States of Poetry Series One
From his ebony eyrie
the moon is salubrious,
round as the white lotus' root.
The desert's his adversary.
The moon is salubrious
with his godly left eye.
The desert's his adversary,
spiteful, like a hippopotamus.
With his godly left eye
the moon is neither ossuary,
Unexpected on a day like this—
sun shuttling through the 125th Street bridge,
plastic strung in Harlem's elms like tattered wreaths:
unseasonable, unreasonable spring.
Under the red shadow of the Grant tenements
lunchtime noshers clatter china at Bettolona,
dogwalkers spread out on the grass in Sakura Park,
men from the halfway home
drag their deckchair ...
How fine it is to mutiny
against my tired mind—
say self, you are through,
to smash into a mirrorball
of echoes all scaled
in dizzying Nordic blue
feel the universe tilt
and infinitely rebuild
like a skerrick of spindle silver
and never be held—
this is the freedom
of the uni ...
—for Vera Pavlova, in Mexico City
On the bus to Teotihuacan, we turn
a new god's name on our tongues
like a charm, jagging past
chocked over the motorway,
grey pixels stacked so high they merge
with the smoked white Mexican sky—
then a guitar player in the aisle
begins a song whose only familiar
Bebop sparkplug spurred in withershins,
loop-de-loop interloper, he hop-steps
ravines of bark, shirking faultlines,
going solo, headstrong, scion of impatience,
juddering like the stalled engine
of prop-plane on tundra runway, skirting
and skimming up, peeling out,
reeling in spiral, spy, scout, prematurely
thrusting into the unknown, Magellan
You tilt lapis to your lip –
a day light as wicker.
By the water, bullrushes bow
into sailboat blue, lace-necked
egrets fossick and pick,
and the elements rearrange
a goliath heron's skull to mud.
Up on the embankment
a crouching child scratches
his name into a temple wall.
Ultramarine, lapis lazuli—
Right at the back of the world's yard I am sitting. I have nothing.
I had a stone but lent it to the poet to put in his shoe. No sooner
did he turn into a slim golden feather that flew straight to the
sun that fed the snakes new skins. It could as easily have
resulted in ripe figs resting in baskets or unruly persimmon
trees twirling in fogged mountains. Regardless ...
Above us we hear the windmill yelping, circling like a trapped
dog while the house sits like a black skull on the hill. Above us
the tombs are rising from their rest and travelling along the
roads beneath trees turning sourly. Above us the wind flings
uncountable seed into the dignified light tossed through the
depths by a green moon rolling over and over in the sh ...