16 May 2009

Eleni Sikelianos

[from Eleni Sikelianos's The California Poem, Coffee House, 2004]

Follow the foot-
prints inside the nerve cell; they lead to a bright
door: tiny patch of memory

a fiery trailer home amidst earlier construction
Action heroes collapsing into dust The bus stops
here; there is no buck in this story, not for this hero
except in purely silver quarters smuggled out of the house in the mouth, king
caught in jars

Shields are up. Come the
collectors into the vast comma of our tiny trailer. We are collecting
dust. They want money. They want to tell us we are not allowed to live in
     fields in the black
thorax of the bull-infested land

In this dream I will make you take the train
to you dressed up as miles of wooded ocean and coast-
lines with no one on them. You can't see
old people here because of the sunlight.

Earlier, I had my elbow in the yellowest California, we talked
about the coin-shaped trapdoors on gastropods, as the possible versions
of a virgin California slipped away from me
into the geranium, scraggly
nasturtiums on the fire escape. Here in this living-
room there is no sea. Who

cares about the sea?

I do

because the sea
makes us land-like but think
sea-like             because I can only ever think

about things swimming there; Delphinidae, which herald love, diligence
and swiftness

(and the constellation delphinus in the sky)

Issuing from the mouth of this animal is a flower: jessant, of a
jerkwater town at the back
of a branch-line train

where runny stars rain by
like eggs, golden
& locked, a hometown is a waiting place, a waiting place is
static inside the heel

I therefore developed longer toes for walking on floating vegetaion (jacanidae)
the ancient celadon-and-shining agave lining the path all the way down to the

In California, we put crystal-clear
marbles in our ears
so we can't hear

the richochet of neighbors fighting
feet crunching through the underbrush
thumb harps, fiberglass padding being pulled from drywall

In other hoods they heard
     the jacuzzi cover sliding back
sound of plastic kissing itself off water

just as Agamemnon's shimmering mask
     lying quiet in the secret sweaty chamber
             slides back to reveal the thrill

of blacking out in the lackluster days     Can I sell you this

room of unusual weather
this brain made for pleasure
these deluginous rains of diluvial California crashing
             catywampus through the world

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous20:34

    being from CA, I'd say you hit the nail on the head here, and in quite beautiful fashion, too.

    thank you.