|Dr. Robert Puff||
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#1230 - Thursday, October 17, 2002 -
Edited by Jerry
Coffee at the Pitchfork - http://www.dondanestudio.com
Loading mercury with a pitchfork
your truck is almost full. The neighbors
take a certain pride in you. They
stand around watching.
A Piece of the Storm
For Sharon Horvath
From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.
That's all There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
"It's time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening."
It is an old story, the way it happens
sometimes in winter, sometimes not.
The listener falls to sleep,
the doors to the closets of his unhappiness open
and into his room the misfortunes come --
death by daybreak, death by nightfall,
their wooden wings bruising the air,
their shadows the spilled milk the world cries over.
There is a need for surprise endings;
the green field where cows burn like newsprint,
where the farmer sits and stares,
where nothing, when it happens, is never terrible enough.
I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.
What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.
My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.
Giving Myself Up
I give up my eyes which are glass eggs.
I give up my tongue.
I give up my mouth which is the constant dream of my tongue.
I give up my throat which is the sleeve of my voice.
I give up my heart which is a burning apple.
I give up my lungs which are trees that have never seen the moon.
I give up my smell which is that of a stone traveling through rain.
I give up my hands which are ten wishes.
I give up my arms which have wanted to leave me anyway.
I give up my legs which are lovers only at night.
I give up my buttocks which are the moons of childhood.
I give up my penis which whispers encouragement to my thighs.
I give up my clothes which are walls that blow in the wind
and I give up the ghost that lives in them.
I give up. I give up.
And you will have none of it because already I am beginning
again without anything.
The Farthest Place
Growing up, I thought
I could go there, I could follow
the trickling curve of river,
the invitation of thin forest,
study turnings of branches
above the burl-studded length
of the nearest trunk and know
direction, and someone
coming in from the kitchen
with popcorn would see
my shoulders disappear
into the canopy-shrouded dim,
leaves waving back
to their stillness.
This place used to hang
above the couch, the farthest
I could reach. Slumped
across the room, half-warmed
by the fire, I would look up,
over the talk of my family,
surprised at how the water
seemed only ankle-deep.
Propped now above our heads
in darkness filled with boxes,
clothes too small for anyone,
a lamp, and a row of glass jars,
used up things in the trail of living,
the few sifted strands of light
waver where they touch water.
Wind begins to breathe
in the leaves of the farthest place.
A Short Study in Gone
When dreams wake
Then dreams are gone.
Life is gone.
May 26, 1976
A Study in Roads
All the possibilities of life,
all roads led here.
I was never going anyplace else,
41 years of life:
Great Falls, Montana
Bee Caves, Texas
Victoria, British Columbia
Key West, Florida
San Francisco, California
all led here:
Having a drink by myself
in a bar in Tokyo before
wishing there was somebody to talk
May 28, 1976
Sand is crystal
like the soul.
The wind blows
May 28, 1976
Travelling Toward Osaka on the Freeway from Tokyo
I look out the car window
at 100 kilometers an hour
and see a man peddling
a bicycle very carefully
down a narrow path between
Hes gone in a few seconds.
I have only his memory now.
He has been changed into
a 100 kilometer-an-hour
memory ink rubbing.
June 7, 1976
AT THE CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
I don't care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I'm bored.
It's been raining like hell all day long
and there's nothing to do.
Written January 24, 1967
while poet-in-residence at
the California Institute of
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|Dr. Robert Puff||