Saturday, January 30, 2010

The endless minutiae of empire



When the sun comes, birds beat
wet leather against stone in the
wood. Captains of industry emerge
from hives and holes to recommence
the endless minutiae of empire.

When sun comes, photosynthesis
calls oakgrass up to feed and sing
in spectral light registers. Snails set
sail across tidal lawns, their wakes
streaming 93 million miles across.


When sun comes, water and gravity
settle all accounts, drip by latent drip,
disburse and dispense until all is
drawn to the center of swallowing,
absorption, evaporation, Earth.

When sun comes, poets pour rays
through their pens, go with eyes
closed or open to where they stood
but hours before praising winter
miracles in the ordinariness of rain.

Joseph Gallo
January 23, 2010


Monday, January 18, 2010

Things one leaves to the world


Casa Alianza

When people die they don’t come back.
We look for family among the scattered
remnants of our wander, the long history
that moved the bones, made prints in mud,
turned this way or that. Somewhere words
still resonate in sidewalk prayers for healing
all that is sick in us. They litter gutters with
useless beseeching gone unanswered. This
is where street children of our lost Americas
are sent to die out the rest of their days.

There may be a small notebook left by one,
urbanized with crude drawings of houses in
the margins, houses with rooms one might
come to live in. In these rooms one may
leave the things one leaves to the world
when they at last are rendered unnecessary.


Grace is like this: a shroud worn when the hour
is late and a desperate need cloaks one to stand
naked under the stars. Is there anything more
precious than a setting moon against the slow
slippage of the star-wrenched night? What we
pretend to live in life should not therein follow
as pretense in death. These streets are the empty
avenues of a soulscape. We are born with a map
we cannot hold in our hands, a blank scrim of
air that lives and dies with each exhalation
promising justice in two places at once.

So we wear it like a jaundiced saint around our
necks and pretend to believe it all. It may well
leave bruises, but, like a thousand reasons, it
bends to mask our stagger into the beaten days
of our unenduring skin. Somewhere in this,
conscience becomes an affliction. Somewhere
in this, we find and lose what happiness we can.

Joseph Gallo
March 2009


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What everything seeks


White Silk

Owl’s query is over. Sun pours
out what everything seeks. I sit
between illumination and en-
lightenment to discover what all
of this is about. It’s this simple.

Dawn-pressed coyotes range
through the oaks, nip and chase
as the horizon pushes up what
sends them scumbling restward.
The day bends but is not broken.


Hawk claims her acre of sky;
rabbit stays low with wary in
her eye. Soon shadows move
the day across this brief terrain.

No sign of night; no sign of rain.
California winter curled at her
warm breast as she mothers a
green land. There is white silk
on my lips from where I stand.

Joseph Gallo
January 6, 2010