N. poeticus


It started with your voice, your shimmering breath
spiraling downward through the water's depth -

calling - so strange! - my name. I rose, undreamed,
and came to you. Across that space it seemed

the world unfolded of itself, a findern
flower, pheasant's eye, the unfilled cistern

of your heart. Then I came upon you, lost,
pitiful - until you saw me there, ghost

of your ghost, shade of your shade, reflection
of your longing. You bent to me, passion

finding mirrored passion, the gloaming coal
of mouth, of lips, of whispered betrothal.

Tethered, as a fevered dowry, to this
our conjugated sin, we pledged our kiss.


The Passage


Only the sea keeps
crossing the chasm

Inside the tornado,
gravity,
the conjuror’s bird
glimpses
the possible past:

the hundred secret senses,
the gates of exquisite view


Off Shore


On the waves, the shadow of this
loneliness trails and lengthens.

Its arms reach out for you, trembling
like the sigh of a lost soul.

Last light, and my despair engulfs
this night, sky-wide, ocean-deep.


Winter Fray


Six inches, after the first storm. A whir
of blades across the snow-packed pavement's trench,

and the blower splattered across the fence
a Pollock canvas, an hoarfrost-strewn blur

from the Tecumseh engine's angry burr.
Against winter, this is your armament -

a 2-stage, 11-hp, 30-inch,
pull-start, self-propelled silverback monster.

She fought back with seven inches, her scrawl
strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk.

A quick change of spark plugs after a stall,
and you push her across the border, back.

In the morning's ceasefire, the white crystal
of last night's fray reveals a silver Rorschach.


Ice at the Window


Midwinter closes. This afternoon's snow,
that melted in droplets on this surface
of frail glass, transfigures into ice.

From where I stand, outside, the hall light's glow
paints a refracted portrait of your face,
a palette of sadness, pain, of sacrifice.

Each frozen prism, ice lens, a cameo
of suffering, a Murano glass trace
of time wearing down these, our fragile lies.

And will this be how I remember you?
Face fading in unconsummated grace,
light failing - and I cannot see your eyes.

Shorn of season, the wind begins to blow.
Midwinter closes, and you watch me go.


And You As Well Beloved


Moonlight cast its perfumed spell, beloved,
Down on me – and you as well, beloved.

Unworthy, I beheld you, veiled; but O
The heavens parted, and I fell, beloved.

I would sweep across the desert rampart
To your side, this thirst to quell, beloved.

I would bind myself to sanctuary
In your arms, embrace this cell, beloved.

God sever this cursed tongue and stitch these lips,
Should I ever say farewell, beloved.

But if that God should turn his back on you –
I would be your infidel, beloved.

For all my soul desires is to be yours,
Your supplicant, your Samuel, beloved.


Sky (December 1955) - an excerpt


I remember sunlight,
clear as divination, an open
palm of bright

meteorology. I remember
the world splayed open like
an unfolded map,

the castle’s ridged
latitude scaled against the carp-mouth
breathing flow and

ebb of the
Otagawa river’s stream, swirling and
swift. I remember

the wind whirling
through branches, the elms thumb-tacked
onto the landscape

like the numbered
elevations on a contour map,
by the light

encircled. And I
remember the faint shadow of
the plane, its

contrail jackknifed across
the pale throat of sky,
this Hiroshima sky.


The Physical Meaning Of Geometrical Propositions


You remember - perhaps more than love –
the staircase of uncounted hours,

conscientious reason, past disdain
of feeling. Geometry sets out

simple propositions, axioms: We
follow those axioms, derived, reduced

to the last question, unanswerable
by the methods of geometry. We

cannot ask. We can only say that
geometry deals with two, tally

assertions, the word ‘true’, the habit
of correspondence, connection. We are

the geometry of bodies, a physics -
in terms of rule and compass - incomplete.


Floodwaters


Tonight, I am six again, and your
hands hold me shivering there,
anchored to your shoulders,

navigating waters lapping now my
knees, your chest, rising like the
storm’s dark curse. Now here, your

gnarled hand in mine, in prayer,
I bow my head and thank what
vagrant providence gave me you -

if only for this briefest time, this
night - who laddered me to higher
ground, my weathered ark, my rock.


Cento from the Diary of Anne Frank

1

Here in the secret annex

Look – how a single candle can define
and yet defy the darkness

2

The reason I’m starting a diary is that I
have no real friend


Neither I nor anyone else,
for that matter, may be interested
in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl

It doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.

The young are not afraid of telling the truth.

But more than that, I want to draw out what lies
buried in my heart

shake off everything, vanish
my sorrows, rebirth
courage

3

A new prescription for gunfire nerves:

As the shooting gets louder, make your way
to the nearest wooden staircase.

Run up and down a few times, being sure
to stumble at least once.

With all the scratches, the din of running
and falling, you won't even hear the shooting,
much less worry about it.

Yours truly has put this magic formula to use,
with tremendous success

4

Why is mankind so insane?

Why make enormous planes, bombs,
and pre-fabricate houses for reconstruction?

Why spend millions on the war each day,
and nothing for artists, for the poor?

Why do people starve, with mountains
of food spoiling in other parts of the world?

There is in humanity simply an urge to
destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and

Rage. Until all the world, without
exception, undergoes a transformation,

Wars will be waged, everything that has been
built up, cultivated, and grown will be

Destroyed, disfigured, after which
the world will have to begin over again

5

The world will keep on turning without me

I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I
live or die.

6

Love, what is love? I don’t think you can
put it into words


I love you, with a love so great that it couldn't
keep inside my heart, but had to leap out
and reveal itself in all its magnitude

7

Who has inflicted this upon us?
Who has made us different from all other people?
Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now?


Crying may bring relief, as long as you don't
cry alone

I want to go on living even after my death
I don’t want to have lived in vain

8

I realize that this period of my life
has irrevocably come to a close


gone forever

Let’s not talk about it anymore, but if you still
want anything please write

write because I can say what I mean
much better on paper

Paper has more patience than people

Don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty
that still

remains

9

I see 
the world gradually being turned into a wilderness.

I hear
the ever-approaching thunder, which will
destroy us.

I feel
the sufferings of millions and yet,
if I look up into the heavens,

I believe
- not everyone has the gift
of believing in heavenly things -

I believe
in spite of everything

I still believe
that mankind is really, at its heart,
good

10

A single candle

Here, in the secret annex

See
how a single candle
can defy the darkness