• csalisbury
    All things seem mention of themselves
    And the names which stem from them branch out to other referents.
    Hugely, spring exists again. The weigela does its dusty thing
    In fire-hammered air. And garbage cans are heaved against
    The railing as the tulips yawn and crack open and fall apart.
    And today is Monday. Today's lunch is: Spanish omelet, lettuce and
    tomato salad,
    Jello, milk and cookies. Tomorrow's: sloppy joe on bun,
    Scalloped corn, stewed tomatoes, rice pudding and milk.
    The names we stole don't remove us:
    We have moved on a little ahead of them
    And now it is time to wait again.
    Only waiting, the waiting: what fills up the time between?
    It is another kind of wait, waiting for the wait to be ended.
    Nothing takes up its fair share of time,
    The wait is built into the things just coming into their own.
    Nothing is partially incomplete, but the wait
    Invests everything like a climate.
    What time of day is it?
    Does anything matter?
    Yes, for you must wait to see what it is really like,
    This event rounding the corner
    Which will be unlike anything else and really
    Cause no surprise: it's too ample.
  • csalisbury
    Drops from an air conditioner
    On those who pass underneath. It's one of the sights of our town.
    Puaagh. Vomit. Puaaaaagh. More Vomit. One who comes
    Walking dog on leash is distant to say how all this
    Changes the minute to an hour, the hour
    To the times of day, days to months, those easy-to-grasp entities,
    And the months to seasons, which are far other, foreign
    To our concept of time. Better the months -
    They are almost persons - than these abstractions
    That sift like marble dust across the unfinished works of the studio
    Aging everything into a characterization of itself.
    Better the cleanup committee concern itself with
    Some item that is now little more than a feature
    of some obsolete style - cornice or spandrel
    Out of the dimly remembered whole
    Which probably lacks true distinction. But if one may pick it up,
    Carry it over there, set it down,
    Then the work is redeemed at the end
    Under the smiling expanse of the sky
    That plays no favorites but in the same way
    Is honor only to those who have sought it.
  • csalisbury
    The dog barks, the caravan passes on.
    The words had a sort of bloom on them
    But were weightless, carrying past what was being said.
    "A nice time," you think, "to go out:
    The early night is cool, but not
    Too anything. People parading with their pets
    Past lawns and vacant lots, as though these too were somehow
    Before going home to the decency of one's private life
    Shut up behind doors, which is nobody's business.
    It does matter a little to the others
    But only because it makes them realize how far their respect
    Has brought them. No one would dare to intrude.
    It is a night like many another
    With the sky now a bit impatient for today to be over
    Like a bored salesgirl shifting from foot to stockinged foot."
    These khaki undershorts hung out on lines,
    The wind billowing among them, are we never to make a statement?
    And certain buildings we always pass which are never mentioned -
    It's getting out of hand.
    As long as one has some sense that each thing knows it place
    All is well, but with the arrival and departure
    Of each new one overlappping so intensely in the semi-darkness
    It's a bit mad. Too bad, I mean, that getting to know each just for a
    fleeting second
    Must be replaced by imperfect knowledge of the featureless whole,
    Like some pocket history of the world, so general
    As to constitute a sob or wail unrelated
    To any attempt at definition. And the minor eras
    Take on an importance out of all proportion to the story
    For it can no longer unwind, but must be kept on hand
    Indefinitely, like a first-aid kit no one ever uses
    Or a word in the dictionary that no one will ever look up.
    The custard is setting; meanwhile
    I not only have my own history to worry about
    But am forced to fret over insufficient details related to large
    Unfinished concepts that can never bring themselves to the point
    Of being, with or without my help, if any were forthcoming.
  • csalisbury
    (formats a little off on mobile, hopefully it looks right on a normal browser)
    Edit: it's not. But it's pretty close. Nothing majorly off. the lines 'imponderables' and 'fleeting second' should be indented.
  • frank
    Have you ever looked at your own life as if it's somebody's dream and you're analyzing it Jungian style?
  • csalisbury
    Next stanza tomorrow. The 'Grand Galop' stanzas are monsters, and I'm back from bar trivia (first!) with fumbling fingers.
  • csalisbury
    It is just the movement of the caravan away
    Into an abstract night, with no
    Precise goal in view, and indeed not caring,
    That distributes this pause. Why be in a hurry
    To speed away in the opposite direction, toward the other end of
    For things can harden meaningfully in the moment of indecision.
    I cannot decide in which direction to walk
    But this doesn't matter to me, and I might as well
    Decide to climb a mountain (it looks almost flat)
    As decide to go home
    Or to a bar or restaurant or to the home
    Of some friend as charming and ineffectual as I am
    Because these pauses are supposed to be life
    And they sink steel needles deep into the pores, as though to say
    There is no use trying to escape
    And it is all here anyway. And their steep, slippery sides defy
    Any notion of continuity. It is this
    That takes us back into what really is, it seems, history -
    The lackluster, disorganized kind without dates
    That speaks out of the hollow trunk of a tree
    To warn away the merely polite, or those whose destiny
    Leaves them no time to quibble about the means,
    Which are not ends, and yet...What precisely is it
    About the time of day it is, the weather, that causes people to note it
    painstakingly in their diaries
    For them to read who shall come after?
    Surely it is because the ray of light
    Or gloom striking you this moment is hope
    In all its mature, matronly form, taking all things into account
    And reapportioning them according to size
    So that if one can't say that this is the natural way
    It should have happened, at least one can have no cause for
    Which is the same as having reached the end, wise
    In that expectation and enhanced by its fulfillment, or the absence
    of it.
    But we say, it cannot come to any such end
    As long as we are left around with no place to go.
    And yet it has ended, and the thing we have fulfilled we have become.
  • csalisbury
    Now it is the impulse of morning that makes
    My watch tick. As one who pokes his head
    Out from under a pile of blankets, the good and bad together,
    So this tangle of impossible resolutions and irresolutions :
    The desire to have fun, to make noise, and so to
    Add to the already all-but-illegible scrub forest of graffiti on the
    shithouse wall.
    Someone is coming to get you:
    The mailman, or a butler enters with a letter on a tray
    Whose message is to change everything, but in the meantime
    One is to worry about one's smell or dandruff or lost glasses -
    If only the curtain-raiser would end, but it is interminable.
    But there is this consolation :
    If it turns out to be not worth doing, I haven't done it;
    If the sight appalls me, I have seen nothing;
    If the victory is pyrrhic, I haven't won it.
    And so from a day replete with rumors
    Of things being done on the other side of the mountains
    A nucleus remains, a still-perfect possibility
    That can be kept indefinitely. And yet
    The groans of labor pains are deafening; one must
    Get up, get out and be on with it. Morning is for sissies like you
    But the real trials, the ones that separate the men from the boys,
    come later.
  • csalisbury
    Oregon was kinder to us. The streets
    Offered a variety of directions to the foot
    And bookstores where pornography is sold. But then
    One whiffs just a slight odor of madness in the air.
    They all got into their cars and drove away
    As in the end of a movie. So that it finally made no difference
    Whether this were the end or it was somewhere else:
    If it had to be somewhere it might as well be
    Here, on top of one. Here, as elsewhere,
    April advances new suggestions, and one may as well
    Move along with them, especially in view of
    The midnight-bllue light that in turning itself inside out
    Offers something strange to the attention, a thing
    That is not itself, gnat whirling before my eyes
    At an incredible, tame velocity. Too pronounced after all
    To be that meaningless. And so on to afternoon
    On the desert, with oneself cleaned up, and the location
    Almost brand-new what with the removal of gum wrappers, etc.
    But I was trying to tell you about a strange thing
    That happened to me, but this is no way to tell about it,
    By making it truly happen. It drifts away in fragments.
    And one is left sitting in the yard
    To try to write poetry
    Using what Wyatt and Surrey left around,
    Took up and put down again
    Like so much gorgeous raw material,
    As though it would always happen in some way
    And meanwhile since we are all advancing
    Itis sure to come about in spite of everything
    On a Sunday, where you are left sitting
    In the shade that, as always, is just a little too cool.
    So there is whirling out at you from the not deep
    Emptiness the word "cock" or some other, brother and sister words
    With not much to be expected from them, though these
    Are the ones that waited so long for you and finally left, having
    given up hope.
    There is a note of desperation in one's voice, pleading for them,
    And meanwhile the intensity thins and sharpens
    Its point, that is the thing it was going to ask.
    One has been waiting around all evening for it
    Before sleep had stopped definitively the eyes and ears
    Of all those who came as an audience.
    Stilll, that poetry does sometimes occur
    If only in creases in forgotten letters
    Packed away in trunks in the attic - things you forgot you had
    And what would it matter anyway,
    That recompense so precisely dosed
    As to seem the falling true of a perverse judgment.
    You forget how there could be a gasp of a new air
    Hidden in that jumble. And of course your forgetting
    Is a sign of just how much it matters to you:
    "It must have been important."
    The lies fall like flaxen thread from the skies
    All over America, and the fact that some of them are true of course
    Doesn't so much not matter as serve to justify
    The whole mad organizing force under the billows of correct
    Surrey, your lute is getting at attack of nervous paralysis
    But there are, again, things to be sung of
    And this is one of them, only I would not dream of intruding on
    The frantic completeness, the all-purpose benevolence
    Of that still-moist garden where the tooting originates:
    Between intervals of clenched teeth, your venomous rondelay.
  • csalisbury
    Ask a hog what is happening. Go on. Ask him.
    The road just seems to vanish
    And not that far in the distance, either. The horizon must have been
    moved up.
    So that by limping carefully
    From one day to the next, one approaches a worn, round
    Crouching low in the hollow of a gully
    With no door or window but a lot of old license plates
    Tacked up over a slit too narrow for a wrist to pass through
    And a sign: "Van Camp's Pork and Beans."
    From then on : angst-colored skies, emotional withdrawals
    As the whole business starts to frighten even you,
    Its originator and promoter. The horizon returns
    As a smile of recognition this time, polite, unquestioning.
    How long ago high school graduation seems
    Yet it cannot have been so very long:
    One has traveled such a short distance.
    The styles haven't changed much,
    And I still have a sweater and one or two other things I had then.
    It seems only yesterday that we saw
    The movie with cows in it
    And turned to one at your side, who burped
    As morning saw a new garnet-and-pea-green order propose
    Itself out of the endless bathos, like science-fiction lumps.
    Impossible not to be moved by the tiny number
    Those people wore, indicating they should be raised to this or that
    But now we are at Cape Fear and the overland trail
    Is impassable, and a dense curtain of mist hangs over the sea.
  • csalisbury
    [end of Grand Galop ]
  • csalisbury
    New Poem : Poem in Three Parts
  • csalisbury
    1. Love

    "Once I let a guy blow me.
    I kind of backed away from the experience.
    Now years later, I think of it
    Without emotion. There has been no desire to repeat,
    No hangups either. Probably if the circumstances were right
    It could happen again, but I don't know,
    I just have other things to think about,
    More important things. Who goes to bed with what
    is unimportant. Feelings are important.
    Mostly I think of feelings, they fill up my life
    Like the wind, like tumbling clouds
    In a sky full of clouds, clouds upon clouds."
  • csalisbury
    Nameless shrubs running across a field
    That didn't drain last year and
    Isn't draining this year to fall short
    Like waves at the end of a lake,
    Each with a little sigh,
    Are you sure this is what the pure day
    With its standing light intends?
    There are so many different jobs:
    It's sufficient to choose one, or a fraction of one.
    Days will be blue elsewhere with their own purpose.
    One must bear in mind one thing.
    It isn't necessary to know what that thing is.
    All things are palpable, none are known.
    The day fries, with a fine conscience,
    Shadows, ripples, underbrush, old cars.
  • csalisbury
    The conscience is to you as what is known,
    The unknowable gets to be known.
    Familiar things seem a long way off.
  • csalisbury
    2. Courage
    In a diamond-paned checked shirt
    To be setting out this way:
    A blah morning
    Not too far from home (home
    Is a modest one-bedroom apartment,
    City-owned and operated),
    The average debris of the journey
    Less than at first thought,
    Smell of open water,
    Troughs, special pits.
    It all winds back again
    In time for evening's torque:
    So much we could have done,
    So much we did do.
    Weeds like skyscrapers against the blue vault of heaven:
    Where is it to end? What is this? Who are these people?
    Am I myself, or a talking tree?
  • csalisbury
    3. I Love the Sea
    There is no promise but lots
    Of intimacy the way yellowed land narrows together.
    This part isn't very popular
    For some reason: the houses need repairs,
    The cars in the yard are too new.
    The enclosing slopes dream and are forgetful.
    There are joyous, warm patches
    Amid nondescript trees.
    My dream gets obtuse:
    When I woke up this morning I noticed first
    That you weren't there, then prodded
    Slowly back into the dream:
    These trains, people, beaches, rides
    in happiness because their variety
    Is outlived but still there, outside somewhere,
    In the side yard, maybe.
  • csalisbury
    Ivy is blanketing one whole wall.
    The time is darker
    For fast reasons into everything, about what concerns it now.
    We could sleep together again but that wouldn't
    Bring back the profit of these dangerous dreams of the sea,
    All that crashing, that blindness, that blood
    One associates with other days near the sea
    Although it persists, like the blindness of noon.
  • csalisbury
    (end of poem)
  • csalisbury
    New Poem : Voyage in the Blue
  • csalisbury
    As on a festal day in early spring
    The tidelands maneuver and the air is quick with intimations:
    Ships, hats appear. And those,
    The mind-readers, who are never far off. But
    To get to know them we must avoid them.
  • csalisbury
    And so, into our darkness life seeps,
    Keeping its part of the bargain. But what of
    Houses, standing ruined, desolate just now:
    Is this not also beautiful and wonderful?
    For where a mirage has once been, life must be.
  • csalisbury
    The pageant, growing ever more curious, reaches
    An ultimate turning point. Now everything is going to be
    Not dark, but on the contrary, charged with so much light
    It looks dark, because things are now packed so closely
    We see it with our teeth. And once this
  • csalisbury
    Distant corner is rounded, everything
    Is not to be made new again. We shall be inhabited
    In the old way, as ideal things came to us,
    Yet in the having we shall be growing, rising above it
    Into an admixture of deep blue enameled sky and bristly
    gold stars.
  • csalisbury
    The way the date came in
    Made no sense, it never had any.
    It should have been a caution to you
    To listen more carefully to the words
    Under the wind as it moved toward us.
  • csalisbury
    Perhaps, sinking into the pearl stain of that passionate eye
    The minutes came to seem the excrement of all they were passing
    A time when colors no longer mattered.
    They are to us as qualities we were not meant to catch
    As being too far removed from our closed-in state.
  • csalisbury
    And ideally the chime of this
    Will come to have the fascination of a remembered thing
    Without avatars, or so remote, like a catastrophe
    In some unheard-of country, that our concern
    Will be only another fact in a long list of important facts.
  • csalisbury
    You and I and the dog
    Are here, this is what matters for now.
    In other times things will happen that cannot possibly involve
    us now.
    And this is good, a true thing, perpendicular to the ground
    Like the freshest, least complicated and earliest of memories
  • csalisbury
    We have them all, those people, and now they have us.
    Their decision was limited, waiting for us to make the first move.
    But now that we have done so the results are unfathomable, as
    A single implication could sway the whole universe on its stem.
    We are fashionably troubled by this new edge of what had seemed
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