from Mesa Blanca

Victor Hernández Cruz

copyright ©2001 Victor Hernández Cruz



This paper which was a tree
Is crying for its leaves
That’s the route of your mind
To dance its branches,
For that canopy red flower
Of the Antilles,
So high up in air spirit,
Flowing right through that bark,
A water shaft,
A city of bamboos
Liquefied fructus,
Humid swamp for that
Night frog,
To sing without rest
Till the roosters brush their
Beaks with the first
Arriving morning light.

The joyful noise of the night
What might be coming from lips,
Or the rubbing of legs
The full harmonic tropical berserk
Begging for love
In abundance
Not one thousand
But one thousand and one
Lights of cucubanos,
Morse-coding lovers,
That come down,
Meow not now
Of the cats –

For that’s the flavor,
Within the opening of the
Two mountains,
A glance following the
River
That goes to fish its memories,
Scratched one next to the other
Like the grooves of shells,

To think that no one believes
We are here.
The past in the smoke of the cigar,
Bring the future in-formation.

When You Look Up

Jan Zwicky

copyright ©Jan Zwicky, 2011



When you look up, or out,
or in, your seeing is
a substance: stuff: a density
of some kind, like a pitch
that’s just outside the range
of hearing: numb
nudge of the real.
                                      I saw air
once, in its nothingness
so clear it was a voice
almost, a kind of joy. I thought
of water – breath as drinking –
and the way it shows us
light. Or maybe it was light
I thought of – as though
water were the solid form
of wind, and air
a language with a single word
transparent to the world.
Your glance is this,
meltwater, mountain light.
The plunge and thunder of the pool.
The ripple at its farthest edge.

The Amen Stone

Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld, translated from the Hebrew written by Yehuda Amichai

copyright ©2000 by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld



On my desk there is a stone with the word “Amen” on it,
a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed
many generations ago. The other fragments, hundreds upon hundreds,
were scattered helter-skelter, and a great yearning,
a longing without end, fills them all:
first name in search of family name, date of death seeks
dead man’s birthplace, son’s name wishes to locate
name of father, date of birth seeks reunion with soul
that wishes to rest in peace. And until they have found
one another, they will not find a perfect rest.
Only this stone lies calmly on my desk and says “Amen.”
But now the fragments are gathered up in lovingkindness
by a sad good man. He cleanses them of every blemish,
photographs them one by one, arranges them on the floor
in the great hall, makes each gravestone whole again,
one again: fragment to fragment,
like the resurrection of the dead, a mosaic,
a jigsaw puzzle. Child’s play.

The White Room

Charles Simic

copyright ©Charles Simic, 2004



The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too.
I listened to the trees.

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me–
And then didn’t.

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses,
Always more dark houses,
Hushed and abandoned.

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors.
The fear of it, and the wonder,
Kept me sleepless.

The truth is bald and cold,
Said the woman
Who always wore white.
She didn’t leave her room.

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact.
The simplest things,

Difficult in their obviousness.
They made no noise.
It was the kind of day
People described as “perfect.”

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins, a hand-mirror,
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn’t it.

Just things as they are,
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light–
And the trees waiting for the night.

The Couple Next Door

Suji Kwock Kim

copyright ©Copyright © 2003 Suji Kwock Kim



tend their yard every weekend,
when they paint or straighten
the purple fencepickets canting
each other at the edge of their lot,

hammering them down into soil
to stand. How long will they stay
put? My neighbors mend their gate,
hinges rusted to blood-colored dust,

then weave gold party-lights with
orange lobster-nets & blue buoys
along the planks. So much to see
& not see again, each chore undone

before they know it. I love how
faithfully they work their garden
all year, scumbling dried eelgrass
in fall, raking away mulch in spring.

Today the older one, Pat, plants
weeds ripped from a cranberry bog.
Sassafras & pickerel, black locust
& meadowsweet, wild sarsaparilla,

checkerberry, starflower. Will they
take root here? Meanwhile Chris waters
seeds sown months ago. Furrows
of kale, snapbean, scallion break

the surface, greedy for life. Muskrose
& lilac cast their last shadows. Is it
seeing or sun that makes them flicker,
as if they’ve vanished? They shake

like a letter in someone’s hand.
Here come the guys from Whorfs
(“Whores”) Court, walking their dog
– also in drag – to the dunes.

I miss seeing Disorient Express
(a.k.a. Cheng, out of drag) walk by,
in tulle & sequins the exact shade
of bok choi. He must have survived

things no one can name, to name only
KS, pneumocystis, aplastic anemia.
I remember he walked off his gurney
when the ambulance came, then broke

his nurse’s fingers in the hospital
when he tried to change his IV line,
wanting to live without meds. Zovirax,
Ativan, leucovorin? I don’t know.

My neighbors pack down the loose dirt.
I’ll never know what threads hold
our lives together. They kiss, then fall
on the grass. I should look away but don’t.

On

Paul Muldoon

copyright ©Paul Muldoon, 2002



Absalom was riding his mule and the mule passed under the thick branches of a great oak. Absalom’s head got caught in the oak and he was left hanging between heaven and

earth, while the mule he was riding went on.

– II SAMUEL 18:9

I make my way alone through the hand-to-hand fighting
to A3 and A5. Red velvet. Brass and oak.
The special effects will include strobe lighting
and artificial smoke.

A glance to A5. Patrons are reminded, mar bheadh,
that the management accepts no responsibility in the case of theft.
Even as the twenty-five-piece orchestra
that’s masked offstage left

strikes up, there’s still a chance, I suppose, that the gainsayers
might themselves be gainsaid
as you rush, breathless, into my field of vision.

Understudies and standbys never substitute for listed players,
however, unless a specific announcement is made.
There will be no intermission.

On

Paul Muldoon

copyright ©Paul Muldoon, 2002



Absalom was riding his mule and the mule passed under the thick branches of a great oak. Absalom’s head got caught in the oak and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went on.

– II SAMUEL 18:9

I make my way alone through the hand-to-hand fighting
to A3 and A5. Red velvet. Brass and oak.
The special effects will include strobe lighting
and artificial smoke.

A glance to A5. Patrons are reminded, mar bheadh,
that the management accepts no responsibility in the case of theft.
Even as the twenty-five-piece orchestra
that’s masked offstage left

strikes up, there’s still a chance, I suppose, that the gainsayers
might themselves be gainsaid
as you rush, breathless, into my field of vision.

Understudies and standbys never substitute for listed players,
however, unless a specific announcement is made.
There will be no intermission.

The Age of Gold

P.K. Page

copyright ©P.K. Page, 2009



And the first age was Gold.
Without laws, without law’s enforcers.
This age understood and obeyed
What had created it.
– “Creation,” Ted Hughes

What was, before the world
no one can imagine
and then the Creator created
winds and skies and seas.
Earth, with its fruits and trees,
before the world was old,
blossomed in sweet profusion.
Fish and flesh and fowl
were, magically, manifold.
And the first age was Gold.

And man appeared, and woman
innocent, full of wonder.
Eden, one myth called it,
Paradise, another.
Whatever the name, it was
flawless, an age of glory,
golden, sun-filled, honeyed,
lacking both crime and cunning.
It was a consummate order –
Without laws, without law’s enforcers.

Day followed night, the sky
cloudless, the air sweet-scented.
Night followed day, the stars
bright – Orion striding,
Cygnus, the Southern Cross,
the Lesser Water Snake.
All in their proper places
linked to the earth and shining –
a cosmological guide
this age understood and obeyed

Minerals, plants and all
animals and humans
behaved according to
their original design.
Birds in their flight and flowers,
trees multifoliate,
salt in the mine, and water –
each honoured and celebrated
harmonized with and trusted
what had created it.

Someone

Dennis O'Driscoll

copyright ©Dennis O'Driscoll 2004



someone is dressing up for death today, a change of skirt or tie
eating a final feast of buttered sliced pan, tea
scarcely having noticed the erection that was his last
shaving his face to marble for the icy laying out
spraying with deodorant her coarse armpit grass
someone today is leaving home on business
saluting, terminally, the neighbours who will join in the cortege
someone is paring his nails for the last time, a precious moment
someone’s waist will not be marked with elastic in the future
someone is putting out milkbottles for a day that will not come
someone’s fresh breath is about to be taken clean away
someone is writing a cheque that will be rejected as ‘drawer deceased’
someone is circling posthumous dates on a calendar
someone is listening to an irrelevant weather forecast
someone is making rash promises to friends
someone’s coffin is being sanded, laminated, shined
who feels this morning quite as well as ever
someone if asked would find nothing remarkable in today’s date
perfume and goodbyes her final will and testament
someone today is seeing the world for the last time
as innocently as he had seen it first