Thursday, July 23, 2009

Whatever looking allows


Something Wants In

The pressure changes in the house. Open one
door and the rooms rush out. A mindful window
and the wind whimpers for hours at your inequal
ears. A lone black cricket basks beneath a hallway
nightlight still as a sleeping stone. I step around her
so as not to rouse, careful to douse no shadow.

I pass and think. Weather sends its ghosts to try
the doors and I come to blow ink across open
paper. This is an old arrangement. The invisible
things of this world want in and regularly let it
be known they will not be kept out or made to
prove they are worthy of your ignoring them.


Persistence claims its converts. I can hardly keep
my eyes set to task as the weight of hemispheric
night exacts its deep devotions. I rest them be-
tween lines that reappear each time I reopen them.
The hand knows no other master and so waits at
the gate to inscribe whatever looking allows.

Faithful dumb hand. Something else wants in.
A house holds too many points of compromise.
Night requires not one of them and enters un-
challenged. Again, the pressure changes. Every-
thing wants in now. The invisible will have its visit.
Sleep is a hallway cricket still as black stone.
I leave the deep
house through a disappearing window.

Joseph Gallo
November 8, 2008


Monday, July 13, 2009

Brevity no matter how beautiful


Nothing Answers

Nothing answers a hawk. She lets loose in dry typhoons
to whool and skirl in a ringed vernacular that only other
stripes may understand, choosing no answer. My oaks
have heard it all before. The egg came after the acorn
as the god came after the man. The bird leaves her name
for the wind to carry some place she can never wing to.

I open my sliding door and the sound scrapes her off the
branch. There may be feathers left for my finding, some
small trespass we mutually excuse so that one might seek
the other, some answer being better than none at all. In
this do we find our small trophies, the dropped quills
fanned in a vase on a sill in Santa Fe, sacrificed reminders


that everything here is bound by brevity no matter how
beautiful. She lets again and again there comes no answer.
She is somewhere higher now, circling under things that
themselves circle beneath other circles we pattern ourselves
with. From this distance, she might be a quilt of grand design,
a deeper fill unforeseen in the grandeur of purpose. She calls

again and again nothing answers a hawk. Mourning doves
coo the shaded ground as quail stand vigil against rapture
from a sky come flighted with cinnabar talons and red
consequences. When she calls, lie mute, motionless, for
she will have you for her own. Do this if you wish to remain
footheld; if you’ve no desire to learn what question she posed.

Joseph Gallo
July 13, 2009


Sunday, July 12, 2009

The whorl of spiral shells


Snails Outrace The Sun

Snails outrace the sun as morning spills across the wet lawn.
It will take them nearly all of it to reach the shade of succulents.
Stars trail behind them like comet glisten; broken glass catching
the light just so. Contrails stream along the slick green blades.

They will shelter and recoil into the whorl of spiral shells, rest
until dayfall summons them out into the dampening twilight
that comes with its spray of slow milk. They will watch it all
as very little passes overhead without their sluggish witness.


Owls will arrive and alight, evacuate their dark turrets in the
boughs before dawn rescinds their vigil from the far horizon.
This is how it has always been done. Snails outrace the sun to
leave you with the morning; no trace of crumb to point you home.

Joseph Gallo
July 8, 2009


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Overrun by imminent majesty


Last Year

We fled from fire as it descended from hungry
chaparral, summer already curing the oaken sky
as a skeletal stingsect took its place low in the
bones of the southern ecliptic, a crimson star
pulsing flamewise hardened by antarean armor,
its two releasers poised to flood the night with
sustain and persistence as we had not yet met.

We would come eleven months later when love
might well have forgotten us in its mad tumble of
beck and call as it saw to incite the blind prayers
offered by so many others. But the keen fire came,
devoured some, spared some, left us in a wake of
black smoke and incindered charms. Our house stood,
fierce against whatever the sky might counter with.


And the flames knew each of our names, crossed
them off without checking, those of us who were
not to be taken into its strictest confidences, those
of us who were to give everything to them without
complaint, without promise of purpose or safe passage.
It was the cruelest commencement of a season in recent
memory, one that would last well past then and now.

So we met—a poet and a quilter—pressed into stanzas
of seven lines each amid an economy that may or may
not work out either in literal or literary life. These are
things we send upcirrus in drafts of transmutated ash,
toward next year where we might stand to look back at
now and here we are, this way, fleeing from fire again
because to do so is to be overrun by imminent majesty.

Joseph Gallo
July 5, 2009