the secret life of a grandfather clock
3 AM can strike through many nights
without a sound but a ruffling into dreams.
Enough to bring pause, retreat, waking.
There's something long ago that's taken on breathing.
Of course! A dead uncle's grandfather clock,
now gone to abstract seizures of time's aching
dim memories, a brute nostalgia for that house
now gone to others. Where did the clock go?
It's no longer making those children shiver
in perfect terror of its presence ticking
in a hallway. It's gone away lost to think.
Old, it struggles through its moments
of standing with a broken mustache
on its face, standing in some purgatory
it sends odd hours to troubled sleeping.
That tall clock once alert and sentient
now droops in a somewhere nowhere.
The flight of seeds is random myriad.
One sinks down growing generations
of patient oaks harvested for clocks
imprisoning eccentric grandfathers.
Where is that great clock, is it living,
or did its governor shrug, go to ruin?
I think it's still thinking, breathing...
In my grain and my dark knots,
distant rivers still flow their poems,
hillside gnomes and fairies murmur
tales long sunken to my substance.
In my gears and ingenious spring,
mysteries of minerals turn and coil
around psychosis of my old dæmon
orphaned by the absconded gods.
If my chronic and nightly musing
on paradox and fate comes calling
as a dream inside your dreaming,
let it strengthen your imagination.
I never meant to frighten children
as if a specter in assembled form.
I only meant to tell you children
about duration's freakish presence.
Even in senility and my far ruin,
I'll come a-tocking your 3 AM.
I have not seen the ocean in 40 years.
The ocean makes quite a différance.
A difference between time and open wind.
A deferment endless into the faint horizon.
Derrida's word of distance confuses the seabirds --
white shards twisting unseen within the airy tube
of an infinite kaleidoscope, where nothing is settled.
But being landlocked makes roots groan and Death grin.
If one lived beside the ocean it might be different.
Enigma and great liquid might bring a calm delirium.
Disappearance would no longer be such a problem.
Touching vastness with actual eyes halts questions.
And the far roll of waves in psychosis and liturgical play
has nothing in common with country ghosts who ....complain
of how heavy they felt before dying, with no boats in ....sight.
Beside the ocean one most likely has no time
for dry moods and sad heaves of rooted hours.
It must be so open there that even birds recover.
In this gentle plunging wildness,
mountain trees grow into spring.
Blossoms are fragrant with hope
of death coming later in the year.
I could build a nice philosophy
out of this Yin-Yang paradox.
Instead I'll simply sit becalmed,
refusing my brush and paper.
Springtime can be a bad time
for those who fall prey to it,
for those who think of desires
as auguries of good fortune.
And spring is like a memory
before something happened. Ha!...
I laugh straight into the riddle.
I laugh so hard that four tears
trickle down to my crooked lips.
This cool morning wine is good.
Why wait for evening's permission?
Blossoms now dim to unknown colors,
a song is coming from their scattering.
Or...is that the lazy breeze whispering
a poem that could never be written?
I think this old mind is calming down.
Passion seems so absurd these days.
Who could love a hermit, anyway?
Tomorrow I might again dip my brush
into ink and try to make words dance.
If someone 'dances' to their rhythm,
I would take it as a quiet form of love.
That fog of branch-torn blossoms
now falls onto clear brook water.
And it complements another riddle:
how so much wine has made me sober.
The melon shades of leaves
will soon rust and fall gently
to layers of rest and forgetting,
like sunken poems, unusual love,
and grave silence after the crows.
The black walnut tree trembles down
its mysterious spheres to sleep darkly,
to pulse with memory of heartwood.
Old roses are paling with grace
in this air of ruining tomorrows.
Autumn again, and all the years
twisting a garland of melancholy.
in lieu of opium
Some moments appear longer than moments,
and they are taller than any scaffolding of time.
In lieu of time, music opens mystical spaces.
In lieu of opium, music washes into abysses.
Because it's invisible music is bountiful.
What can't be spoken breathes in measures.
The sense of something shimmers in timbres.
A taste of beyond comes almost chemically.
In lieu of time and opium, one can listen differently.
But when music becomes too much for being,
there's always narcosis of a poem's making.
Copper mist and a darkening of Venice
turn the problematic water into a spectacle
of lurid mood, floating boats, and gondolas
going somewhere to seek known passages.
The women reminisce about fashion with character.
Older men complain about the passing of genius.
Hours turn as they always do, toward tomorrow.
As mildew creeps and whispers near baseboards,
the curtains move languidly in dubious breezes.
At the lagoon, two gondoliers rehash the tale
of what happened and what followed in 1902.
St. Mark's great bell tower fell to sudden rubble,
and some heard ghosts of monks cry out warning --
those long ago hung up there in heretic cages.
Or it's said the deep fall went out to the Adriatic.
On some stagnant days you might hear a tolling,
though others say it is the moan of a lost whale,
or the echo of Jonah from inside an ancient belly.
It is something to talk about while watching the twilight.
On the wharf, a couple strolls to soak up the verses
of last light that once wrapped around a poet in exile.
They came to Venice because surfaces are problematic
and rich with a decadence and plague of impressions.
It is good to go where things of water and of bells
might later turn up in the soundings of language.
A boy asleep and turned to dreams
in the backseat of a car on vacation
in 1958 to Lake Greeson in Arkansas...
and he wakes up to his father's, “There's the lake!”
But he looked out and he saw
from a height and through trees
an unusual thing of a certain blue --
not a color belonging to any water.
That plasma hue was beyond Bermuda
or the bright turquoise of South Sea atolls.
What he saw was dreamstuff residual
and blended into a moment of waking --
a confusion of worlds, a mystic marriage
of water that lay and layering of marvelous.
It never happened again that two dimensions merged.
The boy was caught forever between life and otherness.
treatise on aesthetics
There is no indifference about.
Even the clouds are concerned,
shaping each moment into new volumes
of theatrical moisture and slow inspiration.
Along summer roads drops of wildflower saffron
vie for attention with garden roses' museum hues.
The flowing of Little Missouri River in Arkansas
will never be contented with unrounded stones.
Mountains are listening to the music of trees.
The mother of aesthetics hides within passions
of clouds, flowers, rivers, and great mountains.
Time must be why lovers unknown to each other
become new fables of qualities when they meet
on the old stone bridge of imagining into twilight.
And the unseen angel of beauty grieves ballads
continuously over the dead.
If not for going after the sunken fishes,
I would be able to think about this light
that spreads, bathing water in holy moods.
Srećko is up ahead in liquid gleaming.
He has floated already through melting
of high clouds onto mirror dream of river.
Brightness! My oar cleaves the wet clouds,
and I squint into this pausing of morning
before angling to cool tangles of lavender.
The fishes move below unseen,
and the ghost of world is hidden
within transience, within brilliance.
Srećko distracted in ritual, while my thoughts row
above gliding fishes, on my voiceless pew of vision.
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