In Vino Veritas


And I gave myself to the poem.
And the poem gave to me.
And I gave myself to the sky.
And the sky gave to me.
And I gave myself to the wind.
And the wind took what I gave
and passed it to the sky.

And I gave myself to women.
And women gave to me.
And I gave myself to the wound.
And the wound gave to me.
And I gave myself to hope.
And hope took what I gave
and passed it to the wound.

And I gave myself to wine.
And wine gave to me.
And I gave myself to candlelight.
And candlelight gave to me.
And I gave myself to memory.
And memory took what I gave
and passed it to candlelight.

And I gave myself to music.
And music gave to me.
And I gave myself to the tree.
And the tree gave to me.
And I gave myself to change.
And change took what I gave
and passed it to the tree.

And I gave myself to silence.
And silence gave to me.
And I gave myself to light.
And light gave to me.
And I gave myself to night.
And night took what I gave
and passed it to the stars. 

More by Howard Altmann

Offerings

To the night I offered a flower
and the dark sky accepted it
like earth, bedding
for light.

To the desert I offered an apple
and the dunes received it
like a mouth, speaking 
for wind.

To the installation I offered a tree
and the museum planted it
like a man, viewing 
his place.

To the ocean I offered a seed 
and its body dissolved it
like time, composing
a life.

Holding Posture

History sits on a chair
in a room without windows.
Mornings it searches for a door,
afternoons it naps.
At the stroke of midnight,
it stretches its body and sighs.
It keeps time and loses time,
knows its place and doesn’t know its place.
Sometimes it considers the chair a step,
sometimes it believes the chair is not there.
To corners it never looks the same.
Under a full moon it holds its own.
History sits on a chair
in a room above our houses.

Paris Winter

That we can breathe and not forget
our dreams entirely. In the cold sun

the warmth of timelessness. There is
panic, rest assured, so much beauty

stirring, I want to touch all that
contains me. We know the questions

and the light shifts without a word.
In the clouds, a philosopher’s chair

rocks. In the riverbed, the buff
and lathe of stones, change glistening

past. And from the afternoon, drops
of her monthly blood drip down

the stairs, the kitchen table, all of her
unopened bills, a cold floor that timed

us. O, the ins and outs of memory
breathe, too, images at rest in the dark

chambers, the gilded daylight whir
a heart’s dusting—one walkup,

one post storm quiet blinking at
infinity. Who shot the moon

and claimed victory in the morning?
The constellations touch down;

the years collapse; the boom
and bust of love lowers the crane

at dawn: in what earth, in what sky
will the soul find its keeper?