Ancient Sunlight

Amy King

Shame on you for dating a museum:
Everything is dead there and nothing is alive.
Not everyone who lives to be old embraces
the publicity of it all. I mean, you get up and folks
want to know, How did you get here? What makes you
go? What is the secret?
And there is no secret except
there are many things that build the years out.
They are not vegetables every day and working out
but a faith that all of these things add up
and lead us to some sum total happiness
we can cash in for forever love in the face
of never lasting. That people along the way
keep disappearing in a variety show of deathbed ways
is also the sheer terror that it may not hold for us too.
That we may outlast everything and be left
alone to keep going, never Icarus with wax melting,
never the one whose smoke & drink undid
the lungs that pull our wings in then out and the liver
that keeps chugging the heft of Elizabeth Cotten’s
“Freight Train” with her upside down left hand guitar still
playing in videos past her presence. I have become a person since
I reorganized my face in the mirror and the world is my inflation.
But this testament offers no sound or silence since
nothing is proven yet and you are still here,
the dead stars’ light landing on your rods and cones
in a vitrine of cameos building—blink.

More by Amy King

The Marble Faun

A tiny face of genius & tolerance
brands itself organic
abrupt vampire of himself, of health,
stoned circle of having risen—
 
Why the natural inclination to pet,
to be affection with a soul made of bone
on haunches among honeysuckle
and little else to dine upon?
 
I wasn't able to claim the backs
of my legs, and for that crime, was martyred
for modern day races.
From these trials, I learned to be true
to truths that hugged and lost and slew.
 
Not what makes my liver stand on end
but how to shake fists against the failings
of insects, of lambs, of castles and the fruits
of shadows that walk with us behind our backs,
swampy corners of decay united. 
 
From old Jewish towns we embrace
the plotted demise and welcome a ghost
in born-again tatters, being all that we know
and the only face that matters.  Except
a child from the lawn who watches, in stone.
 
We become as ripe as an earth's waiting meat,
better for sculpting to crumble
a rib-eyed dust spelling death out,
names that soften at moon, broken to rise again.


Amy King holding Wolfgang and Ana Bozicevic holding Walt Whitman
Amy King holding Wolfgang and Ana Božičević holding Walt Whitman

The Moon in Your Breath

Man acts as an antenna for the sun
and then: a trout in the milk, 
men who wear kilts after darkness. 
Build a bottle of fish with a few dried figs. 
Dear Shadow,
when did I become that person?  
I mean one who says "plastic glucose" 
without wondering what 
rotten-sweet is? The one who teenagers
represent? There's a room in your breath
I crawl into, eating the wallpaper's yellow,
looking out for the man on the stairs,
his knife in hand, poise incarnate.
I am your minimum envelope,
your string between tin cans and
cannot stop the talk between us.

In Berlin, they lay buildings on concrete
slabs that look straight back at us.
The windows of the soul seek to err
on the side of humanity. Put a piece of glass
between us for less resistance.
Invite rococo scrawl in heated breath upon it.
The moon appears in a cinched waist.  
Stand penance atop her curvature's axis, 
above a hill where headstones claw up 
through the clouds, pulling their fibers 
into blankets across us.

The sleet and silver smiles loom, gauze-thin.
We slip from a reel of translation back 
into how we cater to loneliness,
how we move our mouths and mouth
our meals, engorging entrails where 
even foodstuffs give off energies.  
I am that uncontrollable,
fear in a mesh of moonrock's lapis soup.
We demons are in love and afoot.
As in the primordial diary, time will come 
to take the hem in, tether the ether 
that dreams become from, and examine 
our ankles as the sugar washes over,
disappearing. As with everything, 
that's the body he works on. She also
knows honey lasts best in the future.

Baudelaire in Airports

Will my arm be enough to reach you?
On whose side is indecision?
You are the mother of material travel,
even in the form of a shoeless child.
It is difficult to place time—especially here.
You aren’t now, and you don’t come here.
The other sameness, an other of the same
in the window before take off.
So she learned past such things the echo.
With the same eye from windows one watches
a person with umbrella, sleek and pointed,
seek sky from its wet roof. As if the bitter low
would be a woman with whiskers,
her eyes desperate, street-view, alone.
How does this view of everything arc the moon?
If a mosquito lands, what happens to the one who flew?
She gives over to the site of red,
another selfless pooling. A hungry pond.
The painting of the person also wears mobile eggs,
and the woman returns to wheat fields
to drink goat’s milk for her meal and bath.
That the body harbors more than combination,
that we are more than alchemy’s process,
that they are agents and actors incognito,
is visible only to those strolling on avenues on lost
streets Parisian, no longer able to be found.

Related Poems

The afterlife of fame

                          is dark
a neglected mansion

with vanishing court
rats in the empty pool

and antiquated actress
languishing

as ghost of her famous self
flickers in the projector’s beam

or framed in silver
haunts every room

Face unrecognizable?
Name forgotten?

O float me to Oblivion
in my swan bed

with my bandaged wrists
and doors shorn of locks

with swirl of my cigarette smoke
and glitter of my jewels

and silent flutter
of my weightless tulle