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If It All Went Up in Smoke

that smoke
would remain

the forever
savage country poem's light borrowed

light of the landscape and one's footprints praise

from distance
in the close
crowd all

that is strange the sources

the wells the poem begins

neither in word
nor meaning but the small
selves haunting

us in the stones and is less

always than that help me I am
of that people the grass

blades touch

and touch in their small

distances the poem


We should not have produced all this life.
Let’s say I am
in a state of heightened attentiveness.
Is this my gift? Do I take your head in my hands
and swivel it, or cast marbles around our feet, make a line I bring you behind?
Now: see the man on wire, taste the papery taste of “polity,”
grasscloth, a long marriage worn into the back steps.
Do I draw you into the middle ground with me, where everything is sharp?
Every night I pray for hard work.
My job is to make something for you.
All poets wonder if the brittle on a stick is enough.
Knowing the stick contains tender green is why it doesn’t crack when flung,
the crease of fox ears,
how the trash man paused with the storm glass,
holding it, making himself into a frame, a single frame—
all poets wonder if this is enough. See
how a boy is changed when he drops a stick, does not look back.
A taste lost in the movement of the second hand on a clock.
Watch closely:
once I loved you, this is the instant I don’t anymore.
All poets wonder if such calibration,
if the religion of rushing water, if wet tines,
waves in glass, ant eggs blent with brown sugar
that burst against the teeth, Agnes hanging off her father like a cobweb,
Agnes in her silver rubber flats, how sky tautens as you get near the sea—
all poets wonder if this is enough.
A crone in corpse pose. A voice cool as measuring salt.
Drawn in the circle of noticing.

World Below the Brine

The world below the brine,   
Forests at the bottom of the sea, the branches and leaves,   
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds, the thick tangle, openings, and pink turf,   
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold, the play of light through the water,   
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks,coral, gluten, grass, rushes, and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there suspended, or slowly crawling close to the bottom,   
The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and spray, or disporting with his flukes,   
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray,   
Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes, sight in those ocean-depths, breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do,
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere,
The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.