Friday, December 04, 2009

Poem for Friday

By Tom Sleigh

(After the art installation "Hunter-Gatherer," by Ellen Driscoll.)


Snow falling on the roof falls like it used to do
when freeze and thaw hardened to a satin sheen
and nothing moved in the offing but the lighthouse beam.

And so this morning is the morning of the heart
in which the vodka, talking shit all night,
dissolves into pure sunlight, purer thought,

and I'm not a whore and I'm not a bastard
and I wake clear-headed and see
above the clouds like a swept-bare prison yard

each cool hard instant of nothing but blank sky.
No sound of the All Clear, no need for intensity
or all the fake drama of some TV war. Just the eye

of the ocean staring through a neighbor's window
with a sense of absolution no one younger can ever know.

2 .

Your snipers crouch on rooftops, your oil derricks
and McMansions gleam . . . You made it all from plastic,
scrounging water bottles at dawn with the other derelicts

and then cutting and gluing in the studio
your own slum of alabaster, your shining city
on the hill. Remember when I told you

in my aspiring bad boy way, how I found
in a footnote to "Of Plymouth Plantation"
the dissenter put to death with the cow he sodomized?

As if I'd made a dare, your eyes met mine,
then you went back to your drawing, your concentration,
now made perfect, cutting me down to size.

And the brown and blue ink flowing from your hand
mingled into lines only the ink could intend.


I want to see you put on those boots again,
those ones we bought from the Farmers' Co-op
to tramp around mud-spattered fields.

I want to see you bend down and shove your toe
and thick sock into that green rubber sleeve
sheathing your foot and calf up to the knee

while you lean against me to steady your balance,
the two of us braced against each other
in sway and countersway, trust moving against chance

but nothing more at stake than what was always
at stake, life making its extensions,
then pulling back away—there we go across the water meadows

in slip and slop, hand in hand to see the manor house
the lord and lady pulled the roof off against the taxes.


Light plashes down on your white plastic plain—
and no one knows the end, or how this war comes out,
or who's a casualty and who's not.

Your snipers take aim. Rifles gleam in the spotlights.
Your shantytowns transfigure into lustrous flows
of shadow that make the enemy hard to spot:

everything is camouflaged in light,
in hard-to-see-through veils of glare and dazzle.
And then the first shot's fired and in the split-second lull

before light explodes itself against light
and every light goes out, I see your careful silhouette,
head cocked to the side measuring the effect

of just how far is too far, how close too close
before such warring luminosities turn friend into foe.


All holiday cards are stamped and ready to be mailed -- except the ones going overseas, which are already on the way since I brought the cards with me to the post office to make sure they weren't too big for a standard stamp -- and the wait was only about 15 minutes even though only one person was helping patrons for most of the time I was there! Plus my Star Trek review for tomorrow is half-done, though that's not saying much since I still have to write the hard part, on Bajoran and Klingon religion and why they're treated so much better than religion in general in the franchise. So in general it was a successful if uneventful day, starting with my acquisition of Superpoke Pets holiday bears for many members of my club and moving right on through my desktop computer not-crashing long enough for me to download and move all my recent photos to my external hard drive. Unfortunately, LiveJournal's image galleries have not been working nearly as well this evening, so here is a photo of my family in a mirror on the main floor of the Sackler Gallery:

This is "S-Curve" by Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, part of the Sackler Gallery's "Perspectives" series of contemporary Asian art and part of Kapoor's investigation of spatial perception and immateriality.

New York makes me cry, though Jon Stewart just cracked me up about the fact that New York doesn't have gay marriage while Iowa does, which he says explains what those baseball players were doing in the cornfield. Yep, men convicted of beating their girlfriends can vote to stop other people from getting married. I have been reminding people on Facebook to demand that reproductive rights be protected in the health care bill, but in case I forgot to do so here, please protect our health. And I'm just not talking about Afghanistan. I am bummed that FlashForward will be off the air till March, though I guess it makes sense to skip competing with football playoffs and the Olympics. Spoilers: I bet Simon bragged to some woman he was sleeping with about his brilliant scientific ideas and she went and got the thing built herself. And I agree with Olivia that Lloyd is brave, but I also think they were both really dumb -- I knew those ambulance drivers weren't med techs as soon as they showed up.

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