by Brian Swann

which way the day goes depends
                             on the winds and where
                 it ends depends
                                      on their shadows and
           where I’ve been depends
                                on words which are always
                            too thin
                                   too quick so
  I’m left grasping to snag
                                               their skins
                                         and  crawl inside

          go back into dream where I wander
                          about wondering who’s
                 the original
                             who’s the Aztec impersonator
                                   and who’s wearing who

                             +  +  +  +  +

                   I wake in the dark, wordless,
throw on some clothes, go
                                                to the door sure
             I heard something like the snap
                                          of bone, click
                            of manacle, fading barks of dogs,
    and push the door open
                                                thinking I see dark figures moving,
                        rousing turkeys in the draw,
                                                            and I set off
              under dimming star-routes until in the distance I think I see
                                                                        a house much like the one
      I left but too bright to be visible, so
                   I return and begin my day, another day of

                               +  +  +  +  +

                                                                picking at myself

                              chewing nails down to nubs, filing
                                       and shaping,
                         squeezing pores,
             scratching the scalp bloody,
                               clipping, shaving, gouging,
                          trying it seems
           to dig myself out to a wordless core, as if
      something’s there, or vanish the way
                             my father did sticking blades into his ears,
                     working himself into bottles like a four-master,
                              or my sister cutting herself, or my mother
  addicted to enemas and neti pots

                                +  +  +  +  +

                               while time goes by as spun glass, shining echoes,
             rivers on which I drift downstream, floating over
   drowned towns whose voices rise and
                 flow around rocks, form figures in smoke,
          shadows of the shadowless,
                                and when I look up there are
                            trees expressing sky with migrating birds,
                             until the pole-star
               turns, grinding from eternity
                                       time in which
                a year’s a month, a month a day, a day an hour,
          an hour a minute which is enough for me to listen
                          for the hermit thrush who each day
prays the sun up out of the ground, floats it over
                                             the rough wall
             that opens flowers of the trumpet-vine, here
                       where time drifts beyond itself, and keeps going, silent

Published on May 23, 2019