Edwin Honig: The Imminence of Love (1993)


I The Imminence of Love
The Recognition
Santa Teresa
Below Mount Zion
As It Is
Night Flight
Apollo in the Defeated Town
Looking for the Son of Minos
The Silence
Who She Was
A Single Love
Remembering Hornets
Words in the Hallway
For Abe Honig at 95
How Morning Comes
Leftover Seed
Light Changes
After a Poem by Luis Cernuda
Late Wedding Dance
Imaginary Loves
The Learned Body (in the Style of Her Century)

II So Much Floating Underneath
Cries from Home in China
Pessoa's Last Masquerade
Remember the Famous Chinese Water Torture?
Cathedral Country
A Late Visit to Robert Graves
History of the Book
From the Dark
Emptying the Bead
God Talk
The Old New War
The Shout
Now and Then
Bagatelles I
Bagatelles II
Bagatelles III
When the time arrived. . .

IV The Flimsy Mountain Stream Waltzes through the Meadow
Under Sirius
Making the Rounds in the Hugged House of Mind
Mao's Snow
God Is My Eraser
Making It
Some Knots
A Country Tale
Moles Progress
October Out of Jaffrey

V Assuming Survival
Beginnings are Fragile
In the Mojave
Origins of the Universe
The Insufferable Allness of What Was
Assuming Survival
Near the Pacific, Earth Dreams


The Imminence of Love

The Recognition

coming to you
emerging from shyness
tender as milk

a speechless embrace

one hand slipping
lightly down
the broad back

to the buttock
of you
rounded deftly

the promise awaiting
the testing

the breathlessly
faithful beginning
already turning

the mouth
stealthily glimpsed
open unguarded

on the lips
the burst
of newfoundness

a taste of the possible
love to be born

Santa Teresa

I love my fever
It is god in my mouth

My limbs he ploughs
arms and brow ache

Cracked lips for kissing
slow down my sides

Raining all over me
bearing him

Man lover god
we rise to a star

Till I
no longer am


(listening to
the dream of selves
unwinding whirling through
astronomies of silence
passing and dissolving
till by morning rising
myself kissed by daylight
wondering how it all
so many selves containing
can still be only one
and one only standing
without falling
without flying
without dying)


for Darline Miller

Below Mount Zion

A fast flowing sheep herd rippling by
between the high stone wall
and the chasm of the valley town,
the red setter alongside, pausing
to keep pace, guiding guiding,
and in the rear a small
quick-stepping burro bobbing to
the quarrel-laughing boy and girl
twinned in the tight-fitting saddle.

As It Is

A dare of sunlight hoists the day,
the feet trip again,
the chest heaves hope,
and small thoughts chortle
making headway.

You dream replies to a candid smile
reckoning on her return.

With eyes bubbling in the kitchen,
the glowing body to be met,
the quiet nibbles of contentment,
the whole day trundles off to bed.

Night Flight


He was flown out of a dump,
closed in a plane
and flown out,
wings tight and still.

Being moved and unmoving,
blank space crept through him,
moving him where
as a child
his mind saw the world
fly out of his body,
being someone
between himself now
and himself to come.

As time moved out
he felt used for a part,
the plane his still body,
the sound of it moving,
part of his mind.

Being larger in thought,
a crawler through
waking and sleeping,
his body turned eye
reeling with images.

Then in a flicker
time stepped into his body,
stealing his skin,
unraveling inside the giant,
eyeless and eaten,
weightless, unclaimed.


A lithe body radiance
lit up the aisle
unknown to others.

It was she,
fading in for a voice
from a dark much further beyond
than thought.

He let wishing harden
then bow into place in his mind,
till from across him
the thought of speaking began.

Move towards me,
move closer.

And there she was,
body and voice
bent towards his eyes
over the aisle.

The stiller his body
the closer her voice,
the darker the stillness
the clearer he saw her --
round lip, long thigh,
breast straining cloth.

Here, here by my side.

Words barely spoken
let her rise,
cross the aisle,
slip in at his side.

You are the flesh to erase me.

Body of one,
any of one hundred thousand,
flung from a dress on a chair

Take me and give me yourself
but never your hurt
or you change me.

Wake me, dazzle me more,
so I can be all I seem.

Her voice
highsprung in his ear
and they talked.


They were one on a voice string
dangling their bodies,
listening eyes bent off the chat
to change it, be tangent,
dip and dive into,
silently sweating
to capture and clutch,
then pump the news
for generations.

Tangling their voices crackled
with unvoiced ideas,
gritting a bit
to brave them out in the open,
half crumpling
their web of defiance,
tongues lolling
and lying with drink.

Darkness befriending,
he moved once to touch her,
maybe to enter.

She stopped once unmoved,
then went on
talking unaided.


How long could she take him
and draw him out piecemeal?
How much could he give her,
part gift and part loan,
till he'd given it all away?

She'd take what would fit
her pocket, and later discard
all but a pebble to smile at.
Opaque, shiny and dead,
he'd live outside her body.

Later in moments of blankness,
he'd yearn to bear her in body,
Aphrodite washed up
on a soft-shelled idea
she had claimed for her own.

Still wanting to be her body,
there to deceive her and there
to conceive her alone, with mind
threading mind, till owning
her in him, he grew still

in the dark flown down.
Plane landed, they were
vomited out with the others,
without birth pangs, unaware
that they'd all been reborn.

Apollo in the Defeated Town

(on some lines by Yannis Ritsos)


The statue's red lips
drip with the spit
of abandoned wives.

Yesterday they curled up
in beds where
the foreign soldiers slept

sheets still warm
from bodies
marching off that morning.


At noon some dead men passed
draped over wheelbarrows --
one preposterously handsome

as if pledged to love
and the women ran after it
dresses immodestly torn

hair flying in the wind
grazing the wheelbarrow
all the way to the grave.


On the road one woman fell
into the thorny rosebushes
blowing in the sea air.

Having stopped using make-up
her full mouth droops
her jet eyes squint --

and beauty rises
menacing as a wave
that will never drop.

Looking for the Son of Minos

That day in August when she heard me speak
-- to whom? -- no one was really in the bedroom.
A huge palm frond kept banging
at the window. In the chalk-blue pool
rimmed with rust, last night's
revelers' discard -- crumpled condoms,
punctured diaphragms -- floated joyless
waiting for the dredger's net.

Without a knock, she was in
the open doorway like a tease
of weightless voile. I'm sorry,
I didn't know there was someone else.

"Ariadne, please!" I used her real name.
"Look for yourself. There's no one here!"
When she slammed the door and vanished
I knew the story would never end.

The Silence

I listened
and waited a long time
for what was to be said

And nothing spoke
but a silence so deep
it could be speech

or some primed hesitance
of speech to say
what's true

for ear and mind
as yet unborn
to take it in

so the longer
and deeper
it grew

the more
the unbroken silence
felt full

Who She Was

hears you
beyond yourself
swept off
where words
mean nothing

who was herself
as you are now
on the words
you sing

for all who heard
through you
as if to say
what matters
is what you wrote
and still
is heard

sing again
she hears
through you
sing it

she hears you


A Single Love

How in the dark
will the dull veins

the twisted eyes
the broken face

to smile
a moment

her sunken

How to make
the collapsed face
live again

How to bring
the savor back
of her intentness

and in her breath
to taste

the long

she lived in --
the aura of
unfulfillable desire

and see in her
unshut eye
the lost gleam

return as once
her bright glance

a fastening of
the sheaves
of all her questions


What's left
sometimes speaks

to us

What the dead
smile said
we can't construe

nor ever know
what lay there

and alert
in the mind

to sow
the hopeful

to become
all hers
all her again

in the moment
of her smile


To lug her
through time

we fasten
on what a day

with castoffs
at the end

in still

a voiceless
a silent

of the light
to darkness

with all daylight
to go down

and touch


How to stay
by any body

any thing
but the shadow
of the fire

to be relit
her footstep

still unfallen
suddenly heard
and piecemeal

brings heart
and limbs

to shape
that day

that year
another life
a single love

Remembering Hornets

Watching their struggle with the rain to keep themselves aloft by dancing in place (simply to avoid decimation in the downpour?) recalls how routinely life, at any moment, may topple you to the ground and splatter you down the drain. Yet the frenzy of the hornets made such a peevish movement in the steady rain!

1 Through the Window

Late afternoon light
stretching the meadow
to a stand of birches
way beyond the house
sometimes stops you
as if to freeze your eyes

If you watch closely
and keep it all in mind
they'll be there
they say forever.

Still you leave them
neglecting to forget
or to remember any.

It is only on returning
in a momentary dazzle
of the light
falling squarely
on the kitchen clock
that a sense of ending
touches you.
You see your eyes go purple
harden into black.

This is the truth
you think
like someone's deathday
and I am living
past it.

You watch the sunlight
easing by the yard
and there's nothing
really to forget
or to remember.

2 Something Answers

Some things may be gone
when you get back --
other hornets dancing
in the rain
and the momentous morning
come to change
your blacked-out eyes
of yesterday

Still where would they go
to hide
now that you have other eyes?

What purpose conceives
what eyes see daily
and what they never see?

Sometimes they fall away
then snap back to niggle
over every object in decay.

Make do without them?
Better do away with stone
the legendary lastingness
that bites itself to death.

Or do away with undersidedness
refuser of the light --
it is friends with moisture
accomplice of the acid
that will crack and crumble it.

you are hindered
in every strait
where mud ripples
to a standstill
though starting there
new life warms again.

3 What Good Are Eyes?

the word for salt
the sel
the sal
the Salz
and the brief taste of it
on the tongue

the coarse feel of it
on your hand
brushing the slight spill
off your knee

the grapple of petty thought
with consciousness
slips away

and you suddenly appear
the master of that gesture
never needing
to repeat it.

Can it be
that everything you throw away
ennobles you
even as you falter
and diminish

even as the body
dresses and undresses
disbelieving nakedness?

Is it the same
with restless solitude
excavating loneliness

when even the eyes
become unfriendly
regretting the time they waste
in looking what to pick
that can't tell
what to look at?

4 Being One

Is it the same
with passion
threading through
the lust to be another
and another's

unable to assume the self

except the naked one
who lives in mirrors
reflecting on himself

or someone underwater
watching surface ripples
who dreams he is reliving
what was never there
to live?

Is it the same with shadows
like the one abandoned
in ancient childhood
which still follows
and would comfort
and commingle with you
to become its single self?

Old shadow
can you be my younger brother
the one destined to discover
first and last
how little it once took
to be alone forever?

5 On the Moon

On the salty edges
of a moon crevasse
tire streaks in crater dust
still lie untouchd
with lazy swirls
of moonmen's giant bootprints.

The habits of the moonmen
briefly here
were anything but remembering hornets.
Hornets if they survived
inside a spacecraft
surely would have perished
in soft landing on the moon.

Still hornets in the mind
may be remembered on the moon.

Pale summits in the distance
diffused in static light
call for some movement
of the common life
here where nothing
needing blood or lungs
can live unaided.

What should men do here
aping moverent
removed from time
that has no guide
to be itself?

is eaten soundlessly
by what is not alive.

6 Down to Earth

Recalling men and women in their sleep
evolving towards each other
timed to flights of breath
by counterbeat of heart and blood

recalling them in skin recovering
lumps of sullen memory
like corpses the rippling
flood heaves up

in sleek long-absent bodies
that reach for one another
with endearments pulsing wordless
as hornets in the rain

you recall the sudden lull
of couples rising and retreating
in the tides. Were they alerting
one another how to die?

Where could they have learned to open
body unto body recreating flesh
yearning to liquefy
before becoming residue?

After so much recalled so many tried
and quietly subsiding in the mind
truth at first touch still burrows
like a crab blackening in mud.

Words in the Hallway

In the speckled dark
they start crisscrossing,
letting a lightness intervene
as if to break dead silence,
bringing back another year --
from windowsills
the dripping icicles
just begun,
the steaming horses outside
stamping snowbanks by the curb.

Another night awakes
another restless foretime,
the hopefulness appearing now
almost too much --
stirring the compacted hurt and joy
bustling at the door,
the indrawn breath
before her knock.

O that late night
so close
to her last time as herself
before she would never wake
yet could not stop putting
the dinner things away.

-- Let me in, love.
-- But I'm no longer home.

For Abe Honig at 95

(from Edwin at 70)

Halt age and admire a wonder
that will release you tomorrow.
The dark has no secret
we did not put there.
Wonder is earth bearing
and sharing to bury
goodness and filth together.

Time is a wonder that gives
nothing back you haven't
left behind. Time's
wonder is carrying off
everything mobile to rest.
Age is the hope of creeping past.
Halt, age, admire and wonder.

When did this start and how
do I know what and
to whom plainly to tell
such things? Have you halted?
Then listen: I am the slice
of your heart that still speaks
after the rest is gone.

September 3, 1989

How Morning Comes

In early dawn across sea water
the light streaks as to love
Fisher with angel
as in the beginning
need and joy
so precise
they are
almost invisible

Fisher flies with flung line
as angel still
only partly
bows down
not to drown
but be one
with water

Quick love darter
fisher casts to catch
as in fable light and water
to make fish
want to be

Such motions of affection
stir light's first battle
as the swimming catch
feints and tangos
towards the dropped line
the sinker
all the yieldings
the stringings out
the right tauntings
the bite
the snap
the taut tug
the writhings
blood in foam
with caught lip
tongue tight between
and the swift
gone stiff

which to come whole again
to hand
to land
in fisher's home
over whose

the risen angel is
all air

Leftover Seed

Tossed off in bed
the wedding gown lies crushed
beside itself

farther and farther
on the slow boat home
the island speck
a continent of desire

Why we went there
and when we started back
two angels wrestling
two Jacobs
at the vanished ladder

Nobody chooses
but to hesitate
then settles in
to live with it
all his
all her livelong days

Mother once for all
left behind
a crumbless kitchen
her presence hefted
from the low-income highrise
into the rescue wagon
with her faulty heart

In Durer's Virgin and the Dragonfly
before the little wooden gate
the low-slung wall
makes the distance almost intimate
where up front
she dandles her begotten cherub
in the light
pouring from the old man in the sky
clawing her sole delight

There's an old imagining
tall trees have a hankering
to search the ground
for companion seed
that failed to root
and maybe
this is why some trees
are seriously bent
and others throw their branches
on the ground
or keel over totally
to moulder
for another growing

Light Changes

She sails in silence
paralleling darkness
plucked out of
wind corridors
of whittled trees
still dissembling
for the swift thrust
the assault
like all brute wishes
with darkness
its fake solidity
split open
its hard lines cracked
about to fall
as a sudden soaking
melds all
in daylight coming


Still far away
her summer comes
hesitant and limping
no warning call
her responding
barely felt
as if acknowledgment
would spoil it
as if some being
immobile in impacted winter
awaited a beckoning
so she could leap
to the unscrambling woods
the still gray departings
of their deciduous
ten billion year old self
so long tense
in softening rain
it never shows
in miniscules of growing
its still living
with the dead


The world before she sailed
granted no legs
which afterward
she would not need
Long wings
kept her up
quick beak
sunk in meat
gave her flying blood
and sailed with her
when silence darkened
and the wind she sailed
was not she


Then only she became
the silence
when deaf winds roared
through clouds
wet leaf-fall
Flexed and split
the drubbed tree limbs
went soft
and sun shot
fanning out
before it dropped
to shred darkness
under raying light
and she
made no sign
of going down
in her long cry
gone up
to sail again

After a Poem by Luis Cernuda

I've come to find glances
like tracings in the sand
of long brooms.
I've come to see far-away
shadows tilt towards me.

I've come to find walls
now standing vaguely
sprawl on the ground.
I've come to see things
dozing before me.

I've come to find oceans
in small wicker baskets,
all works of hands,
roofs and doors, virtues
just leaching out.

I've come to see death
swing its butterfly net.
I've come with arms raised
in the air to find you.
I've come, not knowing why.

Today I opened my eyes. I'm here.

Late Wedding Dance

Come feel me now feel this me
on first awakening at last to you

remembering all the years it took
(alas) you now (with wings) arrive

in bride-arising splendor wholly you
(next to cocky me) -- this you

no more the slyly primping starlet
half-dressed dream girl

beckoning her leading man
to feel her good for feeling real

No more blinded in between
my taker wakes to lift me whole

and learn to do this sheerest dance
wherever eye can reach

Our swiveling eye-to-eye desiring
dips us this way dips us that

knowing everything we do and may
is all a dance for making do

and know how well we do it

Imaginary Loves

One October morning
walking to school
as if for the first time
(on tiptoe)
bright air building
a new sun
through sky's open
I felt someone
walking alongside
take my hand
like a gift
children pick up

I smiled
without a thought
and he smiled back
Was he not me
or was it him
I imagined
I'd grown into

I wish I could love easy
the way you do --
with a catch
in your voice
breathing my name

I wish I could stop
not daring to say
I love
Then maybe I'd hear
a child in the wind
speaking your name
no longer scared
of letting my mouth say
I love you! I love...

Suppose that I could
Suppose now I would
imagine I can --
I could...

but I can't

In December snow
I watched flakes
coming down so fast
they fell upward
as if to appall
the trees they wrapped
both sides at once --

trees that eons
had deepened and raised
branch after branch
now heavily clothed
in cold
they scarcely noticed
they were sleeping

Snow stopped the world
pathless with mazes
and runnels
only my eyes
skittered along

The Learned Body

(in the style of her century)

If loving you
so well had had
some issue
all these years
we'd be parents
time & time again

We loved for pleasure
of your loving &
of being loved
& in this
there was & is
no measure

to dispose us or
enclose us &
no boundary any-
where beyond us
but the world we
bring each other

our center in
unopposed by
any given
square of walls in

My love wanted
to be yours before
you were another's
though yours became
my own because
there were others

before we met
One taught you
ageless learning
in slow delight
as body burned
to graduate

the other past
coitus laved
with sperm as in
retreat the body
turned in deeper

Now at the core
we find for
all it sees
this love's not blind
the body learning
all post graduate


So Much Floating Underneath

Cries from Home in China

First the bird about to sing
the blueness vast around him
women in the river washing clothes
traffic beginning on the bridge
open rusty lorries lumbering by

all sounds he could just make out

Then trying not to waken
thinking who else would hear them
if it was no dream
who but he could see
so much floating underneath

Till the bird suddenly was nowhere
and the women washing clothes
the river and the bridge gone by
and just the empty daily sky
with nothing else to witness

he thought he must be the sky

Pessoa's Last Masquerade

"Be admitted to the heart of your own self
dismissal," he proposed, choking on the effort to waken
the hidden one, the only shifter he kept subtracting,
more vehement, more drastic and diminished each day,
than he'd admit. (Admit? To whom? His selflessness?
The real self was his tool of scrutiny.) Lashed,
it cried, "Admit, admit!" but this he could not bear.

The shifter, now colliding with him, spat out: "Who are
you if not myself?" "Yourself --" he crowed, "therefore
a friend?" "Be nothing," it snapped at him again.
"Be yourself in silence but something less than a friend.
Be anything not your own, no selfless self prolonger.
Practice a face for life's sake but be someone else!"

A day to reckon with & he'd roused the last one just
to give it life, and with this, start something new:
the opening to let them . . . let out all the self
shifters fed daily on his remorseless words. Happening
so swiftly, so it passed, the last one to drift
way down through some pinpoint hole growing
in the remembered dark until he felt them all sucked in.

Then, with nothing to elude, nothing to feed in him,
the absence began & an absence, he saw, of all-become-him:
the one who might be, the one who was, the someone unborn
or long dead and never to come at him again.
Enemy friend admitted it, waking only for that,
with no words to forgive & as if even so little
were too much to give his briefly final being.

Remember the Famous Chinese Water Torture?

(for Nicolaus Kogon)

...on your mother's lap watching
the William S. Hart silent Western
of the big dusty old cowboy

sweaty head tilted forward to catch
the drip drip trickling
down the nape of the neck

strapped and gagged in a chair
with bad hombre greaser outside
aching to finish him off as soon

as he wriggles free to stagger
out of the cardboard shack
into the blinding daylight

eyes hotly clued that can take it
until the very last drop
when he is blown all over the map

Cathedral Country

What peeled back night is this
caught in the mist
with saints' heads shimmering
down in the pea vines
their golden haloes
shooting over the stars?

What milky blue eyes
follow the gnats
dancing in circlets
under midsummer fog
dispersing the towers
and all weathervanes stopped?

A Late Visit to Robert Graves

Sing fast
for the poet
who is eighty-eight
has stopped singing

gazing into the fire
speaking names
he alone hears.

Speak his name fast
for the poet's
quiet blue eye
follows his fingers
over the glass
turning the green
bright intimate wine

under the mountain
where he has been living
three thousand years

breathing the names
of the Celts and Iberians
back to the fire
backed into stone
where in the burn
he sees returning
the lies
in ten thousand faces.

Speak fast
for the poet
has almost stopped breathing
under his mind where
his gaze is sinking

into the light
that wavers under his feet
where the Achaians and Trojans
ripple their shell-blackened armor
the bone of their faces
eaten away.

His lips as we part
brush the back of our hand
and we kiss in turn
the hills of his knuckles.

The door closes behind
the poet curled up
by the fire
shutting his eye
in the stone.

And the world
is alone.

(for Elaine Kerrigan)

History of the Book

How books in their heedless bulk,
their numbing displacements of space and air
on a shelf, a table, or wedged back
of the bed, imprison the unforgivable
seething of infinitely humdrum finalities
until the fraying and closing
of faces blacken in darkness.

How books in their sullen entrapments
of the luckless and lost, paper the age
that's gone -- all thens and now, even
the one to come -- as page after page
unreconciled lives in their raddled remains
blot out the inklings of light they shed.

From the Dark

Under gray silt
in the eyeless deep
cries of the dead

slow fallen leaves
sunk from the surface
the river stills

Emptying the Bead

A weightless bead is falling
with swirling murky insides,
marrow of doused light,
falls and does not break.

Falls on hardest rind,
oldest earth, as on
a pillow, endless being,
colder than winter ground.

It was the gem sweat of mind
that went on lifelong dying
in strict containment, a tear
kept falling unalive.

It is the light of the soon
lost insight, the answer
that never shone, that was,
and trapped itself in Adam.

God Talk


Tell me
where the willow
and where
the runover dog
for comforting.

Tell me above the sweep
of rivers
the fishing is
and luck
for the fisherman

and in deeper flow
the weight
and play
of the lure
to hook
a tense mouth.

There let me live
to die
where I may
still eat
my fill
with god,
the caught fish.


Seek me
and all I know of time
to show you

the game played
in the barbed wire city
with the fallen

where what you seek
already sees you

who before rising
to answer time
still question

the dim dead
to live again

who pray only
to feel time
slip away again

while you and what
you know lie

by the stony brook
in the long weeds
and dry vervain.

Either believe me
or keep believing
nothing goes away.


If then and now are afterward
then everything's your history --
a legendary had-to-be.
Did you have to be?
Rebel heart, crawl back
to your narrowing space
and tick on.
Empty station, enter rain.
Empty rain, no train.
Empty heart, no tracks lain.
What is long kept crumbles.
Cold giant of the night sky
falls heavy with rain
into the melting ground.
Sun-up dust and fog
punish the windowpane.


Who could and did not
didn't and would not.

Who wasn't and would be
target and arrow,
dutiful hand, punishing fist,

learned to resist and desist
grown past the wanting.

The Old New War

Backed into barren winter
I think of plenty stored
inside abandoned houses
near the shore
that loll on stilts
barnacled and silvery green imagining the appetite
of absent hurricanes
come sniffing in
to batter and consume.

The sloping Stone Age boulder ocean-liner size
opening on the road behind invites lost histories
back to loggers driving sleds down some erased
now heavily snowed-in trail.


Do lions beg permission
of their prey?
Some natives still do
who kill to eat

the hungry lion
till trophy hunters avid
for pride and prey
slide in.


Let the lioness protect her pride.
Even in drastic beginnings
there's time to play the cub
watching a slaughter of the innocents

in shady camouflage
paradisal to any being
living for the day.

Lives needing not to know
inside from out
drive into a sudden emptiness
where turkey buzzards
circling over prey to come
with springtime calving

trace in airy patterns
childhood's dream
of stringless gliding.

The Shout

Do you want me?
Do I want you?

Wanting to want
one another
we become
our parents
unselved in love.

Trying to be
we become

Wanting somehow
to be
each other's other
we stay
strictly apart.


When for yourself
you mutter
Can't we get closer?
I for myself
(pressed under years
of being another
to suit others
still churning
inside me)
will answer
I'm closer to you
than I am to myself.

Moving in for the kiss
I hear
through lips clenched
for a bite
that voiceless shout
Leave me alone.

Now and Then

(In Sarasota Suddenly Seen)

In Florida now till the world
in Pompeii then -- wiping its eyes
people breaks free
sauntering off once again
some in pursuit Now the pelican
some in retreat still
as if sun antediluvian bird
were an afterthought anachronistically

on the way up clacks a beak --
on the way down gray tongs
surely clamped over
without them some entrails

One day a fisher discards
catches fire after flaying
sooner the trout
than thought he just caught

The pursuer caught And one's heart
the retreater shrinks in black rain
found pouring under
unbreathing -- remonstrative thunder

last gesture as here and there
hand over mouth on stick feet
against a blue heron
the black fumes follows ashore

hard body glazed its particular meal
as if wading closer
to encase pausing intent
masterly stone then gazes stricken


Bagatelles I


Practically well
the first time
in years
(though you think yourself
barely alive)
when out
of the fog
comes the old dog
to squat --
who as you look
gets to be more & more
all there & now
maybe all
the rest of your life


After the skids
and bad starts
one night
your machine
turns itself on
Next day
in soft rain
dies the dog
with your darts
thrown in the dark
hung from his eyes


Nothing more prone than
the half-eaten dog
on your doorstep
in his heart
the smile
of a pig
just beginning
to eat him


That time
someone laughed
and you
stopped talking
she didn't
mean you
but something sure
made you think
you'd always
heard sounds
like hers
nobody else

Bagatelles II


We act as though art preceded us
and we caught onto meaning to handle it --
like the idea of cup
before cuppiness took hold
to have us drink out of it
or drank from bare hands
before hands knew to cup themselves.
What more do we need to quench thirst
than the lips and straight down the hatch?


When things suddenly happen
we think without thought.
We understand the ploy
that begs neighbor reason
to witness the act and slip in
with some blind superflash.


You might say Why do anything
if everything's possible --
while we still act as though
believing we'd be happy
if only we had an opening
to everything we wanted
when we wanted it.

Bagatelles III

(Integers of Ease and Unease)

1 2

On the note A question dies
of one on the questioner's
digits sleep lips

Zero hangs Transfixed
blood the answerer
in a fish's eye silenced it

Caught on a clump Sheer glass
a nosing lamb slices in
wets the grass between

Sweet catches Corners
in a throat cut down
spittle can't raise a mouth

A stalk cups Creeping light
the light unpries
a body sheds a window

We rise together At twelve
one third the sky crowds
of each other with eyes
When the time arrived it seemed no one but he had noticed

It was gray outside with rainy birds
cawing and tussling in the stubbled field

By the roadside somewhere in a tree
a watchful cardinal hopped thoughtfully to a higher branch

A lemon verbena abiding winter with its buds
was loosening tight pink sacs in the January rain

The growing time he'd barely noticed was now so much around
that even with eyes clued in
he could never follow it all --
proving maybe he was part of it

Much of what he was then was so far beyond him
that if he stopped to think of what the tiniest part must be
he'd lose his hold on where he stood

It all took more undivided living than he owned

The thought surprised him trudging there alone
It buoyed him up
He liked believing he belonged to growings
he'd had no control of beyond himself
With each so busy doing its thing
he seemed carried along almost for the fun of it

So when his time arrived maybe he'd just stop
and without a word drop out behind

Rain heavy heart lighter
he ran for shelter somewhere shouting

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