Metallurgy

Inside the machine a metallic unease
Of violence at rest like between thunderclaps
It’s a great white shark with teeth apart
Lair of the white worm of fire
In which metal sludge forms
Composed of sand grease and iron filings
Mostly it was a job for younger guys
Because you had to slip in slenderly
And crouch down midst the parts
Moving out half-buckets at best
I’d emerge dipped in vats of silver
More alloy than clay in my brilliance
Skin tingling with star points
And like a meteor hurtling home

Machine Works

Who knows what it is
Buried under the river
How long is your guess
This cracked ell
These old clamps
Rusty fittings
And what in the world
Was this valve for
Strangest piece of plumbing
I’ve ever seen
Was it for water air or steam
Impossible to know
Impossible to get
The earth out
Impossible to get the river out

Mappemonde

The melting snow sinks into the field
Like the map of an imaginary world.
New continents are being considered
By the master builders.
In the time left, tree branches
Draw shadow lines, like an overlay,
On subsiding expanses of snow,
Isolating snow-blind countries
Whose backshores are eroding.
Model of a declining world, in a world
Itself in decline. This island and that,
These clusters and those archipelagoes
Of floating snow and ice,
Everything we thought we were
A meanderable geodesy, imago mundi,
Equatorials exploding one sun at a time.

Mezzo Piano

for Jordan Anderson

The piano teacher dies.
His fingers on the piano keys
Like water dripping from a ceiling
Into the silence of a cave.

The piano teacher dies.
His student now sheds
His practiced changes
Into the void of time feel.

The piano teacher dies.
His student discovers himself
As though crossing hands
At the moment of breaking free.

The piano teacher dies.
The student sits down
To play into the space
Of another accompaniment.

Fineness of Detail

My transparency arriving at the speed of light,
Coming like a virus, like a bomb cyclone.

Already I’m writing like I’m not here.
Everything I am is gone except fear.

I stand at the window like a window.
I stand at the door like a door.

All my mirrors have vampirized me—
Piecemeal now, time zones away.

My fate grows transparent in another element.
On this page I can see the fading away

Fading away to where my invisibility
Becomes indivisible from myself.

Working at the Greengrocer

The carrots—still alive in their boxes
The red onions—with silk sheets coming off
The cabbage— like wax balls in a museum
The potatoes—like earth eggs
The watermelons—like field boulders
The grapes—touched with green rain
The tomatoes—clinging to their birth
The green onions—playing dead in the sun
The bananas—and their sleeping samba
The customers—with weighing eyes
The gypsy selling kittens from an orange crate
The heat under the straw—the grit on the rind
The explosions of rot—the running juices
The voice of the greengrocer— like a sun song

Mirrors Again Mirrors

In the window, in the mirrors,
In the moments between windows and mirrors,
My dad lost in reflection.

In the window, in the motion,
In the stopping and starting and hum,
My mom, never ageing on the bus.

In the window, in the stillness,
My grandfather’s casket and hearse
Stopped in traffic in eternity.

In the mirrors, in the window,
Razors and scissors fly about my face
Like piranha butterflies.

In the window, in the mirrors,
Moviegoers move forward
In an endless parade of history.

In the window, in the light,
Our backyard peach tree
Blossomed into a blinding sight.

In the window, in the mirrors,
In the moments between windows and mirrors,
What I’ve lost I’ve recollected.