In sleep, and sleeping through the night, I came
from sleepless slumber into merging dream
and would, if given hope and time to tame,
have found a way to make the real seem
as dark and fearsome as the realm of night
where I have spent my dreams in taking pain,
a place of running from and finding fright,
the only world where I could learn to train
to live myself through life to something well,
and fat with blood it fed upon like beasts,
and making me the one who’d have to tell
the quivering who it was who loved them least,
and take the time of clocks to find a way
to fashion life to something resembling day.
To fashion life to something resembling day
begins with day in light and light to come
with dust on windows so much so that some
appear to be thin walls that block the fray
of birds encumbered by the need to say
what birds can’t mean and what they cannot plumb
in shivering bundles held tight within, and numb
to cold that swirls around them, light that may
begin the process of beginning time,
avoid the trap of slipping into space,
extend the thought there’s nothing left to lose,
in a morning left to simple crippled rhyme,
where writing’s come to be a kind of race,
when living’s something left to choose.
When living’s something left to choose,
and caution’s blood is drained of crimson hue,
when breath inspires then leaves the lung as spew,
and bone is something breaking when you lose
the right to think of tumbling rays as whose
you might assume as yours for making new,
for taking into skin as something to
convert to laughter and then to fuse
into the flow of life, all things that’re crude
or crumbled or just crust left out, for soon
you will’ve wanted more and find that you’ll
desire every piece of living glued
to every other, so that your quiet tune
is humbled, hefted, harbored, halved, and hewed.
Is humbled, hefted, harbored, halved, and hewed
all that you might ocean through this life?
Can you afford the time to take the knife
and slice the loss away and thus conclude
that you have tended always to seclude
and leave behind what taken forth through strife
would be the manner you would take to wife
yourself, bantered, as someone only viewed?
Days are moments of sequential reckoning,
last and heaving rays of insight leaking out
into a memory’s bastion’s care and froth.
Days are verdant ways of beckoning,
bringing us to make our ways to rout
that insipid insidious final cloth.
That insipid insidious final cloth
that washes us clean and fully away,
that wraps a body that does what it doth,
that covers a face so people might pray,
that seeps up the blood that a body has bled,
that blends into body, replacing the hair,
that binds closed the mouth so nothing is said,
that leaves us the notion that something is there,
that impresses its image into the skin,
that transfers the face onto its weaving,
that dries up the broth that’s hidden within,
that veils the fact of everyone’s leaving
is nothing but everything left for a bed
for husks of our people we call the dead.
For husks of our people we call the dead
are standing among us in shadow of sun.
They are living as if they’re already done
and breathing from habit rather than need.
In stature and movement they approximate trees,
and stare like the falcon down upon us,
despite any desire, despite any lust,
so they rest when it comes onto their knees.
Their breath comes out shallow, fetid, and warm,
their heats beat but slowly and never to music,
their fingers are cracked from the dryness of winter.
They haven’t the urge to cause any harm,
the blinking of eyelids is their only trick,
they come to us only when wanting to enter.
They come to us only when wanting to enter
and become us as if not already,
and they come in the form of an eddy
of experiences: birds in sight’s center,
birds in the shape of a feather, and birds
in the shape of a leaf, birds in the shape
of the air, and birds flying through the gape
in our knowing, in the shape of our words,
words replacing birds and worms and myrtle,
replacing seeing and sun and shadow,
replacing breath and air and wind and storm:
world in the form of a word that would hurtle
towards human ear for life, and you know
the words you had made for us must swarm.
The words you had made for us must swarm,
compress, expand, and spread to places where
there’s made no sound for meaning to be there,
into crevices of ice-cracked rock, but warm
from sun left in place awhile to transform
the rigid cold into warm and pliant air,
yet a place without echo or need for care,
a place where every solid thing can inform
the way a thought is made and kept for good
and taken in as if a piece of beauty
itself left out to incorporate the sun
into its sturdy structure made of wood,
and the way it seems to make of duty
a notion of what you can leave undone.
A notion of what you can leave undone
wakes you with a start to start a morning,
emptiness is a chore that makes no fun,
your loud unfinished business releases warning.
A slate wiped clean is cracked across its brow,
a sheet of paper white is empty space,
you know that what you can’t escape is now,
you wait to find if everything’s in place.
In children’s voices you have heard the sound
that makes you think there’s something you must do,
and causes you to rise up off the ground
to accumulate those words you then would strew.
It is the word of it that held you in thrall,
the word alone that gave you mind to scrawl.
The word alone that gave you mind to scrawl
was apple, mottled, pomander, and screwed,
torture, tourniquet, tourmaline, and rude,
lotion, caution, extravagance and brawl,
curry, nutmeg, frankincense, and heard,
riches, losses, cavalcades, and leopards,
safety, sloughing, losing, lost, and shepherds,
coffee, tangerine, elegance, and turd,
a lorry of worry, hurry of sludge,
constant containment, careful corruption,
tossing and turning, lover and hover,
maggoty carrion, carry-on luggage,
earthquake and temblor, even eruption,
the grave desire to do it all over.
The grave desire to do it all over
arrives in place of evening working out
and sanctioned protocols of craving doubt
against distant memories you can’t recover:
a caution signaled beyond the face of her,
an ancient stumble over bricks bled red,
what comes from seeing out along the thread
of every action made you can’t recover.
Every evening merges limbs of trees with night,
slips the eyelid of the earth across the day,
pushes to the farthest realms of thinking noon.
A morning becomes a guess until the light
stretches out to the curvature of eye
to push the wait for being back to soon.
To push the wait for being back to soon,
to make the need for writing something small,
to extricate the weakened will from all,
to postulate a lifetime’s greatest boon,
that is all you have to do to swoon
beneath a misty smudge that gives a snowfall
from clouds surrounding mountains in a cawl,
upon you falling the heavy weight of sun
in time too cold to accept the glance of grace
upon your skin exposed to thinking and
a day’s considerations begun to move
through you and slipping as into a race
opposing time. Slide across your face a hand
to realize what little you must prove.
To realize what little you must prove
you travel from the petty articles of life
south through fields, north through fields, remove
yourself from wells of silent ills and strife.
In those places not for you a home,
you see the world as object, abject, concrete,
dispel abstractions forcing you to roam,
detecting what small words you might secrete
to describe the objects and illusions found:
fat heads of water grasses filled with light,
the way in which thinking imparts a sound,
twisted reflections in a fender’s flight,
purple splat of birdshit on the windshield,
the time it takes the light to reach the field.
The time it takes the light to reach the field
is greater than it takes the night to come,
return to making everything concealed,
and leave us in our bowls of light and some
luminous page of life well read but spent,
where slumber is the darkest thing to bear,
where words are but the final things not rent,
and glare of evenings shows a life just bare
of what it is that makes us wish to want
to take a smallest parcel of desire
and make it into something that it can’t
become from words remote from fire.
I wrote to you as I’d become so tame,
in sleep, and sleeping through the night, I came.
XV. Envoi non-redoublé
To fashion life to something resembling day
when living’s something left to choose,
is humbled, hefted, harbored, halved, and hewed
(that insipid insidious final cloth
for husks of our people we call the dead).
They come to us only when wanting to enter
the words you had made for us, must swarm
a notion of what you can leave undone:
the word alone that gave you mind to scrawl,
the grave desire to do it all over,
to push the wait for being back to soon,
to realize what little you must prove
(the time it takes the light to reach the field
in sleep, and sleeping through the night I came).