Spring in the Winter Garden
I’ve known you to be cross-eyed for a while now.
Like the flared fat pigeon on its crumbling
headstone, you mix your lefts
and rights until the whole world is less
stable than before. In the shops,
in the malls, they are folding
clothes into shapes that can never
be emulated in real life.
I guess we are all facing south when we die.
There is, ever so slightly, something
to be heard on this balcony.
I’ve watched others writing it down
in complicated twirls and all too ordinary
snapshots. I know that the backs
of their heads want to breathe.
Then again, I am all that strives to be,
but is not, more than too-tight pants
and curled hair.
We are taking notes on each other.
Dear Good Sir—
I am not dangerous. Kindly stop thinking it.
Sincerely yours, etc. etc.
This year we will not smoke in the hallways
or clack in high heels. I am meeting
only people too bored for me.
You have been one of them.
You are letting it be too obvious.
You are staring too much.
You cannot let it be known
that things have gone radio electric
in front of you. Keep a distance
and healthy swagger.
Otherwise, you will glint into the scene
and everything you’ve collected
in a dusty shoebox under a bed
will slip away into trash.
We are only the poses we can commit to being.
Secret doors and miniskirts meet
under your eyes. They rile against
your skin. Toys turn to roses
and sad hands are held.
I know you are hasty and that
you can’t stop actively being pretty.
This is how it all portraits—protests
and steamy hot mornings.
If I become cold or undernourished,
I will know it is because we have built
ourselves this winter garden,
but shattered its glass with our first breaths.
Poem on Talking to You
Out of a cut
in my arm I pull a dove,
a tightrope, a bright red sunset.
My arms are useless in this way.
Their gestures are worthless and awkward—
awkwardness the tragedy hovering over me,
resilient as fruit flies.
I’ve killed the impulse for natural reactions.
Pronunciation slips in and out—
I hardly know what I am saying.
Now in the back of the scene,
I don’t talk. I paint
my face to mean, “Stardust,
appleseed, march hare, revolution.”
The paint chips away
and blankets the area, nearly
as inconsequential as it could have been
in my head.
An international literary journal from 1984 to 2018, Verse now administers the Tomaž Šalamun Prize.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Thursday, February 03, 2011
NEW! Laura Larson & Brian Teare
There is neither God nor nature in photography. Like faith
a discrete series of disappearances; like God the abrading of
arrested motion—landscape is active absence, part of the
design. That’s why photography’s trees can never be the trees
of painting or of nature : we expect them to correspond to
themselves and then they slip, asymbolic, outside of religion,
outside of ritual until the upper limit of our nostalgia seems a
high green canopy and its lower a mat of rust-colored needles
so thick and acidic it permits no undergrowth, a perspective
intended for reverie. Nature is essential to photography’s
invention, but it’s the picturesque—a way of picturing nature—
that aids photography’s development. It becomes more difficult
to position the frame : does photography simply wipe out one
space in order to invent another? Good-bye, perhaps. The first
art in which God never existed, its trees arranged by men.
A Picture That Includes by Means of Its Structure the Excluded Space
I’ve held this
sticky with sap
haptic branches swaying
in nonce wind—
outside the frame
of the visible—
and longed to be struck
as I should
to say I’ve loved
It’s no small thing
Let each eye
the way cicadas leave
split to drone
Let matter rest
it has lent itself
to all our purposes
liminal and image
the way veronica is
a girl watching
wave his cape
over charging eyes—
each only once
of matter’s many
Let each pass by
In that still space
we won’t stop
finding and losing
what we love
we’ll keep on
because it once existed
it still exists
very arbor very body
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