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The Exotic in Your Very Own Home

National Geographic will keep coming out
if I cancel my subscription,
if I travel endlessly through Morocco,
even if I die.  I won’t be home
to thumb the new issue on the Tyrrhenian Sea,
to see the rare monkey tribe of Gibraltar,
stare at strange trees of Russian steppes.

Still the gold-spined magazine keeps coming,
filling our house, spilling from baskets,
lining shelves and shelves, coffee tables,
the garage finally.  What to do with these pictures
of the world?  America has grown heavy
with gifts, the continent sags under their weight,
the globe tilts leeward.  In a thousand years
the billions of prints of National Geo will cause the earth
to lean sunward and we will burn.

All those copies flaming green, orange,
blue fire of brilliant images that lit your dim life,
you on a quest for white leopards,
rappelling Tetonic landscapes, tracking comets,
dredging sunken treasure.  Is this what we come home to,
a mere leafing through dreams?

Let me expire on Saharan sands,
the grains searing my fingertips,
fine desert dust thick on my glottis.
Words cease.  Use your imagination,
sayeth Mother.  But it is all used up now,
laid out by someone on painted pages and lighted screens,
rendered drama.  When the last battery
of your torch has died, how will you see
the figures on the wall?  Will you remember
how to mix colors anew, how to hold the brush,
say the words that your child will understand?
Tell me a story.
A long, long time ago in the land of Arabia,
an old man was selling oil lamps . . .


A Splash of Light Sailing Southeast

The language of love is a boatride out to sea.
We cannot hear each other over the waves,
we passengers of the islands.  But a voice
is singing clear through wind and spray,
through spume throwing rainbows.
This boat of Babel carries faces whose tongues
we cannot know—and understanding
is easy. Each of us is thrown together,
our craft leaping, foam in our different eyes,
a splash of light sailing southeast.
Conversation cannot be, so she leans
in sleep across the man’s back; the Grecian lovers
have their way, only they hear their words;
and in the bow, in the sun, in headwind
our blonde goddess sways and knows.
She has summoned the land to find us,
simple folk become motion and so deified.
Talk is not of whom, nor of how
but of what we are becoming on this ship,
vessel that carries us into the song,
voyage to the sun, a gesture by some lion-
like being that roars a path down
blue waters and bright rills, bringing
these bodies back together, wishing us.



Lost weapons plurge gatewise
As seventril stablings send
Endrish inkools leave darkered
Fortrocks for furified defense
End trake battaliels
No when if cruisified
Buddyblast to bloodybits
New friend as sibling sings
Mudly down me bury heart head so bones


Everything Is All Set

Dreaming of the sun, old girl?
Dream of nothing but
as through the rickety gate is sky,
a thickening smear of love.

I once knew a dog who wagged her tail
to the rhythm of sunshine broken through leaves.
It was an old trick of the light,
a repeating stanza no one hears twice.

We can bleat, we can bray,
but nothing sounds from so far away
as your dreamland bark.  Puts me in your picnic,
ragamuffin, tongue-loller, eye-winker.

You taste the shadows of an afternoon
like a sleeping bee recalls lilac,
having furrowed, long ago, a stray cluster.
This is the corner I long to rock in,

the side of the room cleaned by sunbeams.
I am through with dusting,
everything is all set, really.
Speaking of perfection, this late breeze.



The next day the poem unwrote itself.
The filled-in blanks emptied themselves.
Back on the shelves, books.
Cobblestones clattered in the mason’s brain

and the rain never came back.
Sand stops somewhere, but always meets rock.
Draining the foam from her beer,
she let go of endings.

Flames would flicker from earth,
this moment of chimera, witnessed.
Don’t go looking for blue lagoons:
hot soup, warm bread, water.