Feigning a Fine Fettle

This Final Fall

In a line of people filing out, I am last.

I tried to wait, to see the end, to stall,

Because I looked out at the gulfing space, vast,

Saw those before me, little specks, fall,

But joined them anyway, the time past

To stop and consider anything at all.

(more…)

The Long Fade

Blake_Dante_Hell_V

The Lover’s Whirlwind – WIlliam Blake, 1823

 

It’s a long fade into yourself then a short

snap out.

 

Like tension drawn on a cord,

stretching-

stretching-

stretching-

before the snap! sends you reeling into the void.

 

(you’re nowhere to be found)

 

They’ll pick up the pieces afterwards, those whose shadows are still long on the ground.

They’ll mound the dirt and sweep the stones bare, then exit the stage while casting their shadows-

long and dark and vital-

stretching-

stretching-

stretching-

interminably beneath the sun.

All That’s Left

Rainy Day, Boston - Childe Hassam, 1885

Rainy Day, Boston – Childe Hassam, 1885

A flash of gold and a ribbon of blue

Glimmered briefly on a rain-swept street-

These fragments are all that’s left of you.

 

Or faces half seen in puddles at my feet-

By tread and discord they disperse-

Glimmered briefly on a rain-swept street.

(more…)

The Tenfold Harvest

Man with a Hoe, Jean-Francois Millet, ca. 1860-62

Man with a Hoe – Jean-Francois Millet, ca. 1860-62

I’ve walked against the earth

as it turns, as can attest

the shuffling trace of my steps

 

And I’ve plowed furrows that run

long, parallel lines across

sun-burnt brown expanses

 

And I’ve sown the seeds

here in the dirt I must, without

regard to path, rock, or thorn

(more…)

Unquenched

Sargent,_John_Singer_(RA)_-_Gassed_-_Google_Art_Project

Gassed – John Singer Sargent, 1919

The men huddled without hope in their trench,

A jagged gouge exposed in the earth, ripped

Open like a wound. Their thirst went unquenched

No matter how much water they sipped.

 

A jagged gouge exposed in the earth, ripped

Like the tattered flags flapping in the wind.

No matter how much water they sipped,

The fire inside burned for everything to end.

(more…)

Forget what you had

Hopper, Excursion into Philosophy 1959

Excursion into Philosophy – Edward Hopper, 1959

Strains ride on billowed

Winds, traveling from somewhere

In time to this place

 

Like a dream slipped through

Narrow straits, like the sand that

Slips the hourglass

 

To rouse heavy lids

And to crank the mind awake

From memories locked

(more…)

Dismissal

Caspar_de_Crayer_Alexander_and_Diogenes

Alexander and Diogenes – Caspar de Crayer, ca. 1650

Humiliation and then bodily destruction:

The fire burning the bones, igniting

The marrow and crackling merrily,

Smacking its lips, perhaps to the savor

Of the melting flesh, or perhaps thinking

Of the lions enjoying their own flesh

Or the carrion birds and the scavenger

 

Dogs hunting for a foot poking from

Scant covering of dirt, or a hand

Grasping for the warmth of the sun

That has already descended past the

Hills around the city, sleeping as

Deep as the sorrow of the widow

And orphan, quietly huddled under

(more…)

Cataracts

The Spanish Capture of St. Kitts - Don Fadrique de Toledo, 1629

The Spanish Capture of St. Kitts by Don Fadrique de Toledo in 1629 – Felix Castelo, 1634

The sun beams upon the forgetful memory

Of an indolent island, lost, facing a warm sea,

The days as long and languid as the years

 

Stretched out. And boys play among the glossed wood

Plantations, aromatic of sugar, bananas, spice, sweat,

And human fear that wafts and billows loose shirt tails,

 

White as sheets or even sails, rocking tales dreaming over time

And waves to a boy who sits in a preternaturally quiet study,

Idly tracing the embossed figures fighting and dancing

(more…)

Automatic Response

Automat - Edward Hopper, 1927

Automat – Edward Hopper, 1927

Fan blades parcel apocalyptic light

Within a band, floating in the dark,

Sending sonorous waves of minced night

In a rapid, rhythmic electronic glower-

A buzzing sound sizzling solipsistic-

Metronomic, monolithic, monotone.

 

She’s solitary, party of one-

Closed-cropped expression,

Clipped, tight-lipped tongue.

Tile and steel, stainless reflection

Of the gulfing glass chasm reaching to caress

Compressed shoulders that shudder, breathing.

(more…)

On the Cusp

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1558

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus – Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1558

This is the smoky dark of fervid alms and seedy recitations: hats are low

slung frames that shade the barley, that shake the quivering jowls

of stubbed shadows [cigarettes dance in bouncing constellations

 

that flash moons in the tobacco haze] – and pastoral earth

hugs the ocean against a grey sky and shepherds keep watch

from the hills [they look to the light of the sun frozen in its ascent,

(more…)

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