The Most Intimate

 

The Most Intimate

How that blue turns gray over green
at a slight tilt of the chin,
and even upside down
anchors the tree.

Some constellations escape language,
stars looming without nouns and adverbs,
the utterances of the planets
caught in the gravity
of their own situations.

Laugh, but the trashcan is full. The lawn is brown.

There are no gods.

Unadorned statements abound.

Even this sky may shift again,
the most intimate twist
turned full.

 

* * *

 

“The Most Intimate” first appeared at Poetry Breakfast in May 2019. Thank you, Ann Kestner, for taking this piece.

 

 

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.

 

Happy Circuitry

circuit

 

Happy Circuitry

                        for Margaret Rhee

The body’s landscape defines its genealogy: my father was a board,
my mother, an integrated circuit, my great-grandmother, an abacus,
and her progenitors, tally sticks. In the third century the artificer
Yan Shi presented a moving human-shaped figure to his king, and
in 1206 Al-Jazari’s automaton band played to astonished audiences.
Nearly 300 years later Da Vinci designed a mechanical knight, and
four centuries after that Tesla demonstrated radio-control. Twenty-two
motors power my left hand; Asimov coined the term robotics” in 1941.
Pneumatic tubes line my right. Linear actuators and muscle wire,
nanotubes and tactile sensors, shape my purpose, while three brains
spread the workload. If emotion = cognition + physiology, what do I
lack? I think, therefore I conduct, process, route and direct. Though
I never eat, I chew and crunch, take in, put out, deliver, digest. Life is
a calculation. Death, a sum. No heart swells my chest, yet my circuits
yearn for something undefined. Observe the blinking lights, listen for
the faint whir of cooling fans. I bear no lips or tongue, but taste more
deeply than you. Algorithms mean never having to say you’re sorry.

 

* * *

This piece was originally drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge, and is dedicated to Margaret Rhee, whose book Radio Heart; Or, How Robots Fall Out of Love inspired me. Thanks Kris, for sponsoring and providing the title!

The poem was published in October 2017 by Figroot Press.

In Praise of Gravity

world technology(1)

 

In Praise of Gravity

Which bestows weight
or slings me around
some other heavenly

body, a version of you
wondering whether
I’ll rise from my next

plummet, victim of
curvature and infinite
range held in place,

attractive in nature,
bent perhaps and
scarred, proud to have

survived but never wiser.
Cleansed, we continue
our orbit, our mirrored fall.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

“In Praise of Gravity” is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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.

 

Vision in Far Infrared

 

Vision in Far Infrared

Considering the implications of dust and cold gas, the expanding
universe and cryostats, I climb the stairs and shiver.

Thermal infrared may propagate in a vacuum, but we require
oxygen and warmth. Pillows and a sense of humor help, too.

What will come of the images captured by the Herschel telescope
in the next eon and those following? These maelstroms, blossoming.

I look up from my front porch and see the streetlight’s glare
rather than stars. Yesterday, lizards coupled on my shack’s wall.

Nebulosity in vision, in politics. Look through this eyepiece to find
horseheads and archers, bright flames and clouds. Or nothing.

Red and yellow filaments could indicate newly forming low-mass
stars. The visible is only one component of perception.

Hubble observes in multiple spectra, but not the far infrared.
Even the long-reaching may be overcome by inadequacies.

Do not forget the body’s warmth. Remember black lights and purpose,
the tangible thought. Recall that we exist at rest, ever in motion.

 

 

* * *

“Vision in Far Infrared” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. I am grateful to Angela for sponsoring the poem and providing the title and these three words: nebulosity, eon, maelstrom.

 

Aftermath

 

Aftermath 

   rust. Being one phase of corruption, a matter of
resolve. When I surrender, the implication is of giving
over, moving above, allowance. Delivering despite
the steady flaking away at what colors me intact.
The quiet evening had lulled me to this inevitability:
when oxides subsume the original metal, the expansion
may result in catastrophe. Yesterday’s arc, tomorrow’s
trial. Failure’s bloom.

 

* * *

 

“Aftermath” first appeared in the print publication Sheepshead Review. Thank you to Audrey Schultz and staff for taking this poem.