Category: Other Poetry


The Instrument Responds…

 

And who knows how I play, how I hold you

to be mysterious as music is,

brief as a summer afternoon, and blue

as Miles Davis was never, how I

am held by you, whose curled melodies sway

in me with new words. If I bend and lie

in that posture, tendering for a curve

this back upright and hollow, who will say

what heaven or hell would have been—or if

 

any orthodoxy could sustain that beat

of yours, could any bible give of verse

the way you give of your ambitious sweet

improvisation, & breathe into me the riff

of what you hold & only we rehearse?

Copyright Ó by William Glass

Water (Robert Lowell)

It was a Maine lobster town—
each morning boatloads of hands
pushed off for granite
quarries on the islands,

and left dozens of bleak
white frame houses stuck
like oyster shells
on a hill of rock,

and below us, the sea lapped
the raw little match-stick
mazes of a weir,
where the fish for bait were trapped.

Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
>From this distance in time
it seems the color
of iris, rotting and turning purpler,

but it was only
the usual gray rock
turning the usual green
when drenched by the sea.

The sea drenched the rock
at our feet all day,
and kept tearing away
flake after flake.

One night you dreamed
you were a mermaid clinging to a wharf-pile,
and trying to pull
off the barnacles with your hands.

We wished our two souls
might return like gulls
to the rock. In the end,
the water was too cold for us.

I touch you in the night, whose gift was you,
My careless sprawler,
And I touch you cold, unstirring, star-bemused,
That have become the land of your self-strangeness.
What long seduction of the bone has led you
Down the imploring roads I cannot take
Into the arms of ghosts I never knew,
Leaving my manhood on a rumpled field
To guard you where you lie so deep
In absent-mindedness,
Caught in the calcium snows of sleep?

And even should I track you to your birth
Through all the cities of your mortal trial,
As in my jealous thought I try to do,
You would escape me–from the brink of earth
Take off to where the lawless auroras run,
You with your wild and metaphysic heart.
My touch is on you, who are light-years gone.
We are not souls but systems, and we move
In clouds of our unknowing
like great nebulae.
Our very motives swirl and have their start
With father lion and with mother crab.
Dreamer, my own lost rib,
Whose planetary dust is blowing
Past archipelagoes of myth and light
What far Magellans are you mistress of
To whom you speed the pleasure of your art?
As through a glass that magnifies my loss
I see the lines of your spectrum shifting red,
The universe expanding, thinning out,
Our worlds flying, oh flying, fast apart.

From hooded powers and from abstract flight
I summon you, your person and your pride.
Fall to me now from outer space,
Still fastened desperately to my side;
Through gulfs of streaming air
Bring me the mornings of the milky ways
Down to my threshold in your drowsy eyes;
And by the virtue of your honeyed word
Restore the liquid language of the moon,
That in gold mines of secrecy you delve.
Awake!
My whirling hands stay at the noon,
Each cell within my body holds a heart
And all my hearts in unison strike twelve.