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spacer.gif   Richard Johns
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 09:32 AM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name Crouching near some true forget-me-nots, I glance up

Dipping and soaring,
exit and enter
the crevicey homes
they've made
in the walls of the canyon,
in the world's exposed
body of rock.
Some ferns on the ledge
cling near the roots of trees
that lean themselves
into the air;
and a vine trails
and so on--
into the light
(such as it is here)
and the ever-available
nourishing air.

These of the Earth, So Openly Themselves

Shimmying up through the cracks with a vigorous green
insistence, arraying the air over asphalt and concrete
with blue, is but one of the ways that chicory makes
its profuse and brilliant intrusions into the everyday.
Likewise it throngs certain lots; and marvelling freely
at this, how often I feel like I'm Whitman--that I'm stroking
the world with his eyes: "What unsuppressible verves! What lovely
Úlans of the earth! O things being born with a flourish,
I share all your strivings and urges!" Ah well, however
inspired, that our poet-friends frequently spout nothing more
than just heartfelt bombast is something that everyone
knows, and whenever I get like this
I've a habit of scribbling away on the most embarrassing
topics--like the Deptford Pinks, for instance, that I found
near our front door, or those bindweeds strewn in the grass,
each trained on the sky to collect the enlivening light.
Aside from their evident beauty, what good can such things be?
And what do they have to do with the world as we actually
know it? Increasingly less, I'm afraid, since dwelling
within themselves--both homeless and at home in their own
little marginal worlds--they are beings connected to earth
for whom it's abundantly clear that existence is enough,
for their brilliantly opening bodies repeatedly testify so.
Each is a beautiful given, frank in self-display;
and like that sadistic thistle, which says to whomever
it chooses: "Pressing your body nto the shag
of my fragrance, delving entirely into the shock
of my being, come grapple with my plush bloom,
come bury yourself in the deep velour of my flower . . ."--
each one is shamelessly open about its own sexual
leanings. But of course for all of these lovelies the private
parts and the face are really one and the same,
which explains a good deal of their charm, and why
you so rarely encounter, when glancing in anyone's eyes,
the same sort of dazzling candor.

Night Life

This is the place
where the Japanese boy
with the black-haired bangs
hangs out, showing his face.

This is where he danced once,
close, then far away,
his incredible thinness
thrilling at a distance.

Here is where another one plays pool.
Strikes straight.
Lurks late.
Real cool.

In this spot these lovers,
face to face,
dance until they leave the bar
oblivious of all others.

There, with his naked chest,
that gleaming Indian boy
embodies the music's
exuberant lust.

And this one is hopelessly moved,
borne by the traffic of bodies
past the beautiufl now
and the loved

toward where, at a certain hour,
brief near this darkened window
your scented presene blooms,
malevolent as a flower

Various Fragments from a Year in the World


Content with the same few notes
arranged and repeated forever,
and apparently still unaware that in each astonishing instance
to imitate is to fear,
the birds achieve each song like a quote, without innovation,
while the earth in shoots and florets
is inventing itself all over.


Up in the pines, the cones hang down like scrotums.
A sun-shower strafes the pond.
The birdsongs sound like scrambled tapes,
the geese, like rusted pumps.
Beneath the facets of water: the river's cobbled bed.
A sphinx moth darts away . . .
Pigeons huddle and coo like a brood of old Irish women,
and strata appear in the sky.
The flowers close: a field of parasols.


This tree has a river inside it
with branching streams that lap these cool, lush banks.
Hear how the wind disturbs the face of it:
murmurous, the rippled leaf.
Then hear how currents move throughout its leaves:
the sounds that move between the moon and sun.


Each day the land stood up
and delivered its one set speech.
Reliving the old campaign,
all summer we endured the fashionable rhetoric
of The New Prosperity.
The world, it seemed, was "full of so much promise."
But for those who cared to remember,
the phrase was left over from spring.


The bones of its rib-cage showing,
this carcass is all that remains
of a river
once gorged with water.


Today I saw: an iridescent slick, like the wing of a fly, like its armor;
and the breaking-off of attachments in ritual self-immolation--
the maples' diminishing presence,
their abandonment of the world.


The ineluctable passage from season to season
is taking place again with its usual sensationalism:
witness the cool famboyance of this one operation--
the spillage of color--how it mirrors the time.
And as part of the gradual and endless going-on
of all things, everywhere, it seems, there are leave-takings
into the earth, and the breath is stopped by this.


In a landscape white as its houses
a blizzard now swarms the streetlight
with fat white flakes, like moths.

Two Postcards from Illinois


Here and there a cow's dull bulk and hunger
browses stubble, or stock-still, drowsy, stares
into cold air: a face for this blank land.
--Land, land, this is the land of land,
where bored eyes will not see the dwindled things
for what they are: where the houses look like toys
and the barns seem much too small for animals
--there, on the plain, where the trees are clumps of fur.


Such is the world as far as the eye can see--
only those trees there, rustling in the darkness;
the small, bright auras of those scattered farms;
the fireflies' brief but fervent constellations;
and off and on this lament: Vacancy!

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