Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Revenant IV

Of all the ghostly emotions that haunt my house
his anger is the most tangible.
It hangs on the barn’s wall
like a coyote pelt skinned at dawn.
It barks at dusk and masquerades as order
and rules day’s dominance like a petty king.
Chaos lurks in the nails of its paws.
Chicken blood and feathers mask its snout.
It practices animal husbandry
to disguise its true intent.
Its silhouette in the summer’s stillness
harbingers the rant of winter’s tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007


With his sinister hand, he drove the red Cadillac.
He smoked unfiltered camels with his right.
He named himself the Knight of Swords,
played Texas swing on the AM radio,
and lowered the black canvas top, like Jett Rink.

She warned him about the crocodiles.
They swarmed out of Africa and attacked the portcullis.
Imaginary damsels in distress were his weakness,
so he ordered steaks from Omaha and loaded
the red leather seats down with thawing boxes.

While the steaks rotted and turned an oily green
like a bottle fly’s eye, he pulled his Stetson
forward to avoid the wind.

Arriving at last, he honked
and she released the bridge’s German lock.
His Michelins squashed croc heads
as he entered the keep. She skipped
down gray stone stairs like a prom queen;
the poodle on her skirt emblematically black,
her hair bouncing jauntily in a pony tail.

She slide into the front seat,
flashing smooth legs and white panties,
scooting up against his denim thigh,
as the crocs boiled from the moat.

Driven mad by the smell of rotting meat
and exhaust, they scuttled on clattering claws
after the car until they hit asphalt on Route 66.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A note on Ihn Ritt die Nacht by Paul Celan

There is an image in Paul Celan’s Ihn ritt die nacht, which resonates with depth and meaning. For me, the image of the orange in the third stanza exemplifies the concept of the primordial word, which energizes and mythologizes poetry.

Here is the original with my translation.

Ihn ritt die Nacht

The night rode him, he came to himself,
the orphan’s overall was the flag,

no more detours
it rode him straight-

It is, it is, as if the oranges stood in the hedge,
as if, so ridden, he wore nothing
but his

Ihr ritt die Nacht, er war zu sich gekommen,
der Waisenkittel war die Fahn,

kein Irrlauf mehr,
es ritt ihn grad

Es ist, es ist, als stünden in Liguster die Orangen,
als hätt der so Gerittene nichts an
als seine
muttermalige, ge

What comes first the primordial word or image?

When I first read this poem, I immediately focused on the orange, standing in the hedge, shining like a beacon in green, cool darkness. The orange does not hang; it stands. Although it stands boldly within the boundary of the hedge, it glows like a full moon on a dark night. It is hidden and yet it shines.

The orange is an anomaly, which functions as a beacon, calling us, filling our mind and imagination with its vibrancy, its color. From this initial attraction, our imagination moves to the other senses to create a sense of weight and depth. We touch the rough peel of the orange, we smell its citrus aroma, we taste its tart sweetness, we chew its thick pulp, and we suck the slick pips that slide around our tongue. Our mouths water as our eyes linger on the glowing orange, which stands like a prisoner within the hedge.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Trap

He lays the trap
on gray green moss.
He pries the sharpened claws
open until he hears the click
of the German lock.
He places raw meat
onto the silver spring.
He hides in an orange bush
and waits for her to approach.
He smells the Valencia oranges ripen.
He feels the earth tumble and turn.
He sees the dappled green mint leaf
reflect the last ray of a weakened sun.
As he sleeps, the moon waxes and wanes.
He swells and bursts like a peach
fallen onto wet autumn clay.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Revenant III

The sole meal
we prepared
in five years
was boiled lobster,
which was apropos,
because our thing
was to lie on sugary sand
until her hair bleached white
and my native blood boiled
through my veneer.
We cooked the clay
until it glistened
and hardened,
then I extended my claw,
inviting her to crack
it with a steel vise.