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“She is one of those village beauties of which the South is so prodigal. From the sleaziest house in the sleaziest town, from the loins of redneck pa and rockface ma spring these lovelies, these rosy-cheeked Anglo-Saxon lovelies, by the million. They are commoner than sparrows, and like sparrows they are at home in the streets, in the parks, on doorsteps. No one marvels at them; no one holds them dear. . . . But I marvel at them; I miss them; I hold them dear.” ~Walker Percy
“Consider nature. She wishes the plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, and zoophytes, which she has created to be perpetuated and to last into all successive ages, without the species ever dying out, although the individuals perish. She has cunningly armed their germs and seeds, therefore, in which lies this same perpetuity. She has provided and covered them, with admirable ingenuity, with husks, sheaths, caps, kernels, small cups, shells, ears, down, bark, and prickly hulls, which are to them like fine, strong natural codpieces. . . . Rabelais from Gargantua and Pantagruel in praise of the codpiece. Book III Chapter 8.
The Power of Stones
Sergeant Ladd of forty or more years ago,
neck deep in rivers, carried a pocket of rocks
A listening post, his listening post, told to be quiet,
told to watch out for snakes, told not to fire a shot
the sergeant is responsible.
(the enemy is watching)
But one night the soldiers
shaken to alertness
keying the mic, disturbing the peace –
“What is the problem?”
“There’s a big cat.”
“What is the problem??”
“It’s a very big cat – Sarge!”
inside the perimeter the cat set off a flare
the LP was told not to fire a shot,
instead, the Sergeant had them pile up stones
(every conversation is recorded)
and pelt the cat with stones
and they did.
The big cat vanished back
into the dark green jungle world
that we visited with our technology
The herring fill the brook, the brook that runs from Warwick pond to the bay near Conimicut Point – where large squeteague and striped bass are caught,
where piles of horseshoe crabs gather
– Buckeye brook, numbers incomprehensible, of shining bright-eyed fast individuals, slippery, and mirrored.
A dense, thick stream of fish, you put your arm in and feel them slip around you, but not each one, all of them- those to come,
you touch those busily speeding up-stream, as fast as a rushing stream going the wrong way, flowing from ocean to pond, by the tons, each second, each microsecond each individual gone gone gone.
People have still not damned the brook, they haven’t stopped the small watershed, they live all around the trickle of water, no fish ladders needed, even when the children joyfully kill them, smashing the water with machetes on the weekends, and with boards after school, collecting the injured ones, laughing at their thrashing suffering, tossing them onto shore with wide ugly grins.
Still they come. Triggered by their millennium of doing, of responding, spawning in the filthy city lake by the airport – as we know it – a kettle pond, a remnant of a glacier, a sink, a drain of a city, pouring it’s filthy water into the filthy bay, yet the fish come back, hundreds of thousands of them blasting in bottle-necked mass.
The wonder of which when you stand and watch, you can barely imagine the point of,
tears appear in your eyes and you feel daft as a growling stumblebum – this piddle of a wet nothingness,
tarred over, bridged, drained into
– piss –
and you feel spiritual,LOOKat them!
A three and a half mile long, giant rope of fish.
And then it’s over.
Until next year.
For No Reason At All
Matters may be complicated,
tiny Peruvian women
strictly avoid contact
their beautiful eyes,
dark as polished obsidian,
tearfully request asylum
and bitterly accuse friends of
Hindi girls, hand in hand,
wear their dresses in the surf,
disregard the weather and
sing movie songs together –
posing with statues of Wilbur and Orville.
from Wilmington, Goldsboro,
quote from Godard movies,
wrap melon withprosciutto,
feed you with lovely painted nails,
snicker at their phony acquaintances
while passing around babies
as hot and sticky
as parked cars and candy apples.
One day the master picks up his horn
and realizes he cannot stand to hear
himself repeat the familiar
not anymore, not for anyone, not ever again.
After a moment his lips find the spot
and he exhales a squall;
a racket. The sound of ancient birds fucking.
The creation of the universe and of cataclysm and seizures – awakening
Orpheus to move Hades.
He knows that if he must play anything about mittens
or about kittens
he will, of course, die.
But he doesn’t know how to stop.
(Despite Miles telling him, “Try taking the m*therf*cker out of your mouth!”)
After A Wallace Stegner Article
Where each hallucinating child of Europe
Rushed to plunder the speed bump known as the west.
The fantasy of easy wealth clashed with the stone age.
De Soto Coronado de Vaca and the folly of armies
Still carrying Mandarin formal attire in their bark canoes.
Unaccounted horrors exacted,
No justice nor memorial for those quashed.
The Old World became wealthy.
While pirates like Drake redistributed the stolen to his queen,
And sweet Britain rose to pay off her debts.
Wealth rides the labored and broken backs of the disregarded like the leaves of the fall,
Crushed into submission by those simply willing to force their ends.
Not for farmlands, or the respectable efforts of settlement and freedom,
But for loot, plain and simple.
King Big Bear
In the mountains of Taiwan
King Big Bear belched
While hauling equipment up the steep
The sound echoed throughout the valley
amusing the guides
And frightening some village maidens
The Great Gulf Coast Oil Slick
The vitreous fluid of eyeball Earth
punctured and ruptured
by a mean little girl
inevitably choking uncountable seabirds
Our peripheral vision
leaking on to the beaches
where tears flow for
our wounded eye
The Great Gulf Coast Oil slick
(“What did you expect?” said some cynical prick)
Satisfied No Walker Percy Fantasy
With each step
she is calling me a name
when she asks me
a question she doesn’t really
want to know
I mistook her smile, her kisses,
her falling into me
for something precious
Precious as a cockatoo
at the top of a pine tree
On the beach I admired her sandy toes
and photographed her pout and squint
Pelicans in threes floated
without having to fly
In a New Orleans cafe
a waitress lacking her glasses
narrowed her eyes to see us
and made my fickle heart flutter
Bronze beauties glint in the sun
drippings of muscadine
some of 2
others of 4
perfectly inhaling the summer’s gifts
tiny worlds where giants tread
and assume their prominence
A mid five dozen
The world sheds thousands of millennia
There can be no “self” in their winged dance
Only shining, slick action
No dragonfly goes for a walk
No dragonfly lady feels a dragonfly man
They, yet, are enduring
Blackened wires going to something
burn on the engine block
the unlearned shapes of the unknown
a white smoke vaporizing in the sun
smiles exchanged with the church ladies
a ruined towel soaking the unmistakable car piss
warm low tide stench – a green rivulet rolling away down the parking lot
The children dropped off for the day care
the basketball hoop
the green sticky mess
the sand box the marshmallow
the idle is rough but the temperature is correct
in gear and a highway away
I never noticed
even when so many illustrations
over many years
attempted to make it clear
that there was a man’s face in the glowing disk
of the full moon.
The man in the moon is invisible to me.
I turn and I squint
and I almost can make out the classic representation.
I know that people are brilliant
at making faces out of nothing,
hearing voices in white noise,
and making causal relations
out of randomevents.
and grumpy curs,
and academic achievers
have no control
over the struggle of our
brains to create patterns
But despite this
I don’t see a man in the moon
even with the help of new glasses.
A Four Note Scale
It is no spiritualism
to presume to be
in a bird.
Your constituent amino acids
by a sipper of your hot oxygenated fluid.
You become mosquito,
and mosquitoes share your proteins.
Dragonflies, and bats take you into the sky
day and night.
A four note scale, playing all of life’s melodies.
vertigo and then
Wasp powder clicking
a certain factor
a negligent elocution.
Pony gripping, wild-assed –
model practiced her pomme
and pronounced wildcat
at the party
with perfect lewdness
At Point Judith
after a storm
rays curl dying on the cobble beach.
We run through
the buried world war II
after squeezing through
toothy holes in the earth.
It is amazing to imagine
these were once
meant to protect from the Germans.
Could any foresee
the harmless rabbit warren
where teenagers would drag
their tolerant girlfriends
and have sex on the damp concrete
in the pitch blackness
smelling of salamanders
and poke weed.
It is easy to forget
there’s no one there anymore
a heart, a breath,
shoes and socks,
eggs boiling on the stove,
a bag of sweet potatoes,
footsteps on the stairs,
(the weight of which is surprising for such a little person)
a Camus novel returned,
I didn’t ask where she was going.
Somehow As I Roll Down Hillsborough St.
my windows open, Eno’s warm jets loud and clear
I transcend to an earlier time – hallucinations of a time of youth
especially of things – I soon realize – never were
I reminisce about things I did not do
I feel nostalgic about things I did not have
I feel anxious and forlorn over girls
and intimacy that was never mine
I smell the fall leaves
dropping in moist mass
on the grass and tar
the refreshing coolness of another summeroppression survived
and singing along to songs never known
and enjoying memories not mine
I laugh to myself
entirely full of shit
In the mountains of Fushan
Daniella gripped the edge of the coffee table
with her little bare toes
and throwing down her cards
yelled “Truco!” with a grin.
The monkeys heeding our approach
vacated a small bridge over a stream
and began to play with an overhanging branch
splashing down into the water and back out
I had not noticed how
when the light had moved across it . . .
well never mind now.
So many have such difficulty
and I could not imagine saying: “I was only kidding.”
I really did appreciate the gesture
and thought I could not then say: “Thank you.”
found in the cool night
in a rose garden
in the midst of town.
I knew I had made my investment
on a run down picnic table.
It took me longer I suppose
but does that imply anything else?
Isn’t there also an issue of quality?
Paper used to be exorbitant
each stroke had to count
Peeled perhaps from some white birch.
Honestly, there isn’t another possibility
and while I know youbelievein yourself
I mayreservejudgement and this should not worry you.
Of course if we expected life to go on
despite our plain existence
maybe we would have saved
some of the cookie dough ice cream
for a future evening.
How could we have expected,
despite the lack of love life,
that our hearts would
probably beat on for years more than we anticipated.
We may have to plan
many more desserts
and grocery trips
than we could have imagined.
One Hot Adolescent Night
One hot adolescent night
Silky with authenticity
No native harvest dance
(no “it” of tourist experience)
moonspotting and cricket buzzing
a mostly remembered vampire story
sitting on historic gravestones
scaring complicit, mosquito-bit girls
with reservoir monsters
[and then nothing happened]
grown-ups drank and threw cherry bombs
which exploded in the murky pond
where later, Kelly Divine would change
into her teenager’s bathing suit
everything both endless and perfectly agonizingly nothing
where a line of my little brother’s
Weebles served my desire for a .22 caliber
Disappointing dad, despite the authenticity
How I’ve failed:
i have been thinking about the things I’ve learned this year.
that nations follow patterns
and people rise in revolution and wane in fear
that the products we devote to
are the pleasures we hope for
while the great thinkers mold
their books used to hold open a door
we imagine our voices
are valuable and witty
despite our pitiable ignorance
in spite of a spiral so giddy
repeated and cyclical
baby makers and the practical minded
happiness of accepting what is given
is why we are blinded
there are some who do not simply live
some who do not simply perpetuate
some do not fall for “tradition’
some do not rise just to abate
How the sea has failed:
where the land juts skyward
defiantly remaining despite the battery
mindlessly existing to try hard
its recalcitrant creatures
crawling out to fill
every possible nook
a civil war against the gill
a permanent apostasy
abandonment of comfort
the minions claim dominions
the storm and tide consort
never able to control her salt
in every teaspoon a viral crowd
chalk white deserts her touches halt
her surfaces crawl with expensive jewelry
plundered and plowed under
flickered and slicked and greased
powerless to anything but blunder