Tuesday, July 21, 2009


by Robert Kelly

  To be so far apart from what needs me

  while a spool releases silky emerald thread

  you loop a loop of it on cream cheese

no one can tell the eaten from the future

to mix ribbons in with your rice, a car

running through the vly in hip-high mud

you affirm a Calvinist principle even as

your bed is burning below the underpass


the shunts of population dismay classicists

stardust is actual enough the problem is harps

to hear it, Aeolian extravaganzas a priest

in Portugal praying for a cold white egg

between the cheeks of his beloved, agree

with your impulses before they candle

and there the night is ruined with gold

gleam upon oil a translator comes home


mess rich with latin lipids a blue hair

looped around your argentine hour

(hair, hour, hour, hair, who are there

who kiss the long triangulars of narrative

sauntering Tiergarten one tall gold girl)

back from the war striations of belief

cheesing their way through dull wax

‘marble that seemed to be on fire’


was there an answer only a humming

when the book was opened as if owls

had recently flown past and bees remembered

shadow governments by neat procedures

forget everything that can be lost is lost

kayak under trestle wooden sleeper grazes

tall type in a canoe slug in a turnstile

halfway to Verona there is a mountain


too close to the trains the cosines are wrong

but the geometry of morning still works

the shadows fall the shades go up the woman

stands at the window inspecting her reflection

ghosting in the glass before the whole street

this is the first story in the history of things

a woman with a looking glass man with rock

the Spanish Encyclopedia is full of sand


there could have been two of them

light poles sulfur Denver kerosene

by prairie dog village past the diner

out of business now it snows early

in most places sometime define

a simple adhesive pleasure to work

like you beside me on the glider

we are who we will always be I guess


dockets stuffed with earlier transcriptions

(ranunculus? surfboard?  ‘the woman

asks herself a couple questions’ title

of my book)  original or organdy a hurricane

out of season would you like a parrot

my birth was a beast and a forgetting

born into this world thinking I am you

praying you to make the same mistake


safely the Monday of it the because, so bleak

by weeks to measure the deciding ghost

whose harrowed chariot by Oldsmobile drugged

into the unspeakable condition he morphed

from sleep into public proclamation who is that

up there with his hips around his knees

mouthing the mercies who is that with language

choking the little sense left to be made


anywhere any hour American wilderness and if

a poet can’t identify a wolf who can since they

invented me to parade in bishop’s weeds aloft

prancing on the catwalks of their greed

until guttering tea-lights drive the plaster crazy

making signals on the wall the flutter hurts

the flimsy skin of reason round the eyes

can barely see the waitress sing the specials


so it was a matter of knowing for whom the weasel

popped wasn’t it not some metaphysical retreat

fashioned of beech leaves and Heidegger o no

as cummings once famously insisted spelling it

different in a way we can’t any more because of Yoko

you who remember Chambers Street and Higgins

can hardly object to my noncical trivial bass flute

harping on the recent and the said, naked


naked naked as a text without its commentary

these antisemite animals that hate analysis

when all is solving up and going down a god

given gavel rapping in the skull to punctuate

the stupid single meanings of the world and let

them pullulate until the cows come sagely home

into the stone barn built before the universe

full of good intentions I beg you milk my book


a word swells up until it hurts you need to drain

the wordbag mama all those saxon nibbles count

to suck the bee-sting venom of all history out Amen

most nights I sleep on the other side of dream

healed in black nirvana that wakes up for breakfast

and there all the people are who make sudden need

to reparticipate in that which dreams me

why can’t I dream of what gives pleasure?


Exhausted porters bring my body home

green fever took me and I slept the lake

talked to me constantly using little words

so we could learn them this is water

what it says and light and animals all of them

just one single word sometimes my dream

let me go and I spoke what I remembered

to my grieving wife I would never be the same


Kingston city of surprises dog asleep in sun

taste ink on the nib of a pen last dipped in Vienna

a name’s as good as any other lie mensonges

de la lune be brief with me senators I have to get

back to ruling long sheets of paper with pale feints

man proposes woman exposes cherry trees made

at last safe from hares a postcard big as a burn

licks the color off your eyes and whispers thanks


on cloudless Sabbaths a new geometry of malls

rinsed clean of laughter the sky is one long ad

for the complex lucidity of your skin how it does

some shadows fall and do not leave a kiss

the color of tea all I ask is you imagine me

half past meaning on the way to speed magical

apertures all yours the night is just a glamorous

lie a soft shirt I thought I took off long ago


far past all interpretations there are glazes and blue frits

baskerville pushing narrow gutters to spill a wide sestina

so many things I want to pull from the chronicle of skin

to read to you amid the sunken cathedral in my anxious whisper

my whole life has no other purpose than to make you hear

the ring forts of Atlantis each one a different color piled

like quoits around the middle pillar of the world the town

inside the city in our bones these nice bodies of ours the ocean

swallowed down the wisdom city we keep looking for.

(in Peaches and Bats 2)

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