Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Joseph Donahue

00


Who pulled gauze

over the sun, smeared


the sky so that light flows

from moonstone, as well as



opal, onyx, topaz, and talc?

These chips, washed in a stream,


these rocks in a box, picked up

on a road between Andalusia


and Iran, shine like a fire

floating above endless water.


In a thousand years, the flicker

may be a god asleep inside a coil of


snakes as the sky cracks wide.

These magical gravel seeds are


more than just the dreams in a life

too like a migraine attack


in a foreign hotel room in

a country without any aspirin,


where the ghost of an ethical life

washes away in a downpour.


Flowering tree, falling blossoms

mingle with the sparks of rain.


It takes so little for the world

to deceive you. In a dream,


a train made of ice shoots north

through subway stations made of snow.


Where exactly should you get off?

Perhaps in Florida, in 1528,


as an army expedition led by

Panfilio De Narvaes goes


awry in a swamp. One who

survives speak of cities of gold . . .


(In a later dream, on a tray table

at twilight on a beach in front


of a house: a typewriter. You

had decided to spend the night


typing up the sounds of the surf

and sand blown through


the dry beach grass.

Your first love slept inside,


still young. You however

are a shade decrepit, maybe


even a decrepit shade, distracted

from your guilty lingering


by a pressing practical challenge:

how, once night falls, will you


make out which keys to strike?)

Tomorrow has further trials --


an Easter egg hunt on the lawn of

a mathematician. The hiding


places have been derived

from postulates and secretly


graphed, as have the flowers

reflected on the pool, the leaves,


grey-blue in the fiber of the green,

and the stones beneath the water.


If truth could no longer be computed

with ones and zeroes, he says,


all this would be no more than

a sod hut in the Dust Bowl


with a mile-high fury

in the air above the ridge . . .


The earth is a light-filled chip

of quartz, or marble, shale, coal,


(schist, obsidean, gabbro,

gypsum, diarite, basalt . . . )


found on a hilltop where

a city seemed at first visible,


though from closer up it looks

like an old fashioned engraving


or tintype of the arc of the covenant

soon to be lost in a cloudburst.


Leaf, field and street all glow.

The earth could be littered


with jewels, and why not?

Air flows over arms and face


in the wet shine. The sudden

glimmer on even dark surfaces,


the flashes of thought, are

motes of incandescent wire


in a swirling arc, are like

the glimmer of rare stones


scattered on a plate, or plain

pebbles that now seem


unaccountably rare.

It’s a part of a storm


hundreds of miles away,

due here at midnight . . .



00



The question is

how to note progress


on graph paper that is as pale

as a ghost crab shell on the tidal flats,


now that a part of the line

is longer than the whole.


Now that ¾ is greater than 4 ½.

Now that in our stillness


we have traveled

a negative distance.


The air is sweet today.

What body did I awake in?


A plane drones. A drumbeat

floats over the hill.


Last night was delightful.

I was free of horror and fear.


My eyesight seemed enhanced,

almost digitalized: the details


in the distance of the dream were

as clear as what was up close.


The weed has a red flower.

Some of the petals are darker.


In the illusion of shadowy depth

roses float in the early sun.


The air seems bluish-grey

around them, which may be


the residue of a mist

reflecting the leaves.


No one lies face down

on summer grass anymore.


Astonishing cosmos

of pale tangles.


Adoration directs our love

to the known, but the known


keeps our love from

its true home. Do you


remember how this song

devastated us, how when the record


was over tears were in our eyes?

You exist nowhere now


except within me, for

as long as that song is playing . . .


A new yacht appears at the dock.

The masts are floodlit.


The burnished wood of the cabin

reflects the light broken up on the water.


Inside, a woman in a red dress

slowly lights a candelabra.


In the morning the air is

like silk, but the yacht is gone . . .


Leslie pulled pins from her hair.

The flame of it flickered


around her neck, spills

against her cheek. She had


just set the whiskey down

eight glasses, four in each hand


held from above as if

on strings from her fingers.


A magic act, the glasses themselves

two flowers of fire, floating


down, her hands above them,

free of them, blessing


their descent to the table.

We knew when she sat down


the conversation would take a turn.

(I had been feeling increasingly


divided within myself,

as if a man and a woman


had been talking there but now

each speaks more and more


only to his or her self,

keeping the back and forth of talk


but more and more lonely

and not even knowing it . . . )


The question is: if we

are only skeletons


holding empty bowls out

to the air, how can we also be


what gods there are?

The agony that goes on,


is it really just a bird that sings

towards the end of day?


It is quiet here. No one can help me.

All the branches in the trees


lift in a wind blowing

across the planet.


I was with you in a dream.

I pressed my hand to your face.


I gave you occasion

for a joy in hope of which


you had arrived at despair.

A thrill pulsed through you.


It swept your limbs and organs,

never settling, always heading elsewhere.


Unfolded out of the folds of the storm

Of the cold comes the divine heat . . .



00



for Lale Muldur



We are asleep

and deep in a cave.


We are persecuted, and

rest until the transformation


of the world is assured.

Once, we were those


in a folktale. Once

we were Christian,


then dreamed our way

into the Koran.


Across the threshold,

paws of a mysterious dog.


We sleep for centuries,

then step out, astonished.


Maybe now we awake

in Constantinople.


It seems Cavafy is with us.

He shows desire is itself


a dream from which

whole empires


never come back.

But Byzantium does.


Look: Lale Muldur

awakes within a dream


where we have never been,

or where we always are


without knowing,

protected yet punished


in a rapture of images

towers floating on the water


where we are tormented

and torn and turned


inside out and then

we enter the dream and


are enchanted again . . .

The muezzin of Manhattan


calls for prayer. At Murray Hill

busses pull in from all across


the United States of Allah.

Bright robes, whirling colors,


vendors selling snacks . . .

We close our eyes in one place


and open them in another.

Close out eyes believing


one thing, open them

believing another.


For centuries we slept

as Jews, woke as Christian.


Slept as Christian, woke

as Muslim. Slept as Muslim,


woke, slept, woke, slept,

centuries, and every


night, for micro-seconds

themselves the hollows


of an interior eternity

never quite remembered


we were godless and

ecstatic, our true selves at last . . .


Now Lale Muldur

shows us a still deeper


recess, where night itself

is a part of what we dream.


Especially these nights of winter

solstice after more than


“nineteen weeks of melancholy,”

perhaps the longest night


since the planet first turned,

since the sun came to be,


since before the darkness

one can see in the black of


an eye even when the talk

all around is light and bright,


the black of the eye,

our cave, that refuge


from our deepest grief

of our deepest grief . . .


Lale, when your

veins betrayed you,


when you slept, when

time passed, before you


returned to the world,

did Khidre, whoever


he might now be,

find you? When even


your language was lost,

did this spirit take you


amazed, through the village of

what the world now is


as he did God’s prophet,

show you how all is


the reverse of what seems?

Did a version of that vision


ring true where you

were, where you are?


Or is the true miracle

simply all you have written:


a poetry where we

walk out wondering


from the cave of

our own skulls.


Where, finally awake,

we flash in and out


of what you call

“dimensionless space. . . ”


1 comment:

Murat Nemet-Nejat said...

Amazing poem. Also, a great tribute to another great poet, Lale Müldür.

Ciao,

Murat