Awakened, He Turns to the Wall (Cento)
Then, everything slept.
Where were you before the day?
You see here the influence of inference,
whereby things might be seen in another light,
as if the trees were not indifferent, as if
a hand had suddenly erased a huge
blackboard, only, I thought there was
something even if I call it nothing,
like the river stretching out on its
deathbed. No one jumps off.
* * *
A cento is composed of lines from poems by other poets. This originated from pieces by: Larry Levis, Jacques Roubaud, Lorine Niedecker, Gustaf Sobin, Denise Levertov, Elizabeth Spires, William Bronk, Vicente Huidobro, Ingebord Bachmann
For further information and examples of the form, you might peruse the Academy of American Poets site: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-cento
As in a day’s long
or with cold drink
shrinking, a little
some salt, her
relax, put up
I’ll take care
a full moon
Dream of Wheels and Lights
Bells clang in the night. The lamp post belted
by mist offers little comfort. A stone’s
toss away junipers curved like melted
spoons shudder silently. There are no phones
in this place. A thought sneaks into your mind
quietly, like a straw piercing the oak’s
armor in a bad wind. You turn and grind
the thought with your heel. A wheel rolls by, spokes
flashing like scythes. Crouching by a puddle
a man studies his face. He looks at you
and cries: “All I want is to be subtle.”
You think you know him, but you’re not sure who
he used to be. You throw a rock and shout
at him. The wheel slows and the light burns out.
Originally published in Amelia, in 1985, and posted here in March 2015. I remember writing this, but it still puzzles me.
All the Little Pieces
How to rewind
the subtle shift of shard
laid between night’s
and the morning’s first
glow. Take this
lantern. Set it
on the wall. Remove
the glass. Do not
light the candle.
My last five posts of 2016 will be reruns of the five most viewed poems on this site during the year. Number three made its appearance here in early June.
That year we learned the true language of fear.
I baked boule and you haunted medical sites.
You said to arrive I must first depart
or be willing to suffer self-awareness. Let’s not
mention our pact just yet. My basic boule requires a
Dutch oven, 20 ounces of flour, water, yeast and salt.
At twenty I learned the finer points
of sausage-making, how to butcher chicken, and
that your hair smelled like dawn’s last flower.
Back then we owned the night. Now I harvest
wild yeast and sharpen pencils, make to-do lists,
pour Chianti, run numbers. I agreed
to your proposal. It would be a kindness, you said.
The pancreas produces hormones
and aids digestion. I chopped off my left thumbtip
and a year later the abscission point
still felt numb. After rolling the dough
into a ball, let it proof for an hour in an oiled bowl.
We shared a taste for sharp cheese
but never agreed on pillows. You loved
down comforters and found vultures fascinating.
Years together honed our lives
but we never considered what that meant. Score
the dough, bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on,
remove the lid and bake for another 15.
Kneading resembles breathing: in,
out. Rise, fall. Bright lights made your eyes water,
so I kept them dimmed. You swallowed
and said “Tell me how to knead bread.”
With the heel of your right hand, push down
and forward, applying steady pressure.
The dough should move under your hand.
Within minutes it will transform.
* * *
“Bread” was first published in Extract(s) in April 2015.