Heroes

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Heroes

And the rain, again, takes up our day,
folds it into threes, and watches
as the world wraps up its gift,
first at the edges, then centered,
with more confidence and force
than justified. Who will forget
the hollow horse and its stifled
coughs, the stench of men too
long unbathed and drenched
in fear. Or the small girl running
naked, arms outstretched, skin
peeling, her life become a litany
of pain embroidered across
the unfeeling sky. Do not thank me
for your freedom, the mortgage
and its tax breaks, your designer
shoes. We didn’t bleed for you.

“Heroes” first appeared in Blue Fifth Review. Many thanks to editor Sam Rasnake for accepting this piece.

You Are the Wind That Trusted

cave painting

You Are the Wind That Trusted

The barriers I could not place, the incomplete lines and unmouthed
verbs registered in stone, saying I am here,

as if taw were born in evil, and not the fruit of the need to mark.

At what velocity must sand scour these walls to obliterate the hand’s
intent? How may we gauge design? Galileo’s thermoscope

crudely measured temperature variation, but in 1612 Santorio added a numerical scale.

For centuries, T did not produce a miniscule and stood tall in its singular representation.

Hydrated iron oxide, mixed with bone marrow and charcoal, yields
ochre, a formula that predates writing.

Development, not invention.

T’s varying structure may be one of sequence and slippage.

Thermoscopes were open ended tubes dependent upon air pressure.
Celsius originally proposed a scale with 0 at the boiling point.

A cruciform. The capped spike. Blended tongues.

Complexity intrudes with every step: smoke-darkened ceiling.

***

This appeared on the blog in February 2016. A slightly different version appeared in Otolith in fall 2013.

thermo

Galveston, 1900

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Galveston, 1900

First the wind, then a tide like no other
uprooting the calm,

a visage tilted back in descent
as if listening for the aftermath.

And later, the gardener’s lament
and the building’s exposed ribs,

light entering the eternal
orchard, nine children tied to a cincture.

Not even the earth could retain its bodies,
and the sea remanded those given to its care.

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“Galveston, 1900” first appeared here in January 2015.

Deep History & Old Childhood: 3 New Poems at Isacoustic

Follow Tim Miller on three distinctive jaunts at Isacoustic!

word and silence

Immense thanks to Barton Smock, who just published three of my poems at Isacoustic. You can read them here. They are among my favorites from the past few years, and so it’s wonderful to see them all together; whatever it is I’ve been trying to say with history and mythology, landscape and autobiography, are all there. 

Thanks also and obviously and endlessly to my wife, Jenny, who is the “you” addressed in the poems from Orkney. There is no better companion, travelling or otherwise.

Barton’s own poetry can be found at Kings of Train, and is well worth a look; as are other familiar names he’s published at Isacoustic: Daniel Paul Marshall, and Robert Okaji.

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A Brief History of Babel

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A Brief History of Babel


Borders, windows.
Sound.

Trudging up the steps, I am winded after six flights,
my words smothered in the breathing.

The Gate of God proffers no favors.
When the spirit gives me utterance, what shall I say?

Curiously, no direct link exists between Babel and babble.

A collective aphasia could explain the disruption. One’s
inability to mouth the proper word, another’s
fluency impeded by context.

A stairway terminating in clouds.

Syllable by twisted syllable, dispersed.

Separated in symbols.
And then,
writing.

To see the sunrise from behind a tree, you must face
east: higashi, or, a discrete way of seeing
the structure of language unfold.
Two characters, layered. One
thought. Direction.
Connotation. The sun’s
ascent viewed through branches
as through the frame
of a glassless
window.

Complexity in simplicity.
Or the opposite.

I have no desire to touch heaven, but my tongues reach where they will.

Who can know what we say to God, but God?

And the breeze winding through, carrying fragments.

 

* * *

 

My poem, “A Brief History of Babel,” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was subsequently published at Bonnie McClellan’s International Poetry Month celebration in February 2017.

Scarecrow Questions

scarecrow

Scarecrow Questions

Though my tongue withers from disuse and
drought, I taste from across the sea astringent
smoke and the progeny of a hundred bullets
buzzing by like misguided insects through
the theater of the dying, and I question how
pride and greed, hubris and fear, unwind their
cords to detonate these differing yet tangled
lines. How to fathom such depth of mistrust?
The Christian paints her door frames azure, a
Muslim carpets his tile floor, the Jew panels his
walls, yet among each, various segments clash,
and all of their houses implode. I feel nothing,
yet shiver throughout the sun-blazed afternoon.
Then I consider the structure of zero, whether its
body contains or extracts, negates or compromises,
hollows out duplicates within duplicates, exorcising
with a blade so sharp as to peel away memory from
those it crosses without the faintest murmur. Gone.
Erased. Banished to never having been. I neither
breathe nor digest, but I absorb and recall. How do
you so willingly forget history? This post determines
my destination, but not my destiny, not tomorrow’s
promise, nor the returning birds and faith, the long
nights, their stars, their deaths, the following days.

Eifel

“Scarecrow Questions” first appeared here in February 2016.

Endurance, 1946

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Endurance, 1946

Unaware of the day’s movements, she paints her
reply to the bracelet of light flaring above

the horizon. Tomorrow’s edict is gather,
as in retrieving a sister’s bones in black

rain, reassembling in thought
a smile that could not endure despite

its beauty. I seek a place
of nourishment and find empty bowls.

What is the symbol for peace, for planet?
How do we relinquish the incinerated voice?

Under the vault of ribs lie exiled words, more
bones, and beneath them, relentless darkness.

And whose bodies mingle in this earth?
Whose tongue withers from disuse?

The eight muscles react to separate stimuli,
four to change shape and four to alter position.

Turning, she places the brush on the sill
and opens the window to the breeze.

Exit the light, exit all prayer. Ten strokes
form breath. She does not taste the wind.

Atomic Bomb Dome_03

“Endurance, 1946” first appeared here in January 2015.