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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

JOSHUA McKINNEY



Listening Wind


“Any characteristic act [. . .] is an act of reciprocal invocation. It activates a world in which the act makes sense. It invents.” –Lyn Hejinian


“We were talking about crêpes.” —Road rage victim’s wife


1


a context in which the happening

happens : a world : the labor and endurance of


this season summons others :

this metaphor should be used


with caution : any map of which changes

its intention elsewhere :


whose invention is plastic flowers

a ring of gathering stones


at an exit : so near : that daily

from my air-conditioned car


I see : each blossom red by the road

before the green light lures me on :



2


past capacity to understand

a community becomes :


its code of nerves : its torque

of days : and words whose weight is less


than (you dumb : you blind : you

crazy motherfucker) act :


the local paper lists the facts :

one man “cut another off”


and when the light turned red

they stopped their cars and



both got out and one man shot

the other dead : and two


weeks later on that spot

he put a new gun to his head



3


and killed himself : the report’s echo

activates a world : a familiar


terrain : unfamiliar suddenly :

all too familiar : “And


as I have received from my father

I will give away . . .” : fear


of a ready silence : in context

a dialect of violence


we do not know

we speak : until the act :



4


each day I take the exit anxious to be

home : at the side of the road


make-shift memorials sprout

a family’s words I cannot read :


too familiar : they fade in the heat of this

world : whose rage is plastic


flowers : whose act

is a justice informed by agony :


whose season summons

this invention : less than a world


where the wind listens for a word

which in this heat has passed away




Grave


The mortal body is like

this: fragile, and at times

indecipherable. Nothing

insures against death.

One attends with respect

and by waiting. Meanwhile,

observe the crocuses’

brilliant awakening

before the other flowers;

they will be done

when the next season arrives.

And if it comes, what save

their promise will remain?

No dolmen to raise questions,

no words. I am missing

them already, which fails.



Gratia Artis


Like its counterpart,

true poetry cannot be

conveyed through words.

Even to say this fails.


In an instant, the accomplished

man kills, and quickly

by the sword he lets men live.


It is said this is the way

of heaven, that life

and death are one. Likewise,


making no distinction well

a poem is unaffected,

knows both joy and pain,


moves freely, is fixed

but will not stay. Here,

then, you see the problem:

one cannot spell the rain.



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