Uncle, part of Fucking and Sonnet 149

On Saturday at Freddy’s Bar, which is a very nice bar by the way, I participated in a poetry reading that was a celebration for a new book of poems by Kryssa Schemmerling, Iris In. The other guest poet was Lynn McGee. On the blog here, I have recently posted Lynn reading from two books of poems, Heirloom Bulldog and Sober Cooking. I want to get Kryssa doing the same thing soon for Iris In. Here for the present is me, the parts I didn’t screw up last weekend in Brooklyn. A good time, by the way, was had by all.



uncle

I’ve an uncle who builds houses
and he tells me I don’t write poems
that what I write is vile and useless
not good for anyone.

There was a time I believed him
his words allowed crippling all mine
until I saw a word’s a board
each nail succeeding nail.
Something comes even if quite small
and finds shelter there.


from Fucking

the beginning of I

I will come to you with a candle burning
light a stick of incense
comb and braid your hair with sparrows’ feathers
gathered from the sidewalk
cinnamon, black-tinged, white with edges.
Sometimes it’s important not to see things as they are.
Who needs the certainty or the daylight?
When evening brings its shadows, let them grow
like mascara you smear on my eyelids
till they’re covered and I’m different.
When night’s fallen, hidden flesh
flesh is more than flesh is—
Let’s vanish there in kisses!

Before we wake and our voices
dissolve into larger noises
traffic jams and employments
where we mostly please our bosses
sparrows wake up high in cornices
along the marble ledges
where they’ve spent the night protected
in long rows
like crowns of silence sleeping
surrounding empty offices and unlit rooms.

They’ve no alarms, just start up
in the still dark sky, the sparrows
flying down to hedges
slipping from the branches
staying there suspended
unbending their heads out of their wings
shake-shaking off the dew to bring
my ear note at a time a song.
“Wake, wake,” they sing, “it’s dawn.”

the end of III

There is no light where we draw the line
over the paper pulling a pencil
to make up pictures or curlicue our words
putting lines around ideas in our minds
the way lines put objects in our eyes.
First to disappear into the night
first to appear in the morning’s the line
Light’s gift of sight to us
but also its paradox
the way it makes us desperate
thinking we’re all separate
so even Jesus cursed a fig and fell
asking the thief on Calvary Hill
“Do you believe in me?”

Said the thief, “As far as I can see.”

To which Jesus replied matter of factly
“You sniveling piece of human profanity
I’m going to take all the flames of Nagasaki
and shove them up your ass eternally!”
which he did, the son of Love
when he gave that thief a shove
and dolly ding dong dell cast him into hell.

O little pink babe, encompass all
accept, don’t reject, make all possible
because Love’s cruel in minds kept small
casting things down that will not mirror it
then risen there it smiles on a landscape
smouldering, napalmed as Vietnam’s
severed heads and splintered mouths.

We are so full of Love.
Why do we beat it with a thousand sticks?
Why do we make it furious?
It stays, it cowers in us
waiting for another’s hand
not to abuse but bloom us.
And we are like a crayfish
swimming backward through our souls
with tail curled into belly
and our claws outstretched
so ready and so full of fear
of what we never see
what stirs as sticks the surface of our minds
that muddy stirring when we spit
on those who have no choosing what they are.

What wretch have we hung from the gallows pole?
Who’s still hanging there after we go
back to our houses to sleep and to snore
in snugly warm beds behind bolted doors?
Corpse hard and cold without its soul
like earth in the winter when sowers can’t sow
in fields that are hidden under the snow
where streams that were flowing no longer flow.
Try as you might you can’t look at the face:
twa corbies now fly there and Time’s had its way.
Love, wipe off your spit gobbed full of stars
shining like diamonds and one lacy flower
then wipe off the skin under your spit
down passed the bruises blue from your kick
pull out each maggot, get passed the stink
swim through the blood where the jackals drink
inside of marrow inside of bone
to wipe and to wipe till all’s finally gone
but a little bit of grace when you come face to face
with the face that you hate: it’s your own.


149

I wake the snakes on the way to the lake
coiling in leaves, slithering at my feet
half-seen in the low branches, thick brown waists
headless, tailless stone still in wait for me
to trip them into slithering again.
Are they going to bite? I doubt it
They’re enjoying themselves too much and slide
on in the fear and excitement of my
approaching steps. Without ever really
seeing them slip into the rippling depths
on the briar’s edge of the round abyss
water snakes have taken the day with them.
Here comes the night. Everything fades from sight.
A frog peeps. There is sound, song but no light.





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