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

In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End

pump

In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End

To fairly allocate irrigation resources, the Persians measured time with water,
sinking a bowl in a larger vessel and tallying the count with pebbles.

And what is time but counting, determining the number of units within a set?

The sum of beats between silences and their diminishing echoes?

Its symbol in the West grew from fig and ivy leaves, while early medical
illustrations depicted pine cone-shaped organs.

In most reptilians, the aorta receives only oxygenated blood.

Qanats pump by gravity. The hagfish’s second resides in its tail.

Recognize the empty as full. Squeezed shut, we open.
Contraction and flow, ejection, inflow, relaxation.

Emotion as electrical impulse. Murmuring valves. The color red.

The fifth chamber remains silent and undetected.

The primitive fish’s chambers are arranged sequentially, but in an S-shape.
Ancients believed arteries transported air through the body.

The Buddhist figure, too, originated in leaves, symbolizing not love

but enlightenment. The ache of failure confounds us.

mechanical heart

“In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End” was first posted here in May 2016.

As Breath Defines Constriction

corona

 

As Breath Defines Constriction (Solar Wind)

The snake swallows itself, integrating the opposite. Or, illustrating the
nature of earthquakes, encourages conjecture.

Wind meditation. The practice of circling mountains, of emptying oneself.

Matter accelerating away from the sun. The prickly pear on the roof.

The Tendai monks of Hiei run 40 kilometers each day for 100 consecutive days.
Only then may they petition to complete the thousand-day trial.

Coronal mass ejections temporarily deform the Earth’s magnetic field.

I sweat while driving to the store for cold beer.

The heliopause is the point at which the solar wind’s strength is no longer
sufficient to push back the interstellar medium.

No matter its destination, a comet’s tail always points away from the sun.

At which point does one hear the sound of sunlight entering stone?

They must complete the thousand-day challenge or die. To this end,
each monk carries a knife and length of rope on his journey.

A map is simply paper. Solar wind, cord of death.

Stones in the path, quivering earth. Eyes focused ahead.

***

“As Breath Defines Constriction” is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press publication, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, available on Amazon.

 

stones

Palinode (soubasse)

corn

 

Palinode (soubasse)

In the land of two-dollar mornings, those things
we barely sense take precedence: uncaressed
skin sheathed in ivy, the punctuation mark diverting
power. Insidious corn, the cries of distressed trees
(cavitation in the xylem), soubasse, the ghost note,
prickling from below. Singularity. The appointee’s
hubris. The defining weight of a zero’s center.

A zero’s center defines emptiness, meaning nothing,
or, diverted light, a vacuum. Regard plenum: an air-filled
space, or a complete gathering of a legislative body. And
how did we arrive here from there? From the body we
compose units of measure: an ell, digit, fathom, the mile’s
thousand paces. I expose film to light, concealing yet
establishing a rational point.

Concealing the point implies position without extension,
a moment shedding its cracked sheath and giving rise
to the divine: above, below, male and female, hot or
cold. Reconciliation. A plateau. The still place linking the
infinite to the open hand, limitless black. Burning, I
calculate oxidation and dispersal, tendrils, a flaxen leaf,
its proposition to endings.

 

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in ditch, in January 2014, and was posted here in September 2016..

 

hubris

After Reading That Dogs Relieve Themselves in Alignment with the Earth’s Magnetic Field, I Observe and Take Notes

  

After Reading That Dogs Relieve Themselves in Alignment with the Earth’s Magnetic Field, I Observe and Take Notes

Perhaps Ozymandias is an anomaly. He shows no
preference for the north-south axis while pooping,
and may hedge his bets slightly to the east when
urinating, especially at twilight. Clara the miniature
Schnauzer, ever Germanic in her manner, preferred
true north, always, while blind, deaf, humpbacked
Maury pointed his rear right leg forward, to the south.
Jackboy the cattledog was an omnidirectional reliever,
as is the Chihuahua, Apollonia, although she twists and
snaps at blinking fireflies in mid-squat, never connecting
with the dancing, lighted beetles. I do not recall the
bulldog’s habits, but Scotch trended towards the untidy
in all else, and expended as little energy as possible,
often leaning against the house while peeing on it. I
cannot say which direction my next scientific inquiry
will take, but I will, as always, follow the dogs’ lead.

This poem was written during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. Many thanks to Susan Nefzger for sponsoring the poem. She is NOT to blame for the title or the contents of the poem…

Scarecrow Believes

Scarecrow Believes
 

What is a ghost if not misplaced energy,
an apprehension or the sum of invisible integers
and the properties they possess? I preside over
this sea of maize, tracking clouds, noting patterns
up high and among the flowing stalks, absorbing
minutiae, assigning connections, piecing together bits,
moment to thought, soil to trickle, flutter to gain.
Energy. Inertia. Waves, converted. If I had a bed
I would not neglect to look under it. The closet door
would remain open, a nightlight positioned nearby
with perhaps a mirror or two angled to offer clarity,
and the radio tuned always to jazz, providing little
purchase to any ill-intentioned spirit. The power of
beauty transfixes, even as it carries me far from my
station, from hilltop to plains to glowering moon.
If neither place nor reason, what consumes
our spiritual remnants, what directs our currents
to the next, and each successive, landing? Crows
have long been considered conduits to the afterlife,
but they exist here, in the now. I do not perspire but
fix my gaze on numbers and their tales, on zero and
the history of nothing, on unseen fingers walking up
my spine, shedding a residue of snow, of mercury
and latent images and dormant seeds in the world
underfoot, acknowledging the wonders of what
can’t be proven, what won’t be held or seen. Still, I
add and subtract, unclench my fingers and accept the
quiet, caught forever within the limits of the boundless,
under the sky, in space, within the improbable.

 

“Scarecrow Believes” was published in May 2017 in GFT Presents: One in Four, a semiannual, print literary journal published by GFT Press.

 

 

 

The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn

 

The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn

We have always absorbed heaven,
even through these days of malformed
grain and truth pulled dark and low:
variety confirms purpose. This ear

captures no sound. These inflorescences
produce starch. Those
release pollen. You will die one day.

Inaction reflects uncertain intent.
One must weigh frost,
and with their shallow
roots, susceptibility to drought, poor

soils and high wind. Your lips
kiss steel more readily than flesh, yet
I pray that you amend your thoughts
and accept my proffered hand,

that the individual fruits of the cob
may one day fuse into a single mass,
bringing weight to sunlight,

and a greater grain to your table. But
the door stands unopened, a voice
censuring the innocent. I contemplate
converted light, consider

crows, subduction and rags flapping
in the darkness, silent
tongues wavering unseen above the

unhoed dirt, within each kernel’s
purpose, deep into a hollow core,
raging, unmet and shriveled,
hands opened, resolute yet proud.

The title is from a traditional song, as performed by Alison Krauss and Union Station. The poem is my take on it. “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” was included in GFT Presents: One in Four, a semiannual, print literary journal published by GFT Press.