Monday, May 28, 2007

Bagatelles, another look

I realized that it might be helpful to provide some examples of my own work that I suspect falls into the bagatelles box.

Here are a few older poems:

My Daughter Asks to Touch the Clouds

We pass through low-hanging
skins of weather,
where mists form
portents, rag ghosts
in those deafening moments
when our feet leave the ground
and we step
into forested air.
Follow the delicate lines,
each branch sculpted
into the fleeting whole.
Snow graces bare limbs
with bushy extravagance.
White defines
its own shadows.
The road cuts through a sky
mountains blur into,
and the dark firs, alone,
traipse toward heaven.



Gone is the bright sky
we saw at sunrise
as the shell of the world
turned rose.
White skirts
of mountains rising
vanished behind the
stubborn fence of clouds.
A mean wind
worries the lake
into a tempest—
challenge the laws
of surface, the desire
for weight.
Water crashes into air.
Leaves and old papers
scud hard
and when glass panes
shudder in their sashes
we hear that rattle
in our own bones.


Ten Minutes

On a warm, wood bench
by rose rugosas,
close your eyes.

The fountain sound
could be a cataract,
a cloud-burst in Delhi,
running tap
of hands clapping.

The sun unwrinkles
your thoughts.
The water drums.

Soon, school will end.
Your children
will play all day.



A hunger sunlit and amniotic
tugs at young limbs
as they test the water’s skin.

Oh, to flop
in the lazy glistening,
wet to the ears.

Arms lose attendance to gravity.
Legs kick and furrow
the surface into spume.

In the summer’s hard draw
all children are fish
reclaiming their gills before birth.

What do you do with these? Is it okay to have incidental poetry (like a postcard or a coffee break)? Or do you set them aside and hope that one day they will be ready to become something else?

Here is one that I think may finally be ready for another, deeper look:

Your Europe Movie

Two swans from Fellini
appeared in deepening air,
an apparition we did not

approach head on. The rowboat leaked
water thick with green
and the noise of fish breathing.

Then twin necks curved into the bowl
of twilight, sky swimming
more stars than you could expose.

When you return, we will share
another language. I still know how to swear
in second-hand Italian.

Your movie unrolls
in scenes of foreign lighting,
reels floating through plotted takes.

I sit at the kitchen table
stare at my coffee, mute,
leaning into the frame.

Back to the writing board.

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