28 June 2009

Richard Greenfield

[from Richard Greenfield's A Carnage in the Lovetrees, University of California, 2003]

Piece Together

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)

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