Glass Bed: Visions
The copper owl knows its calling:
to drop an egg in the juniper’s old rot.
A raft of garbage and cold wind
with three jaundiced gulls turning above.
Finally, the berries agree to ferment:
now come months of traffic and stone.
Today the spring pulled up its bed,
those charming wet blades, and moaned.
Cicadas harden beneath the willows
and diamonds tussle in the ground.
The ships that ride on less than weather
send all the crew sinking dumbly under.
The snow-soaked moss plays again
its wide green signal on the earth.
Ice Bed: Visions
It seems the mountains
switch places overnight.
A flush of snow partridge:
a vanishing into vanishing.
The oak where bees
toss their dead to the ground.
The freeze-whitened treelimb:
the glass-encased treelimb.
The sun and its roof
of blood: heavy light of cold.
The copper owl with a green
bone in his beak. In the world’s
basement: faint drip
that drowns and drowns.
To be gone and not to rest—
to work and to work and to work.
To feel blood sculpt (cold
as slate) around reality, sapping
essential night, and the birds there:
beautiful and plucking gifts
from the dead. One hand still
gestures skyward, flesh
blown back from bone, like foam—
sea rushing on land.
No visions last night—no trees,
no songs for them. Out:
the furnace and its boulders
spasmodic in the home’s underworld,
how windows must be heaven
above it all (paint husk, wolf spiders)
with those shriven maples gaunt
over splotched lawns, dry streets, as if
I in the dirt am remembering,
detail on detail, speaking of it.
The microscopic scripture returns—
smallest boat in any world.
Overhanging branches—the way
in which the throngs of the dead
describe what remains they
can still see of the land above.
All salt. All salt and light. Birdnoise.
All birdnoise. The scripture
drifts past unnoticed, curled
inward like a fortune.
Where the trail switched, closed
in behind me like an army,
was not found in the dream, only
the dry riverbed in winter.
And somehow I scrawled
the terms of it on my ceiling (I
was outside, beneath the ice-white sky—
I was asleep in the room…)
The cars zipping there on the road,
those hearts catapulted toward the sea.
Absolutely the sky’s pied breasts
dip nearly grass-level and the air
inside one: a thousand creased faces.
(Hold back, hold tight, bite down,
that first thought can betray.)
Lord, how the dead carry
on all night in the impassable tunnels
of a turning sleep—the beat
hot as rain pocking rust
in the ear’s dock, the pillow darkening.
And what of the body’s day-long list?
(The body in cells, start to finish.)
I turn from it as from a carved wall,
a wall carved with deeds,
thoughts long (day-long) drowned.
The wall with me, the wall burning
but unconsumed, the wall tall
now as my body, all cells
from egg to worm, all cells upward—
all that I have done.
Hulking pines lean apart, as if
some monster wind had stumbled
through. Dark canoes tilt empty
to the ashy bank. Fog distrupts
the facing shore. (A crow breaks it.)
What seam in the journey
came unsewn? (A crow peeling
back the scalp.) What message
stands delayed in my blood?
(A crow laughing at the river.)
So the body prays this way, reborn:
a traveler on foot, picking
a zigzag line through mountains.
The hours elongate between
last blood and afterlife, the chatter
of gravel, the robe of sleet
hung from a cloud for me.
I mapped the mountain slopes
and the manuscript evaporated.
I walked into a burning world.
And I followed the molting swan
(who screamed, but gently, and into
the spring underbrush) until I lost
her, which was the first moment.
But the purple, trembling bundles
of thistle emerging, the scent
of living water. How did I go up
and under at once? How
the ragged, golden uplands flowing
westward, miraculous, beneath me?
F. Daniel Rzicznek’s poems in this issue are from his collection Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, forthcoming in 2009). He is also the author of Neck of the World (Utah State University Press, 2007), Cloud Tablets (Kent State University Press, 2006), and coeditor, with Gary L. McDowell, of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice, forthcoming from Rose Metal Press in 2010.