miércoles, octubre 17, 2007
Water: A short sonnet sequence
Each broken branch in the dream
is an eraser, connecting, perhaps conning
writing, the arm, heart, sap moving
in the earth. The dream.... If leaf
covers the glass, the language
is veins, but still glass.
Still water, movement perhaps
beneath the dream, inside broken branch.
The speed of the eye can receive
light, yet never keep up.
The tiring swimmer, resting
in still water, measures flat glance,
glass reflecting minutes to shore,
to branch, leaf, mote.
Green lawn expanse, bright sunlight.
Word magnet traces water.
There was water, too, that Anglesey
walk upward, sheets of weed
cover hiding the red thread,
the underflow of deserted dream—
zoomed fence of friends’
divorce I’d held close.
False laughter gave away half
the choice loyalty was asking.
My white cottage home, my ground,
slid roadward in divided silence.
Landscape so bright it hurts.
Another thing about thunder is dirt out
of the rain following—
Traces of gases and dust water
our knives as we wallow or dust bathe
or gallop into battle. The offkey
singers—do they hear Callas and say
callous, or is it callous in,
cailloux out? Bright October morning,
history before the song, blocks out
cloud over dusty hill, above new asphalt.
Altitude, mass, elegy disappear, string
switching freight roar, alarmed bell
blown along the glint of track,
track glinting in lightning.
Band sand rand Dan flowering,
silver trail snail crab mountain rising.
Pausing outside the Jonqueres exit of Urquinaona station,
a short translation of some bounded part
of Barcelona, the lights on Laietana—
the throng I watch this November night.
For the English to find the full city is impossible.
Sunday morning, or Sunday evening, the move back
goes to cards, poker, say, or bridge,
and a bluff. This vision, then, in
the direction of Barceloneta: the bright
playing cards in fourteen rows, the flies
about us as we sweat on the sand:
perception of absent water.
Sonnet Lullaby: Sleep
Come on, now, let’s go to sleep...
Look at all these colorful fish here,
wiggling their colorful little tails
and fins, drowsily, in the shifting
currents of the deep, deep water.
Other animals come and swim, too, by
the time space ship arrives...
Bear and Dog play, jumping around. At
some point it won’t work: some
problem seems to come up. Who’s who here?
Then the bright little dog icon springs away upward,
toy species or a species of toy. Sublime.
Smiling, he sits there, fitting in.
The currents tug. This way. That way.
Greenwich and the beroached place you left
have to come, willy nilly, poem unable
to find the eye, the third, the beast.
It is additional text put off,
flowers overgrown that tumble,
then recede to photography.
You’ll be out. I phone ahead anyway.
You’re out. I walk over anyway,
through a fast New York crowd,
Friday before work’s out. Three,
now four outs in one sonnet: a trend.
Above the frame of real steel girder,
in the photograph’s mirrored space, home flies in:
augmented fourth of summer repertory.
It isn’t that reading wasn’t
thinking other thoughts before.
(Thinking thoughts echoes though.)
In the notebook—“the” notebook!—
in a notebook, I draw
car car car car car car
then try to convince myself
the drawing was thoughtless,
pen simply following hand, no
mind. No-mind. Nomind.
Light turbulence somewhere’s
pulled rain clouds into giant jeans.
Nomind. Only water, water, water—vroooom.
William Bain grew up in Indiana and earned an English Literature degree with a Chemistry minor from Indiana University. In addition to writing, he is also a visual artist whose work has been in collective exhibitions in Barcelona, Spain. His poems and stories have appeared in various paper and electronic publications, most recently in RedRiverReview, Roundonline, and previously in Zone. Currently, he works as a translator and is a PhD student in Literary Theory at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
jueves, octubre 04, 2007
Grey branches reflect on the grey pools,
and a few colored stones.
The cold, taken shallow to my lungs. A morning
before full sun, the year
already turning itself toward cold. Upgrade
through brush I passed,
inspecting the board well-cover, seeing it secure
against small deaths,
walked further among the season's
fine-boned trees, become
bars of light as now October sun
Higher still through wood, occasionally
stumbling, past the ground birds'
abandoned nests, the place years back
I laid the cat I could not bury,
passed to the broad forehead of stone
that overlooked two highways,
and rested myself
Tired a little but too restless still for sleep,
I spent that afternoon
in the last sunlight before snow
one love's stand, and the first uses
of our passions. But nothing
of that woman kept. Only
the raw stone her figure
would be cut from.
No matter what primaries her skirts flare,
no matter what murders are resolved
by the events in the next parlor, it’s plain now
Truth holds briefly for transcription
then goes on in its strange face. I exit clean,
only a little nearer Truth, closer
in this work than in my life, walking
among charred stones
set into the turned earth, her words,
like seeds I could not carry,
and like this wide grain entered,
from which a host's
WELCOMING THE HEIRLOOM DINING SUITE
Sweat crates to attic heat. Sweat short-coming love.
He stops to think or stops to catch his breath. He
lets his fingers graze the lettering set deep in an old page,
couples addressed as properties, and puzzles
the guarantees, examining the finer print for sinkholes,
remembrances a swamp turned on, remembering
the week spent moving in, weeks of trying prices out, of
dragging the colors down from racks of carpet rolls.
So now these faces swim to him. He sits, among the oldest
furniture, two damaged chairs, and the stained buffet,
minus the feast-day linens, while over him, in stillness,
(more or less than he admits,) form these words
he stands the tonguings of, the voices of clerks, of bookkeepers
sharpening dark points, the mouths of dreamers
or of men about to cry, of lovers stinging their fingertips
with flirts. Words a block may well have heard
as the train's blare fill the grooves and curlicues, this
great-grandfather's brother's handiwork.
The voices of years, just under the percussion, he sips
his Stevens and pinot. And the sun, about the spot
it did the evening they moved in, makes this puzzle now,
of rooms the spirits open and renew, dreaming
the futures ahead for him, their homely séance say,
brought on by its arrival, and their words like chips,
bearing the coded whole, like a foreign constancy
far into the heartland. A woman sips her crushed melon drink.
A keyboard nudges the bass-soloist along. He
serves the hues and tones of it, and she, without a name,
among these visitors starwalking joists, leaping tufts
of insulation beds, brushes his day-wearied head, feeling
the drag of winters she had whispered him across, this
brightening last of sun, bubble of light at his wine's rim.
And Poetry, because he's asked too little of it, resists
such addings up, resists these autumns, peeled back
like decreations, the looks of a well-made furniture,
teasing the lines and shaded arcs a grown son
tries on for size, trying the names a woman
has to introduce him to.
A rap downstairs. The day's report?
The insurance from North Baltimore?
Not so much by words as by the luxury of timing,
he thinks to raise the dead, waving
the lesser ghosts along, that had leaned above our page
or haunted in our crawlspaces,
like night silks, or borrowings on rainbows.
He feels for his pulse,
and writes the heart of it, leaving these letters again
for friends he just as well could visit,
until the crowding faces quit, long enough
for sleeping, and the menace dulls,
and properties, aligned by their machines,
seem bright sundries, left behind
of a half-century's indenture.
You could have your laughs at it, a man, gone
loony at dream's brink,
easing a moonlit post ( like love notes ) into mail-slots.
Had we not feared that double sky,
and feared the figures now, that lean on our horizon?
Had we not wondered, he asks,
to hear that quickened murmuring, as far as we are
inland, the hum of the sea absorbed
in hand-delivered mail?
He holds the world in check, against our industry's
exhaustion. And tries the lingo on for size,
remembering the boys we were, 1960, '61, kids,
like a mood's coin-toss, abused
( may be,) withstanding the well-aimed ridicule of freaks,
the well-meant tease of strippers
at town line. He remembers all of it, their pearls
and fire-rimmed bells, these "girls"
in their fifth decades, Patience L'Rope
and Caitlan Brace
and Sylvia Appeal, trusting the lights
and fun of it, trucked in to be
the last enlivenings of sand-lots,
like live inventories,
brightening the gist
of letters yet.
As if the dreams of men were prophecies
as if that downy wilderness our eyes camped at
had marked the outer limits
to belief: I take to heart this tribute scotch
and evening's “mail,”
hearing the neighbors a house up, pacing
their screened-in porch
and weighted down by colors,
threatening the sheriff
on his head.
And he remembers all of it, the booths and rides,
the fries and sticky treats, the rides
boys quit, to choose their humblings at sideshows.
Lively, and still young, the dates we paid on
watched us hard and sweetened marriages for decades,
women following him to dreams,
and, in his orphan focus, waving to him from porches
he has brought to a full boil, able to sleep at last,
whistling wassail and spitting into shade,
revising carnival, absorbing
the night cries
that could have meant a chaos, the sounds
of trash cans overturned
behind the Cheney I.G.A., the whispers
or brides to be, at work on blue coiffures,
as if his mistrusts
might heal us, his rappings sharpen hearts,
and he -- like a place
where stars might have to go -- had
discovered another way
to entertain the prayerbooks,
getting that all down,
before our waking
finishes the lives
Late-evening August light fades
from the stained glass in parish windows,
from broken fifths in city playgrounds.
Beyond the pump-your owns and body-shops,
past the rain-warped sheds,
streets narrow, and the carnival lights
enter one another, a swirl
you can pass through, here, with all your lives,
a small calm pitched against skin braced
for celebration, converging on the sideshows
August nights allow: Snake conjurers,
and women who guarantee good fortune,
dare-devils two-wheeling ramps
and leaping fires, the half-dress and spectacles
tucked off in recesses, and Wali,
knife-wielder, executing, blind-folded,
the Dance of masked Defense.
A half-dollar on Wali! Black-lights empurple
his figure center-ring. He slashes, parries,
slipper-stepping light that should not be light.
Fifteen attackers cannot penetrate his cover!
You are assembled at his edges. Ten years old,
too proud to be enchanted, fifteen
years old, overworking prowess at the sports booths,
transparencies, overlays, one and the next.
The room careens like this forever. And Wali,
under lights so soft they blare, unopposed,
unarmed, solos against the midway's din
and locomotion, his arms' measure of wind
raised to commemorate these stragglers,
whom he cannot see, or look for,
for whom he cannot depend.
To be heard, regarded mindfully, I risk
the crossfire lawns, the frantic radios
establishing stage-right. Even the wind,
in concert, chilling the left hand,
gets me privately, remembering the gesture's
sweep, the tablet of erasures,
the public and finished recipes. More like
myself, more blind, on these
ungoverned terraces, I come out to breathe
because I've had my exercise, to see
the trains storm through, confusing the crests
where lives, like terrible petals, flared,
where the fogs burn off over the poured yards,
revealing the children
playing for small change. And who am I
to tell, to boast a strict celebrity,
to play my witness on this muffled instrument?
I hear the locomotion grind. And I
assume my place among the local celebrants,
their morning biscuits and understated praise,
their evening lamps made dark as by design,
driving a mood beyond the hubbub memorized,
the crisscrossed lines I read
on this uplifted palm, and almost find names for.
Would I attempt the scene again, to find
my way across that field of contraptions,
the shoulder exposed and blush, to see again,
behind the kinder zeroes of successes,
the lengths of forearm disappearing
into vapors, raised to mute the probable
guitars, and the unceasing brass
of still-spent influence?
The reasoning does some good, even
the moody summaries, the corners of the place
adazzle with active instruments.
Nobody's mischief interrupts. Nobody's fingernail
on oiled wood disturbs our innocence,
explains this whispering, in seasonal scents,
in afterlight, achieved and brisk,
fluttering on the sills and in the window-wells,
because the rain let up, because
the minutes of last light sit hemming green,
seep to this moonlight now made partial
with ellipses. The mood carpenters abstracts,
sets the medium as is. A smokey wood
warms through, and snarls, coaxed by scraps,
a people moving chairs for their tutorials
at the wizard's heels, asking what's to read,
what's to understand in looks that shade and concentrate,
more perishably alive, asking what vehicle,
what rippling ill-figured love, what vanity,
my dears, explains the uses of such light,
the arrangements of the personal in adventure's sway.
We learn to sit spoiled air, to mount
the rungs of light, the steeps of parturition
and the living will. And we let ourselves
be named, buckle history to meantime, let rescue
serve alluring prominence, having fallen this way
upon the world's gates, fallen from faiths
like ironies, the oldest faiths, like sculpted cream
exhibited to fire, leaving these empty plates,
this space, and all the chairs turned down,
the mead-cups turned, in defective
Nobody's hand excites new blooms,
welcomes a traveler into shops,
into the bright cafes, asking what it's like,
imagining the personal maps
and, piece by piece, topographies of heart,
the ice and the blonde ash,
the eerie adagia daylight fails to mend.
The daylight fills with warblings,
with bashful rant, with mild and reckless
entertainments, letting matters spill,
allowing the desperadoes in, ourselves,
in a time of desperadoes,
in corporate receipt, a scrivening, blown
among tired stars, leaving
a man his heart's hysteria and nonchalance.
I belong to these the solid props
of my survival, these roots exposed
by the wind's rush,
and the commanding irises. And to this
rush of Time, seasonal and brief,
reduced by what appears, by the pitched
asymmetry, the excitement calendared.
I let them ask and ask again. I read the lay
of misadvantage as the flames repeat,
the faces of kids we were, charged
alive at the dewpoint of emotions, like
an alien nonsense scored, as if
to think we had ever been so young,
and to be young enough
No less solid to touch. No less
at loss to say my innocence. I confess
such chill, such capricious ice,
all I've wished on and endured, this talk
more driven to conceal
than make plain, rasped with texts
a kid looked forward to.
And hadn't we all looked forward to?
Hadn't we burned old growth,
turned char, spread lime and let lime sit,
as if the eyes of ancients
approved our being there, approved the flames
we put to use in our perfecting,
believing we'd learned to fight
so not to be surprised,
believing the sweats, and tributes
of salute, the shocks behind
Not these jokes, these boardgame
parodies. Not these slopes,
gone when we woke up, these young stars
dropped into the lap
of that pale moon, brooding pieces
that do not seem to fit. For all I've
wished on and endured,
I hold the misery in tact, the bob and bruise
of martyrs as they fought,
their children waking, shaking
the cobwebs off, who gasp
and vanish murmuring, whatever
the nightmare spilled on them,
the abstractions of singed air, leaving
these coals to taste, to speak
their absences, these tongues
refined by fire, these
words brought home by all
that chalky business
of the planet.
Amazement simplifies, the heart
to resist gone out of it,
leaving the stewards destitute. As if
there had not been
another paradise, another comedy
but this, diamond but this
in flames of honeymoon! I read the factored claims,
the trussed look
of misbegotten argument, of the hungers
choired in higher registers.
And trace the day again to arms,
tracing the old man's lines
on the child's upturned palm, the maps,
of genius, spent, like legend,
like motility, inhering yet
in the still-life.
The spirit cries in time and double-time.
Hues made solid when strangers pass
establish speed and place. We let ourselves
be named, leaping worlds as it seemed,
partners in sheer time, suspended, giving in,
accepting the words it took us lifetimes
to be speaking, like an exquisite latency,
the words as natural as anything
we'd found around the city, the ethereal tango
and descriptive pantomime. Mind
rests, responsibly, having addressed itself
to every sort of proper conduct.
Could we have been so dense, sealing our pasts
away with claims of rapture, renaissance?
The colors pester, signify. The sudden
greenery. The eyes of sheep, grazing
round the compost, opening a seamless place,
hearts made several, and seasons
made behave, leaving the sweetness spoiled
for us, the pique of misarrangements
with the highpriests and police. I have
this morning's sums and evening's tympani,
these committed inventories, boxed,
scored for the next century, (when the century
forgets,) and have these voices whispering,
leaving their ordinal and off-grey mark,
their heat like kinds of poetry we'd asked for.
I brace myself for streets, blood-bitten
and spit, for menace and saints made adamant,
the misfigured riffs like kinds of piloting,
fathoming their business and more fertile
ease. Had we not felt their dreams,
felt with them the conditional imminence
of dreaming, of dreams let go
among the spirals of becoming, the brightening
and receding light, arriving again
as seasons might arrive, not exactly light
so much as the refinements
on a sentence, the curves of seemly pas de deux,
as sudden to sense as ends of quarreling,
as the excitements quickening the orphans'
magazines? I speak, as if remembering,
and have these words to tell, like contracts,
crumpled, in the fiddler's grips, to feel again,
in the whack of birthright and annihilation's sweep,
hopes prospering, worth the wait and see,
highlights straightening to columns, lending
the hand support, standing the weight
of history, the sway of languages the centuries
have given over to prayer.
STORM SERVICE (2)
Beneath this roof till weather lifts
I hear calamity report, scale
the ladder to loft, wondering how old
the carved hearts,
the boasts set in their initials. Stories
I would not have asked stars for,
(one woman's death, the last words
from one child's physician,)
chasten this heart troubling backwards into plurals,
the boy I was, dazed
by the long dying of his grandma,
listening through storm's throb,
an autumn bride, already large with our doomed child,
treading deep the 8-day
dying of the first born, me-not-me, finding
a way toward sleep,
fingering pocket-change for ale, learning to sleep
flat out and pummeling a mattress,
imagining the maps of cities I had no business in.
And there, gambling in light years,
outside the pinball lounge, we found
our closeness had its costs, tough
as we seemed to be, entering that hub
of saxophones and ale,
hoping on hidden bells we tossed our coins to ring
to find ourselves in cash
we had no chance of winning: I hear
that jukebox grumbling yet,
steadying kids affecting steel, repeating as their own
their fathers' versions of two fronts,
and hear that grumbling again, this far
into the century, behind
the metallic blues, the greens and apple reds
of street machines, men
rushing blood away, and the too-white flesh
of Morelli's torn forearm. I see
that child's halved spine. I hear the blue-glint
newborn's troubled breathing still,
more pink for all the lamp-glow of Ward X.
And see, with gist preserved,
off-angled ribs, lips calmed, spine smudged
with that brown salve, and still
no clue for all of her confusion, my eight-day
daughter tossed again upon creation,
as the waters climb the slip-runged
ladder of her spine, no breathing
then, without her knowing it.
Hadn't I talked the horrors out, storm's own,
and talked the keenest edge
of the spun moon, to charm my silo back
and Bach, to hear this haunted news,
this hollowed bull, yielding neither love nor rescue?
And here, where trespass shows its face
for miles, with this Eroica like some next realm,
I feel myself in years ahead, like a signature
to work through, beneath this roof till weather lifts,
under the dream-darkening, dream-flocked
skies, and find these bodies, as it were, crossing back
to atoms, and find we're in for more of it,
for mischief flown like kinds of disbelief,
until the needles catch, until the trouble's
not to cry. Love, lost as the dear link in one child's spine,
the mobius love was, leading away then back,
and thought, spared storm, turned in sympathy
to woodwinds: I say this blessing
on charmed stuff, and on these lovers now, sipping
their noon wine, feeling the coffee's
hold, brightening to these first names brought on
by their initials, and a blessing
on that first born, boxed, buried unmarked
above the grave of her great-grandmother,
asleep among the scraps of a first marriage,
a blessing on these kids, absorbed by dung
and genitals, on these, and these,
that never lived as children, thirsting for blood
but puzzled to be pillaging our daylight,
to scent, for the first time, the light of day
beyond sprung lids, after all of it
surprised, hearing the course of love
surprised, in anybody's accent.
Robert Lietz is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Ohio Northern University, with nearly 500 poems appearing in more than 100 journals in the U.S. and Canada, including Agni Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, The Georgia Review, The Missouri Review, The Northern American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry and Shenandoah. Seven collections of Mr Lietz's poems have been published, including Running in Place (L’Epervier Press), At Park and East Division ( L’Epervier Press), The Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press), The Inheritance (Sandhills Press) and Storm Service (Basfal Books). Basfal also published After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems.