Thursday, September 22, 2005

This brief and lasting season

Image hosted by

Autumn Poised

Noon bells wait until I have paper and pen
to say this will be the last poem to peal
in this summer of O’Five. Poets everywhere
are doing this. It’s expected of us to do so.
We are scratching symbols onto paper in
common languages that cause metaphor to have
its brief and lasting season in the mind and heart.

I am no different.

As I was a boy enamored by my own words, so
am I still that callow man in my fifty-third year.
I have grown a beard for the first time in a decade
to mark the merest difference in this sleighted moment.

From the distance, as bells cease their timid churchings,
the whistle of a steam locomotive bellows waterfire
to the furnace that hangs midday over the end of summer.

This is a time for dying things.

Image hosted by

A thousand thousand poets write in agreement.
Leaf, change, color, harvest, scent, wind, cold,
light, gather, warmth, store, soon, snow, coming.
Common words for common seasons.

I hear dirges in limbs of tree blood. I see birds
shift before things invisible. Something is coming.
I feel rivers wither in a weep of rain. I taste desert
yearning to return to sea. Something is arriving.
I sense poets steeped in a cupping of what they
cannot sip. We surrender to all we cannot hold back.

Something is here.

Joseph Gallo
September 22, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Thank god there was room enough

Image hosted by

Elvis Kills The Indians

So in this movie he’s the only half-breed, Kiowa with slick oil-black hair all poofed up in the signature of a century to come, his cowboy shirt collar standing up on his neck like a mortified cigar store Injun made of brokentreaty cloth and the cuss of life without zipperleather duds that might squeak when he jumped the horse that rode him off to shoot braves so dumb they posed for the sixgun shot that stunted them off their spraypainted ponies in crudely choreographed pratfalls that jostled the wigs off the palefaces playing them.

Who knew Elvis was such a part of the Old West lore, that his unslung guitar shaped the plains that drank the blood of the millions of redmen savages, the F-hole finale of the fretted tribes of a restless America so young and voracious, bronzed by the scalp of his audacity as the script pages turned, and the extras fell, and the cameras rolled, and the story raged on one dead Injun at a time, and thank God there was room enough in this vast territory of usurpance to swallow them all, so many, so very many their common faces rose up like geology in the canyons, red and wrinkled with the anonymity with which they were slaughtered, grand canyons, deep canyons, made not by rivers of water but from vessels of blood and all because Elvis got caught in a script he didn’t write, an editing session that jerked him around scene by scene until he didn’t know who to kill so he killed them all, red, pallid, brown, because this is what Westerns do, let loose their Waynes and Eastwoods, their Fords and Elvi on the world ‘cos if someone’s gotta die it had better be lots of Injuns, ‘cos no one cares about Injuns ‘cos they’re so fun to watch be killed in their comic dustbitten way, which is why it seemed there was a factory in Hollywood that made ‘em just for this purpose.

Joseph Gallo
September 18, 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Home is a scar of remembrance

Image hosted by
Warrior ~Aucassin Verdé (Pen & ink on paper ~ 2003)

The Way Of Grief

The way of grief is a green desert. You must set out
sandless and bare of foot. Water and plenty await you.
Trust the shadowing sky that it will provide the nutrient
of breath and second guessing. Listen for voices in the
dunes. They will instruct you if you will but guide them
toward your journey. Shift when they shift. Trace the horizon
with a closed eye and settle where rest summons you.

Carry bone music deep into where it will not want to go.

Animal skin obeys the hand that would leave it to its own design.
Wander then wishless, glistened by the sweat of stars that oil the wheel of reckoning dead through the darkness, knowing home is a scar of remembrance. Your fathers and dogs will rise up to meet you. They will come from places misdirectioned and uncompassed. They will welcome you as family, for they are.

You will know them by names they’ve never told you. Your
lineage will stretch out before you like a causeway in the mist,
curve in opposite trails that lead to the same point of bloodletting.
This, too, is the way of grief. Lush and sere, desiccated as spider’s
prey, choked with the frilled sorrow of saxifrage. The way of grief
is a green desert in the rain. Go there. Do not hesitate.
Do not return. There is no place in which to do that.

Joseph Gallo
September 6, 2005

Monday, September 05, 2005

An expression undreamt of

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Silhouette by Lotte Reiniger from her animated film,
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Das Ornament des Verliebten Herzens

The ornament of the enamored heart catches the light in German.
It weeps crystals whenever it hears a woman speak her mother tongue. It spends winters in Luzern and hibernates in Pilatus in summer.

It longs through the night when left alone in a room in Oregon.
It wails for no reason but the company of its own voice. It should know better, and does, but that does not prevent it from yearning.

It is made of a substance unknown to anyone but the woman who touches it. It is a color only a woman with eyes that penetrate the silks of darkness can see. It keeps its shape perfectly though no one is looking.

No tree will extend a branch to uplift it.
No shelf will move dust to display it.
No hands will admit to having made it.

It is an expression undreamt of in space or time.
It is devoid of design or craftsmanship.
It is a beautifully sorrowful work of art.

The ornament of the enamored heart is a broken rattle hissing at the sun. The ornament of the enamored heart is the sloughed off skin of love. The ornament of the enamored heart is the heart that was and might have been.

Joseph Gallo
September 4, 2005