Lesson #60 : a.k.a. Mexico Time, October

Mexico is not in keeping with California’s clock,
timepieces here already fallen one hour back
of the border’s other side.

This makes for a zone of hands, one set lurching
forward without me in its minutes, day’s rewards
unborn, a knee I might scrape safely bent, not much
different between sheets as inside her womb.

Mick Jagger’s been elusive, a scarecrow taunt
of ticking beats: you-can’t-always-get-what
get-what get-what get-what

you want from a dream observed in an hour
yet to come, sleep stuck in a groove of pursuit;

or am I the one running the creases of time,
plumping the seconds inside my pillow, rearranging
sharp feather ends away from a cheek where the hands
spin.  Stage lights come up.  No, it’s the sun
rained through slats, wind stuttering them to thwack,
the rod where they attach, a watch stem.


[After “Bar Time” by Billy Collins, from Sailing Alone Around the Room]


September Scorpions

They are the color of golden french fries.
Drought brings them inside for water.
Already I have killed six
where they froze sensing movement.
If the orange bulb of venom did not dance with hurt
like a bauble hung to catch light,
I would scoop each onto a page of white
and carry them out to the field.
But fear races this heart.
The orange bulb pulses and I toss a tome
flattening these small lives.
Rain would save us this grief
like a widely arced flag of surrender.
A truce would ensue between creatures
and these books, these tomb markers
would rise and regain alignments on shelves.
These weighted words, these poisons –
these sabers rattled against what’s not understood.
I am the color of killing,
more orange than the bauble of tails.

The Person Who Lives in the Blood : An After Words Fable

There is a person who lives in the blood.  Everyone has one and some have more than one.  Some are big, some small.   All are noisy and live in boats.  The persons who live in our blood are never talked about, doctors don’t mention them nor labmen, but there isn’t any doubt whatever about their existence.  When a newborn takes her first breath, or him, the person inside the blood is the cause.  They are said to paddle their boats up to the cry dial and turn it a quarter turn, wait, if no cry is announced to the world, another quarter turn is added, and so on – then they oar a short distance away, make sure all is okay, row off to other arterial canals, exploring the brand new life.

At night when life is calm, the person inside leaves her boat, or his, and floats on her back, watching a thousand synapses tremble and fire all along the dome of the veins.  The persons are often quite lonely through most of their lives.  They do, in fact, die, eventually, but sad as that may be, they seldom encounter the others, even when several others help to maintain the host.  It would be utterly silly to believe otherwise – consider the scope of the body universe? nevermind all the auras and such grown beyond the physical limits of skin.

No, they exist in quite solitary ways, scraping the placque off their small boats when not needed to dial up the cries or lower the pressure on tears.  Each has his, or her, own emotional curve, of course, to maintain, but, in general, the persons who live in the boats in the blood remain stoic, if not content.

When at last the voyages of the person bring her, or him, into close proximity with the chambers of the heart, for the first time they each well and truly know fear.  After a while they get the boat righted again and flowing less chaotic currents again, but the tiny, tiny hearts inside the persons who ride in our blood do pound awfully loud for a pulse beat or two or three.  Funny how fear can create euphoria.  Sadly, once the person tastes that Whoosh through the rooms of the heart, their stoicism departs. 


[After W.S. Merwin , THE TASTE, from The Book of Fables]