we are
prayer in the long boat

                                               a rhizomatic scream
                                               surrounded by the dark dagger
                                                                        of the ocean

                         scripture
                         in its entirety
                         is anticipation of the lilt
                                                   and yet

there is no word
for the rhythm
             we endure
             across this dirtless moment

                                                    antibird, we sing like birds
                                                    textured and untrained

             rugged the love
             that claps
in the chasm of our black palms

Related Poems

Said to Have Been Heard to Say Hush

—“mu” ninety-eighth part—


Remembered moment lamenting
  its exit, the anaphylactic aria
fell away. What beauty promised or
  we projected faded, we moved
                                          on,
  not’s province the place we
now camped in… The abandoned
  ones we averred we’d someday
                                          be
fell away as well. The abandoned
  girl and boy blended in… Thought’s
province it was we pitched our tents
                                             in.
Wind wrinkled our foreheads, thought
  not’s not someday… Not made every
eye water. In our heads more than ever,
                                                    syl-
  labic beads we thumbed, not’s dread
have-without-hold we bowed down to,
  cried Cry blood, fell back… There
was a box inside my head, something
                                               men-
  acing shook it, Joe Henderson’s tenor.
Not’s woken-up-to now we backed away
  from, Little Johnnie C, “Hobo Joe”…
                                                 In-
sistent, imposed itself, beside the point.
  All of it was orphan song we chimed in
on, chided by it, charmed even so. I saw
                                                    no
light but said otherwise, lit by the thought
  of it, not-light lytic, tear between said
and saw… Light stole away, some kind
                                                of
  spell I was under. At more removes
than there was ground for, I stole away
  as well, said to have been heard to
say hush. A tiptoe ghost octet fidgeted
                                               be-
  hind us. Not was another name for
   death I was afraid and afraid my feet
  would fail, Idiot Footless, feet I did
                                               in-
deed speak with, did indeed say hush…
  A little bit of nothing, anaphylactic
rush, seen-say gone so soon we were
                                               not’s
  understudies. Whatever it was we did,
no matter what we did, whatever we did we
  did away… No one heard footsteps, no
                                                   feet
  struck the dirt. Earth beset by see-thru
sleep, transparent footprint, sleepwalk’s
  his and hers an it club of late, the aban-
doned his and hers run come… In back
                                                of
  us the ghost octet kept at it, thread on
the box and on the backs of our necks,
  hair stood on the backs of our necks.
                                                Bal-
letic, they traipsed on tiptoe, shushed all
  who stood and looked on. The sense we
were being shadowed had hold of us, the
                                                   sense
  of being had we had… They were plotting
what it was to be footless, points on a graph
  the ground had become. What it meant to
                                                       be
a tiptoe ghost we could see now, shushed
  as we were, shadowed as we were, warned
we were better off away, beside the point,
  not’s null insistence, moot… All the same,
                                                       they
   doused us all in fish powder, a rite we were
                                                           none
  the wiser
for



        ____________________

        (slogan)

  I saw no way to be wise enough. Tonal
motion made me weep. I saw no way to
  stay where I was, be where I was, what-
ever it was I was moved on, moved over,
                                                     what-
   ever it was worried what I was… So it
    was green loomed outside my window,
 drawn light in Low Forest I was wise to,
  saw thru, aroused by light’s reluctance
                                                  but
  not to be caught out, no way could I be
                                                   wise
   enough I
  knew

At Anchor: The Real Situation

                 for Bob Marley, Bavaria, November 1980
 
Here is the brilliant morning on a fishing boat,
this is the dream a dying man has in midwinter,
the world covered in light and shadow—he dreams
of St. Ann’s Bay, of the murmur of soft waves.
 
The sea is familiar as all dawns are familiar.
We walk into them knowing it is our sack
of troubles that we spill open to color
the sky. But here on the boat, at anchor,
apart from the ordinary lull of the easy
tide, there is a certain peace. 
 
He cannot know that in six months 
the weight of locked wool on his shoulders 
will be lifted, that in the soft gloom of a German 
chalet in deep January he will anticipate with terror 
his death, rewriting his theology of eternity, shadowed
by the swirling clouds, the bickering sycophants,
the friends who will not stop to pray, frightened 
as they are by the end of the crusade, the last 
triumphant march through the world’s plaza where
the faithful Milanese, one hundred thousand strong,
stand beatific under the benediction of brutalizing music.
 
And here he already knows that his last songs
convey the weight of a man sitting on the sea,
staring out into the slithering metallic green 
and imagining his words as prayers. 
 
This is the burden a poet must carry with him 
to the sea, the burden for a truth unfettered 
by the promise of another morning. The sea
is a continuous tomorrow, so unremarkable
that it becomes an exquisite now: 
what a lofty standard of truth it is for a poem.

The Voice of God

          Poem for Aretha Franklin
 
 
when she opens her mouth
our world swells like dawn on the pond
when the sun licks the water & the jay garbles,
the whole quiet thing coming into tune,
the gnats, frogs, the dandelion pollen, the
pebbles & leaves & the whole world of us
sitting at the throat of the jay
dancing in the throat of the jay
all of us on the lip of the jay
singing doowop, doowop, do.