The Light of Nerve
Against the star stuff
the despair of the eyelids
god's empty face:
the essential hydrogen
of the eyes' own cones
and rods discharging
an anxious static
The strangers, their eyes
focused on distance. They
proceed with purpose, this much
is clear. I speak in their
direction; their pace
does not slacken; their need
is peremptory. There is a muffling
glass between us. I gape
like a fish mouthing
the edge of the world. The vision
shuts like a window.
It is a message of hope, or so
I interpret it. Pressing
stiff fingers into the soil,
I have the taste of candied
citron, tangerines, crisp vegetables
on my tongue. But an uneasy wind
gnaws at the leaves, it ticks
ominously in my instruments. The soil
draws away from the roots.
I am strapped in. There is
no light. At my fingertips
blind workmen assemble
delicate, complex machinery
calibrated in Braille.
I feel my nerves blooming
out of my pores. They probe
the air like antennae. All
sensation is amputated
by the silence. My mind
peoples the room with explanations.
Speakers are grafted into the bones
of my skull. When the volume is high
the words retain only
the meaning present
in the resonance of bone. But low
the whole body, the surge of it,
mutes to hear. Who
the lies of his own bones?
I cannot separate vision
from projection: I respond
without stimulus. I ask
the voice but there
is no answer. The vision
returns: the emperors
are seated closely around
the table; below the waist
they are naked, their hands
grope like insects among
the loose hairs of their thighs.
There is a dialto register the tolerance
of my heart; meters
monitor my pulse, my
breath, muscle tension, gland
secretions, the electric
potential of my nerves, my brain.
Soon the vision will
recur, the needles
into the red, soon
all the instruments will agree.
-both poems published at Farrago's Wainscot
Rage For Order
I guess you could call it
a sort of sympathetic magic.
How else to explain
this obsessive reorganizing
of my home, my books, my papers,
my poems, this housekeeping
of my hard drive and floppies,
all the deleting and casting away
of redundancy and obsolescence,
dead files and moved-on addresses
and the scrubbing, the constant
scrubbing and dusting and the howl
of the protesting vacuum
that struggles to inhale
at least the 70% of house-dust
that is dead human skin
some of which might be hers.
-previously published at Poetry Foundation
Dark & Light
It's night of course;
it always is, isn't it? Universal,
and I speak literally. Dark
is the natural state of things—
dark matter, dark energy, making up
ninety-six percent of the universe
we think of as our own
& the light
we survive by and worship
nothing but a trivial aberration,
despite the dependency of such entities as us.
Yes, let there be Light! Ah, the Glory!
that brings forth life upon the sludgy stones
kludging lonely in the dark . . .
each luminous object expelling its substance
into the dark quantum by quantum—
light the visual manifestation of decay,
like corpse-light, a celebratory sort of sparkle
surrounding indomitable entropy.
-previously published at Strange Horizons Poetry