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
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
“nothing less was intended     than to injure you”
            south for winter
entering into and going out of
realities modeled after patterns
gets tiring
the countryside and the trees teach us
but you must learn to see past the particular.
trees can blind you
some contain secret houses
angled for survey
fake fronts
and agents that peep behind
These houses may also cause paralyzing hypnotic wonder
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