THE STRANGE MOTH . Last night, against the white wall, by the bed-post I saw a light-brown moth angled like a broken umbrella, silently resting. Not beautiful, not frightening, but very strange and original. How he got into the house I cannot imagine, but I left him there
HISTORY OF THE NIGHT . Throughout the course of the generations men constructed the night. At first she was blindness; thorns raking bare feet, fear of wolves. We shall never know who forged the word for the interval of shadow dividing the two twilights; we shall never know in what age it came to mean the starry hours. Others created the myth. They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates that spin our destiny, they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock who crows his own death. The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses; to Zeno, infinite words. She took shape from Latin hexameters and the terror of Pascal. Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland of his stricken soul. Now we feel her to be inexhaustible like an ancient wine and no one can gaze on her without vertigo and time has charged her with eternity.
And to think that she wouldn't exist except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.
Grandmother . my grandmother doesn’t know pain she believes that famine is nutrition poverty is wealth thirst is water her body like a grapevine winding around a walking stick her hair bees’ wings she swallows the sun-speckles of pills and calls the internet the telephone to america her heart has turned into a rose the only thing you can do is smell it pressing yourself to her chest there’s nothing else you can do with it only a rose her arms like stork’s legs red sticks and i am on my knees howling like a wolf at the white moon of your skull grandmother i’m telling you it’s not pain just the embrace of a very strong god one with an unshaven cheek that prickles when he kisses you
MOMMA WELFARE ROLL . Her arms semaphore fat triangles, Pudgy HANDS bunched on layered hips Where bones idle under years of fatback And lima beans.
Her jowls shiver in accusation Of crimes cliched by Repetition. Her children, strangers To childhood's TOYS, play Best the games of darkened doorways, Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of Other people's property.
Too fat to whore, Too mad to work, Searches her dreams for the Lucky sign and walks bare-handed Into a den of bereaucrats for her portion.
SOLITUDE . So many stones have been thrown at me, That I'm not frightened of them anymore, And the pit has become a solid tower, Tall among tall towers. I thank the builders, May care and sadness pass them by. From here I'll see the sunrise earlier, Here the sun's last ray rejoices. And into the windows of my room The northern breezes often fly. And from my hand a dove eats grains of wheat... As for my unfinished page, The Muse's tawny hand, divinely calm And delicate, will finish it
A FOLLOWING . the phone rang at 1:30 a.m. and it was a man from Denver:
"Chinaski, you got a following in Denver..." "yeah?" "yeah, I got a magazine and I want some poems from you..." "FUCK YOU, CHINASKI!" I heard a voice in the background... "I see you have a friend," I said. "yeah," he answered, "now, I want six poems..." "CHINASKI SUCKS! CHINASKI'S A PRICK!" I heard the other voice. "you fellows been drinking?" I asked. "so what?" he answered. "you drink." "that's true..." "CHINASKI'S AN ASSHOLE!" then the editor of the magazine gave me the address and I copied it down on the back of an envelope. "send us some poems now..." "I'll see what I can do..." "CHINASKI WRITES SHIT!" "goodbye," I said. "goodbye," said the editor. I hung up. there are certainly any number of lonely people without much to do with their nights.
DRIFT ICE . The shining mist already outlines shadows, We pull up the water right to our chins like sheets, so rippingly cool and fresh-starched, we come to be bedded together, forever entwined in the gauze of times past, when peacefully no word we gave to bind us, sleep of unmoored reason, towards dreamed up monsters.
at work they want me to be a duracell rabbit . what comes out is the usual guinea pig . at home they expect me to bustle about like an eager daddy penguin . and not like your average tipsy bullfinch . but my heart my heart is free as an onion a bulb underneath and tops on top . in a gently roaring nordic wind
AGREEMENTS OF BODY AND VOICE . No one saw the ones that were in Giordano Bruno when he spoke . They did not burn on borrowed lips the ones who came from far away . The bonfire that was life did not go out in the fire that was death . In spite of Bruno's pile of cinders what it bore survives . Each life is no more than the time assigned to a man as a turn of light . As the Voice is loyalty no uproar hides from a sharp ear.
NORTH . Slow as sperm wales we glide through the gloom which is white here on the heath. . It holds fast to its own conceding only one post at a time. . For an instant they flash on the side of the road like the little girl's matches in the fairytale lighting us until we return to the hole in the ice to breathe.
Riprap . Lay down these words Before your mind like rocks, placed solid, like hands in choice of place, set Before the body of the mind in space and time. Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall riprap of things. Cobble of milky way, straying planets, these poems, people lost ponies with, Dragging saddles, and rocky sure-foot trails the words like an endless four dimensional Game of Go ants and pebbles in the thin loam, each rock a word a creek-washed stone Granite ingrained with torment of fire and weight Crystal and sediment linked hot all change, in thoughts as well as things.