Blesok no. 58, January-February, 2008
From “Fire Stations”
The Silken Road
I take the shoots of river willow,
supple, fashioned circle-wise
and fastened so. There is a code
of charms upon the Silken Road.
They say there is a queen, her crown
a nesting-place for each cocoon:
on hatching, teams of busy worms
spin out, spin out the Silken Road.
To reach the journey’s origin
brings riches … By this legend struck
so many homes stand empty. Miles
are posted on the Silken Road
by bones, some spread, some figuring
their common frames. That’s animal,
that’s other. All my brothers left
provisioned for the Silken Road,
and as I walk I scan the ground
for charcoal, tent-pegs, human tracks.
The light arches at my back
as night falls on the Silken Road.
My dream is short: a river lined
with willow, on its banks a queen
worm-eaten. There’s myself grown old,
at home upon the Silken Road.
The Sleeping Gypsy
Painting by Henri Rousseau (1844–1910)
My best dream came
and found me as I slept
on four legs with a heavy head
Its ribcage rose and
fell it came so
soft it broke my heart and held me
small within its eye
It stood outside my sleep I could not see it
It had no words to say but knew my scent
It had no words to say and would not wake me
I woke when the moon had gone
and my dream
whose mercy is my sorrow
after Roberto Juarroz
As I sleep, my two hands come awake
and work their craft, create or unpick
some halfway human body, stitch by stitch,
play Frankenstein all night behind my back.
I hear them, from my sleep: I hear them groom
this bastard demi-ghost, this bloodless golem,
doctoring its life, its other death.
I wake, with two hands folded on my chest.
He joined me, uninvited, at the bar: a roly-
poly dietician, his fractured jaw half bowling-ball
size and black. Over soda and lime, he gave me
his hardline battery hen philosophy:
Eating an egg is like eating a piece of Hell.
And more: the dietician had seen the Devil,
once, stepping out of a painting dressed
in sandals and a straw hat. Not only that — the Devil
followed him home and for six months hen-pecked:
Why not do yourself in. A close call. Still,
he survived. He’d had worse: like the solid hour
locked in a freighter’s cold-storage compartment,
slipping on frozen kippers. Only now
he sees faces by the roadside in weeds and flowers,
my own face falling, as he rose, and simply said:
We’ll meet again. I’ll know where to find you.
A blackbird with no
It takes bacon scraps,
potato skins, allsorts.
a perfect lap of the lawn’s
Give that bird a medal.
Next thing you know
you’re wearing a blackbird’s head,
scanning the soil.
A new god arrives
with grapes for eyes.
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