Poems

The Slender Scent

The rebel angels have done their work.
A water moccasin esses in the condo’s aqua pool, a wobbly black stroke.
Against the storm sky’s ink blue, in hyper real focus
phosphorescent radiance
defines the hedge, pool house, wild rose.
I live on a green plane between seas: the backlit ocean of sky
and the thrashing olive Gulf. You catch the slender scent of pineapple
on a maple table in sun under the western facing window showing St. Ann’s Church,
icewhite and modern, leaning like a harp among raintrees, behind the many trunked and
colossal banyon with shade enough for a city block.
She will protect us from ourselves if we work, if we work.
A bailiff will hammer on that door
with a Notice of Intent to Levy or the thirty-day eviction
from the court. The TV’s screech next door will partner with
the manic laughter of gulls. Your sorrows just kill them.
Mangled in filament, the pelican will
unfold from her valise-like nap and try, panicked, to fly.
She won’t, can’t. East of the marina above the river, God’s own wrath is
told in old thunder.
You asked for this.
Where the rust and moth do not consume, nor thieves steal, there will I be
If I just work, if I work.


Published in Commonline

http://whalesound.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/group-reading-the-slender-scent-by-james-robison
..
^ Whale Sound Group reading, 17 Dec. 2010

Belica-Antonia Kubareli has translated two of my poems into Greek and published them in a Greek journal. Click on link.



http://www.poiein.gr/archives/18345/index.html

KINDNESS

I
In harvest engines of rain
Batter fens, fish colored
On the forest tracks.
Woods belt the city in reds.

II
Yellow light gives on
Trails, black glue paths
Stabbed between meadow and
Ravine, stitched with bike tread.

III
I never killed the squawking fox pups.
Didn’t the doe or buck, or
The gray geese. The hunter was busy
With his joy and glass of gold.

IV
Mornings fourfold in shapes and shades
Blazing navy, sleight, equilateral,
Sapphire, irrational. What was
So plain in summer is a jumble.

V
The river is mild brown calm
And lethal. The infinity of mercy
Slides as a cottonmouth writing its
Way in mud, spelling innocent.

VI
The will of the heat was broken
By the long cold moon. The walls shivered
Like the Monarch trembling on the apple
In the generous orchard in the sun.

Published in Scythe Literary Journal

Weightless

Now a cyclone tears through Belize, grinding over Tikal
Guatemala and dying in a lethal rain that dissolves the walking world while
Another, Jamal, thrashes through the walls of
Hispaniola’s flowers and trees, her greens, up from the Greater Antilles,
churns through the Caribbean Sea, raking Haiti, nicking Santiago
De Cuba, aiming at me, and
Tropical Depression Three, heartblood red on the
Indigo chart, threatens from the Gulf,
50 miles out, just to my left. I am Suspended by the
Air in my lungs and oxygen saturated blood
In perfect equipoise on a square coolness, a blue pool.
Reading face up, ten in the morning, the text of sky.
Dime bright dime sized moon still offering owl light.
Quilted and scored white, on that blue, and
Ridged and folded in trenches are cloud wavelets,
Mountain ranges as seen from space in this inverted
Realm I own, with cloudscapes smeared as from snow
Blowing away in mist trails, eight miles high while
Underneath, low, flying jet fast, in ghost formations
Scrims of clouds skim, shot from the rim of the close chaos-
Close but far enough away to make
My hanging horizontal carefree
And loveless and godless
Without the weight of care for the landslide victims
Or flood victims or those torn from their homes.
But
I swam 30 minutes, churning grinding digging raking
Myself in a hard circle in this pool, and feel chastened, confessed,
Deserving of a rest on this bed of water. I’m watching this perfection
As from a second life, indifferent in the limitless storm of being, to
Being killed or blessed, just
Theater in the morning.

Published in Scythe Literary Journal

Hector
Regard him this morning.
Heroic on long legs, in that
Balletic pose, the curve of his neck
To hold aloft the tapered head,
Face in its stage make-up,
Its Pharaoh’s eye treatment, eye bead in amber ring.
He ignores
The overlapping ovations of high tide,
His feathers various hues
Of sky. The Great Blue Heron.
In his thrall and elegant shadow,
A tubby neurotic, a groundling,
The Least Sandpiper, colored as common as stone and the foam,
The crackling spittle he skitters to escape.

Published in Pirene’s Fountain

Early 1960

The pallor of March ages the world,
Fades weeds, roads, fields,
Seals the creek under ice,
Creeks blanch when they are sealed.
The deadness of Now
Blondes the grass, the exact
Grass, in the pain of Here, Real:
Wingseeds, milkpods,
Coke bottle light,
In a flaring whorl,
Levi’s,
Math book; Girls.
Girls give up on the cinder track,
That runs in a long burnt circle,
To the cold and the Now and the deathly light,
Of March as it ages the world.

-From the nefarious and treacherous Toronto Quarterly

Lemon Shark

To learn the speech of the sea, one rolls
in the blue face of the capping surf.
The time of the sea is sleepless, its nature, war.
It has bones that snap and bleach and frame
the stages of its beaches for productions, bloody dramas
nightly or the twee farces of the skittering sandpiper and
moping turtles,drab matinees with briney claw
and musky shell.
On those pancaked stages, rot the actors’ bodies.
Storms explode. That insatiable rain talks in words of
the keenest interest to the gull.
Why name this Prospero’s realm? It’s not his hot blue fuse of
wand that flogs up storm and magic and the sexy dolphin,
the deeply cold nymphs with trouble in their eyes,
the barking marsh monster, and all the
salt and heat. He doesn’t loose the hungry shark.
It is just home. To learn this place is
nothing but the home language, the ordinary family transactions
of utterance, the world’s green starting point.

Published in The Northwest Review

Burning Tide

For British Petroleum

I
The surf gasping and crackling,
Sizzling, heaves tons
Of shattered shells, broken crockery,
Here, and back and there.
.
II
We are so burned, as if
From the inside out, and our
Fire comes in us to the
Cold and dark, the beach kitchen.

III
Rental bricks, ceramic turquoise,
Varnished wood and ruby walls, paring knives,
Ours for a week. Some high petro
Diesel stench shrouds the porch.

IV
We are so burned in the kitchen
Our tender tightened backs
Blaze. The industry of the surf
Is blackened, the white sand charred.

V
We are burned, renting this
Site, with the glued pelican, the drowned
Grouper, the greasy gull, dead
In our Gulf view, our vacation.

VI
We shiver with blisters, scalded lungs,
Simple shock. We’re trembling with news,
All bad, from the iridescent crowblack
Surf, working dumbly, innocently, to heave shells.

Published in The Northwest Review

Gray Gaze

You meet first and best
at the movies–then life may occur
and love and you know the stories
together.
Outside, glazed tiles of buck red
hoop over plaster blistered with skins of
yellow paint and worn
soft as suede. It’s hot.
A path of leather stones veers into a canyon.
Light cracks on walls over the rapids of gushing traffic: Vespas, orange buses, bluer buses than even the sky, which aches in blueness. Hot winds gust from Africa, siroccos, seeming to me golden and narcoleptic.
The street spout says SPQR; its stream icy.
Nothing gets to what is a city, or should be,
but Rome: Its ruins, ravines, layers, girl.
The girl at the movies watched Rome with me.
I’m not so
stupid as to call a city her.
She has her charms but reveals them slowly-
The girl is wonderful and difficult.
The city has ways out.

Published in Metazen


BOWLS

I

Like rimless hats balanced over
For coffee on the cloth, wheel-spun so
Centrifugal narrowing obtains, see
Three circles between white plates.

II

A green opens the window doors
To variants of green. Stripes
Ride the shapes, glazed. The
Walls are rose white, the cloth stippled snow.

III

Gray geese bray this morning, where
Umber smells rise from an expesso jug,
With its trowel handle, chipped silver,
Hexagonal, blackened, smoking over flame.

IV

The black circles of coffee shine
White. Everything’s filled by what it is not
But speaks about: brown sugar in a white
Square and cream in a brown cow.

.
V
No Merciful god appears. Nowhere.
But there are three oranges, fiercely
Sweet in a white bowl,
Hand thrown, coiled white crockery.

VI
Just and merciful god is nowhere
And white roses make an absence
Perfectly shaped as the clay wound and rounded
Into a figure to fill with, at least, at most, light.

Published in The Santa Clara Review

History Is The Work Of The Dead

Our lives are stolen by others and
We do not live them, Rule One, but we
Are lived by thieves whose avarice
Or generosity in some simplest
Matter, once upon a time, wrote our
Existence. We don’t own so much as
A mood, a Tuesday, our face, any
Part of our future. So history
Obsesses Godard, who laments the
Designs of memories as if they
Belong to anyone, or could. Rule
Two: History is pubescent,
Hysteric, fictive, transient,
Divided into chapters which are
The ghosts of spaces, empty as rooms
Unremembered by whoever dreamed
Within once. These are its chapters.
Memorize them, or try, for the test
On Friday. Nothing happened in a
Billion variations at any
Time. And Rule Three: Ghosts write the
Upcoming but not by writing but
Erasing. The long ago dead steer
The car over the cliff, or onto
The Channel ferry, or straight across
Texas. A phantom drove you to an
Addiction to the naked girl in
Afternoon sun, and the genetics
Of raw chance you called love.

Published in Blast Furnace

The Mystic in a Rage of Verse

She refuses to discover anatomy in the whorls
of a jonquil. She is a force on the beach writing,
a demiurge ablaze and browned
in August heat, making the cosmos not aright, but again.
I am about repudiation of the void, she says, an opening of ends.
With me all is weaponized and I refute haze to
cast hard lines of light. The waters are a complete gray, she says,
beneath my fishing osprey. My forests I name blue and the shark will
say, “This eye is stone, this flesh scours. I kill.”
Lavender moths will drop as leaves or rise
on gusts of steam, a target on each wing.
I am not who am, but emulate in scars of black on white
the asterisks in the snowbright sand, tracks of His passing texts.
I give what will suffice. I’ll caulk fissures between
sense and non, do violence to the link of event and consequence.
Abide nothing but the photo-real, hear nothing but the tape transcribed.
The green grasshopper, black locust,
these machines will still tick and clatter
in my pastures by a stream still made iodine
by His sunset. I’ll report in the terms of a contract litigated and signed:
Is.
But to absent yourself entirely, (she says) is to be already dead.
I must say what nobody yet knows, even me.

Published in The St. Sebastien Review

A TEMPER

I
Up from sea glass to meet its
Twin down from clouds, a white wire
Splits the world, cracking it,
Because fury mirrors fury.

II
The fist crushed your lines, tangled them
From, Pantagruel, pasta, quinine,Valium
To snippets of spit, spat, nibe, um
Threads, truncated, snargled.

III
Her nerve is lovely, her audacity, and
How her sovereignty ends with everything orange,
Pinked, livid, aroused and drowsy;
A Turner where velocity spins up only memories.

IV
One January night in front of the
Intercontinental in Paris, the battering rain,
The hammering rain on Rue de Castiglione,
Before golden glass, turned to snow.

V
Flowering snow in fountains of moth flight,
A moonless breath, like hearing forgiveness,
Making a multifarious, smoothing case for
Shrugging them off: grudges, politics, wrongs.

Vl
She wins. With her detailed back, her
Fall of hair, the clarity of her eye,
She will win. Gray eyed. The curl
Of her, its calm, its comprehensive cool.

Published in THIS Literary Magazine

http://www.poiein.gr/archives/18345/index.html