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Poems, 1979-1984 Gordon Fisher
1. Who that say that? Passed Past Friends blur and cities melt like ink in rain. What I read before or meant to read is now trapped dots and runny dissolution, though gravid dots remain which may give birth to fictions, schemes, regrets or benedictions. Anyway, some messages arrived today I still can read with fresh precision, in the right light, with my glasses on. Dec 1981; Jun, Jul 1982 memory mist breath of blown days puff of Trebizond blast of Alamein wracks of moving on sparrow days flying past swallow graves shy epitaphs woven to disguise us binding winds to rest patches of remind us on cloaks of nothing left Jul 1984
The Old Order The old ones, for all I knew, had always been there like the Dipper. Grandfather in his special chair, a white-haired lion at the gate. Miss Waite the spelling teacher shaking her finger at the tide. Mayor Louie guiding the village from his cave in the feed store. Chief Herman shining his spotlight like a comet in the night as we practiced being grown, darting into alleys, our pockets stuffed with stolen apples. Now that was order. May 1984 shower sounds of rain spring legerdemain sticky tires moist road desires sounds of water walk on leaves rains daughter stalking eaves might and may rainy day may and might rain tonight Jul 1984
Promenade The moon creates no color. Black leaves are chattering above the bushy beasts. The footsteps trailing me fire like pistols on the walk. Is that roar inside my ears? Is that metal in his heels? Just before he passes, I leap suddenly aside. He doesn’t break his stride, and starts to whistle. Who was the savage in the night? May 1981 Watch It, Clown Here comes Mr. Death with white bulb nose and warning on his cheeks riding a unicycle. Be careful how you circle Mr. Death Be careful where you goes. May 1984
Reflection This brook is fresh, circling like a lover, tickling the rock. The sun’s a vasty genius that calls up sparks by rubbing water. The rock, old smoothie, holding ground, marks a place the swirl and flashing found. Mar, Jul 1984 Polarity Go north and look for messages in ice, the skeleton of water. You did a time in heat and now that you are rid of macaws, giant ferns and paradise, be blinded by the sharp reflected light of arctic suns and drops of ice in flight. Let snowflakes, falling, form a cold delight and crystals be the letters of your night. Mar 1982; Jul 1984
No matter what the vernal resolution, the themes return: the rise and fall of fleshes, the providential snapping of the precious traps and elementals of illusion, the wracks and lax* of vapid dissolution. An itch I have for contemplating edges entices me, I tumble into meshes and nibble at climactic absolution. Since the power of this plenary obsession as broad and meddlesome as time itself will not be wheedled into absences, why not let the pattern speak its lesson of constraint and get from it what help we can to navigate what silences? * or: racks and lacks Dec 31, 1981; Jul 1982 Maybe Perhaps and then the surly earth will care holes rebirth what preciously they dress atoms burnt to curling air regress liquid swirls emerge from their down lair Perhaps and yielded flesh regenerate centers of our love appealed express reeling suns X-ed energies address reap and seal and recapitulate Perhaps then secrets pairingly we share patterns glaringly we imitate puzzles daringly we postulate caringly will deepen then and there Perhaps and then and where the certain lapse the curtain end perhaps and fair perhaps Sep 1984 Birth
Come into the light, the end is now beginning. Crying in the morning, watch the sky. Some screw their faces, ask for other weather. Others chirp and gobble, might as well be bright. Hunters glisten, jaws are sharp. But what the hell, it isn’t dark. Aug 1983
Out to Pasture "I fear death, But once when it was close to me it was cowlike, It went moo." Reed Whittemore (1974) Fey ogre, dragon, reaper, skull and bones, dark siren, empty executioner, I dub them gentle cud-caressing cows, so now there’s not one Death but a placid herd of hit-cows winding up to put us down and softly moo at us when laying low, and as we toil our homeward ways we know a curfew ruminant will sidle near to part us. What are you afraid of now? Cows. Sep 1982 Making the Cut Death may find them undisturbed, these easy cronies of the barbershop
who check in every now and then to swap their tales of foreign parts and hearts perturbed and how their doctors do their medicine, and what’s been lately cut from those now stopped at patient nurseries for the coming crop, and who have lately had their final trim. They sound as used to death as dropping in to gossip with the barbers while they trim the growing, graying, falling, turning bare barometer of our decay, our hair. To them that snicking scythe today appears as easy as the barbers’ clicking shears. Jul, Aug 1982
"The earth hath bubbles, as the water has" Hamlet I’d like bubbles for the days to cuddle our sweet bodies in opaque to other time and rainbows on their faces and when one day explodes a swift decay to tickle us. May 1981
Mine Eyes Have Seen The undergrowth is spreading here like smoke and not much sun slides through the summer leaves up where the branches try to hold you back.
Here’s a place the printed guide says someone mined for copper a hundred years ago and sure enough the site still shows some ore. But that’s not why this trail is in the book, it’s not the abandoned mine but the waterfall that’s roaring like a mill of summer rain and that now you see above you out of reach, a sudden brightness embracing green, a weaving spirit wrestling with the trees. Jun, Aug 1982; Jul 1984 Doubting Thomas "Do not go gentle into that good night" Dylan Thomas Go gentle to that cuddling, curdling night. Let lilac leaves and soda pop remain. Do not, in raging, wreck the gentle rain nor, angered, bind sweet sinning from its flight. Though faith decant and hope and fair be blight, and fertile love itself at last prove bane, let peppermint and panoply attain what chancy careless anodyne they might. Though future fail and heaven not requite our ghost descendancy to this bright plane, your cheapjack Armageddon raves in vain. Not all exploding hate will set things right. So friend, lie gently down to restful riddle. Do not rage. Well . . . maybe just a little. Nov 1984 Pat Impending Not I nor you nor brain’s artillery can lapse the cracked encroach of bleak display and God that crafty country boy
gives way to lack of information. Pray for He. How come you rule me like you do, did, dung? That Tuesday rose and dendrons didn’t know. Dull Wednesday, Armageddon didn’t show. Some garden plots are better not begun. Not eye nor U nor rain’s exhilary can crack the lapsed approach of gleet array so dog that crafty country boy whose way is stacked with invocation. Merrily. Go gently in that fright for wotthehell It serves the higher purchase Just as well. Nov 1984 Splitting Time pods we are, containers of our histories. The old, whose time is short, hold more of it than those whose time (perhaps) is long. We scatter seeds, our DNA and what we say and build, and when (for pods should burst) we die, we scatter seeds again. Aug, Oct 1981 Queen of Circumstance (for Aunt Thelma) Hobbling, as she has to, on her canes she walks the three blocks to the corner drugstore in half an hour, past the sword palmettos.
Now alone, she makes this pilgrimage the pivot and affection of her day. Her well-intentioned doctor wants her in a nursing home because of her wobbly knees and cancer of the colon, but she says no, she won’t give up her customary places, her doilied chair and choice of television. So most days now she plods her patient way to the drugstore where the old clerks teach the new to brace and pamper her among the patent pills and tuna sandwiches, no less than queens of circumstance deserve. Jan 1, 1982 Salute to Sasha When he referred to his predicament those months, he used the ancient metaphor of going on a journey (trite, perhaps, but then he claimed no poetry). When he bumped into a wall or broke a cup he said he was always tense before a trip. At last he left by fire and air and water and bequeathed a kind of wordless poem by ordering his ashes to be flown and dropped into the harbor of New York where he had entered 50 years before. Apr, Jul, Aug 1982
Obituary Professor S. died recently at home who once had loved the classics which he taught and filled his house with souvenirs he bought on journeys to the Middle East and Rome, and ever since his wife died lived alone among
his tarnished coins and smelly pots, his paintings, cards and cheap forget-me-nots, no longer comprehending what he owned. He died without a will and what he saved passed to the state whose agents weren’t displeased when they had some of what he left assessed, a pictured vase an ancient whore had craved, the golden coins and emperor had seized, a cross he thought some ancient saint had blessed. Nov 1980; Aug, Sep 1981 Star Peace I’m waiting for a weekday hero, no sorcery or space escapes, just a natural kindness and a gift for blinding Death with laser-like illuminants so people seated awkwardly in X-ray waiting rooms will see their shadows glorified, so people drunk with bleeding through any openings we have or give will bathe in massless photons as the red blood cools and blackens, so all the people I could mention but who would make this poem too long and probably depress you, will liquefy to light, the only thing, some physicists say, which really lasts. July, Aug, Oct 1981; Jul 1984
2. Turns Among Many Harmonice mundi
The scans and dots enhance these other worlds, the red rock plains of Mars, the red spun reel of Jupiter, the brash and crystal wheels of Saturn, all the moons, their pocks and swirls, blue ice and hot volcanic curls, the planets' clouds and what the clouds conceal and what the rifts and surfaces reveal to Voyagers, the silver spiders hurled a billion miles and still a part of Earth since what they signal to their place of birth reminds me what the tantrum world might mean and makes me happier for having seen in pampered safety here, from by TV, a vision of the gorgeous harmony. Nov 1980 Entropy Parting pairs and states betray the patterns of the holy. Even the stars on course decay although, of course, more slowly. Jul 1982 Cosmologists "The radiation from the early universe should by now have expanded to such an extent that its temperature has dropped to as low as about 3 K." 1. There's no one ranks them for audacity. They say the world, well-loaded point in wait, blew up one day and spewed out t (time), s (space) and then a slew of spiral galaxies. I bow before their wild ability to theorize and slickly calculate the birth of stars from quantum states and other wonders leading up to me.
But I sometimes think how pleasant it would be if they could find behind the background haze some acts more touching than the lepton phase --a song, perhaps, or notes on perfidy, an ancient pas de deux, a family tree with portraits of the causes of 3 K. 2. Swift origin: a singularity exploded to expanding time and space and from excited quantum states created our spun light, the spiral galaxies. So bow before the probabilities that turned the universe from early rays into an older world in which we brave and which we chalk with strange cosmologies, and though I think how pleasant it would be if we could find within the background haze a past more touching than the lepton phase, still, theories too contain a poetry. Though crabbed equations lack humanity, they glorify the genesis of blaze. Sep, Oct 1981; Aug 1982
We Also Swerve "If the atoms did not have this swerve, they would all fall straight down through the deep void like drops of rain . . . Thus Nature would never have created anything." Lucretius
This is a world with convictions in spite of hesitant hands. Though faith fail to furnish prescriptions the trees swallow rivers and stand. This is a world with conditions in spite of plangent desires. The world has its circular missions and we are its tangents to fire. Jun, Jul 1982 Thinking Time "And the source of coming-to-be for existing things is that into which destruction, too, happens, 'according to necessity; for they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of Time' . . . " Anaximander, 6th century B.C., containing the earliest words known today of any Greek philosopher The air our ash, the earth our solemn bones the sea our cold remains, the elements demand a payment for our chance offense, due when our culminating act atones for our epiphany, that threat to stones. attack on space and matter's eminence made by burgeoning intelligence that no materiality condones. Or are they thinking too, the stones, the seas, the restless atoms, quarks, the elements of elements, our thoughts, our very thoughts alive and thinking thoughts of thoughts like these but all consigned to such impermanence and recompense as trying Time allots? Feb, Mar 1979 Darwin's Music Disciples of Pythagoras report a music made by bodies as they move. When Newton, plagued by time, tuned in his muse, he manufactured theories for the chords.
"And ... whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved." (These are the final words of Darwin's Origin of Species.) The worms and plants of Darwin's tangled earth and other forms produce a music too, and protein codes are scores that carry tunes for protean performances of birth. Apr, Aug, Oct 1981 Evolution On just one day, a single turn of earth, some unknown millions of years ago, the first dicotyledon must have grown, and every spring the earth salutes its birth. No one can know the shade tree as it was, whole types are gone whose grace no longer grows. A random few have left their shapes in stones, the rest have disappeared, as living does. The patterns stay which fit the changes most. The last dicotyledon may ascend one day, and shade trees never grow again. Time makes the most insistent matter ghosts but nothing time controls will bring an end to beauty in the patterns which have been. Apr, Aug 1981
Life on Earth I may make do with having been an instance of profusion, my species one of many, not framed so colorful as some ornate varieties, and less at home, although adept, at times, at saying so.
Jan, Mar 1982
3. Love Laughs Last time was/is a company of suns is down in flight and will not burn the brilliant rains again nor rise to saturate with days the bright and absent lands where we have been those suns gone down no longer heat as when they crossed and left their trails of feeding light and now we cannot touch that altered then nor bow to set the ancient motions right my love alive we find ourselves near night and mourn the suns which tumbled to their end in that far sea where still our dreams descend and shall until a darkness stops our night still let's conceive that somewhere set away those suns that elsewhen burnt burn yet today Jan, Mar 1979; Oct 1980
Last Divide If ever I banked on ending at our skins I know now I was wrong. You or I will tell some disposer of remains to burn the other down but what he burns will not be one of us. I've been practicing at pulling us apart in case what's left is me. As lovely as our coupled bodies are what really marries us is power joining parts no one can see. Feb 1981
To you I say In none of our bright cities do we stay when we are dead nor shall we cherish views when sky blue grass green earth brown matters weigh if you and I are not still I and you. The pieces wholes and parts of parts decay and if there be an everlasting glue which holds the world then though it sty does glue love strive sing wait for wonders too? I madly dream that we shall find a way when we are dead to meet and set out new or barring that I plot that worlds replay and we may join again what we now do. But if we die for good why then goodbye. We had the world we loved in, you and I. Nov 1980, Aug 1981
To Dawn Warrior, we constituted battles. You honed yourself on my blade, I on yours. With mounting joy, we wrestled in the flesh. Out souls were hurt but healed like woven snakes. Builder, we manufactured people, made them peaks and fabricated valleys.
And coveting Pythagorean spheres we turned the whirling world into our minds. Voyager, we're taking on some water, two creaking convoys in a common sea. Whatever we are guarding will remain as long as we are close enough to shout. Dec 1978 Consolation And well, you know, some day the sun will die and spoil the neighborhood, and all bright games will slough at night, and all of Plato's names take flight. No problem, heavens, you and I will be persuaded to transmogrify and settle down to toast uncircled flames before the great palatinate proclaims the world to condescend to, bye and bye. Well then, no matter, do the tricks you try to play on me, upend my drawing near to you and (sigh) no matter how you cry to me about the pinions of the year I know that I can still identify with burning toasts and stars the disappear. Oct 1984
Excelsior The hill sings grass but you hold back, afraid to test the path which seems to drop to nowhere, while I push on to someone's old remains, small stones arranged like messages, amid ashes, beer cans, condoms, left in this slight declivity,
shelter on the summit, with room enough for fire. Come love, we'll overcome the trash and lie as if we were alone, together, higher than the world, but low enough to keep us warm. Jul, Aug 1981 when we were young remember love when we were young and where insistent to each other we would be incorporate in gritty ecstasy in fields of moon and we were lovelike there and inside when we lay we could outwear the night and listen to the strategy of banging freight cars being joined while we set voyages of which we weren't aware no greater mystery excepting death will penetrate our days and make fulfill the monuments of flesh in which we care until the day we break our beating breath and time must discontain us waiting still remember love when we were young and where Jan 1979
May The waves from the open window wrest gently here as I nest along you.
The traffic sounds are locusts, the fumes of spring stronger than exhaust. Today I do not feel I must apologize to you for the world. May 1984
4. Roomers of Wars Opening Cheap bars sell razor blades so I bought a pack and sawed at my wrists a little in the men's room and tried to look as if I were dying of some red victory in front of the urinal. Some guy who came in to relieve himself went and told the bartender there's a soldier in the men's room with his wrists cut but not too badly so they left me there like a dripping mop and started talking about something else which you understand was was not what I expected. After a while I got up and like a cat who hurts its paw swiping at a bug I slunk from the bar as nonchalantly as I could That was a long time ago and they were little cuts, I guess, but my wrists still show the scars
and it's only sinking in now how dull death really is. Jul 1982
War Story That distant war was in its final year. We labored in the bloated island sun to get a ward for wounded sailors done, the air too think, the sweating sky too near. An engine roared and all of us could see each time the fighter pilot made a run and practiced his maneuvers one by one, diving, rising, twisting to get free. A loud descent began. Then something failed. I said out loud, that guy is going to crash. The plane, so close I saw the pilot's eye, was stopped by earth. The engine parts impaled the flying man. We saw his body splash. It was, I thought, a messy way to die. Dec 1978, Jan, Feb, Mar 1979
Letter Fragment (World War II)
He used his skull. He stuck it on a post. Some Jap had lost his head (ha ha). To get at home with death, I guess. Or maybe let his meanness out, or maybe just to boast. Whatever. A marine I know has rows of testicles in alcohol. He set his heart on getting balls and you can bet he did. Some shit. But that's the way it goes. Another friend of mine put lots of work in, pulling teeth from skulls and stringing them into a necklace. Then he sat and wrote his girl and told her he was bringing her a gift. I feel a little funny when I think of those old teeth around her throat. Jan 1979
Delayed Green "Yet, if, in the foggy Aleutians, if on the misty Island of Kiska, island of Attu, any Flower, however weak and bleak, appears In spring ... We must ask the men who have been there; they will know." Edna St. Vincent Millay (1940) "The pressure of public events turned her more and more toward propaganda-verse before and during World War II." John Frederick Nims (1981) I undertake to answer, even now. I was there and foggily recall the flowers, not weak or bleak, though small that sprang surprisingly from earth somehow in spring and collected in blue moving crowds. The Aleutians, we used to say, get lots of sun: I think last year the sun came on a Monday. But then the flowers rose and spoke out loud. I guess there was a lot of fog but I remember most the biting sand that blew through fastened windows, into food and teeth, and formed a howling grit that hid the sky
Well, that was long ago, before we knew the missiles make those edges obsolete. Jul 1982, Dec 1984
The Hostages' Release The former hostages were mostly masked by duty; by the strangeness of their stay by wanting to display the wholesome grace a hundred million viewers asked of them; and masked again by television news, a play on lives, whose flickers tattled to humiliate us nightly with defeat and then to mass us for a late success. A tearlit girl, beside a road to cheer, when asked what all this meant to her, said she could pass it on, a souvenir, and she was now a part of history: and Pauline on the road to memory, she clutched at time to frame and fasten on the wall. Feb 1981, Jul, Aug 1982
How The Battle Begins On October's day in the year unknown The soldiers without claim are standing, Waiting, afraid before the cave, the gate, The red screw of morning, the livid dawn. "Be fast," the Captain whispers, "when the Bugle sounds the reveille. We will Undertake the enemy, rapist of our pay, Usurper of the bells, anomalies." "The Captain," says Private Sticking, looking Sidelong at this watch, "is an ass. I wish I Were with Giants, or artful Dodgers. What self-consuming program made us this?" "Quite, men," the Captain hisses, "I see The sweat of perfidy shining juicy In my crosshairs. Forward, you bastards, Do you want to respirate forever?" And the Captain bares his weapon and his wand And is translated to a moist powder Whose spray is not lost on Private Sticking Who nevertheless cries, "Shit!" and fires. May 1984
Passing Through Three Intervals of Time 1944 The struggling hills looked drowning in the fog the winter noon we sailed from San Francisco. By dusk the frames were gibbering like cats and made me wonder how the rivets held and plates kept out a cemetery sea. At chow that night the ship rolled wild and trays left unsecured jumped out and slammed against the bulkheads. Before the crapulence was done a greasy slop of gravy gravitated back and forth across our boots.
First day on Guam I went to pee beside a path and suddenly five or six Chamorro women walked solemnly surveying me toward a hut I found out later was their church. It only struck me then that ordinary people might be doing ordinary things around a battle for their home. We wondered if the natives kept their Japanese money in case we lost, having had their paths peed on first by the Spanish, then by us, then the Japanese, then us again. This time with landing barges, tanks, B-29’s, a hundred thousand troops, and all the passing piss of war. 1963 The beaming hills were bathing in the sun the afternoon we sailed from San Francisco. By dusk the waves were splitting at the helm like cream. At the rail I hypnotized myself with the rhythms of the ship and sea. That night at dinner waiters dressed in white served consommé and duck and pastry trays. Before the elegance was done we felt the lure of artificial privilege and the poised excitement of first nights out. The day we landed in Tahiti, vanilla filled the air and we saw the local dancers practicing like athletes for the annual trials. We had to dodge the motor scooters and bought two tikis from a Frenchman who carved them himself. We overheard a tourist ask an islander if there were any places still unspoiled and he said not since Captain Cook. An ex-insurance agent from New Zealand found us a breadfruit tree and said the making of the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” nearly wrecked the island’s economy. Then he took us to a black sand beach and diamond waterfalls
and mountains set in clouds. 1967 The smell in Papeete’s bay this time was diesel fuel, hot fresh vanilla because de Gaulle sent out the legionnaires to build a place for testing atom bombs. But Guam, somebody says, was smelling better. (date unknown)
Matched Pair 1. Common Place (c. 1950) For months I scanned the teletype’s strange creeds: late weather, short supplies, condensed commands, the Air Corps flight plans, and codes I couldn’t read. Upstairs the Air Corps also got its plans; downstairs the Signal Corps, by way of me, got duplicates that no one seemed to need. One day I saw that where two air lanes crossed, two airplanes had been scheduled to collide— Red 40, Green 8: same time, same height. I ran upstairs and told an officer. “You’re drunk,” he said at first—but I was right. He radioed one plane to change its course, and since we didn’t want to get some crew in trouble, no one else there ever knew. 2. One Track Mind (c. 1890) My grandfather’s first job was driving drays, horse-drawn wagons, to and from the trains. One night (the family story goes) he ran and shouted at the agent that two trains were on one track and headed for a crash.
“Go on, Brown, you’re drunk,” the agent said. (We always laughed at this—he never drank.) My grandfather went and looked and then ran back. “God damn it, Bartee” (another laugh—we had a myth he also never swore) “God damn it, Bartee,” he said, “those trains are on the same track.” The swearing (we said) convinced the agent, who ran and threw a switch and made young Brown a hero, for a while, though now not many of us know. (date unknown)
5. The Play Goes On Counterattack This is a poem with rhythm, not suited for those who despair, for the lanterns of tragical vision shine poorly in this simple air. This is a poem with rhyming, not fit for the steadfastly mordant for the jangles of cultures declining seldom sound so naively concordant This is a poem with meaning, not suited for static defense, for the rhythm reflects the world leaping and the rhymes, the world making sense. Jan 1982
Structure I like these thicket theories: sound systems, mused harmonies
of meter with natural strains, contrapuns, apologies, economies and ironies, linguistic sexuality, metaphors, metonymies, sin and diachronicity, die and synchronicity, time tumbled by eternity, chains, change and counterclaims. But why will some words hurt or heal as well as herbs can do, or steel? Dec 1981, Jul 1982
The Progress of Poesity He dabbles in profundity on every other Mundity & wrestles with lucidity afterwards on Tuesity & argues with acerbity on Wednesdity & Thursdity to convince his wife, the mightity, of what he means by Fridity. (Off Saturditties & Sundelays.) Jun 1982
Many lines roast time and death. Nicht neues noch am Westen. Other lays toast love and sects. Maxime regnat pontifex. Still other spokes adorn the day. Il y a bien un âge dorée. Every poker ascertains so. La vida, Sancho, sea sueño. Nov 1984
Basketball Fans In church they sit as silent as decay to which, perhaps, they mean to pay respect. At work, at home, they're quiet and correct and usually as careful when they play. But here they bounce around and stamp and roar while business-suited coaches sweat out schemes for baffling the hopes of other teams and making players, briefly, something else. The game is fleeting as an ice cream swirl but deeper than desserts. That skinny girl who danced for cheers and near the end was spread like a flamingo doing splits, her head bent down as if in prayer -- was the grace in that great hall a blessing out of place? May 1981
This mote is rustle dust and filigree, a fine divide of chaos from conception, no messages intended past reception like music, wind and sugar in the sea. Be like a nectar drop and bumble bee and nimble cart of fribbling confection, a sting or two inserted for protection, like peppermints and counter melody. and be a sound of burble pot and tea and tinkle cup and moderate intention according to a temperate convention, so bound, so free, so calm intensity. I had in mind to speak you mysteries like ting and tang, like surface lines like these. Mar 1982
Sweet Maybe Blues Sweet, someday, maybe, this big bus will take me, sweet, maybe, someday, bring me back to you, but now there ain't no way for you to make me just hang around and be your honeydew. I know you'd like to have me do my duty. Sweet, maybe, someday, that's the way I'll be. I'd like to wait and be your tutti-frutti but now I got to ride this bus and see. Sweet maybe someday blues is what I got and wonder if I'd maybe better not. I'd like to be your Sunday baby someday and someday may be longer than I thought. If this big bus won't bring me back, I'll lose, and maybe have to sing sweet maybe blues. Jan 1981
Farewell by Callimachus
(translated from the Greek) They told me your fate, Heraclitus and I began to cry; I thought how often with our talk we chased the sun from the sky. Friend from Halicarnassus, though you were ashes long ago, your songbirds live; light-fingered death will never reach for those. Spring 1976 (?), Aug 1981, Aug 1982
Epitaph Traveler His Motto Was Endure And So He Does. Jan 1982 Affirmation I am singing to you, singing, words that rise to mind the pinkish blossoms blowing and seeds for days to bind. Green is promissory, the currency of spring. Sunlight promontories color what they bring. Scatter, blossoms, blowing, beckon to the rounds. Swirl, pleasant petals, skirring. Summer gently sounds. Apr, Dec 1981, Feb 1982 Names
The people are marching the ridge. What was the name of the ridge Between the first and the second great ice? Between the second and the third? Just before the last retreat? What were the names of the people, Your father a thousand times removed, Your mother in the snow? What were the names of the rivers Before the rivers had names? What did the gods call the living Before the living could hear? What were the names of the gods? What is your name? What are the names of the people? Where are the names? (date unknown)
Trees The cabbage priest with sauerkraut hair Rules the ravenous kingdom. Trees, it says, nothing but trees, Bilateral trees, looking with leaves, Roots in the earth, afraid in the dark, Deciphering news from the air, Dancing drops, cilia, dendrites, The branches and roots of wandering trees, Some in tight embraces, Reaching to touch and devour, The turkey king with maggots for hair Rules the slobbering trees. The sparrow prince with feathery hair Rules the spellcast kingdom. Trees, it says, sing me the trees, Trees written large, trees written small, Roots in invisible subjects, Deciphering news from the air,
Sending signals to nowhere, Dancing sounds, waiting signs, Some in tight embraces, Reaching to touch and declare. The cosmical count with starbeams for hair Rules the rustle of trees. (date unknown)