Invisible traumas Surface visibly In black of night
Wounds, recurrences, Transmitted materially One psyche to the next.
A successful revolution Might yet happen tomorrow So it’s important to imagine
The donning of masks: At its root the real is both genders, Wanting the female above all else.
It is also true every amorous system is enemy To the desiring grain of the senses As when deep snow melts
And you can see the impact Winter made on the supporting ground. No one can live without such complexity
Yet chance is the original form of communication And sometimes provides one with a condor’s quill. Wonders wander into the range of the possible…
What cries out in whistling anguish From the twigs Deepens now in the roar of logs.
Roof’s Roots Routed any moment now
Though all Remains quite orderly On the surface.
Or an eagle’s wing Tumbling from Its bedraggled corpse.
I pick up the wing— Huge— And struggle to carry it
From the body for The rest of the course. I am a woman
Following a man Into a mostly Darkened cave…
Everyday life Is a place Beyond prayer
Non-brain, non-God Somehow making its way Into ecstatic phonemes.
The blood on a pear Attests to the simplest havoc: The violent omnipresent.
Were those large raptors Or Chinese kites way up there In the city’s cauterizing smog,
On the verge of kissing? The way up and the way down May well be one
But only the caws Of crows Penetrate my present window.
I don’t want to go Away! But rain washes Everything into the distance.
Writing from the darkness Frogs in chorus creak And are some guidance.
Elk antlers Gleam in a puddle, Reminders of a former age.
Firs, ferns, amanitas, A thousand-and-one mosses Conquer highways
In a matter of days, Return us to that older era. OK with me
Since speech itself Is dependent upon moisture Sprung from woodland panic.
Elation fades as the imagined message Subsides into the absence of Any message at all…
Were I not so down tonight I would have the moon To myself.
The heart is fascist When stonewalled by The object of its love
And a flame advancing Along the meridian Is the true berserker
Claiming all The highways and their traffic, Until the madness seems to burn out.
Some crow, seething, stares at me From the side of a country road: I have interrupted him in the act
Of killing A garter snake, Intervening instinctively
On the side of the snake. The snake leaps at me, harmless. The crow’s beak has left a hole in its head.
The shadow of the ocean Only becomes visible to the visitor Who approaches it from a certain angle.
The moon is in my beverage. Or, in not burning my tongue, Some flame just as subtle.
The moon, even at its coolest Suggests some encounter just down The road (another crow-and-snake?)
But no, in this drama The moon is a white van Parked on the sidelines of what happens.
Because in this drama there is a woman Who can no longer make out the trees From the blizzard of her trauma.
Heartbroken in neck Heartbroken in knees Heartbroken in sensorium:
Hot springs sprung From a giantess’s tears Unending.
Snowy Lake unfrozen, Fresh and clear As the marten drinks.
What if the brain is a bone And the mind is the meat on the bone Or rather the flesh that joins to other flesh
Ardor, seeking, suckle of Milk, when philosophy Stops arguing and becomes song.
The lyric is the part of the argument That is oblivious to being part of anything. Its modality, so slim, lights up
The contradiction. Then through the dazzle To glimpse another’s pain but only to Want to shield the self from it
And the lyric dissolves: Impossible to protect against Another person’s unconscious.
In this drama a woman No longer can make out the trees From the blizzard of her trauma.
Her rape repeats itself And repeats itself In gusts of fear and rage
As if Sleep’s deepest thought Is always this excruciating violation, Its ingrown wrath.
And upon waking each flashback Necessitates a trip to the hospital Where they bring out the kit
And, senile, past seventy, she swears her nightmare Is true… Each time they test for it
Negatively: Each time, For her, it is true.
Approaching a broken branch, Identifying. Its posture on the ground
Practically fetal. At my desk The tinkle of incoming E-mail messages, some of them insane…
Hiding out In the position All things are appearances.
A truck is said to jack-knife. After that, flocks of ibis vanish As well as all other signs of life.
Like a tree that loses every branch And ends up a trunk, crashing In angry surf against others of its kind.
An obscurity from which Clarity begins to wriggle free A clarity that glows from within
Darkest burning coal A tractor crashing through a fence Running over a bonsai tree
The master had accidentally Left out there, In the open.
Vague friendship with a seemingly Happy couple, nodding and gesturing To one another in the web of the familiar.
A giant raises the beach to his lips. It is the sea he is after, Not the sand, not the people…
Not to reify the very collectivity of the living The practice of thought is supposed to emancipate But aren’t we all non-self-identical?
No alienating mechanism can ensure Intellectual audacity But it can help us stop making objects
Folks will fear and worship. However there really is a whirlpool In these parts. Grasping claws
Along Scylla’s channel and The ridge with the sheer drop Ensures we will experience
Parts of our body as not there— The heart, for example, And the brain.
Make-believe is Light-hearted, Desire feral
And the dead Are the majority. But they don’t
Have smart phones, Only rarely Respond to letters or cards.
Infinity, interrupted By a blossom-drenched breeze That must have been
The true infinite, no? A delirium that leaves No trace but interruption.
You hand me An apricot-sized fruit That is most likely an apricot.
The amorous world makes contact With the conservative world And is killed by it, makes contact
With the liberal, and is killed again. In its next rebirth the amorous seeks No world but itself—and dies, forever.
Leonard Schwartz is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, most recently, Salamander: A Bestiary (Chax Press, 2017), IF (Talisman, 2012), At Element (Talisman, 2010), A Message Back and Other Furors (Chax Press, 2007), The Library of Seven Readings (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2007), Language as Responsibility (Tinfish Editions, 2006), and The Tower of Diverse Shores, Ear and Ethos, and Words Before the Articulate, all from Talisman House. In addition, he is the host of the widely acclaimed radio program, Cross-Cultural Poetics (CXP). His book The New Babel: Towards a Poetics of the Mid-East Crises (University of Arkansas, 2016) includes poetry, essays and interviews from the radio program.