Friday, January 23, 2009

Into this living of the rest

Arthur Cleveland ~ Andrew Wyeth

Arthur Cleveland

I don’t know what he did or is about to do, but
he fills the room too large for having done it.
Doors open easy to him and remain that way
until he passes through. Ceilings seize and cant
perilous shadows and though crowding him for
headroom, dare not interfere with pressing business.

He’ll leave when he wishes. Until then, resting
an unhurried hand against the bedpost, he will
not rouse a sleeping dog. The door that matters
most may well be behind him where just beyond
a 550 Spyder might be parked idling for his key, a
golden woman filing slow red nails in the front seat.

There is no hurry in him. He might stand this way
past dusk as the room changes into what it becomes
after fire crosses the sky and the fetcher wants out.
Until whatever time spills him in this light has spent
its purpose, he will not let on needlessly to anything.
So we stare framed in the foothold of this standoff.

No matter that two worlds away machines may do
our dire bidding, the future keeps every creaking in
this house high above the floorboards. We will hold
with him until the voices have had their say, until
whatever stirs unseen within each of us pulls one
or the other away into this living of the rest of it.

Joseph Gallo
January 23, 2009

Seized by this beckoning

Wind From The Sea ~ Andrew Wyeth

Wind From The Sea

It comes in this way, from saltlands so far from here
it circumnavigates the senses. If you leave one open
or slightly ajar, it will part fine lace like foam to siren
your eye towards the distance from whence it came.

You will see this place in your mind though you’ve
never been there. It will be as familiar as a pair of
workboots, a place worn to the arc of your soul.
So you will go there without moving feet or foot.

A figure stands just inside this lapping, too dark to
quite make out, mottled in a saxifrage of shadows
that migrate like pilgrims across a pale landscape
of tidal devotion, its eyes set seemly to faraway.

They might be whispers you hear now, something
said just outside the cusps of perception, your name
misheard twice, a sussurance swept past too swiftly,
eddying, seacircling, then gone as quick as it came.

So you stand there waiting for it to come again.
It doesn’t. It doesn’t. Then it does because the
curtains bring it in and you turn your back to the
fingers that reach and reach just beyond the veil,

your flesh making brief temples between the blades
where praise and impulse press claims for each breath,
your skin a palette awash in ways only skin can catch
the colorfast, the whole world seized by this beckoning.

And this is but one window, one open sea letting itself
in, one shameless suitor you invite in for no reason other
than to stand naked with it, silent as unriffled paper,
turning together there on the pivot of a sail’s cry.

Joseph Gallo
January 19, 2009

What we do before anything else

The Wood Stove ~ Andrew Wyeth

The Wood Stove

Waiting is what we do before we do anything else.
Little in this life comes without it. We open doors
to see trees exactly where they were the day before,
holding ground, stubborn as hornets on a cold day.

It isn’t imperative to brush hair with the wind up.
Better to bother a chair, stare the window smooth,
and wait for what little comes. Nothing to boil, we
keep still iron company and listen to tocs tick away.

A reclused house might wait a lifetime to tell you
there are some thresholds you can never cross.
Mornings like this extend themselves the day through
for no reason other than to give waiting its due time.

There are strews of unstacked wood with no place to
go but to the stove you’ve no tinder to light, nor will
to circumscout. So you will keep a westerly gaze, sun
seated at your back warming whatever is draped there.

You will forget what is in the sack atop the oil-slicked
hood as creosote inches the flue so slowly you can hear
it. Perhaps later, when the waiting continues, you’ll rise
to feed the cold stove, set a kettle, wait the cup empty.

Joseph Gallo
January 21, 2009

Cracks in calving ice

Spring ~ Andrew Wyeth


Equator Light

Because we were talking about his work, Wyeth moves
the blinds in my room for no other reason than to say
he’s here. We really shouldn’t mention that his wife and
the husband never knew about those sessions with Helga.
That would be improper. Instead, at the slow dying of the
day, we turn the talk to sunlight at the equator, how many
hours of it there are and marvel at how such bright people
took so long to discover that it varied the further south
or north one went, that darkness was not given to tell such
tales of sharp drops and flat edges, how for millennia no
one bothered to rouse long enough to look or listen for it.


Everything about life speaks circles. It is apparent in the
occluded disk of the sun in an overcast sky; it is there in
the face of a daisy and the breast of an orange; it is there
in the mouth of a woman when she succumbs to her given
nature. So we ignore the movement and make music, work
out the component parts of a song until it bends and sets,
strings out its ploys and surprises until we finish for the night,
bid Andy farewell until next time. I am hungry for Chinese.

I opt for take-out and sweet augury: You will take a chance
in the near future. And win. There is something disquieting
about the placement of the first period, some pause taken
longer than necessary rendering good fortune unlikely. This
is the weight of summer ways in winter’s dead reckon. Dry
hot days and lack of rain have seen to it for a week. Lo-Mein
brings fresh drought to my mouth. Globes of water follow.


We discuss Spring, the old man rousing in a skin of snow,
how the metaphors run ruts through the landscape as the
seasons arrive and depart concurrently, each an awkward
remnant of the other. Is he dead, you ask, and I say no, his
eyes are definitely open. So we plumb the symbolism, take
note of every possible subtlety, listen for cracks in calving
ice. Is this epiphany, a coming into one’s seasoned sense
of acceptance, acclimatizing to realities harsher than even
art can convey? Mud tracks remind us that the work must
continue for bees do not mourn their dead. Break open
your heart like a hive and read its unwritten messages,
scrolled and sequestered into honeyed cells by mouths
that chant paper from the communion of common miracles.
Here will I lie until the cycles speed their resolve and flowers
come to hide what will be left of me when rain is imminent.

Joseph Gallo
January 20, 2009

Something left open to invisible ways

Witching Hour ~ Andrew Wyeth

Witching Hour

The candles may burn backwards as the hand that
skews them comes in through the side of something
left open to invisible ways. Brooms will have none of it
and lean themselves sightless in unswept corners while
Quaker ladies tremble at the mere thought of such things.

Who will sit these black ladderbacks once we leave
the room to itself? A table no one dares touch until
it is safe to do so will simply be left to do what it does
when we are not about. A faint malagram may etch
itself into the coping, some whittless omen resistant
translation. Shadows spider themselves along the
unsettled ceiling while ghostfire reflickers in a smoky
flexion of
leaded panes. Scratching may be heard
somewhere, a tree, perhaps, laden with deerhang
for the last wood or a bled flush of futile hedgerow.
Dusk will bivouac as a ferrous barracoon, its needless

distance seized by something far braver than we.

There is dread in this light that captures the air
before it has time to exchange what it will within
us, a moment before the moment that arrests each
desperate inhalation for no reason at all. This is their
hour and we give it to them. They pass as they choose,
move about as they will, this illusion affording a briefer
life than, up to now, we scarcely imagine as being ours.

Joseph Gallo
January 16, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

How a soul might wear rain

Distant Thunder ~ Andrew Wyeth

For Andrew Wyeth

It’s the way light settles the room, caressing
perhaps a fine curve of breast, tracing without
touching, an insubstantiality divined by its nature.

Doing this as one sips coffee or opens a window
at the outset of a freshening sky speaks to how
a soul might wear rain in the spring. An umbrella
may well belie a need for practicality, but this is
something else entirely. We know now that canvas
cannot contain the sound of a clock. Stand close
and breathe hyacinth and scrubgorse in scented
fields. Wear mudded seaboots that might spook
a distant herd of clouds. Tat lace in slow shadows
that linger in the dropped veil of a long afternoon.

We will keep the felled figure. We will keep the boy
in the coonskin cap. We will keep the nautilus in its
sorrowed chamber. We will keep the shut door in its
blueness. And we will keep the woman praised on her
knees by a failing star. He will take the rest. All of it.

Joseph Gallo
January 16, 2009

Spring ~ Andrew Wyeth

Monday, January 12, 2009

Slipping these few moments


Blue Wind Guitar


We enter this room where a blue guitar stands
alone in a corner, light streaming through the pane
flows over the sill, spills onto the floor, what more
does one need than this blue guitar alone in a corner,
a room entered with light, two of us flowing, what
worse than being this streaming through the pane,
alone on a sill, spilled onto a floor, no need to enter
light in a room or stand a flow of blue corner, one
guitar where pane spills the sill, moreover, what need
we enter by two to stand alone as rooms of blue light?



Wind sits my garden chair, rests her wandered feet having
run the globe before breakfast, laughed horizons flat,
toyed with cap and scarf, taken the brush from your hair,
run fingers through the dry red leaves, left prints worried
on the watertop. Chair rocks gently as she puts feet up
and onto the small tree stump left downcut from her last
visit when she brought first rains to her last fires, prattled
windows through the long dark ruckus, left night in tatters,
strewn in morning cords of sunsplit branches, cowered coyotes
nowhere to be seen. And so she rocks, to and fro, no
to her clocking, gentle gears slipping these few moments

with her talking to herself and my overhearing she will allow
until we’ve both had enough and impendingness summons
us to do what we do next, what always needs doing, this sitting,
this marking of it, this foot-scattered respite in a windlorn garden
when we make time for one another to sit well this brief visit.

Joseph Gallo
December 24, 2008


Friday, January 02, 2009

For the simple sin of doing so


Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content. ~Paul Valery (1871-1945)

Sworn Enemies

Let us begin by calling things what they are—not what they appear to be in moonlight, not when your hands are marauding my skin, not where you fear to tread when you lack shoes—but what they are.

You will give me your name because it does not suit you. Its purpose is lost and abandoned to a kind of forgetfulness you hope passes for forgiveness or clemency. I will refuse it because I’ve mine to disown.

We will set about then for a place on a map we will forget at home, affixed to an easel facing out through a window. Strangers will pass to briefly consider our queerness, our kindred and kinless courses.

They will look in to see us not there and know us for everything we have chosen to leave on this quest to leave everything we are to make for some part of us we cannot become by remaining here.


Time will run to the backyard of every house we pass as we make for territories untouched by less than paw, wing, claw, hoof. We will feel as alien there as we do here, as we do everywhere we are.

One of us will bring it out and set it between civil and equidistant, cross-legged to this purpose of settling and befitting, seated sternly amid apples we have trudged along for the simple sin of doing so.

It will be metaphor and allusion, the sloughed skins of all we feign to carry through this world so that others cannot see, others dare not look upon the burden of our carry, the sentence of such gravity.

Once there it will all become clear to us. We will sit awhile afterward because we choose to do so. This will be this and that will be that. We will wonder what all the fuss was about, pick up our things and go.

Joseph Gallo
November 4, 2008