poems by Carolyn Srygley-Moore
What we confront informs us // for R
What green cat eyes we confront inform our work
how we hammer the horseshoe; how we weld the stained glass
filled overheaping with stories.
You have looked death in the face as the body betrays.
I can see you alone in your room in India the heat rising in coils of blue
the cat of cardboard set in the window with green eyes.
I can see you alone yet aloneness is not thorough
I have had the shell of solipsism break as death approached & joy overcame me
with inordinate clarity joy overcame the stealth of the cardboard cat
walking the sill. This morning I saw a man standing before a pit
staring into the pit & what did he see but a bagful of treasure
a timecapsule some child built & buried yes what did he see?
I have stood before the pit & envisioned bodies
I have stood before the pit & seen trains in passing
I have stood.
The abyss is huge even when lined in dirt & rock & root
of tree just planted of tree withdrawn
into a logger’s dream. Even in darkness there is direction even in darkness
the weathervane circles atop the farmhouse
even in darkness clarity circumvents & the river is still
but not without current the river is still
& we can see through to our banana toes to the underground stone
we can see through.
Remembering Beginnings // for Jim
Nibbling time’s cylindrical neck like love’s nihilist
he does not remember his own beginning:
slingshot boyhood by the blue blue reservoir
the action adventure stacks of comic books his father sold
when he left for school. Yet he wakes up
watching his child harbor the same
visions the mother has: the blue doe leaping just grazing the fender
the black swan risen from mass graves
breathing song & fire into each body that lies there.
Heaps of visions. Inclinations.
He nibbles time as the grazed doe nibbles
the return to flowers, yellow buds on the base of the tree.
He is the return to forgetting
the woman so desires claims as her own:
as she reads lips slightly parted he touches her
numbing the crease behind the knee
& it all becomes a Milosz poem manifest he is the great composer
she the woman in the audience
& what is the middleground before
the stately dome of the yellow backyard tree?
He is the return to forgetting
putting time in his back pocket with the wallet
he always loses finds loses
again. Misplaced small angel whittled of snakeskin
painted with unwatered-down colors
mailed across the ages
mailed across international waters
like a whisper of beginnings
before there was water
before there was water indeed.
Permission To Speak Of God Given in a Coffeehouse While Drinking Espresso
God is sitting on the ledge just outside the window ~~ David LaBounty
God is standing on the edge of the abyss
or on the ledge of the towers as they fall he is watching
the flesh-dolls burn.
He is no cut-out cardboard dog lapping water of the latrine
in a camp of dirty water: I see his shape obscured
& remember when you first gave me permission to speak of God
we were seated in a coffehouse drinking espresso
you gave me permission to speak of God. He is no dirty word
you said he is standing on the painted windowsill
with anything meant to be on the edge of things
We don’t talk anymore you & I
there are vast differences between what we’ve chosen to become.
Writing is a mediation between this world
& that which we clasp within like broken lockets this world
& that which we clasp within. God is standing on the broken ledge arms outspread
hands in his trouser pockets he has no wings
he has no voice with which to sing & sing
we must do it for him.
A homeless man who lost all his teeth when mugged
in downtown Albany showed me his rigged inner woodland home
cardboard boxes flaps unfurled
(amazing what towers one can erect with cardboard) & turning to me
said he loves me. Is this God I thought
in disguise. like some reality televised show Was this God
in disguise? We don’t talk any longer
this man & I.
The lithe body of a girl at the edge of the sea
tracing the tide the moonpull erasure. her body a cobra
stretching against the skyscape the scars of skyscape.
I see the shadows of blue Stonehenge behind her
around her lurking like husks of God I see
great shadows of myth & dwarfed landscape alike.
One considers the Eiffel one considers obelisks the domes
of mosques one considers one reconsiders triumph
the shape of a child turned twelve her wrists unscarred:
let us keep them that way. I toss shells at the streetlights
they sing in the wind I toss shells
at my daughter sleeping hard at the seaside.
What is the escape route needed. sometimes driving I see
roads leaving the road bypass into ether.
That is not necessary. Her eyes are clear
she knows despair yet manages it as one manages
clay thrown to the potter’s wheel. We drive in the city
along bridges crisscrossed along bridges
that end in the sea she sleeps seaside my child does
with the television humming cartoons she sleeps seaside
& Icarus swings toward the sun melting
the first aircraft which surely was meant for her
her voice unmuffled her laughter carried.