Friday, May 25, 2012

Dance Azteca

No matter how hard you try
you can't bring the eclipse back.  Listen--
yesterday morning
there was a grackle, a starling
and a cardinal perched on the silver
maple and I was on the porch
talking again, the same old
game, the sun where it should be
the birds taking it in.

Out of respect for the forlorn
you go on, fully expecting
thunder, some kind of light saving
plasma to effect renewal,
a change in the weather that we used to call
happiness.  But what was once happiness
is a now a bitter river meandering
past you every night from the darkest
zones of the heart.  It knows a million

imps and lions onshore & when the lights flicker
it’s only swamp water
darting in your ear.  In my space
the shadows never-the-less
increase.  Time empties
like a bottle.  Over here, in someone's
room, the broom is shedding its secrets
into the fireplace.   What you call
goodwill is spilled upon the road.

Friday, May 11, 2012

These 3 new poems, following, were written in response to the exhibit Changing Landscapes:   Contemporary Chinese Fiber Art, as part of the Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at the Dayton Art Institute on May 11, 2012. 
From THE MEMORY OF AUGUST by Zhao Dandan

White crystal moon of flowers
You're giving me powers
To imagine your stainless steel
Crescent swings in the sky
 loved by all the other moons
While you emanates from the dark
Powers of space.  Far away
I can see you shining like

A field of clear white clover and your
shining cradle holds what should be
Heaven for most of us--a field
of flowers like a bedspread,
a sense of the cosmos
Tied together with thin polyester.

When I first saw this crescent from another
space, cradled in the sureness of lunar gesture
and unlike our stark white moon in orbit
I was alone.  Not even the museum guard
could touch me as I circled the satellite
like the saucer from a lost in space episode—
it was this glittering polyester

landscape that I flew over unlike a moth
but knowing full well that other moons
in other places exist, some more beautiful
and compelling than others, some harsh
boiling pits like Europa, some frozen
disks, unlike our present subject—
queen of its solar system, a tricky turn in the sky.

Poem after THE ORIGIN OF THE RIVER by Wang Kai

The soil turns year after year, chthonic
Spirits slipping the loose bonds of earth--
Piled up, they are tools grinding
To get back to the deepening fields
Where the earth and water combine into the brown
Loam.  Singing out this passion, river

Spirits speak soft notes that rhyme with the river
on several levels:   the green earthly
level, the sound of the ground and the fields,
the air where dirt meets the sky and grinds
against heaven.  Oh yes, there are chthonic
unions in the soil.  The earth is brown

and as perfect as love.  The water is brown
and as perfect as love.  What’s remarkable, what’s grinding,
is the movement of bodies, celestial, chthonic,
water-bound in filaments of fiber, in the earthy
imagination of the artist.    The river
speaks to the land, the fields,

row after row of hard or fallow fields,
approaching the horizon, the earthy
end of this world.  We are here watching the grinding
formation of spirits in their attempt to contact the brown
space between planets,  heavenly opposite to the chthonic
patch we call Earth.  Even at the river’s

forking into three distinct rivers
the truth of the land and it people is an earthy
truth that comes to bear much later in the brown
spirit world that surrounds us all.  Grinding
its way to the heart of the matter,  the fields
are alive with dancing and ritual to the chthonic

sequence of the seasons, the dusky chthonic
customs flow forward like the river, a brown
lesson among the sweet orchards, a grinding
of fruit into cider.  In the meantime, we await the earthy
rendition of fate to the promise of fields
the sweet song of rivers.

And it is here I’ve seen the brown, grinding
fibers and earthy colors reminding me of fields
of rivers, of the chthonic impulse.