Issue 11 – Winter 2006 – Brian Strang

Brian Strang



                  —for Basil King


spherical decline 

born as monument 

every color physical 

this very earth circled 

by a single moon 

technical detritus 

aluminum cloud 

in the house of light 

The same, inside and out. A form of emptiness, of aphasic 
silence. Worn with use and physical, yet particular to this 
light, this darkness, this wind, this water. Conditions are 
exactly the same every time.


who is not a part? 

who is not apart?


The mind doesn’t abide, bites into what cannot be. An 
image floats in the middle distance. Faces become 
projections as you walk along the street. They lead you. 
Half-sized but accurate in every detail. The inner landscape 
is uncertain. It speaks to you as you walk, gestures, leads 
the way. You begin to ask it questions and its mouth moves 
in response but no answers issue and its motions become 
feverish. You try to understand. The look on its face: a 
concatenation of dread and empathy. Apparition of the 


the roofs form a patchwork 

over the valley corrugated 

something that drains 

you of differences 

makes everyone 

indifferent kneeling 

in the middle of 

the freeway what 

cause what local 

conditions gave 

rise to this?


A small hand points the way. The day becomes unbearably 
hot. People draped in torpor. Half-sized but accurate in 
every detail. Hide in the shade and shed the outer hide. 
Transmissible human signature. Heads protrude 
everywhere from this ground. Half-sized but accurate in 
every detail. They turn at the sight of translucent marching 


participants partake 

but it ends in blood 

the juice of human fruit 

of human wanting 

deep beneath 

a splintered sun 

where the world 

is a crevasse


Two thousand years later in this remote province, their 
floors and foundations are still visible. Use the familiar form 
with them, as if you knew them. Visit their ruins, become 
their family. And you can still hear them, though they are 


spreading deeper 

into the reaches 

beneath light 

both revelation 

and symbol 

in these waters 

grow fruits that 

unwind and destroy 

on inverted trees


In a hotel room above the avenue, you sleep with your legs 
tied in knots. The darkness behind your eyes deepens. You 
attempt to see through the years but see only a reflection.




Cast in bird bones, the code for a citadel, a spiral river. You 
break them open, a cloud in each cell. Legs scatter in the 
light break. 

Flights outward are suspended. And the bomb makers 
wring their pointy heads. Troops are Popsicle heads. The 
emperor wears his deathcap.


Moments are precipitous. Cultural baggage stops up the 
sun, but its halo can be seen in the longest present—beyond 
irreverence into temperatures of engagement and distance. 

Machines spin on the roads, but deep inside the mountain is 
a clock—marble, steel, movement. Planets circle its dial. 

The walls are stuffed with wooden icons, elaborations of 
avoidance. They permeate. Tradition is habit in long spaces. 

A singer expels her lungs, historically longing for rest. She 
gathers them from the floor, an offering to the nerves. Her 
face is a projection, sum of suns, collective desire. The 
congregation is ambient as radio bells stun the steeples, and 
a child with all the answers is seated in the front row. 
Photographs of these rituals exist. 

You arrive at a clearing and other primates hold you, ask 
where you have come from, where you are going, whether 
you will return. You invent your own malice in their 


Every surge is a whirl in the wood, burning by the theory of 
everything, and a redcurrant sun drops through the sand, 
leaving a trail of glass. Problems and solutions operate on a 
global scale. Pulsing attentions—dot to dot, screen to screen, 
crime to crime—set the chain of consequences in motion. 
Rational moles clash in their tunnels. Decisions become a 
science. Make the tangible ones disintegrate. 

Under the weight of these mechanisms, a strategy emerges. 
It cannot fail. Cannibalized wisdoms, streaming 
dispositions, a room full of light fixtures. Prefabrication, 
water distribution, landscaping. It breaks away and falls 
down the hillside like so much snow. The tightening circles 
of mediation, pedestrian cruelties and social graces. They lie 
in a heap against the new tract homes. 

Feel the presence of human lives behind the walls, through 
the floors and earth, the buried history of open hearts. The 
small communions at day’s end. A scattered being at the 
city’s edges. In errorless light. Stop the mind from thinking 
in hours.


You wonder what it is like at this hour at the bottom of the 
ocean, at the bottom of everything. The mirrored sky over 
your head, everything over head. But this year you are 
pressed to the earth and think you must find a taller sky, one 
that does not drip with context, one not framed by 
antecedents, by the ripple effect of responsibility, culpability 
and connection. The fog rolls in, the tides turn, the weather 
is switched on.

Breath, branch, shoot, stalk. Tendrils offer an incremental 
critique—a slow answer to destruction and distraction, 
computation and speed, spinning cards and echo chambers. 
Crawl up the shale to eat moths at high altitudes.


You decide to wait out the rain. The ticking continues inside 
the mountain’s depth. Animal. Anima. Animist.

Somnolence. The circles of now. Indelible duration.

One chime every year. Gravitational bell. It will take you a 
full day to reach the center.



Brian Strang, co-editor of 26: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics, lives in Oakland and teaches English composition at San Francisco State University and Merritt College. He is the author of Incretion (Sputyen Duyvil) and machinations (a free Duration ebook) among others. i n v i s i b i l i t y, a special edition with drawings by Basil King, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil. Some of his recent writing has appeared Parthenon West and Word for /Word and is forthcoming from New American Writing and Five Fingers Review. His poem/paintings can be viewed at