“Diary [The First Seed]” – Rachel Zucker

He gives me the wedding band of the real world
a story with pockets and mirrors

woos me with music that could kill insects
its frequency

reveals men in the distance forging the bridge
between nether and either

when night sets, the stones return to the earth

and in the morning, work again:
swimming through chaos to find the world

 

 

 

 

From Eating in the Underworld. Copyright © 2003 Rachel Zucker.

“Anthracite” – Saeed Jones

A voice mistook for stone,
jagged black fist

thrown miles through space, through
doors of dark matter.

Heard you crack open the field’s skull
where you landed.

Halo of smoke ruined the sky
and you were a body now

naked and bruised in the cratered cotton.
Could have been a meteorite

except for those strip-mined eyes, each
a point of fossilized night.

Bringing water and a blanket,
I asked, “Which of your lives is this,

third or fifth?” Your answer, blues
a breeze to soak my clothes

in tears. With my palm pressed
to your lips, hush. When they hear

you, they will want you. Beware
of how they want you;

in this town everything born black
also burns.
 

From Prelude to Bruise. Copyright © 2014 Saeed Jones.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” – Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

“Door in the Mountain” – Jean Valentine

Never ran this hard through the valley

never ate so many stars

 

I was carrying a dead deer

tied on to my neck and shoulders

 

deer legs hanging in front of me

heavy on my chest

 

People are not wanting

to let me in

 

Door in the mountain

let me in

“I love the dark hours of my being” – Rainer Maria Rilke

I love the dark hours of my being
in which my senses drop into the deep.
I have found in them, as in old letters,
My private life, that is already lived through,
And become wide and powerful now, like legends.
Then I know that there is room in me
For a second huge and timeless life.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems, Robert Bly translation

“To Be Worn Openly at the Wrist, or at the Chest and Hidden” — Carl Phillips, 1959

If I believed in a god, he would be a sea god, like the sea
in its predictability—now approach, now recede—beneath
such a god I would not mind, I think, being the shore, say of the sea
what you will, it’s the shore that endures the routine loss
without which what strategies would there be for softening
the hollowness that any victory, give it time, comes with,
how curb the risk of arrogance, with its doomed but
not undangerous hound, complacency?
                                                                  … I made this for you—
put it on. I know it’s not going to matter whether the decisions
I made were the ones eventually I even meant to make, or
should have, or should have thought maybe more than
twice about. What’s history anyway, except—according to
the latest mouth saying so—just what happened: I flourished
undramatically, to no apparent purpose, like pretty much
everyone. The sea dragged the shore; the shore suffered the sea.

“still life–color study” — t’ai freedom ford

       July 13, 2013

Saturday afternoon: in the driveway between buildings they blow up
balloons—yellow, red, blue—for a 3-year-old’s party.

The intermittent pops startle me like random gunfire—remind me
of birthdays brown boys will no longer celebrate.

The DJ, having set up the speakers, begins to play—the music, a rapid fire
of bass thump, commandeers the apartment. We have no choice but leave.

An art show: canvases colored with boxes and lines—a grid of red
on a backdrop of yellow. We speak of the abstract with wine in our mouths.

Meanwhile, in an antechamber, six are sequestered. They speak of mali-
cious intent, blood, evidence, testimony—murder versus manslaughter.

We arrive home to a throng of brown bodies, hands clutching red cups,
and music: its insistent treble stabbing the ears.

Inside, we slam all windows, but the music still blares as my niece shoots
people on the video game—its sounds are too realistic to bear.

Instead, the news, a verdict is in: not guilty. And everything is a blur
of sound, my heart beating so fast I put a hand to my chest.

I watch the TV screen: a collage of abstractions—spotlights, microphones,
smiles, handwritten signs. I stare, as if it were a painting—

a smear of twisted faces smothered in gesso and oil, a grid of red
on a backdrop of yellow—to make sense of.

The party continues. The 3-year-old probably in bed dreaming of melted
ice cream, and I am tired of partying.

There is a police station a half block away and I want it to burn. Instead,
only the smoke of weed, the meaningless music droning on,

the popping of balloons. Sunday morning, the birds are angry—their
chirping a noisy chant: NO NO NO NO. Outside, the rubbery flesh

of balloons color the driveway like splotches of paint. In an instant,
those still lives of heave and breath—gone in a pop.

“White Power” — Major Jackson

As it happened, I was twirling a cauliflower floret,
lost in Lewis’s wardrobe of pallid trees,
considering my country’s longing for homogenized milk
& bags of tube socks from Walmart,
which felt cancerous. What came to me like a surprise
snowfall in the soft evening of a snow globe,
one has to pinch salt and sprinkle in the palm,
repeatedly, especially when the temperature in mother’s
   trailer
has begun to drop. In this way, after your Constitution fades
you’ve your own hourglass and no one else to blame.

“Delerium – Alchemy of the Word” – Arthur Rimbaud

I loved maudlin pictures, the painted panels over doors, stage sets, the back-drops of mountebanks, old inn signs, popular prints; antiquated literature, church Latin, erotic books innocent of all spelling, the novels of our grandfathers, fairytales, children’s storybooks, old operas, inane refrains and artless rhythms.

I dreamed crusades, unrecorded voyages of discovery, untroubled republics, religious wars stifled, revolutions of customs, the displacements of races and continents: I believed in all marvels.

I invented the color of vowels!–A black, white, red, blue, green. –I regulated the form and the movement of every consonant, and with instinctive rhythms I prided myself on inventing a poetic language accessible some day to all the senses. I reserved all rights of translation.

At first it was an experiment. I wrote silences, I wrote the night. I recorded the inexpressible. I fixed frenzies in their flight.

Excerpt from A Season in Hell (Une saison en enfer)