, their song grows harsher with time.

Your eleven shadows still point to the noontime sun.

* * *

“The Mathematics of Dying” is included in my mini-digital-chapbook, Interval’s Nightpublished in December 2016 and made available via free download by Platypus Press in their 2412 series.

dial

After Before

mantis

After Before

A return to that
time when silence

reigned. The neighbor’s
guinea fowl have long

departed, but three cedars
drop needles in the driveway

even as reluctant growth
pushes out from the oaks’

limbs. Nothing circles
below the clouds, no

roosters crow. Feeders
hang still and empty.

The wrens remain
cloistered. You read

these events as separate
birdless chapters, all

hushed in the dappled
air, passages carried

yet confined by nearly
soundless threads

suspended from the
persimmon tree. You admit

a status as sentient
protein, one meal among

many, while you rest
and absorb

the soft ticking
of eighteen eager

juvenile mantises
on the porch screen.

feeder

“After Before” first appeared here in December 2015.