Supposing Wishes Fishes, Night a Well

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I spoke a wish into the dark,
as if I dropped a fish into a well,
then paused for a returning sound to tell

if water caught it, not dry stone,
not dead coins only. Not a sound came back:
That wish went its own way, and left no track.

The night is long. Where may a wish not go,
when every word’s alive, and each is true?
In such a span of time, what can’t it do?

Under the hood:

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No rain that summer, my father said

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No rain that summer, my father said, the grasshoppers’ song bringing
No relief among the dry weeds. Then the buffalo came like thunder,
My father said, they came like the flood
That follows rain. The hunters went out singing
In the cool before dawn, dark shapes going along under
A dark sky. My father said by the time they came back again,
The whites were heaps of bones beside their heaped goods,
And the grasshoppers were singing up the rain.

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The Panther

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From so much eyeing of these bars
The panther’s gone cage-blind
So that it sees a thousand bars,
And not the world behind.

Lithely padding, circling
In movement without cease
It coils its body like a spring
That cannot find release.

And sometimes on its eye within,
The silent pictures start–
That rush through sinew, nerve and skin,
But vanish at the heart.

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Rilke drew me in again; I’m not quite sure why. His lyricism? His romanticism? This particular poem’s fusion of imagism and philosophizing that, though it stops well short of banality, is certainly situated somewhere along the obviousness spectrum? Likely enough it was over-exposure to the slavish word-bound accuracy of over-respectful translators who run roughshod over sense and sensibility to turn–for example–this:

Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält. (Ranier Maria Rilke)

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The Chinese Dragons, part 4

8114153510_498e05f556_kThe dragons do not seek out men.
They hoard their wisdom like jewels.
The least scale from the belly of a dragon
Might ransom any of the kings of men.

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Alphabet, Schmalphabet – V, v

(or, Veery and Vole and the Vinegar Fly)

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Veery and Vole and the Vinegar Fly
Decided to go to the top of the sky.

But Vole couldn’t fly, though of course he would try;
“Do not think us unkind,” Veery said with a sigh,
“We must leave you behind!” And they bade him Good-bye.

And then Vinegar Fly – though of course he could fly –
Couldn’t fly very fast; couldn’t fly very high.
He grew weary, and cried out to Veery, “Please try
To go slower, and lower!” But Veery said, “I
Am a high-flying bird, and I cannot comply!”

And so Veery went on all alone — which is why
Veery and Vole and the Vinegar Fly

Do not get along.
And that is my song.

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The Natural History of the Kraken, part 1

Ship and Kraken (detail)

I.

Polytentacular, it grips
And rends to flinders passing ships.

II.

By covering itself with sand,
The Kraken poses as a Land—

And rises with an awful roar
When hapless sailors come ashore,

Till falling back, it drags them down
To whirl and spin, and fail, and drown.

III.

A dozen years have come and gone
Since when I held the watch at dawn

And through the water clear as air
Saw my own shadow riding there;

And stared into the glassy sea
As jelly eyes stared up at me.

 

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Alphabet, Schmalphabet – L, l

Lily and Lamia LakeLily Lake
Loved her snake.

Leroy Lay
Stole it away.

Lucas Lops
Called the cops.

Laura Leaf
Chased the thief.

Lenny Loun
Knocked him down.

Lamia Lake
(That was the snake)
Swallowed him whole.

That’s all.

 

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