It is a cube, it is red, it is mountainous,
it is a bird of fire, it is the bones of the pelvis, it is a walnut,
it is treasured. It is yellow Saturn wobbling in its orbit.
It is danger, squawking.

It is the desire to sit down with strangers in cafes
and then it is the strangers in cafés,
it is the man with the black T-shirt
labeled UNARMED CIVILIAN and it is the blind man with              him

and his painful trembling.
Always it is oxygen and more oxygen. It is the fight in you
and the fight in you dying. It is the need for water
and the water that falls from the sky.

It is desperate for a theory and it is the acts you call evil
when you know there is no evil only desperation.
It is that bravery, that arrogance, that blindness.
It is the pink morning and your smile in the pink morning.

It is a phantom and the thin neck of a tree it
is a little project called loving the world.
It is howling in the dirt it is an extravaganza.
It’s the abandoned sports bra, in the dirt beside howling you.

It’s the windchimes in the thin-necked tree and
it is tonguetied. It is asleep.
It is waking up now. It is a small cat on the bed.
It is the threads of a leaf and it is the Three Graces:

Splendor, Mirth and Good Cheer.
It is their heartfelt advice:
You can’t let it hurt you.
You must let it hurt you.

It is a careless error and the hotel pool blue with chemistry.
It’s a kiss of course it is a kiss.
It’s an old strange book newly acquired
but not yet catalogued, it is crazy.

It is you, crazy with honesty and crazy with ambition.
It’s the sun that stuns over and over again.
It’s your tablet, which is every tablet everywhere.
It’s an explosion it is every explosion everywhere.

It is pavement, mineral and hot and wet with droplets.
It’s the stars that pitch white needles into the pond.
It is provable, it is a lotion, it is a lie.
It is a baby because everyone is a baby.

It talks to you, always to you, it moves
swiftly, it is stuck, it moves swiftly, it is stuck, it moves
swiftly. It’s the impenetrable truth, now clear as ice.
It is serious, it is irreversible, it is going, going.

It is flying now laughing strong enough to know anything.
 

More by Kathleen Ossip

The Cold War [excerpt]

                                             Craft is a synthesis: thought in the service of
                                             understanding. Think hard in order to open to
                                             understanding: that is craft


K. was hungrily made.

K. is an American creation.

K. cannot recommend realism.

K. cannot recommend surrealism.

K. cannot recommend plain speech.

K. cannot recommend free association.

K. can recommend song:

      The tug of the past.
      Don't let go so fast
      of what you're haunted by—
      It'll last till it lasts.





                                 The former things                      pass away






Craft will take us through this wood.

"I'm afraid of death"

I’m afraid of death
because it inflates
the definition
of what a person
is, or love, until
they become the same,
love, the beloved,
immaterial.

I’m afraid of death
because it invents
a different kind of
time, a stopped clock
that can’t be reset,
only repurchased,
an antiquity.

I’m afraid of death,
the magician who
makes vanish and who
makes odd things appear
in odd places—your
name engraves itself
on a stranger’s chest
in letters of char.

Your Ardor

To dream of your ardor
is much joy and much happiness.
Your ardor tells me that
I am making a mistake
by not taking hold of what
is offered to me.

What I mean when I say
“your ardor” is stenciled on
the air that surrounds
your big face. The force
of your ardor pushes strangely.

All that matters now
is your ardor. It solves
a most formidable equation.
How old is your ardor?
I think it was born when
it met me.

You should heed your ardor.
It will scoop you out, little melon:

       Your ardor as good as its master
       Your ardor tomorrow and your ardor yesterday
       Your ardor in January
       Your ardor dripping sharp as vinegar
       Your ardor dripping pale as ashes
       Your ardor with its quick reply
       Your ardor and your hot hard argument
       Your ardor with a hatchet
       Your ardor
       Your ardor drinking and talking
       Your ardor local and authentic
       Your ardor of lost fame
       Your ardor that hits the button and initiates
       Your ardor stronger than your pride
       Your ardor in squalor
       Your ardor that squeaks
       Your ardor that spends and spends

Your pen is my lure.
Your ardor my wire.

The night your ardor first beset me I cried
“Zyer! Oh, zyer!”
Who cares what I meant.
I don’t retain facts.
We hate facts, don’t we, they never did a thing for us.

Behind the screen of your ardor
lies the globe of the Earth
above which the eagle can be seen
soaring up toward the sun, which
has my face. It grins high in the purple sky.
On either side stand two allegorical figures,
the Way of Virtue and the Way of Vice.

Your ardor comes on like a pun,
making the most of
all possible significances.

Your ardor so close now to my ardor.
Our ardors twitch, so sensitive to control.
I just want your ardor to have fun in there!
What next, what next, oh ardors?

Here it is.
Here’s what we call the Red Spot.

Related Poems

I'm Over the Moon

I don't like what the moon is supposed to do.
Confuse me, ovulate me,

spoon-feed me longing. A kind of ancient
date-rape drug. So I'll howl at you, moon,

I'm angry. I'll take back the night. Using me to
swoon at your questionable light,

you had me chasing you,
the world's worst lover, over and over

hoping for a mirror, a whisper, insight.
But you disappear for nights on end

with all my erotic mysteries
and my entire unconscious mind.

How long do I try to get water from a stone?
It's like having a bad boyfriend in a good band.

Better off alone. I'm going to write hard
and fast into you moon, face-fucking.

Something you wouldn't understand.
You with no swampy sexual

promise but what we glue onto you.
That's not real. You have no begging

cunt. No panties ripped off and the crotch
sucked. No lacerating spasms

sending electrical sparks through the toes.
Stars have those.

What do you have? You're a tool, moon.
Now, noon. There's a hero.

The obvious sun, no bulls hit, the enemy
of poets and lovers, sleepers and creatures.

But my lovers have never been able to read
my mind. I've had to learn to be direct.

It's hard to learn that, hard to do.
The sun is worth ten of you.

You don't hold a candle
to that complexity, that solid craze.

Like an animal carcass on the road at night,
picked at by crows,

haunting walkers and drivers. Your face
regularly sliced up by the moving

frames of car windows. Your light is drawn,
quartered, your dreams are stolen.

You change shape and turn away,
letting night solve all night's problems alone.