Then, If


Kristen Gallagher

You will look through
a pair of objects, like lightbulbs
whose light is coming from behind them.
And a landscape will form on the backs of the bulbs.
As you move, concentric circles will turn the images up-side-down.
This is the language of the retina.
           “Disappearance at Sea”
           peripheral flappings shot
down
 
---
 
Plato counted poets
bird for bird
as robin you blind
           Poets have ideas like
           an aviary has em
but we know he wasn’t
against metaphor
& sang his own
way into oblivion
with a nose for prose
 
---
 
X told Y told Z
then a little bird told me
the same one who told the first one
who wouldn’t take a bird’s word
but cannot bear not repeating
 
perhaps seeing “birds”
in “words” simply implies regular
           change of address
 
I have a PO box so no one knows where I live.
 
As when sometimes birds don't look like their
Audubon Society pictures…
when others weren't as rusty as that one there.
 
---
                                 make a wish,
                                                    I mean
                                                                                      “a representative”
                                                                  “equal” to
                                       “the people”
 
---
 
They dress themselves completely according to the rules of appearance
and bathe in a highly coordinated way
this promises an air of innocence
as they confirm each other’s
previously agreed upon gossip
as if Cheney actually reads the New York Times!
 
---
 
If each of us held in his hands a liar
would you rather find a painter or a geometrician
behind it, and if you did, how would you know
if who said so was or was not really a musician
who lied on his resume about being a math wiz
because jobs are so hard to find now.
 
If one rational lie became a measure of poetry
would the poet, then, run for president &
if elected, pursue transverse
the resonant fugue state?
 
---
 
& when he answered
     about that day the
President said simply,
                               The day is moistened earth
&
uhh
 
“nothing less was intended     than to injure you”
     then
            south for winter
 
---
 
entering into and going out of
realities modeled after patterns
gets tiring
the countryside and the trees teach us
peaches
 
but you must learn to see past the particular.
 
---
 
NOTE TO BIRDS
trees can blind you
some contain secret houses
angled for survey
fake fronts
and agents that peep behind
WARNING
These houses may also cause paralyzing hypnotic wonder
 
---
 
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