Hamilton Stone Review #17
here, above crumbled city ruins
where there’s only grass and wind,
below lay the sea, a few gulls
and a couple of vanishing sails;
dry, yellow sand
tossed in our faces by the wind.
you were transformed to sunset,
I – to an archeologist;
every evening your distant
over my hands;
and between us
in the burnt-out grass
clay water vessel’s
brownish shards . . .
here – we once quenched
each other’s thirst,
here – we find
one another’s shards . . .
Translated from Latvian by Inara Cedrins
te, virs sagrautas pilsētas drupām,
kur tikai zāle un vējš,
lejāk gulēja jūra, dažas kaijas
un pāris gaistošu buru;
sausas, dzeltenas smiltis
mums sejās iemeta vējš;
tu pārtapi saulrietā,
es – arheologā;
ik vakarus tava tālā
pār manām rokām;
un starp mums
brūnganās lauskas - -
te – mēs dzesējām reiz
viens otra slāpes,
te – mēs atrodam
viens otra lauskas....
“Keith the Butcher is better suited
to conduct my funeral than
Patrick the Parson,” Frank said in
Gloria Jean’s, coffee tasting
of burnt tar, muffin crumbling
on his off-white face. Mock
stained-glass windows framed
shoppers relieving aching backs
and knotted veins. “None of that God stuff
when they send me off,
mate. Dead's dead.” I forewent
a second cup, mentally ticked
off my list, threaded fingers through
handles of Coles bags, and stood to go.
“See ya, mate.” “Not if I see you first.”
In the car park, shopping propped
against my Toyota, I clicked
“unlock,” threw open the boot,
and paused, considering the metaphors
of everyday, cryptic tropes of our living tongue
wriggling in the minds of
late capitalist man. “Hot enough for you?”
asked the woman with
The Goddess Dances on her rear window.
By Elizabeth Lake
I weep profusely
into the cockeyed sofa
this blue sky
is a roof without relief
dance on raw red mince
this is strip-tease on the trapeze
these grapes I have forbidden myself
for liberty’s sake
for meditation on very young
suburban third-world love
herald the rising sun
in eccentric orbits around a setting earth
for this loss
I shamelessly weep
for these bloodstains
on my snow covered chimney sweep
for crows that are not jackdaws
for cardboard jousting-spears
and tiny electric cars
for bedraggled eagles
at last shorn
of my eagle’s pride
of wing sweep shifts
that geese make
to fly into afternoon wind
before they land
for this relearning of alphabets
abandoned on arthritic sand
seven from "sonnets"
from glasshouse chimes
sixpence to feed the flocks
sixpence to drown the rocks
sixpence to crack the eaves
sixpence to climb the stairs
until they end
sixpence to fell the leaves
sixpence to weave a blanket
without a thread
sixpence to dry the wells
sixpence to burn the hearts
in their lairs
sixpence to rock the bells
and hear them knell
until they stop
a room of scribbles and not of harvest
is like a shoreline full of riddles;
and when the riddles begin to sink,
it's like a goldrush full of absence;
and when the absence begins to linger,
it's like a handprint on the ocean;
and when the ocean falls asleep,
it's like a darkness in the marrow;
and when the marrow begins to stammer,
it's like a question through a prism;
and when the prism begins to breathe,
it's like a waltz upon a boat;
and when the boat begins to think,
it's like a scribbler in a room.
if all the seas were one big sea,
then cats would marry poodles.
if baby and i were baked in a pie,
the dog would eat the mop.
if the sun were to shine in the midst of the night,
i’d fly away with a pipe.
if a cat came fiddling out of a barn,
then plums would grow on thistles.
if i built a swine a silver sty,
then herrings would grow in the wood.
if all the food were paving stones,
then swans could swim the sea.
if apples enough were in the barrel,
then little jack could eat.
jacob’s coat of many colours covers
the earth. people sit on the coloured
stripes meditating on the moon.
the moon is stained with the blood
of shape-shifting priests in the form
of bats. the bats collide
with the radiant fossil despite
the tricks of their shifting swarms.
the people crane their necks
to see the spectacle, driven
like a vine searching for a glint
of light. and jacob? jacob’s fate
will be decided in the next story,
which recounts the revolt of the moon.
the levee of the mississippi, high
as a mountain ridge. the path, slippery, laced
with puddles. how small, human-sized
the vast river seems from this vantage point.
how ironic it’d be, drowning in a puddle imagining
the undertow of the mississippi. the levee
slopes down closer to the banks. i’m astonished
to see kittens delicately leaping onto the river
and padding with dry paws on diaphanous sheets
thrown onto the rippling current. mysterious
hands gently flap the sheets over the water and float
them for the kittens, hoards of them now
arriving at the shore, deftly bounding
onto the cloth spread by unknown hands.
footfalls on snow pass other footfalls.
underfoot, furrows crisscross the sleeping
kingdom. over sleep’s pages creep gambits.
in the king’s gambit, subjects open their books
to the flight of unorthodox birds. the birds announce
the untimely demise of the king. “it was time,”
they chirp, “for winter, and anyway, what’s
the matter with bad news? there’s cruelty
in the pirouettes of tinest matter. locks
cruelly breed locks.” with that, they flit away
to their otherworldly nests to breed more
discontent in the kingless realm. “there’s no time
for winter!” cries the king’s ghost as he watches
his subjects pass each other in the snow.
red balls bounce up the street,
splashing in the lavish rain.
they are propelled by the thoughts
of acrobats breathing orange ether,
ovalesque rhythm spreading
to their legs and arms. mechanical
crickets in the purplish dawn sprinkle
their chirrups onto the street, feeding
crops of children’s hands that sprout
along the sidewalk. the hands
break loose from their stems.
they are the swing shift.
they take over as bouncing red balls
retire to their slumber.
Used to be a tree
one of these days
standing like a tree farm
in motion in buses 2blocks long
slower than the sun slower than infection from this distance
cant tell who sneezed
is that a blue hat or a blue head
light used to be free
spectrum taste of water, the pristinity
even eloping digression
giving thanks to the mountain too far away to be tangible
lips lift, eyes get panoramic
memory of rooms full of the neighborhoods visiting cousins
no one random—get in the Sunday car, keep driving til the stores open—
town with an active mill a church with its own calendar
looks like a supermarket but with a glass roof & food growing inside
chickens carefully segregated all children must be leashed, shoes de-clodded
down one flight to winter, straw for air & absorption slowing time by touching no one
open a door roll back a wall shortcut through someone’s house
any car will do-- I turn a coat hanger into a bicycle
bread and a clean pipe, wind in the threads
you cant have music without weather
when my eyes are closed my vocabulary changes
i cross the street i don’t walk through
lifting with my hands instead of my mind
rolling into the trees too young to have forgotten the music
no chemical reaction are silent
a surrendered (subsonic) symphony binary billions breaking rainbows out of white
blacks reluctance camouflaged streets
i want all the light to go through my body
a photon breeze making my pores whistle and moan
when i press my ear to the wall i hear what this house used to be
Details are confusing, she said.
Because I believe in her voluptuous
blue mountain, red sky, and
study in white that could be a rose,
I dispense with my usual embellishments
to follow her footsteps
in arid climates along shallow arroyos,
snipping a few sagebrush leaves,
eliminating everything except
their heady fragrance after evening rains,
their resin on my fingertips.
All that lingers is that tangy essence,
locus where my emphasis comes to rest—
one single inhalation in the high desert hills.
She painted boldly again and again
in oils, pastels, charcoal, watercolors,
the shades of new water in all its holy moods,
leaving me to write this entire landscape
with one lingering scent for a woman.
I peel away even piñons and junipers,
their sharpness in the freshened air,
so what I create for her is pared down to
“Bared Skin with Sprig of Sage.”
Flow Going above Comb Ridge
I report home to my friend
about the constant flow:
Southeastern Utah’s San Juan River dreams a dawn
downstream—olive-brown, brisk, tricky, insistent,
remembering her lost surging into the arms
of the Colorado at the pair’s forgotten confluence.
I see she hurries to him, both rivers steady as ravens
floating thermals along looming canyon walls.
I describe for my friend
the constant flow:
Flecks of quartz flash forth from the core
as a crystal dance, what I see
in salmon-tinted layers of Navajo sandstone,
laid down according to the geologic law
of original horizontality.
I tell my friend
of this constant flow:
Anasazi ghosts ever swaying
in a shamanic breeze of time
with their slowest of gestures incising
the far future into straight facets of rock.
I report home
Earth’s constant flow.
from The Book of Random Access
Synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance. The observer and the observed are in reciprocal dependence. But who observes the observers? Oscar died after his Honda Accord crossed into oncoming traffic on Highway 99 near Yuba City. California Highway Patrol officers found that the computer consultant's laptop was plugged into the car's cigarette lighter . . . I go downstairs, walk into the living room and sit down. On TV a man wears a concealed earpiece and must follow instructions relayed through it by another man, a 'celebrity' who is hidden. The man is told to say embarrassing things, to make inappropriate gestures, to get down and walk on all fours, like a dog. This hexagram reflects a situation in which any movement makes matters worse. It is useless to think on why we are in the situation, or toward getting out of it; all energy must be put toward relating properly until we are out of danger. I had a headache this afternoon which made me have to sit on a darkened room clutching my face. Not nice. Thank god for painkillers. When the headache subsided I lay there remembering the small house I grew up in, at the edge of fields with a view of the Cheviot hills. We moved there one midsummer, during those almost eerie light evenings. Sometimes I think all the holidays I take, often in small cottages or chalets, are an attempt to re-create that world, which is a world invented in retrospect.
The fifty-sixth hexagram: in the inner universe, we are wanderers and strangers. In the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, I have read seventy-five. But have I? Some I've listened to, some I read many years ago but can no longer remember (though still claim to have read them). When it was announced that the Library contained all books, the first reaction was unbounded joy. Reading was a form of remembering, more reliable than the real thing, because you were under no illusions that what was reconstructed was an actual event, but a virtual one. Memory itself entails misperceptions of all sorts, partly corrected, bringing rare moments of joy by the faculty of "involuntary" memory. These moments of connection with the past are brought about by contingent encounters in the present, which re-awaken long-lost sensations, perceptions and recollections. The road runs between dune and dune, down to an expanse where flocks of tern scattered at our coming, and that soon the tide’s fathoms will return to Cuthbert’s creatures, seal and shoal. Then, an island will be born, or re-born in the brighter element of sky and sea. I was a school-kid, drinker, father, husband, worker; but who were those people? Where are they now? We are wanderers and strangers. I'd forget my own name if it wasn't on my lapel badge next to the corporate logo. Mission statement: to find the central path through avoiding indulgence and mortification. To read the Daily Mirror sports pages less often. To create a way of awakening.
I dreamt I was walking at night along a wide road near the docks of a Baltic town. The road was deserted, the wind was cold, I was just walking, walking, there was no end to it. I awoke in a small hotel room in a Baltic town and lay listening to the wind. At Choice hotels, we don’t want all our hotels to look alike and provide identical experiences. We want our customers to have choices, which is why our company is called 'Choice'. In the dream, I had no choice. I was just walking, walking, and I didn't know who I was. I didn't know I was the person who typed this text. The voices of the writing do not "frame" a personality in the sense of making it possible to reconstruct that as a cohesive whole. Notice also, despite its diversity and complexity, how the world is always present in a way that makes sense. Let’s consult the Sunday Mirror: Yummy mummy Davina McCall is feeling sexier than ever as she shows off her curves in a stunning satin dress. “Fifteen months after having our son Chester, I’m feeling hornier than ever. It’s like we’re having a renaissance.” When we couple, we embrace phantoms. There is neither form nor presence. Nothing ever stands still—keep moving ahead with us. Keep walking along the wide, deserted road, the wind blowing from the Baltic, there’ll be a dream waiting for you at the end of your sleep. It’ll be like you’re having a renaissance.
A Guide to the I Ching, Carole K. Antony (Antony, 1980).
The Darwin Awards 2007, http://www.darwinawards.com.
Sarah Dillon, review of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die (Cassel, 2007).
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths.
Buddhism Without Beliefs, A Contemporary Guide to Awakening, Stephen Bachelor, (Bloomsbury 1997).
The Sunday Mirror, 6 Jan 2008.
Choice Hotels marketing brochure.
Leslie Scalapino's introduction to Philip Whalen's selected poems.
A Tree Falls in the Woods
A nuclear séance invoking eccentric electrons,
to share the buzz it takes to bang the drum
To meet the doorman at the threshold of deceit,
as to the components of litany’s swoon,
a scrabble’s beeline to cozy perplexity
A dyslexia of moonlight,
invoking morning’s gloom to rise above
a coming of the sun to show the way
with notions as to the possible sway
of chaos on the road from hem to haw
A theoretical explosion of coincidental
for which there is no one at home
to feel the pain.
A leg up * elbowing a way in * put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni * not
riding on a pony * but a paratactic garrulous ass in Numbers 22 * Barthes high horsing around * incoherence preferable to distorting order * the longer you’re in, the hotter it gets * fairy tale stuck to the DNA * a coming in to the same of something other * metastasis moderned up equals crots * parasitic work * leveling a skip above * lazy and shifty * Twilight Zone 24/7 * Zeus orders a margharita * Plato throws back his fourth scotch at the Princeton Club * Juno shrunk to an application * skip to my Latinate, Darlin’ * every event rendered into writing * protect a species * The cunning’s in the cutting * Dickinson’s dashes * jammed together * promised jam tomorrow * but never jam today * plastic stick * chirp of the Hot Sync * contacts shrinking to data * of two minds * black ants traipsing is a wasting * before Firefox kept us on our toes * browsing made the reader move * pinned to a Procrustean bed * pecked at by birds * heads up * here comes that rock again * captains of diversity * trading up on images * consecrated garbage * get out your spray can * Banksy’s London * presents loom * generating endless argument * we’re going backwards * losing what we won * Sir Cyclops’ handicap his one big eye * dreaming a city of slaves * buried with their Pharaohs * endless call and response * tracking footprints * stenciled like leaving * the cave * befuddling
The bereavement period is not the optimal time to begin
thinking about an autopsy.
--Northwestern University’s Cognitive Neurology website
Truth-telling reserved for the stricken,
do we not all bleed, denial driving
cyborg patches: cementless titanium
femur, polymer-lined acetabulum,
OCD collectors’ three-foot piles
of NY Times, 30 years of journals,
will steeled against moving to Brooklyn,
trickle down fortunate few, a one-bedroom,
culturing resistance to hating yourself a bit
more each year, annual museums visits:
bright-eyed coyotes & baby bears,
even the holdout Upper West Side mauled
beyond recognition: Banana Republic,
The Gap, B&N, Starbucks,
like twenties taxidermy,
Interview with a Vampire,
testosterone choke shot,
Brad Pitt bitten by Tom Cruise,
Jets beat Raiders, the 49ers Arizona,
rowing a skull: by day,
can’t tell a Blue Tooth from a hearing aid,
Grand Central pipes in pop,
projects snowflakes on the walls
at Christmastime, the magnified hum still,
undrowned sea change, listening to absence
along with presence: what you missed:
Time for Beanie & Cecil the Seasick Sea-serpent,
an early, slightly feckless Cookie Monster.
Point of View
The boy resembled a little monster
but when he glanced in the mirror
the monster was standing behind him
posed with a claw on his shoulder.
Because he didn’t accept his reflection
he begged to be described:
you are of average age
height & weight
with a forest-worth of fur
winding in trails to your navel.
You never cracked an egg
or grew out of the ground—
you came from the womb
& your mother was a monster too.
You can see the beast behind many children
& so can you if you ask them
to pose for a photo. Sit up straight.
Smile. No not you.
The Adverb Clause
Because it was his birthday,
a boy was given the gift
of a new boomerang.
But he killed himself
when he threw the old one away.
At the funeral his family whispered
please return to us.
My food is poisoned. Gypsy moths are in the trees
hanging from their cloth caravans.
I’ve eaten only mono-cultured corn,
creamed. My body is a source
of renewable energy. Charge my motor
and I fly like a bi-plane, spraying DDT
on every mosquito. Goodnight to those larvae
gorging on oak leaves. Canned corn, tin trees, dieldrin.
I have a beautiful wife, long lashes like
the legs of centipedes. I spray her with compliments daily.
Our kids look intravenously akin.
I don’t accept my retirement to this indoor ward,
because I could climb up an oak tree, dig my fingernails
into the bark, and transform into someone healthy,
interested in organics. I could become a butterfly
among moths— it’s only the pupal stage to cycle through,
a momentary cancer in chrysalis.
A sweet loss, climb on, get loud or:
Wood splinters, wood breaks, breaks not nearly on liquid:
Wood, wood is not a desert, it is rejected, too facile, it burns money
Smokes one, possibly you, possibly not, right to the face:
Give it up, wood, smooth it, smooth it down whose, whose face
Throat: stop! Reed, to play a reed, a wooden one, in continuous, the squeak
Bristled, to bristle, jauntily, continue this, this often, one says, will do:
A dream over is cyber solid diminished by waking, to ask
A slow answer responds to slow rise, negates
Puncture, rolls the basketball, prompts one, one says, yes, indeed, hoop:
A dark in the sun, more light one day, the next, not
Nor thereafter, clarity a clue obnoxious: February in shift
Shiftless, hook nor anchor, none, barely, not much, nor:
Swept clear, no notion, ever repair, not: such non-illustrious
Punctual, purely, step one, step two, A, B, throw in a Z or an L
A music, emergent; note, one does, a trapezoid, transparent crystal:
One, then two, then necklace, then tickle, then parody: winter no light
Sparse, the dark narrow flush, call it, one will, blooming.
Binaries are not blunt nor is a coronary
Contagious. What is in the air is not cornered
Nor is the plague a plenary counsel
More spoken than familiar. A conspiracy
You, too, one can only imagine, the black
Fanged bird on the odd shoulder, no one
In this particular way, wills to be broken:
A current is not a benchmark, a good lament
Requires first a weight-lifter, what one
Carries down low, anyone’s country a thicket
The grass variously wounded, a good wind
Breaches the music: Guitars blazing or soothing
History is a smash hit, one recalls the ecstatic
Between broken pieces, song falling, the lynchpin
Various amongst the risen, fallen, the way a lover’s…
Tenderly is an excuse. Tenderly does not mean
Cabbage or a rejection of savage. It means no sugar
But a template, the sky variously tinctured
This morning a soft, backlit blue. The first spice
Is not waking, yet an astonishment, she rides a bike
Cloaked she is: blue jacket, blue racing helmet
Above her ears, tucked true. True is not the basis
Of anything, but the absence. What cuts the green leaf
An early seasonal wasp, a black and gold graced
Morning is her body, maybe or just once - such
are the sympathies - loved, loves you: yes,
Morning, buzzing, becomes Electra, indeed, enjoy
Such, often enough, is, believe it or not, just, true.
A parking meter, a café latte, the sponge and the pigeon:
There it is. Amazement is the peculiarity. A sidewalk
Does not connect under the house. Edgar Allan Poe
Inhabits the dark space between the studs. A rat
Elicits no compassion. Terror ought not be carried
In either the left or right-hand pocket. A groan –
Either to sit or stand – is a curious form of pruning.
The body is an envelope. An excess of air, a
Sudden or slow inner-tube goes whoosh
The slow folding rubber – the tire or death –
The ease at which mortality – the body – announces itself.