Saturday, January 1, 2011

John Gallaher

On The Map Of The Folded World

We’re at a great distance.Little specks of things.
We have this hunger.
So let us contemplate the hand. The distanceof the hand.
The grasping of the distance.The hollow of the eye.
Let us say we are walking into a buildingwe’ll not walk out of.
We know we’re all heresomewhere. The table is set.
There are plants along the window.
Out of curiosity. Out of the bodytravel.
We consist of smaller things.The curtains kept swaying.
We’ll tell each other about it.We’ll accuse each other of not caring enough
about what we care about.
As we’re all foldingfrom our houses. Folding into the yards.
Our flaming streets. Our streetsin flame.

-previously published at Anti

Itinnerary For The Surrounding Area

All promises come to this
as these hills keep facing each other
all night. Green and gray. Some brown.

Some act of being there
pushes out onto the landscape, the sad little houses
on a sad little hill. What I was thinking.

How these hills act upon you,
so that you travel a long time to walk there,
and these cheery cottages.

How to get there, we wondered all evening,
over this map, gossamer hills
and dulcimer ocean.
What the pictures say.

We were hoping to be there by the 15th,
but then everyone started coming down
with something.
Three-quarter moon.

Over the view of the ocean, like hearing the whispers
of a story you’ve long wanted to hear,
and realizing
it’s about you.

We stood together
watching the baby sleep
for several minutes, moon over the dark hills
out the window.

We kept asking each other,
and these hills that keep facing each other
all night.

Some hills
we’re welcomed into the next day, like some beginning
we keep dreaming up, or some end.

Some beginning,
where you’ve never seen that green
before. Some end. Some gray original.

A clock tower from some small town
glistening in midday sun
just over this rise.

This frail place, prismatic. The buildings rising
at impossible angles
from these hills.

How Close It Might Come To A Plan

The way the child was the happy childhood
somewhere in the punctuation
of the butterfly garden, the woven glass,
between figures and lit windows
or balancing an orange on my head,
it’s winter. The only birds here
are scraps of birds, and what you believe in people
or choose to believe in people,
dragging the player piano across town, up the steps,
with all the trains going by your head
Named the dust of seepages, the dust
of eggshells and after-dinner mints,
you do the best you can,
the player piano does the rest. You’ll see.
You’ll do some experiments
yourself, with your father’s old coats. Your father’s
old shoes. You just can’t leave them there,
they’re not your size, and even if they were,
you can say, “I have shored my ruins
against these fragments, a landfill
of saying children rolled up
and from the talking trees, these pebbles from a pebble world
singing of pebbles.”

The winter trees. Yes. The frost
up and around the porch, this brittle moment
as if for itself alone, passing its moment,
turning the wind chime to ice.

Right? Something like that, anyway,
from the how and why
page, how, all other things being equal
on occasions such as this, you just stand there
in some human relation,
the whole place becoming some cave,
and how close it might come
to seeming like a plan,
though it wasn’t a plan. It wasn’t anything. It was
just you somewhere deciding to sit down,
and what does this button do,
and suddenly this music erupted.

Public Transportation

A man depicted in plaster watches a TV,
which plays a show depicting a man
riding a bus to a city. We’re worried, perhaps, by that,
that things have started, or otherwise lost more than we imagined,
so we decide to ask someone.

I had no idea there were so many answers floating about,
and so few of them ours, over the fields
and through the subdivisions
on our way to the city. Clouds are ripped things
that get scraped from the sky, for one.
Yes, Ronald, I do, for another.

Something about it all made our group feel a bit jaunty,
almost a merry band,
but for the mild depression and later, maybe,
keeping it kind of general
so everyone can follow.

We were implicated in the plot, we read,
but, luckily for us, it was a plot to support the government
and remain docile and pleasant, so they let us off
with a warning and some flowers, wind from the south,
busses back and forth.

It would have all turned out nearly the same
in any case. We even could have kept the same names
mostly, but for the pagination in the program
and a few items in the footnotes, with mostly the applause sign
to thank, and the formal constructions
the body keeps placing on us
toward evening.

-all three poems previously published at The Releigh Quarterly

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