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Three Poems


Stephen Potter

 

Mineral Box Set

 

regarding those transactions

between dogwoods or

the synonyms for your antonyms

or the stop-go of other buds in April

 

or the reaction of lithium with horniness,

or the redaction of two, or a late

return to frost, or a hand

cooling in a refrigerator

 

or the weld of hand to handle, or the fit

to hip, or the firing of a cupric gaze

greening the smaller rooms

within rooms, or the re-do

 

of the crown prince cutting paper flowers

to cover bits in magazines,

or the names accruing

a public history, or the speeches delivered

 

on riverside tracks at 3 a.m.,

or the dazzling bodies strikethru

struck out, or the tomes rehearsing

a more private letter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fugue

 

                        henna, oxblood, russet—            the man at the bar

 

cruising where a boy stands:                        what marks

 

            by the glassy water                     did he etch in sand?

 

voice of the pulse cut and flying—                        young, so young

 

            just beyond the perceived moment of danger,

 

cut loose in lyric            sewn into a panel sprayed with blue sequins

 

                        where we used to go,                    witness

 

to the swift arrivals:                swollen lymph nodes,            diarrhea,

 

            no T-cells.              somewhere between last call

 

and dawn.              somewhere,                    their message breaking

 

            matter, light—                        the intimate departure point of witness

 

and those inexplicable crushes            dreamwords spoken

 

                        this side of sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Carved

 

            in states unborn        in accents yet unknown

 

what were Caesar’s battles but Caesar’s pose.

 

                        sunlight, bare orchards, my heart

 

flew aloof.            red geese blood.            in his tent, under

 

            his standard—                    his liquid waist.                  that was the Nile.

 

the sun shone.        everywhere he turned was luck.

 

                        here—          the die is cast.       his finger traced

 

my gentle cleft.         a zone for grappling, the sun cold

 

            over the map of lingua franca.       a diver’s delicate arc

 

what to inscribe on his triumphal arch?      the coronet open

 

                        grenadiers forged the river

 

really a stream       really a trickle.      slice

 

            of light—        a flock over water—        sacrifice

 

without heart.       this body, for instance.      what is

 

                        any hand but offering

 

or reproach.       his, the white tunic.      amour of innocence.

 

            a chink in his prose.      a knotted halo.

 

stripped to the waist—       not stippled by light       but stapled

 

                        nailed to the rostrum.      O

 

but that I would have loved Romeo more.

 

            that is the promise of renunciation.      what

 

were his rattles but his prosaics.      that men should fear

 

                        a necessary end.      between the act

 

of a dreadful thing     and the first motion—      a reflection

 

            of hair in a smoky mirror.

 

premonitioned.      pre-motioned.      years before the actual

 

                        immersion—         a greek intuition.

 

a divine cult.         whether Caesar will come forth today or no

 

            how many ages hence shall this lofty

 

scene be acted over?       its bronzy glint.      and what is any knife

 

                        but passage.       or presage.

 

any thrust but ache.      achievement.        a moment

 

            to release the proverbial birds.

 


(NOTE for “Carved”


Certain lines are twists or echoes of lines from the work of Lyn Hejinian, Louise Gluck, Carolyn Forche, Barbara Guest.  Most of the italicized lines come from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and "Romeo and Juliet.")