Friday, August 17, 2012

The sum total of all we are


Ask Yourself

Ask yourself—Am I better for having read this?
I will ask myself the same—Am I better for having
written this? Call it what you will, a poem, a moment
in time when I was and was not who you think I am.

If we imagine together that we are the sum total
of all we are and can never be, then we will see
worlds pass between slats of drawn blinds pulled
along walls without windows no eye can peer through.

Small sorrows seek the day, run like brooks through
high country meadows, perfectly etched in traces
scouted by unseen skyfingers as if they led somewhere
we might set out to find ourselves willing to go.

Are you better for having read this? I cannot tell you.
Am I better for having written this? I cannot say. Let
us then pass as water between places we might imagine
it has never been, say that world passing by our window.

Joseph Gallo
August 15, 2012


Monday, August 13, 2012

Where you think the shallows lie


Where we come from, where we go, only bridges crossed ever truly know. ~Aucassin Verdé

Bridges In Forest

Sometimes we know, sometimes we can’t possibly
guess. They open their emptiness before us, smiling
in that dumb mute way a cow or donkey might look
at us through a wire fence, their deep indifference
cudding a thousand yards from where you think the
shallows lie, a wooden gaze stretching across an
infinite fording you could never make without them.

Sometimes we know, sometimes we can’t possibly
guess. What lies ahead is as probable as castles made
of sand and vapor, the faces of top-hatted presidents,
cameos feathered in clouditure that lose cohesion the
moment they’re recognizable. Miracles and mayhem
stand both ends of an untraversed passage, sentinels
guarding what might be, solemnly protecting what will.

These are the brief spans we come upon, railed and
netted, perilous obstacles that ferry us over those far
worse. Salvation and enslavement, for to turn back
now summons other masters. Thus we press ahead.
Among stone settled as the stars; between trees lifted
as hope for something favorable to carry and seal this
day that has yet to exact its arcing and footless toll.

Joseph Gallo
August 13, 2012


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

More than we ever remember


In this secret room from the past, I seek the future. ~Zardoz

The Room Of Ancillary Dreams

We forget far more than we ever remember.
It is best that way. Waking beside you might
break brittler bones than those I left scattered
on your unhurried pillows. How the light takes
the room through the window, the bird shadowed
there against the veiled curtain; how life rarely
waits for your participation to commence.

So many mornings. Mornings when birds lullabied
dreams to unsleep our rousing. Mornings the terrible
calliope of meadowed incantation set fire to dreaded
drums of our listening. Babies and magpies; chimes
and crows; thrumbling and deluge. The distance always
arrives and the waiting remains of no consequence.
Calendars and clocks were engineered to fail each of us.

In this secret room, I am safe from myself. I may root about
fumbling in a dawning darkness of all I may never know,
but it is well with me. Here I surrender knowledge, give up
what little I might pretend to; call suspect everything I ever
asserted as adamance and certainty. Where the light falls
now is all that matters. How it holds your face; how you
turn within totality; how you emerge from such embrace.

Joseph Gallo
July 17, 2012


Monday, August 06, 2012

The scourge that drives each of us


Vigilant are they who sense fear in their masters. ~ Aucassin Verdé

Two Riders

Commotion draws me to my window. Across
the field, a woman beats a horse with the lash
of her rein. The animal rears and backs up, not
wanting to proceed forward as commanded.

I watch for some minutes, neither giving in to
the other’s will. Her mouth lets out an unbridled
stream of profanities. The horse knows the brand
and sting, if not the meaning, in her burning words.


Relenting at last, the beast presses its head down,
retakes the dirt path, trots on through the dry meadow
this young summer has already claimed as its own.
The woman stands her won stirrups, cinches up her pants.

In a muted thud of hoof and whinny, I watch them disappear
into the far brush, the seam between them seared and smoky,
tender from welts that rise in maned ridges above them,
stropped through the scourge that drives each of us down.

Joseph Gallo
July 13, 2012