Copernicus

You are always in the middle of the poem
even at the end.
More and more you are tied by ropes,
foliage, and as you move
the bindings grow around your knees, your feet.
Again and again you pass
your own footprints on the grass, on floors,
once more you have tracked mud into the house.
Have tracked a house into the mud. Outside the poem
are sirens, fires, ocean hitting
pier. Say to yourself: does not cohere
but is subsumed
and must not, must not. Outside the poem
a little vein clicks in the forehead of a financier,
a cue called, an oboe,
truncheons, pigeons, rain
mineralizes a colonnade. 
A chorale stands up, taller than a building,
false in sense, numerically true.
You despise these techniques.
You have not got to the truth yet.
A truck downshifts on the freeway,
a shift whistle blows,
someone else’s emergency makes the poem hold.
At night, like notes pushed under doors,
sounds come in––
flypaper in an open window,
your mother rubbing lotion on her hands.
All this is with you, is you,
runs after you into the dark
like those men after Copernicus,
like a planet chased by telescopes into space.

Related Poems

The Gift

Like a spittle of aluminum, a crest of fear
in a long-faced mirror, like water rushing over a box,
like a dried sentence flying in the air,
like being shown a picture of a perforated wave,
like a mark that appears on each moment,
like knowing a man is in the box,
ingot of man, and the water is shiny, highly intuitive.

Like a mote dripping with silver,
a cataract painted with lead, a sentence of gleam,
and the sky speed up, cloudy, obscure, occluded, unheard of
using a cat’s eye for a planet,
like the water now almost reaching
the help desk across the marble floor
of the enormous lobby of the hospital.
The sculpture, a prototype, donated by the major
auto-pharmaceutical industries, Spanish moss fills the ceiling
in the car port, vaults rush past picking up no one
and souls like aphids stream the stalk of the escalator.

In this gift—a sheen, a shining—wrapped around
a grid of major research hospitals in one block,
on an acre with a drop-away floor,
the mesh bow, car-sized, is heavier than it looks.
Shreds of people, the day torn off, and the incinerator is working.
Oh, dollop of man. Replica of Rodin’s thinker from the gift shop,
I spot that, neon yellow teddy bear inside leaves of cellophane
for the sick child, I spot that. A man is inside the box
of cascading water. He is always wrapped in the present
moment. By now, the silvery water runs over the lines /
of this poem. I feel like shaking for the jet, the cross inside the box.
We are all headed home.

While Writing

Someone inside says, "Get busy."
But I've got appointments to keep,
I have an abstemious love of equations calculated quickly
While the tepid day melts into design.

And the high cheekbones of the beautiful life
Bear the loose look of a calendar by lamplight.
I search for patterns in everything.
I am tied in knots of comprehension.

I think, how useful it might be
To pierce all the hands of the earth
With an oath of pins encircling snarling planets
But talent and shallowness sewn together

Is nothing but a kerchief tied around a survivalist's head,
And it helps to know the feet wriggling through a hole
In the universe will land for an instant
Upon the cushions of the dark,

And that after marching one doozy of a kilometer after another,
We each come upon the same poem scribbled in invisible ink
Taped to the door of a room
In which an austere justice is burning for us.

In Aporia

I realized everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like 'four million' or 'going to die'"
            ―Andy Warhol

I'm trying on ego, [a justification for the planet's continuance]. Oh

hello transgressor, you've come to collect utilitarian debts, humbling

narrative space. Give me a condition and wheatgrass,

I his body is disintegrating, I his body is ossification. Death by habit

radius, yeah yeah.

I his body can't refuse this summons. I can't get out

this fucking room. Tell me something different about torture

dear Trickster.

Tell me about the lightness my mother told me to pick the one i love the best

how it signals everything I ever wish to believe true just holy on my ship.

I jump all over this house. this is it [what i thought is thought only,

nothing more deceptive than]:

I his body keeps thinking someone will come along, touch me.

As like human. Or lima bean.

I'm cradling you to my breast, you are looking out. A little wooden lion you & Peter carve
        on Bluff Street is quieting across your cheekbone. Not at all like the kind of terror found
        in sleep, on trembling grounds.

It is yesterday now. I have not had a change to dance in this century. Tonight I shall kill someone,

a condition to remember Sunday mornings.

To think of lives as repetitions [rather than singular serial incarnations]. To understand your
        death is as exacerbating as trying to figure out why as schoolchildren in mid-nineteen-sixties
        South California

we performed reflexive motion:

cutting out lace snowflakes, reading Dick and Jane serch for their missing mittens,

imagining snow.

And this too, fiction. The book I would want to right.

The restored fallen, heroic.

Did you expect a different frace from the world? Or upon exit?

I'm working on "tough." They think I am already. All ready.

Who is the dead person? Is "I'm sorry" real to a dead person?

Browning grass. My hands on this table. A contentious century.

A place to pay rent. Redemptive moments.

Am I now the dead person?

Dead person, dead person, will you partake in my persimmon feast?

The body inside the body astounds, confesses sins of the funhouse.

I too have admired the people of this plant.

Their frilly, ordered intellects.

The use they've made of cardamom,

radiation as well. How they've pasteurized milk, loaned surnames to stars,

captured tribes, diseases, streets, and ideas too.