[from Richard Greenfield's A Carnage in the Lovetrees, University of California, 2003]
Where piety kneeled piety prayed through the soft textured ceiling,
speaking in the night to the king of kings in a heaven so in love
with its own perfection, it was selfish, hovering above the cries,
above the bodies of pain, ignoring all dependencies, too selfish
to take along the neglected. The inconsolable. The sometimes
stalled. The detritus of them goes as deep as where the rock begins.
1927: a decade old, the scattered bones of one hundred thousand
men find a home in the ossuary at Douaumont near Verdun.
Watched the mobile of metal fish turning in the half-light, spotty
patterns on the walls over the bed. Crested mute in the silent end
of dawn, cruelty hazed the violated text. Whipped with a belt
until my back bled. Father also put salt styptic into the cuts,
came to me as I slept and held me down. Lyrical instructions.
Saint Theresa wept at seing the marks. Kissed me hard and
wrapped her arms about my neck. Lyrical intentions,
also a flower. She was sixteen, moaning I love you I love you in the
dimming. I knew I stayed too long. Jots. A tattered imitation.
A plum tree.; Heart slamming, the lacquer evening split around,
me and my bike, the beautiful clicking of bearings, coasting. High
hum of tread on asphalt. These are my streets, block after block
and the fanning spray of the sprinklers. Possession two-thirds of
the soul. The house so small from my place in the cottonwood.
The crawfish caught in starlight through water and muck in the
silver creek. Possession three-thirds of the soul. Enormous
detachment from the senses, elaborate calligraphy on the paper.
I read my books in closets, beneath the soft walls of coats and in
the cedar-scented rooms of our forgotten storage, the unuttered,
the familiar machinery of language moving by,
child is me bird is free wheel is moving away heap is heart sky is
open wood is high water is drowning air is breath an owl
feathers so holy so flashed from a window of my tree house
startled it, watched it cut the night over the fields
over the anonymous period
Buy Richard Greenfield's book @ A Carnage in the Lovetrees (New California Poetry)