INTRODUCTION Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa Lyrics of the wind CONTENTS Joseph Farley DINNER WITH XU JUAN CHINESE TEA LAUGHING AT THE GREAT WALL BARGES 2ND STREET STATION Pete's Shoe Repair A SENSE OF COMPLETION ASCENSION Lori's California Flash Flood RETURN MAIL The Mouse In The Moon Suckers In The Soup Mad Music Jason A Wilkinson Soapstone Paramours She Take Life By The Nut-Sack Dutch Schultz Bobblehead Call My Name Through The Fallen Square J.B. Mulligan Thermopylae icon of the sky the future POST SCRIPTUM Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa Red Eye
Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa Lyrics of the wind ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are things that live in the sunless depth of the ocean and do not miss the sun at all. There are things that miss the sun. And there are things in-between. But we turn away, and talk of what we have never seen. There, wind’s making music with the brittle branches of the ash tree, its lyric goes like this, forget your perfect offering, only give you’re your widow’s mint, every soul has a gap, and good Adam started it all. But I pay little attention, for I have more to observe around, the swallows crowding away against the bright distant clouds, the dog ripping through the field to get its tennis ball, the lilac and hazel on the street delirious to have leaves, drunk with happiness. Everything flat as an edge The squirrel holding red palm kernel in-between its teeth in the plantation, knows what it’s doing. The monkey nimble in the bush, palming fruits on one hand and swinging off with the other, knows what he’s doing. The canary singing with so much heart, all day in the bamboo cage, singing to her owner knows what it’s doing. The owner who takes her away from the wind, place her on his window, knows what she is doing. I see my neighbour’s child crying in front of the door. The child knows what she is doing. Her father is giving her the car keys of his car. He knows what he is doing. The poet that pictures the rain as the sk0 counting water for the earth, knows what he is doing. And the foscaster that says it’s raining, they all know what they are doing.
Joseph Farley DINNER WITH XU JUAN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ chopsticks click like old women knitting, rice disappears, melting snow, but the bowl is filled again until you are not empty: pepper, squid, cabbage and bean. afterward, fresh fruit: apples, pears.
CHINESE TEA ~~~~~~~~~~~ in a tall yellow glass brown leaves sink to the bottom of a river bed, a taste of the Yangtze I sip down a world, a land
LAUGHING AT THE GREAT WALL ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ it's huge and runs for miles, keeping out barbarians, but not the sun which exposes all the cracks, shows the handprints, sprayed words: names and dates; mocks the stone with shadow you are impressed, so am I, by its majesty and power, but its foundation rests on bones and I hear only laughter in the moaning wind
BARGES ~~~~~~ at night along the river with slow sad paddles in the water, somber eddies in their wake, the barges go with glint of gold, across the water from the darkness into the fog.
2ND STREET STATION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Echoes of the river cannot deter mice from searching among the ties. Gray, they scurry into drain pipes and under the eaves of the platform. Staring people miss their movements, in hope of lights from a distant train. But the mice know long before, and leap back from hidden wheels.
Pete's Shoe Repair ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the keypunch card only says the business started in 1/61, that the account was late with his third payment in 1970, CANCELLED the following year, OUT OF BUSINESS, reinstated a year later, closed again in 1975. how can a card record those years, your father's stroke when you were fourteen, your mother's illness in following years the struggle that drained you, propelled you into early maturity, already too old to hang on?
A SENSE OF COMPLETION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ what's done is done at least it's finished no hanging around waiting to die now we can look back the memory has borders I will always see you climbing from the car, back turned, walking away I will always know your dignity of motion, the pride of movement, the click of heels on stone
ASCENSION ~~~~~~~~~ Beneath our wings: the world. You guide me higher until we reach the sun's heat, feel it melt the sinews that bind us to earth float free, sail, rocket beyond all.
Lori's California ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the valley sizzles under a blanket of smog the hills glow bare yellow come back later you say and you will see the green winter brings the mountains capped with snow, over there is the Grapevine just seen through smoke; on the horizon, always blue skies perfect weather to take a picture
Flash Flood ~~~~~~~~~~~ the damn burst; the river, long confined, stretched its limbs, washed away church and village, washed away farms and factories, washed away the centuries, the bones of generations gone
RETURN MAIL ~~~~~~~~~~~ death has changed his address I suggest you burn these letters, hope the smoke finds the right sky
The Mouse In The Moon ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the elixir of life has been stolen by a girl and carried to the moon; you can see her, laughing mouse, serving the old man. the monkey stole the pillar of the sea, kingdom's palace, and used it to do tricks while the waves drowned his hosts. what you took was worth more than those trifles, but who complains? I gladly leave my treasures unguarded when you come to steal.
Suckers ~~~~~~~ catfish fed under the waterfall glued to the green stone dam how many years since I've seen anyone catch a fish there? the rapids froth with detergent; the factories upstream look the other way
In The Soup ~~~~~~~~~~~ carrot, pea, beef stock: we're all in the soup you and I both dumped together with the rest, raised to a boil get used to the heat; we must watch out for the ladle, the bowl, the spoon; the mouth that wants to swallow us down
Mad Music ~~~~~~~~~ God, in a rented tuxedo, conducts the whole New York Philharmonic on a whim. The music is no better than other nights. The baton waves with the same motions that parted the light from the dark, issued forth the waters, and created birds and fishes to fill sky and sea. Odd measures, awkward scales come from the stage more ill constructed music, off pitch and out of harmony. it's more of the same sound I've been listening too. It is mad music, a chaos greater than mere disorder, fitting noise for an overture, or a grand finale.
Jason A Wilkinson Soapstone Paramours ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She bored a thin hole in my sedan chair leaving the silt of forlorn pleasures in want of sweeping; the portraits crooked on their nails A calypso ballad dangles from the stereo wafting its tenuous pulsations where silent dance once pinioned shadows amid tapestry and rug incense and soapstone -paramours fused in maudlin grace The laminated Saracen discloses an unbecoming physiognomy from its paper tumulus beckoning me to Florence and the vigorous dialectic of Savonarola chiding the resolve of my study with taciturn derision Night-birds crowd the lonesome tree outside, plaintively musing the fall of our twilit sentinels Oft have I heard them whisper beyond the sill their gossamer vestments camouflaged succinctly under a jade carapace Though here must I find reverie burthensome and mephitic where fixtures became truncated in the softening lights so that even my lone steps drifted among the jigsaw of flown days.
She ~~~ Found words drew a line through the vacuum retracing that isolated framework with neon gel Though it is said that her voice can sear tracks in the Universe under glass waves broken numerals on a smudged cloth practice my heart to chime like terpsichorean bells Gilt sleeves of tapered jade blind me in an unhewn summer field Verdant stiles between them patching the cloth of our wingless flight Paring the down Where fair skies drove us from shelter cavernous, teakwood eyes piece me together in the attenuated lamplight Transistor flickering like a distant candle through the matrix of wild flora beyond her impossible smile Valhalla glimmered tangentially chained-up counting the footsteps to Eden.
Take Life By The Nut-Sack ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And run with it until the putrefied bits slip through your fingers causing infections to spread like gossip over them staining your clothes Run with it until it dries in your hands though it were no more than powder and the hair upon that scrotum has desiccated beyond recognition Until you no more notice the stench of it than that of a dead fly entombed beneath the azaleas and pedestrians are obliged to wear protective gear lest you should contaminate them unawares Run with the precious nickel bag twisting every last demand from its host -bury your nails in supple flesh if only to exact more and more Take Life by the nut-sack and wear it on a chain next to the promise rings and that fake shark tooth your uncle Dougie swore came from ’a big one’ he caught off the coast of Jamaica last spring Take Life by the nut-sack and treat it like a prostitute dragging it through the streets at the ends of frayed tethers Use its head for a battering ram against hard-to-open doors Take Life by the nut-sack without compunction or delusion or the occasional hangover Take Life by the nuts and unto those testes do what Conscience dictates must be inflicted upon no other.
Dutch Schultz Bobblehead ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I crane my neck stealing fragments of the rubber song pinioned, obeisant lamps masticate cigar plumes -time immemorial consciousness is revisited on the floor mat in a lukewarm Black Russian glasses pale skin The dance floor is naked planks along a broken hall voices muffled soporifically to refrain This is a tennis ball silencer dropped among excrescent coppice verdure melting there without ceremony lawnmowers graze menacingly between the heavy stones Rosewater Braille taunts the air ;peregrine incense receding unnoticed liquids I limp from the dashboard exhibiting amid other qualities of less obvious repute a propensity to roll under the seats where churchyard plastic bathes my corpulent skull with music.
Call My Name Through The Fallen Square ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Where quietude is manic hail me through iron-clad forests past vagabond mansions Let your voice echo among those solemn relics Kneel down along a fetid brook; there rivulets simper but do not flow -whose black metal skin glimmers indifferently among palsied flowers Look for me neath the upturned flame the misplaced extremity Bent pike heads loiter in dejected clusters as if in speechless commune over the workless days ahead Faded placards lean helplessly above them hiding in a memory Call me through the middling haze its lingering engagement beyond quondam parvenus the ether is hemlock Feel me in the closing requiem of Jupiter and Narcissus guiding like a faraway excrescence Touch me until the pall catches fire.
J.B. Mulligan Thermopylae ~~~~~~~~~~~ bloodbirth splatter and tear worlds are born among spears and arrows in clouds a sky of crows for kings and soldiers paths spread their tendrils the peacock of the future flaunts but sometimes paths cross weave a knot which holds or looses and loses a future in a day and such a moment less than a blink in the burning of any sun's celestial coal holds reality up a pale disk burning and purely there as an apple is there with a specific skin and tang in the eating of it that no other apple could ever share this or that apple falls from this or that branch in this or that orchard and miles and years away crowds mill in a marketplace or fall screaming in flames or are not there at all to fall or mill are an absence in wind howling over a landscape miles from a sleepy town where people wander or howl or ponder the sacred past which gave birth to sacred them the blunt impregnating sword shines bloody and high a moment before arrows swoop and feed that moment is a metal point driving into the flesh of a future brutely and totally other which the children of time will brush against a near and hungry beast avoided long ago the meek inheriting dirt bow and grumble stand in a landscape and thank shattered seed the womb ripped and gone the distant mother sleeping a role for a warrior to fill
icon of the sky ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ aquamarine afternoon chips of marblecloud loosely piled what to build from this from the earliest it saw itself in the sky – no – too many eyes for just one – no – just one eye, see something was there and if eyes couldn’t see it they would build a tower to summon the earliest wave of sound color force the lost semenegg exploding into us god would come after light let there be what the day was about was always us for good or bad for the watcher-praiser for the death-in-night to be dispelled for the first morning to return one eye held it and that was good there was something there to hold statues rose in huts in towns in cities wooden metal binding the sky reaching the arms of a child the arms of the many-armed the arms of eleven dimensions always about us what was there to reach for always the answer as if we were the question we are icons built of sky to the sky while busy insects lean against the various horizons to topple this icon sky dispelling the gods as the gods pray to the gods who pray to god no truth no fact can hold what is still the icons pray though their songs fall short of a true and further sky spin the world spins a man dies a woman loves a child cries birthdeath dontmatter a second passes and everything is gone through an old door to a new room light like grass tilts in time's wind slightly the same blade the same lawn the same wind just time changes shadows tilt slightly lengthen or shorten the world spins a man loves a woman cries a child dies th'intoxicant spin happy or sad drunk stumbling through time tripping over furniture falling asleep on the floor or looking out the window at light on a lawn surrounding a house where somebody lives or dies the blinds are drawn and a faint light edges as though the house squinted into the night or day the world spins a man cries a woman dies a child loves everywhere the light is spinning, the eyes spiral into it, time changes shadows into light, and light into more light, and everywhere spins the world spins someone is reading this poem somewhere while somewhere else someone is not and the old man's cat chases a bird-shadow outside a house where someone is dying or being born birthdeath dontmatter just time changes nothing else does the great ship shadowshape broad broken knife of the new time slips into deep dark home bubble-and-steamgush trailing it widow’s hair eyes/mouths of portholes this whaleghost plunging blind to silent whalehell and its mate in long glide black waltz of hull halves and from them bright bubbles a school scattering through the shapes of drifters dark stars in black skies arms and legs tentacles eyes/mouths of round shells calling out in silence large and small starfish collision’s limp debris all the best-laid plans the blueprints torn and thrown into the current’s waterwind ice shavings sliding and melting curious as little fish that dart close and back distant minds examine sifting for lost gold dressflutter jacketwing and the maddened hair jellyfish octopus what kind of creature flies this way darkplunging liquid dreamlessness faces loom moons hiding light of the lost sky reflected waterglow that burns with no fire snow and ash slowfalling to the shadowplain sandy drifts the desert accumulation voyages always down and broken apart the binding essence gone melted to current watersky the dark flock is always above and always the new time school/storm of the dead
the future ~~~~~~~~~~ The dogmen, strong in packs, No, they’re human cold with the moon, you and I. The pure hard knot of hate they use in place of a heart No - the heart bleeds - bled - shining in darkness, the old pain is new, the stones of their eyes the sons of victims kill, shining with semen, seeding sons of victims the bullets of vision and the shriek of rage, putting out sight blade of an exploding star, of their own shaking faces. ragged and sharp, where the world tore. Babi Yar Beirut The rain falls The rain falls on untouched land: far away. The sun heats Droplets run the swelling bodies down the window of a train. for flies and reporters. The dead are buried The riders hold up under politic stone commuter tickets; that states the crime the conductor punches as dated fact, tiny printed cards. the dead lie nameless, graveless in sunlight, The train rolls on the rubble of homes through the slums, in a city of rubble past factories not very far and fields hinting at spring, from the Mountain of Christ. to the Mortgaged Land. Babi Yar Beirut Auschwitz Beirut Men in dark suits, white shirts Young girls in distant lands and thin dark ties - shrug - cry uselessly and loudly proclaim cry because their tears their helplessness. are useless. These things happen. The pain they feel It’s nobody’s fault. is only their pain: The dead can’t Similarly suited men feel it now condemn the actions The seed of a solution of another land. swells in their hearts, a flower There will be demands. in insufficient soil. They will talk. They weep. Buchenwald Cambodia Belfast The larger lands The earth waits, wait, knows the kings examine pawns, that it will be the shift and flexing soon and again of hungry giants what we call fed. echoes in the hills The hills are covered where missiles await with gentle grass. what they were made for. The graves are smashed The game goes on by the slow tender hands ‘til all sides lose, of those eternal lovers, then starts again. time and the wind. Sand Creek Carthage Jerusalem Each side is right Each side is dead because each side can kill. because each side can kill. Each side is dead Each side is right because each side is right. because each side can die. The armaments pile up What is lost like a miser’s hoard, is what we have: the precious coinage the will to peace. of our ruin. It’s there, We are rich with death. waiting the believing breath. We can pay our own way. The seed is there. The earth is there The soil is there. to be taken or gained. The rain is wanting. the prize is hard And wind is blowing at the edge of our fingers. down from barren rock. You can feel it: You can feel it: it’s there. it’s cold.
Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa Red Eye ~~~~~~~ The Siberian apple tree holds its fruits even when the frost is three meter deep, is the red eye of the question mark staring at me, asking me, what are you thinking now? I can’t say, nothing. So I pause and rewind. But thinking begins where the wind begins and ends where it ends. So my response is the things I know of the ash tree. It's the last to blossom and the first to shed leaves. Its brittle branches are no abode for the trush, the goldrest, the warbler, the Dunnock, the swallow, and the skylark, no matter how sweet and sonorous are their songs.
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