Vivid to the myopic is the blue
Bewilderment prismed in his looking-glass.
He muses on glassed vistas imprecise
And asks his vision why blurred things should be
Still blurred, why on the clear ideal surface
An inch away a parallel vagueness lies.
He heard the wind coming in off the desert and he heard his own breathing. When he raised his head to look out he saw the expriest stumbling among the bones and holding aloft a cross he’d fashioned out of the shins of a ram and he’d lashed them together with strips of hide and he was holding the thing before him like some mad dowser in the bleak of desert and calling out in a tongue both alien and extinct.
And to tell the truth I not only knew who I was, but I had a sharper and clearer sense of my identity than ever before, in spite of its deep lesions and the wounds with which it was covered. And from this point of view I was less fortunate than my other acquaintances. I am sorry if this last phrase is not so happy as it might be. It deserved, who knows, to be without ambiguity.
And then I no longer heard the wind or saw the sun. Nothing entered, nothing left my nook. I lay on my side in my polo shorts, my fingers lightly in contact with the blades of grass, the earthflowers, the petals of the earthflowers flaking, lying on my palm, the underside of all the great foliage dark, above me, but it is only afterwards I say the foliage was dark, the petals flaking, then I said nothing, I remarked nothing, things happened upon me, then in my times of shelter, the shades, the petals, carried themselves, carried their bodies upon me, and nothing entered my nook, nothing left it.
'All our French poets can turn an inspired line;
who has written six passable in sequence?’
said Valéry. That was a happy day for Satan….
I want words meat-hooked from the living steer,
but a cold flame of tinfoil licks the metal log,
beautiful unchanging fire of childhood
betraying a monotony of vision….
Life by definition breeds on change,
each season we scrap new cars and wars and women.
But sometimes when I am ill or delicate,
the pinched flame of my match turns unchanging green,
a cornstalk in green tails and seeded tassel….
A nihilist wants to live in the world as is,
and yet gaze the everlasting hills to rubble.
After the event the rockslide
in a still diversity of completion,
grain and fissure,
force of upheaval,
whether rain slippage,
ice crawl, root
stream erosive undercut:
well I said it is a pity:
one swath of sight will never
be the same: nonetheless,
relieved a bind, a taut of twist,
revealing streaks &
scores of knowledge
now obvious and quiet.
Yes, great love God knows why…. Even me…. But I found a better…. As I hope you heard…. Preferable in all respects…. Kinder…. Stronger…. More intelligent…. Better looking…. Cleaner…. Truthful…. Faithful…. Sane…. Yes…. I did all right.
I sit a moment
by the fire, in the rain, speak
a few words into its warmth— stonesaintsmooth stone—and sing
one of the songs I used to croak
to my daughter, in her nightmares.
Somewhere out ahead of me
a black bear sits alone
on his hillside, nodding from side
to side. He sniffs
the blossom-smells, the rained earth,
finally he gets up,
eats a few flowers, trudges away,
his fur glistening
in the rain.
The singed grease streams
out of the words, the one
twisting under my tongue, like the coyote’s bark,
curving off, into a
Yes, those were the days, quick to night and well beguiled with the search for warmth and reasonably edible scraps. And you imagine it will be so till the end. But suddenly all begins to rage and roar again, you are lost in forests of high threshing ferns or whirled far out on the face of wind-swept wastes, till you begin to wonder if you have not died without knowing and gone to hell or been born again into an even worse place than before.