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Three Poems


Farid Matuk

The Good Object (iv)
 
In my dream rage was a small couch,
innocent block beast I quartered by hammer blows.
Yet there were vast peripheries,
savannahs where little people clumped as pack mules
passing around their burdens in canvas sacks.
And so it is outside and downstairs
among people who care for one another
we make daisy chains of mules,
 
daisy chains of mules that kick backward.
 
There is a black luster on my shelf.
 
Gunman, man-at-arms, my dream
of killing is my dream of you
as my better hand, my best
governor, broker for me an Alamo
to take, an exit ramp I’ll come down
as a dune, a cactus and a thirsty city-finch,
a window washer after my money
and one of these bright girls hopeful
as the pearl handled Derringers of a pistolera,
a bad, bad, mean-'ol woman pistolera, shooting
up the dusty town, fulfilling the surrealists' dream-
art as a kind of man ambling the promenade
aiming at the neighbors.
 
 
 
 
American Copper
 
It was almost an egret
poised on the guardrail of the overpass
that occasioned a survey of your life
driving home, of your days arriving
at the copper gilding of the air
above the killifish pinching
mosquitoes down by their heroic heels
in the river this evening.
If at the source of this river there stood a mother-gate,
that gate where you had entered the world, who
would deny you an occasion for imagining
its arch and your grown hands
pushing through. How, if you park the car,
the history of your feelings
again so full of breath and so
lacking form might be loosed
on such a river
and dive and war upstream
finding its scales and its gills,
a fish at the gate to be your story
and its teller.
The guardrail in your hands
would open your hands
and in their cut surfaces something
like the rising of grandeur, tonight’s yellow moon,
would, I think, rise in you.
But what else? What else vibrating
along this vast stone hive
would reach you? If this river
were a paved river and at its source there stood a man,
operator of the locks pulling
and closing the concrete tablets,
the plated doors at the junction
of our river and the rain that fed it,
in your hands there would be a transference
through the city’s cement foundation,
the paved river, the concrete overpass, by which
the turnings and shifting
tolerances of the engines driving home
over the bones of the carbonized,
the murdered, would be sung
steadily into your breast
and the rhythm in that noise
would be as actual as a human bray
pushing its story deeply into the air,
as actual as the winter-allied birds
drawing this air against their sedimentary bones:
ringing. Bellsmith, bellsmith
we may cry – it was you
that let medieval cannons be poured
in your music-pledged molds.
It was you who gave form and measure
to the idea of vastness across which
we exercise our souls and secure
the comfort of rainwater,
profound vastness in which our hands have shrunk
from the copper tip of the silence left today
by the killing we know is happening.
Wanting to find form for our lives
we are not guilty. Look here
above the river is the American Copper,
it is only a butterfly
having copper colored wings, spotted
and edged with black, here
birds are singing, here
take the American Copper, it is only a penny
having copper colored wings, spotted
and edged with black, here
you did not stop the car having
known it was best to leave the egret
poised and your life on its way.
But I want to tell you
when the warriors came
for cannon-ready shapes
there were those men who destroyed
their molds, those old, life-loving men
who you know
were bellsmiths and then
by their sudden will
and though still
living, weren’t.
 
 
 
 
Girl With a Violin
 
Three railroad stakes sit on the windowsill,
a little farther from their rusting. Overhead traffic
comes down from the freeway behind my place,
six miles after passing the North Net Tower
where firemen save a few stories
of concrete slab and a balcony
that burn every Thursday. There's nothing else
 
very big around here. So I went to where the freeway
crosses the railroad when you died, to sing
you the town seamstress' song of torture, rhyming
your name with the Spanish words for
«alone», «walking» and «stone path».
«What a girl had to do for a pretty dress», you'd said.
My friend gave me a picture of a girl with a violin –
 
a work rag on her head, a fine light
on her whole and healthy person,
she holds apart the bow and its instrument
and I ask her where the violin is.
She looks up at the light coming in,
not knowing, I think, what to do next
and says to me, from the corner
 
of her mouth, «one of us here is the better horse».