Monday, October 29, 2007

Along a thin leading edge

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The Ordering Of How We
Move In Time And Space

You walk down the street countless times, unaware
of the music as you do, the subtle hitches in balance
that push and spread measures of incidental rhythmicity,
the hasty tumble into the raw future along a thin leading
edge we mindlessly set cadence to and call presence.

Some might call this dance, but we will call it simply walking
in our skin because this will serve a less formal god where
the subordinance of matter pivoting in the sleeve of what
motion has assigned to be a heart might congeal more essential,
less immersed, in the ascribed posaics of a lesser poet.

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So you make the corner and stop. To round it with an
arc of impetuous grace or cross it and curry the scent
of what chaos might attend your table in an aberrant cycle
or a late automobile, a stranger in the middle of the walk
whose face is familiar as you both stop against the red
that changes nothing but a temporal rite of passage to
give the truer nature of intersection its rightful meaning.

Continue now as one or two, it hardly matters, as there
are breaking moments to escort quickly into the past
where coffee and mornings lost to recollection are
subsumed by others in the sudden zuzz of a low-passing
plane, or the pas de deux of hunger as a coyote dances
in a field for a morsel of mouse to make her milk.

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Catch yourself in shop glass and come to. Distortion
brings everything inside to order. Listen. Resume.
Ask yourself if you heard it, if what you might have
seen has reason to bring your stride to pieces to be
gathered or left where they lay. This matters and if you
think it doesn’t, then walk to Asia or until it does. How
we move in time and space is nothing if not everything.

Joseph Gallo
October 28, 2007

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Friday, October 26, 2007

A season to live outside yourself

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Another Empire

One more time I love you.
A leaf that has never fallen, does.
It settles in a place no one sees.

We were like this. You with
the nobility of your blood;
me with piracy on my breath.

There was the way you looked
in the morning, in glasses, dream-
weary, a threshold of possibility.

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I could hold you that way and never
leave my senses. There were a thousand
things about you because a thousand

means numberlessness to a poet.
There were days with end, nights with
endlessnesses that passed like pharaohs.

Autumn thinks it’s summer and
in doing so makes of you a season
to live outside yourself for a time.

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I can no longer curry your voice
and thus I make this season so, in
your honor, in your blessed name.

Remember the tangrams of flesh we
made, temples built of rain and glass?
A mansoon, I was alive inside you.

One more time, I love you.
I fall again, again again.
Another empire misplaced.

Joseph Gallo
October 24, 2007

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life lived four lines at a time

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October Smoke

Once again, the sun burns the tears out of me.
It invades me like a shadow in the black of night,
without definition, devoid of shape, more absence
than substance. And this is barely afternoon.

My heart is swollen from the light, from the breaking
and leaking of it. Anything might set it off and does:
The scene where Amelie spontaneously melts and splashes
to the floor in a pillar of puddle, for instance; the wind

that has carried a swarm of sand and soot from a hundred
miles away to becloud the horizon, suffocate the hilltop on
which I live, obliterate the tragic sea beyond. I am occluded
as this weather that has descended like a horde of pestilence.

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Ominous. Precursory. Foretold by doom and the chokehold of
destiny. Life is being lived four lines at a time and this is the best
proof I can offer. I cannot tell what will come next but that
the trees are now brittle and coated in sickly grey caramel.

The ground is clotted with dead straw. I foresee the night to come: it will go bouldering through the blackness like an obelisked whale pulling the dawn afire with it. It will set lovers undermoon, break tides to bed them in breaching shapes I am no longer part of.

My hands are missing and my lips feel foreign on my face. Nothing
is as anything I expect. I surrender that stubborn pretense and continue with this poem because to stop would mean having to look my children in the eyes and not have reasons for any of this.

Joseph Gallo
October 20, 2007

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

At the center of a boy

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Wind scatters lark song across a dry October field.
Nothing will regather it as soundwaves bounce off an
invisible star unsettled in the middle of this arid season.
Even the islands are not where they should be, dislodged
from their moorings by the instability of discordant weather.

This might be a metaphor for love were it as barbed as a
reveille, were it thrown overboard like a lover from a balcony
too busy spilling hair to see the fixed and fusioned heart at
the center of a boy who will take a lifetime to misunderstand
that love is nothing like this, that love is everything like this.

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Across the hilly bosom of the morning, oaks stand like shimmering
fonts pooled with sunlight as if dipping your hands in them might
absolve you of a week of green sin. Late monarchs wend their
graceless spasms of flight into something that becomes beauty in
spite of itself, something not unlike the dry field of a boy’s heart.

Joseph Gallo
October 20, 2007

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Groundless as she treads

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She Had Wings
For Thomasina

It begins with a small itch that spreads
across the blades, distends to a dull ache,
in time becomes a sharp wound of longing
for something she cannot yet guess at.

There may have been structures beneath
that afforded some form of implausibility,
a tether of lift, a nail of ascension, a manner
of leaving that remains deep in the ruin of
excavated tissue, but she can’t be certain.

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She dreams sometimes and it all comes back,
the reeling careers, the banking careens of a life
in sky. This is home and the mists that pass far
below in coverlets and forests that cushion her
rise through slumber caress each care at the end
of days in suffercloud, temper the feathered ethers
of giddy sun that glaze the broad arc as she hurls
herself against harsh blue, again and again.

So the empty persists and swells beyond where
such things might have fit. She turns to walk and
somewhere, in the sole of her gait, a leaving that
leaves her groundless as she treads heavy the earth.

Joseph Gallo
October 14, 2007

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Ritual in graceless endurances

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A man should stir himself with poetry, stand firm in ritual, and complete himself with art and music. ~Li Po, Tang Dynasty poet


If nothing else, I have stirred clouds with a spoon. The spoon dropped by a negligent moon, the moon pressed through a part in her curtains where she fell onto the floor beside whatever she’d been wearing earlier.

I have performed rites in crossed kisses that hung in the air like symbols made by mute priests, unlearned the bare meanings of snaps and buttons, unteethed the riddles of coy hasps and zippers. Women have taught me this.

I was an eager student, though perhaps not the brightest. I burned the sky nevertheless and swept wind and wing from their tendermost edges until I could look up to see that ruin was as precious as Rumi and starfire rubies.

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What shall I say of the ten thousand moments I had and didn’t have with you? Shall we write that tigers took them while we slept as worlds dreamed their own becoming, unable to rouse us that we might see ghosts flash in a gash of stripe?

Shall we draw strings of color across pleasing shapes and agree that what grain may have passed through an hourglass coursed there by the sacrifice of mountains and the persistence of rain until it all ran dry and small and measureless?

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If nothing else, I have stirred and stirred until the poetry muddied and became what it has become. I have ventured ritual in graceless endurances where neither art nor music were able to follow. Conclusion arrived in the canvas of my veins;

completion commenced in a wave of skinborne drum. I am vanquished by dynasty. When the doors close and I am no longer in the room, leave your clothes huddled there in the lesser light. For it is the only thing that ever holds any of us this way.

Joseph Gallo
April 21, 2007

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