Friday, May 31, 2013

These we leave to those

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At the temple there is a poem called "Loss" carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it. ~ Arthur Golden , Memoirs Of A Geisha


Let us feel this thing then. At the Temple of Rain where
sorrows go to drown themselves in the selfless tide of pity
we will throw ourselves into, the space made by every given
thing we accept as gift for the time it must one day be returned.

Greater people than we have been forgotten, and those who
loved them, too, long unremembered. Sands have risen, sands
have shifted, sands have scattered. What we do in this life so
rarely matters beyond its time of doing. Think on yesterday.

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And think of those who came together, who loved in their
wet season of loving until the dry acre sung no rice to the
empty bowl, the cricket’s bow fell stilled by the hard husk
of winter ice, and their deep sky went forever black with stars.

These we leave to those who will never know our gift: spaces
between solemn processions of distant lanterns; secret recitations
spoken before windless candles; prayer wheels muted by devout
introspections of penetrating gazes more devoted than ours.

Joseph Gallo
May 6, 2013

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things not meant to be heard alone

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It was a woman, it’s always a woman, that built
ruin in the heart, the wreck you set to sink on
a hill overlooking the city and the wept out sea.

Georgia, was it, or Irene, maybe a Lucy that did
him in; one kiss that led to the absence of a thousand
more that come haunting at sundown, bleeding sun.

None of us is impervious to the soft charms of
comfort, the silent sitting side by side when the sea
is whispering things not meant to be heard alone.

His did him in but good and he never let her stop, not
for a moment, stone by stone, the endless patching of
a man’s heart is something that is simply never done.

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One atop another, the wrought iron of loneliness prods
the finding, the cobbling, the fitting, the quest for more,
each scar another ornament to be affixed and gazed into.

Sink of thorns, chipped abalone shell, beer can, pop bottle,
Mason jars gone botulin, rat-gnawed oat boxes, rusted water-
heaters, mortared archways, cracked statuary, dry wishing wells.

In this way, the woman never leaves, but stays on to
skip the ironing, forgets to cook, slips the shackles of
chores, the duties asked of wives less able than she.

Joseph Gallo
May 5, 2013

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Beautiful arrows striking where they will

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Last Morning

Let us say the last morning might come as this:
meadowbirdsong thudding gently on the glass;
an overgrey sky weighing down the eastern sun;
thoughts of a poet’s fifteenth year just arriving.

Shall we hand him the quill there in the dark,
callow as he is his seasoned yearn, while Juliet
presses her poison breasts out over the balcony
and he mistakes their perfect valence for love?

It’s fitting, this, coming to such truths of the heart
as one might enter the house of a geisha, one rice-
paper door at a time, a labyrinth surrendered to being
lost for sixty years with so many turns yet to come.

What does he have to say, bent there along the riverbank
of a wet cheek, his crass lines struck out not merely to
lure the obvious, but for the dear scoundrel in a noonday
fountain never to know the depths of even a shallow love?

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What starswoon would embrace such a wrong-footed
lad already misstepped out over a chasm he will never
ford? And who will catch him when he falls against the
membrane that made up the illusion he thought was love?

Youth will falter youth far too eagerly and leave it to
the lessoned man who arrives at the gate hard by in a
black coach with blindered horses to cast cold water kept
from those sweetly rivered weeps so long ago in the dark.

These might provide the curious cinema of a last morning,
the blankets weighed down by a parson’s tidings, the distant
sound of human goings-on in the house, familiar and alien,
a singing girl’s voice eclipsing the crescent of a boy’s heart.

So I give the morning its due at last, call things by their true
names, fulfill the wisdom of an ancient proverb and stand my
place among the dearly befallen before me, all who dared sit
alone in the dark, its beautiful arrows striking where they will.

Joseph Gallo
May 7, 2013

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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Lucid predations of obvious gods

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Your Sky

Your sky looks bleak, grim, desolate.
My sky looks like fruit ripening on the vine.

Your sky is cold, dusked with wintergrey.
My sky has been dipped in summer bronze.

Your sky is cast off from the wards of Heaven.
My sky is ablaze as Hell’s Sistine.

Your sky carves out not a single shadow.
My sky provides ample demonly camouflage.

Your sky is dimly suited to night-cloaked angels.
My sky befits the lucid predations of obvious gods.

Joseph Gallo
April 14, 2013

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

What is not necessary

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Snail tracks on concrete—
the night’s messages written
in shiny star trails.

One can never know
the weight of wartime without
the burden of peace.

Fog skims the meadow.
Nothing moves that can be seen.
Without and within.

The gardener trims
what is not necessary;
Shall I do the same?

The day’s chores await.
One by one I dismiss them.
Poet’s privilege.

Joseph Gallo
March 20, 2013

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