The Gift of Literature

My son says that being home is like a replica of being home. I say Kerouac captures something of that. My son says interminable minutes of nothingness offend him most. I say the best I’ve read about interminable minutes of nothingness is in the arid landscapes of Roberto Bolano. My son says that the baseline of existence is chaos. I say that for Empedocles love was the opposite of chaos. My son says that he feels trapped by language. I say you’re sharing an office with Wittgenstein now. My son says life seems emergent. I say Henri Bergson did some creative thinking. My son says nice talking to you dad. I say nice talking to you son. Between us I think, interminable highways of nothingness, replicas of towns, chaos and something quite emergent between fathers and sons.

The Waterwheel

Salvatore Ala

For long spells the flour mill closed
And the waterwheel would be overrun
By morning glories,
Even anchored by the vines,
Like a wreath for the funeral of the sun.

Other times I thought the wheel
Turned imperceptibly
Like a seasonal clock
Endazzled by its own reflection
In the sunken mirrors of the earth.

For all we know another wheel
Turns the wheel;
Another sun inside the sun
Outlasts the waterwheel
And the bread of dumb flesh,
Producing the flour of morning glories
Spread beyond its grindstone,
Beautiful as a second coming
That never arrives.

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Poetry and Sleep

In a dream her husband appears
Younger than the day they met.
In a dream he touches his wife
With wordless love in his heart.
In dreams, their child is laughing,
And they’re laughing at their child
And a green park has no horizon.
We believe dreams in doubt of doubt
And don’t live with our losses
But live remainders of dreams
Like we live with moonlight
And traces of distant wind
And sunrise on ashen skin,
Rivers moving deep within.
In a dream his mother sat mutely
Mending the boundaries of his life.
In a dream her brother was a child
And she was mother to her brother.
In a dream, dear friends together,
At first in a familiar backyard;
Later, in an unknown city,
Itself dreaming a collective,
Building inescapable routes.
In dreams, each other, mingled
Of the magic materials of night,
Who vanish utterly into sleeping day
And unremembered poems,
Whomever, whatever we do.

Black Moon

The black moon sifts
The sand for the glass of its eye
And passes over water
Washing night from its wake
Dripping its ink over trees
Invisible month of moons
Filling my glass with black wine
And dark stars without portent
Giving us the word lunation
To accept all that’s in creation
Darkening the mountains
Changing all flowers black
Making everyone look
Descendants of descendants
Desirous of the same peace
Distant at proximity
Closer than shadows

My Wife Learning Piano

Perhaps I should learn a language
And speak to my wife
In elementary phrases
Like her elementary piano chords.
Then after so many years
Of marriage and silence,
Her loneliness and mine
Waltz into the same room
As though we’ve never met
And share the first new
Meaningful words of love
In a hybrid language
Neither one of us speaks.

Leftover Light

Carries the meadow into the woods,
The young river into the old,
The forest line into timberland,
Solid darkness stained
That gives a shape to fear,
Except for divergent paths
Dappled with fallen leaves
Like a fox snake splitting in two
And the sun bleeding through.
Fern-seed sparkles in the dust.
The wheel is wrapped with hemp.
Green is the transilluminator of black.
Three drops of sun blood in my eye.
Night at my threshold.
Devil’s wood at my door.