Monday, January 31, 2011

The night's thousand sisters


The Same Question

Three owls ask over and over, there
on the bare moonslivered limb.
Eventually, one foolish mouse will
answer and that will be that.

I lie in the dark answering to no one,
the question posing and reposing,
each silence different than the one
before. I answer Mary and Rebecca,

Jan and Celestina, the one whose name
is seldom uttered in the light of day
anymore, she of the visiting dreams
and odd coincidences I tell no one of.


Camlen and Jenny, son, mother, the
night's thousand sisters who bear
the brunt of mercy doggedly into
the dawn. Out in the oaks, they ask

again, this time with one less voice.
The meadow is lighter by an ounce
of carelessness, the scurry filled in
by accommodating crickets that

shovel gravel the long night through.
Somewhere, in my studio, a tiny snap
breaks the bleak and I source it quickly.
Something is laying waste to something

on a shelf too high for it to be there.
I listen. It continues. Cubbied mouse
bones kept there, taken and cleaned
from owl scat. I venture an irony:

a mouse is rooting through my things
and has come across a long dead cousin.
I find a reverence I did not know I had
and stand down, grieving in kind, head

bowed for all those who have gone the
way no answer may follow, the many
still sought in dark places where even
thin moons dare not pass too recklessly.

Joseph Gallo
January 27, 2011


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If the end is to be



They pull and loop, pay out the spool
line by line, the colored thread, the
puffy yarn, row after row the women
follow the pattern, no deviation if the
end is to be what the beginning promises.

All over the world, tables and circles are
paying it out exactly as this one, twist to
front, enter at this juncture, the math
precise and held by purposes much
greater than theories and stitches.


In this way the world is made new again.
Follow their talking and you traverse
mighty rivers of families and places,
children and parents, the branchless
meander of time spent praising root

and water, needles deft with dance
and the abandon of it. This may go
on all morning, beyond the vagaries
of passing weather and imminent
holidays, right through to completion.

Few things ever finish. This moment
might be worn as the one that follows
or the one that passed while you were
thinking of the one to come that never
arrives until its place in the pattern says.

Joseph Gallo
December 23, 2010


Another thousand troubles


We Leave Houses

We leave houses behind and everything
in them. Nothing follows us. Whatever
is left on the walls is left to them. Keys
on the piano keep their mute threnodies
and nothing can draw them out that is
not given first to what might behold them.

Meanders are lost forever to rugs that
retain no imprint. Why you passed here
and for what matters to nothing and no
one. Doors remain shut or open just
as you left them. What others might
do here cannot matter and never will.


There on a sill, the dust you disturbed
when you made for the window to see
what or who was doing what and why.
The water you drew for slipping into
or drinking has run down into places
you never dared imagine traveling to.

There porch mats are rendered mosaics
in broken leaves and falling suns leave
fingerprints along unpainted pickets.
Abandoned sofas inter the chitter
of children who once jumped there as
if tomorrow were but a bounce away.

And so we leave houses and everything
behind. Nothing follows that will not
itself leave everything behind. In this
way a future is born, thrashing, flailing,
beset by another thousand troubles that
enter this world from the one you left.

Joseph Gallo
November 20, 2010


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

If this doesn't matter


The Little Moments That Save You

It might be the sound of your light silver car coming up
the hill running from velvet asphalt to grind and gravel,
your sunstroke smile behind the wheel. It might be a
holocaust of crow raining black rape on a lone hawk,
her cries your cries and the meadowlost cries of the world.

It might be rainbows dancing prisms on white stucco
from the pear-shaped crystal you hung from an unused
nail waiting for the sun to cycle through the sky in its right
season and when it does, Rumi and Basho and Sherman and
Harjo because if this doesn’t matter, then what does it matter?

It might be the taste of flu wintering in your mouth,
the promises you mean to make to your health, the
sloughing off of sicknesses not quarantined in the
body, ills without names that plague sleep with new
moons that pass mute and black across the night.

And it might be a small stone of hope, some overlaid
worry hammered onto a distant skin of sea that leaves
your own bones untouched to remind your eyes that in
this looking there are no answers save that everyone
tables the same feast, the same morsel of abundance.

Joseph Gallo
January 5, 2011