Ten Poems 3 (2000-2001)

Standing there a while

The slam of a door brings no good news.
So comes deciding
to turn away
to keep looking at the door
to not decide.
Descending the stairway,
thinking how many
before or
after or
maybe never.

Maybe again comes again, maybe
never comes again, maybe
comes; yes, maybes.

Many ways, zero hours.
And zero now only
the last first thing,
its opposite
the overwilling.

Spun back, shut like
this door
this statement
this disallowance.

Distant star, not allowed
her rising
her explosion
her vanishing, nowhere
nearer than that crack that was
a closing door, so close.

A closing.

. . .


This is the first report of a longer,
ambitious history.
Once the sun rose, grew less red,
more yellow, then white; gave up
and went to bed again. Again,
and another day, thousands more
coming and going; redemption again,
transgression again, heaving up
from the belly, old gas from a dream
(used in both our sleep).
Then, Emancipator.
This was its name, pronounced heavily
by its great tongue. We woke to find
our sun awake too, speaking now, rending
flesh from the bone of a word. We wanted.
And then did not dare want, forgot most of
what was in our minds a moment ago.
Yes, we were making history. In a time
when dust and water became cities,
coordinated longing, indifference, love
and ends. Endless motions just to keep moving;
no star to count on in darkness; no darkness.
No light, either. Someone invented
the telephone, set it ringing; I heard it.
My name was called, a voice saying:
Like the sun, I became both great and terrible;
eating night and stars, filling my own sky
with the sound of my own voice, crying for another
sky to die in, where dust and water lay
senselessly, as if still in dreaming. Not in cities.
This is how the fever burned us all,
on the first day.

. . .

Drawer cleaning

An apoplectic magazine
tells me just a little more
than I wanted today; that's O.K.
but I was thinking we might
go down to that new store,
the blue one, where everything is
never on sale. Sure beats canasta.
I never bet on her card games either, or
give toast to strangers, or either.
Just safer that way. You know
how that big bright round ball
comes heaving up on the eastern lip
of the world? Well, it happened
again, or again did'st arrive here
like a sick messenger, they say that
somewhere. Over a rainbow,
that one that hangs just there by that
blue store, it's neon you see, bright
happy pink prices overlaid, but
never on sale. Never. Never.
How's the canasta now, better?
I'm sure.

. . .

Our philosophy

Enrollment in beginning the new study:
- with invitation of the new,
born with the "where", from the fact that:
in a way it opens, it becomes public,
is next year, with an international philosophy.
Communication, science and philosophy?
Probably. Is there some kind of relationship there?
This question already is a quiet dispute.

From Sorbonne it spread to the nineties,
then in France, university politics of "information".
Science and fire are kinds of study,
violent disputes are seen there,
(to pick up you try this elementary "philosophy").

As for not rubbing, it was born from the midst
of philosophy as a system. With respect to appearance,
to call one field of philosophy, extant and distant,
the serious kind of problem which urges reconsideration...
the history of the whole philosophy is concealed
in the starting point. Before thinking the problem,
some kind of contour first.

Not only Japan; because even in France,
it is the study that stills excessively,
is not well known, even inside universities.
Consequently, the others hang on
in misunderstanding the world.
Thought to be good, a certain reaction:
" Well..."; the mass does research in the media; the "ah? "
is in misunderstanding the analogical inference
of the name which is said. It is my experience,
each time this study is introduced five times,
four times I mean to hear that kind of word.
As for the remaining one time, it is a kind of study;
the reaction is not attached. Those it receives,
the question as that and that answer, explain:
"The oldest questions are serious things."
"The oldest questions, not being communication,
transmit behavior (the gift in mediation),
mediate behavior (it is the research of mediation)".
Like symbolic studies, not being designated
synchronic conditions as prerequisite, it researches the "when".
Not being, the mediator (to the media - "Li", you observe),
it is, is. It is not a message, don't you think?
it is, is... obtaining? With the effect which brings to society
instantaneously agreed upon kinds of One,
which "well...", is unpalatable in such receiving;
answering, it is not. " This This not being"... first,
you must explain the degree with which it is said;
whether "so those which are not " are... what?
In that way, you explain communication,
the "oh" of symbolic study announcing the "ah"
(it probably becomes the setting which devises
the theory of the Toronto wind.)
In the little standing story,
the ear will tilt, be in such a thing.
The "only"?... Just a little, please wait.
Still, you do not speak concerning the pragmatics; see?

. . .

Quick spring trip, Pasco

On the other side of the mountains, summer
comes already, one or two hours at a time.

My drugstores have all become joyerias,
and Chinese food to cheap tavern to empty shell.

Some kid pushed a small boat through that place,
the dark patch of dirt and green now, with bushes.

There's a hum in the roads here, but it's going away
from where everything I carry in my frame still lives.

Or still life, in both senses.

. . .

Villanelle: Ash Wednesday

And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth,
Held in the fingers yet slowly passing into mud and rain;
This is the time of tension between dying and birth.

That they may grow steady from small to greatest worth,
Shedding the old shell of conditions, full growing plain;
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth.

The eye will open out of sleeping, find its shine in mirth
And tracery disconnected, full of endless loss and gain;
This is the time of tension between dying and birth.

Our coins dropped slotward spin the talking head to truth;
We listen as the words bring back our early grateful pain
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth.

A memory of our first womb, ocean in this sandy earth
That waits to ask and again receive the falling rain;
This is the time of tension between dying and birth.

Now given fully over to the knowledge of that greatest worth
We turn to sleep again, let heart drink softly through the vein;
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth.
This is the time of tension between dying and birth.

. . .

Race full circle

burl in the wood
recalls a stone lintel
broken in part
brought back from a war
in the dimmer landscape of
patrimonies and people
hungry in every way
now bent or folded into holes
and cracked earth recovered
with time leaving
knots in the dry land
become a wet land
full of wood hungry for stone
that an old violation like amber
can become a burled wood
that the stuff of hands remembers
was made and unmade
some very long time ago

. . .

March day, Ides

I don't know much about
something about the pattern
when the lace of your shoe is dropped,
now tied.
But I can still take a walk out my door,
go the long way round,
find the gap between two fences.
Dark up there.

And just through the trees
something like a lake, made
green and blue by dead men.
Inside the small building, gifts
given by other dead men, oblivious

to now, even the place
where these papers give up
the only thing they wanted then,
a long time ago it seems.

Even before I learned
to tie my laces, or what that act
could come to mean.

. . .

Called back

Blood on this huge rock, now bright red,
like the earth and sky here, biting color
of a past-forgiven communion in something,
my star and sand; the same thing, really.
The blood becomes rust, rock in shadow.

Listen to that wind. You can't hear what
speed it wants to live at. Only,
I hear a voice inside that air; so soft
but not safe, with teeth that tear out
what every bird and demon thinks its own.

And if I lie down, rest on stone
holding the heat of so many people,
I can rise again, later. Or forget.
This was almost a sun dream; see
night has come instead. Good night.
And it's cold here, desert cold, eyes empty.

. . .

Meeting each

Blank parallels
between thirty years, two thousand,
now. Maybe
it's all in the breathing.

That man wrote great books.
only made family. The big deed.
Both here once, important;
somehow both still are.

And she strides to meet us,
more powerful for her deliberate step,
calm eyes, easy strength in her arms.
What can we say?
Here is?
I was?

We were completed, human at last.
That was all we needed to know.

. . .

Seattle, July 2000 - April 2001

(2000, 2001 Steve Layton/NiwoPress)