W. B. Keckler


Bone Species

Trace a without. Approach the cloud-cringe of angels,
                                                                                                        muddy the worlds.
Do we really want to be as awake as that? Isn’t that
                                                                                                 what fills the hospitals?
Here is the page of Old English I was picking,
                                                                                        iron locks under snow.

Soon, dawn will snap out birds from eaves of these iced buildings,
the form I seek will be submerged, perhaps a mercy.

Here, look at this box of dominoes from China
made from the bones of dogs,

              (I arrange them as I wait).

Yellowed teeth, a century’s nicotine and tea.
Patinated by the clever animal who learns
                                                                                 nature loves her caesuras.

So this page is yours, though you do not enter;
no game materializes
                                      on the immemorial table,

only the pleasure of touching cold bone. Feeling dawn slide overhead,
                                                                                           heben til hrofe,
                                  heaven to roof us,
                                                                       as I journey backwards,
                                  chase you
                                                                  until you are these tesserae…

                                  I learn 
                                               an alien language that can restore you,
                        shore our pagan place of old,

                         these isig-feora,

                                                   “icy-feathered ones”



                                                 It’s a sleepless language, hissing

                                                                             where you are reborn
                                                                 in consonantal violence, as 
                                                                       sea-spray to osprey, is 

                                                                                                       (even slain

                                                               claws that snarl
                                                                  water, snare

                                                                             writhing memory

                                                   as cold Saxons knew

                                                                                     (even slain

                         Love hunts

                                                        O most mutable

                                                                             and mutagenic


For Possum Tjapaltjarri

It’s not polite to drive into people,
                                    slow or fast.

Are you afraid our stories
                                will tarnish you?

Conscious stripes.
Conscious dots.
Do do do do dot it.

Blue waterhole at dusk.
A little mortuary painting in a small gem
has a tiny river, a chapel.

                               Darkening and birds are running
                                away, into night.

Moon copper red pigment
shines over bones elongating
                                   in quick flight.

                     The edge is often traveled.
                     Waves stoke our hunger.

Blue waterhole at dusk.
A little mercury painting in a small gem
has a tiny river, a chapel.

Mnemonic mountains of me collapse.

I hope you can watch.



W.B. Keckler’s Sanskrit of the Body won in the National Poetry Series 2002 and will be published by Viking-Penguin (May 2003). He is also a playwright who often writes in the Grand Guignol tradition. A recent issue of A.bacus was dedicated to his poetry, and work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The HatUr*VoxFenceYefief and many other journals. He is always happy to hear from other poets, writers and numinous beings.