Alfred Corn

Their psychopomp appreciated all the stories
you could tell, surprised not to have become
the “out” that no-trespassing signage keeps.
Palmists will interpret what resembles
a scratchpad, an enchiridion, sentences scored in
by manual labor and deep enough today
to draw blood. Yet if dig-we-must types need
a dozen stamens (or a baker’s dozen) before
getting to stamina, still they’ll want to master
the language in which “joy” also means “music.”

Couldn’t you watch with me at least one hour?
A waterdrop swells, dangles from the eaves,
trembles, but doesn’t fall; then falls with several
followers falling after. Quick days unfurl
before the thaumaturge stops short to gauge
ice clouds that he says promise “feathered rain.”

You draw the line at reverse sublimity,
Joseph: the void within the dark within
the silence that instills your snowfield’s zero choirs.
At dawn, a single mallard loping across the sky,
Nature’s own page-turner. Who knows how long
ago that picture stopped living in the future.

Painstaking surveys of northern forests,
tungsten mines or a strung loom start feeling
like love, potlatch or fresh-plowed farmland.
For being ignorant to whom it goes, I writ
at random, very doubtfully
. Does that mean
we should drydock the barnacled schooner?
Reflections of the mainmast when we’re shipping
ten-foot seas induce visual whiplash—
which also has to swallow shadowed mountains
staggering hugger-mugger down the screen.

Anyone can see your heels would rather
be kicked up, your elbows have more room.
Yells start exploding at Prometheus,
who just ran out on the Olympics,
flagrant torch aloft in his left hand.
A dicey way to draft-dodge,
and look where it got him. Down comes the gavel;
but someone not me will have to haul it up again.


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