Hyper-Berceuse: 3 A.M.

Imagine all the debris of space
The countless trade names
   Jugurtha            Tuolumne         Chert-Farms
Some of these belong to you
Can you tell which ones
Each has its own sequence of microtones
Together they make up a kind of tune
Your tune
The ceiling and walls are star maps
Breathing, alive
Those aren’t stars, darling
That’s your nervous system
Nanna didn’t take you to planetariums like this
Go on, touch
Lovely, isn’t it
Like phosphorus on Thule Lake
Sweet summer midnights
Shimmery, like applause under the skin
Can you make it out
Almost a hiss
An old shellac LP of white noise
Playing in the distance
Foolish, troublesome boy
That hapless adventuring of yours
Be very still
Now you can hear it

August Kleinzahler

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Insomnia

The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself),
but she never, never smiles
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she’s a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
she’d tell it to go to hell,
and she’d find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down a well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
and the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.

Elizabeth Bishop

Card 5: Heirophant

I sit looking
around expectantly,
though really I want

nothing but I’m
so accustomed
to waiting around

I’ll just take whatever
shows up. Or I look at
things I don’t understand

and want them
though what I want
is understanding.

I take them anyway,
turning them over
and over in my hands

in the dark
as if holding such
things can give me

back some sense
of what it was like
to really want something

regardless of what
I had already
or how long I’d waited.

The wheels on the bus
go round and round.
Round and round.

But I am going nowhere.
I’ve not been waiting
for no bus.

Brenda Shaughnessy

Emmonsails Heath in Winter

I love to see the old heaths withered brake
mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling
while the old heron from the lonely lake
starts slow and flaps its melancholy wing
an oddling crow in idle motion swing
on the half-rotten ash-trees topmost twig
beside whose trunk the gypsy makes his bed
up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig
where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread
the fieldfares chatter in the whistling thorn
and for the haw round fields and closen rove
and coy bumbarrel twenty in a drove
flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
and hang on little twigs and start again

John Clare

How He Knew He Was Turning Into Glass

By the curvature of the earth’s spine
visible through his shoes.
By the icicle noises made by messengers
arriving with news of battle.
By the feathers.

By the playing like wind in his hair of exhalations
from the distant leper colony.
By the images of himself repeated in the candelabras
of his erections.
By the dark wate.

By the constellations left behind with particles
of pink and green on the bathmat.
By his flying at night over gardens of coral
blossoming like surgeons’ blades.
By the coldness of his feet.

By the writing in the air above the shoulders
of certain of his friends.
By the misty appearance at dusk of seven stars
best seen by looking away.
By the piles of sand.

Jane Draycott

Because Tonight the Beach

Because tonight the beach will consider its life,
its lack of a future, tree hair thinning
and tree heart turning to stone or splinters of ice

they will arrive now, the snow girls, swimming in
from their islands, weightless detonations of paper or marble
or light, casting no shadow and wearing no shoes.

Not asking what country, whose footsteps or features or fable,
they’ll travel together like raiders, sending their ghosts
of previous weather curling across the dunes

feathering stonework and fences, their deepening presence
an absence, a plainness of speech laid on car parks and lawns,
a glimpse of a possible future, making a difference

to everything, this arrival of strangers, now –
familiar, unblemished, and just the right age for snow.

Jane Draycott

In the Same Way

In the same way she cries at the kitchen door
and I slip her and she runs into circular squalls of rain

and she cries at the kitchen door
with snailtracks of rain in her muscular fur
so I open up and she runs in singing

and she cries at the kitchen door
so I open up and she crouches
then sprints into the wind

and the wind cries at the kitchen door
so I open up and call and call

and she doesn’t run in but the wind does,
with rain, a squall of claws –

in the same dogged, idiotic way
I open up, send Goodnight across the brae

and the wind canters in
and she with a wild carol

and all the night hail
melted gleaming in her furs

Jed Hadfield

Paternoster

 

(for A.B.J.)

Paternoster. Paternoster.
Hallowed be dy mane.
Dy kingdom come.
Dy draftwork be done.
Still plough the day
And give our daily bray
Though heart stiffen in the harness.
Then sleep hang harness with bearbells
And trot on bravely into sleep
Where the black and the bay
The sorrel and the grey
And foals and bearded wheat
Are waiting.
It is on earth as it is in heaven.
Drought, wildfire,
Wild asparagus, yellow flowers
On the flowering cactus..
Give our daily wheat, wet
Whiskers in the sonorous bucket.
Knead my heart, hardened daily.
Heal the hoofprint in my heart.
Give us our oats at bedtime
And in the night half-sleeping.
Paternoster. Paternoster.
Hallowed by dy hot mash.

Jen Hadfield

Sleep Begins in the Mouth

We’ve discussed this half-asleep;
our tongues like piled cottonwood
in the dry, open field.
It’s hard to know how to give
yourself to someone.
It’s the astonished snow
that returns in May as cherry blossoms;
how for weeks the branches had committed
to a brown indolence.
It’s the baritone groan of river ice,
a decision without warning to disband,
to dash its bones.
When you let your eyes droop,
the air comes into you
like into a grassland deep in the neck.
Here the horses eat from your hand.
The lump in your throat is flowering grain

Adm Dickinson