Reading Poetry

I'm sorry I've cut your poems into lines
- pruning the blossoms is a necessity -
but often I'm the surgeon who holds his

dull instruments & creates nothing more
than a wound.  I have placed every slip
- passage is this act of casting an ink blot

through, over, under, or past a thought
we have decided to pronounce & name

a word - on my tongue where I wish I
could tell you I've tied it into a knot;
just as stems are a mystery, every paper

dissolves as the mechanics of mouth keep
fumbling around. I take your sentences
avoiding - away from or stop to whispers

that prevent spring buds totally happening
today or in June - the breaks & marginal

comfort. I have doodled faces between
the stanzas - a group of questions waiting
at the gate to recur this knock & holler

in a world full of pollen, bees & water; the
fingertips that only know a metrical verse
of touch - to remember all my expressions

as I ran home or downstairs to recite these
beautiful winds & everywhere was a storm.

Analemma in the Necropolis

'One can disintegrate the world by means of very
strong light. For weak eyes the world becomes solid,
for still weaker eyes it seems to develop fists, for eyes
weaker still it becomes shamefaced and smashes
anyone who dares to gaze upon it'
     - crossed out passage from Kafka's The Blue Octavio Notebooks

Faith be this syllable nodding
to doorsteps, sidewalks
at intersection & unperturbed

passes of urban form. I cannot
read the signs ahead, but might we
share a glance like the laughter

of old friends sitting on a porch
in the evening light? Wind chimes

remind or better demand,
this is a city of both living & dead,
we swaddle the mind in clouded

figures defining fictions upon
this rate of better consumption
while the heart is depleted & lost

from these wandering ghosts needed
in mapping out our orbit of heaven.

after 'Hawk Roosting' by Ted Hughes

You give me a universe & all these days
where I swear You're the thumb smudge

at the bottom of the picture where we are
all the glowing eyes in the dark.  But then

there's the rain today where I imagine You
think about floods, & just beyond the yard

a telephone line swings in the wind above
the alley until some dove lands, bringing

a worm in its beak & standstill to the wire,
some momentary peace. Up there it can

see windows, gardens, fences, trashcans,
or smokers who should be quitting. It knows,

right there, more than I can see; all this is
the world beneath it. While above there are

feet locked to a branch of an oak, what took
the whole of Creation; there is no sophistry

in the eyes looking down, while I only know
the dove on the line & we all know the rain,

but you are higher still. So when the hawk
quits roosting - split seconds of a shutter

- talons plunging down with the allotment
of death, only the dove & I are surprised.

An Attempt in Late May

i.               city

Planks have been laid | beneath the where
of an elm I have | come to know as dead

while squirrels make | too many leaps
rotten | above the dog jumping | at fallen

limbs.  So I have gone | to check our moss |
covered shed | to find a can | of gasoline

for this hollow bark | is coming down
with curiosity blinking | above the torn

surface | of our fences & roofs | we are | live |
a small vacuum away | we dance to ghosts

painted replica red | I am here to collect all
this absolute | seasonal planning | with a glass

of vodka that I | confuse | for three grains
rice dancing in a swill | while I invent a match.

ii.              river

Raven & Coyote have painted | their feathers
& fur | on the bank having chased | riparian

branches | of the Martins & Swallows down
here | they did it for the run | but the current

proved more interesting | than skittery fowl
looking for cow-killers & beetles. | Eyeing

the water | Raven said, we could be like men,

reach into the silt
| find a capable stone |

Coyote shook | no, we can confuse the water
send it home
| treat great distance | like a child

crying for love
| in a dark room | his parents
asleep | snoring & turning over
. Coyote takes time

to howl | as though the river were his paramour
| & Raven skips stones | across a note of ripple.

iii.            foundered

My eyes cut serpentine | paths between trees
& mud as I try | to find a way downward |

from this abandoned lot of broken | asphalt
to the river | I can hear passing me | another

child naked | with all his knives | confiscated
taking those first steps | on weak legs & absolute

faith | the other side | being whole.  I break |
sapling branches | descend, stumble or slide |

leaving a trail for someone | who might be
tracking. | In reaching the river's chatter | I pull

out release & potential | my bottle | my pills |
because I should own something here. | Carving

tricksters | in the totem of my head waters |
by current | by passage | can I be a shore-lit flame?

         Ian Bodkin 2012