Tag Archives: nature

ekphrasis again

here’s an ode to henri rousseau, the jungle painter who never left paris.


The Dream, Henri Rousseau 1910

Rousseau Relives the Jungle
You follow the soothsayer shadow with her lute
and cobra boa through the season of tiger lilies—
she is an anti-Eve hip-swaying down the black paths
of Paradise, fanned by murky hands of leaf-gloom.
These are the visions that haunt you:
apes among the tangerines, a reticulated sky
of palms and coral sun, the leer of alligator grass
and the blush of the lotus like each kiss-kernel of love
you left in her neck—Oh Henri, awake from your stupor,
your periwinkle daze. Come back to us from the gardens,
the Edens labyrinthine beneath your lids—your trance
is a planar place falling flat on the canvas, but we feel
the stir of teal and linseed on your palette, the rush
of flight you took over the hurricane’s eye. You are
a golden beast prowling indigo thickets, ambushing
the antelope and biting deep into the heavy humid
of flesh and blood, leaving scars nestled in the clavicle.
Your surprise blooms in the gesso wash unfurling
thick as a dream from your brush and lingers
like the drift of jasmine on an electric breeze.

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Filed under New Writing, Poetry, Summer work, Unedited, Unpublished

one from spring break

Over break I had a dream about foxes and I have a friend who decided their spirit animal from a dream they had about goats, so I’m thinking maybe my spirit animal is a fox? What was my fox-dream trying to tell me?

Then I ended up on a weird part of the internet taking spirit animal quizzes and learning about spirituality, tarot and mysticism. I also found a cute little comic about animals going through existential crises.

I thought about how these things are tied up in how people structure their own self-perceptions and identities, how the use of such symbology creates a certain declaration about who they are and why from an external source, when such an exercise is a very private and sacred internal contemplation that can’t ever be fully captured from the outside.

Anyways, I used my friend as a VERY CRUMBLY FOUNDATION and then EMBELLISHED AND EMBELLISHED THE SHIT OUT OF HER. So, to my friend, if you read this, please please please don’t hate this. You were merely a tool in my own literary exercise, a way to distance my self from this self that I wanted to figuratively examine. Hopefully this contemplation is a token of gratitude for the inspiration?

The Mystic

She had a totem dream—goat
spirit raced to her from the rockiest
peak, consuming everything. She opened

the tarot door, rode her Bianchi down a concrete
creek—-black crossbars and aluminum rims.
Her cards spilled art deco on my carpet:

indigo damask and maroon arabesque, the twist
of horn-bones and hollyhock ghosting desert sky,
the roll of rocky courses down a mountain spine—

Pay attention to the pentacles, she said, the whole
fucking spectrum of experience.
Chakra lines
bloomed blue, the refract of her veins at the wrist—

come up from your hollow, she said
to the surface where we wait for you.
I couldn’t ladder her Dao chiasmus

braiding down the page. She drew
a ram-skull on her scapula, got a head
of garlic tattooed to her ribs. I’m trying

to take care of myself. She rode home
alone to her new apartment, everything still
packed except some speakers and an album

of jangly dream-pop on fuzzy repeat,
basked in a beam of pastel violet, the bounce-
back of Capricorn caught in her curtain.

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i think of the birds i sight as omen work

whenever i see crows, i think trouble.
whenever i see larks, jays, robins, i think joy.
sparrows signify suspension.
so when scott and i drove through the migration site of the sandhill cranes before we won our respective races, i knew we were going to be successful. here’s the series of fragments i developed for class as a result, with edits.

Migration Land

Useless panorama
punched down deadpack
of February defrost brown

but not brown more gray
cut with divining lines
season cycle luster-fade

harvest chaff and husk
below quieting conversation
retreating cloudshores

reflected in the hot shine
coffee melting
paperboard walls

night-cool
swampland on endless loop
against the glass undulating

sunrise breath steams
detritus tule-rush
whisked hoary ribbons

before the dashboard
a continent opens worried wing
banded white feather bustle

brushing sedged ditches
born there now fleeing
on the exhale crests

arrowed call roofed by red cap
crane-skull nestled easy
the sling of a muscled neck

silvered and hollow resonating
asking and answering minor notes
chasm blush between clean

horizon and the overcast
red tones woven over asphalt-waver
warming rubber treads.

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villainous villanelles

HOO HOO POETRY JOKES.
this week’s prompt: write any form derived from your scanning of a poetry dictionary.
i like the word villanelle. it’s so pretty. so i decided to write one.
they’re hard. like, mad props to dylan thomas. but i also really enjoy the challenge of pulling off something in a form. or at least attempting it. meh. i don’t like it because it seemed a little stilted and stuff (but doesn’t all rhyming and repetitive stuff seem like that anymore? maybe that’s just me), but we’ll see how it fares in workshop.

A Villanelle

My father called out in the cardinal’s notes,
two chirping whistles: you me, you me.
The cardinal quiets, keeps his voice safe in oak.

Cardinals blot red against white winter snow,
voices wound tight in the shell of their beaks.
My father called out in the cardinal’s notes.

Drifts leaned too heavy for the wind to blow,
too strong and silent for my father to heave.
Watching, the cardinal kept his voice safe in oak.

Collapsed in a snowbank of icy overgrowth,
he read the raucous beat of freezing wings
fleeing his curious call in cardinal notes.

Stigmata slicing the silence of a frost-shocked grove
those scarbright bodiess, crested hearts that pulse and seize—
the cardinal keeps his voice safe in oak.

The treeline bleeds my father’s trilled echoes,
he trudged indoors to teach the cherry lovetone to me —
my father called out in the cardinal’s notes,
but the cardinal kept his voice safe in oak.

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i wrote this after watching river monsters.

Jeremy Wade is a god. And a master story-teller. So he told this story of electric eels killing some cowboys when they feel in a river, I was enticed to look them up. Here’s what they inspired.

Electric

On Orinoco river bottoms
or stagnant Amazon waters—
in the dark, in the black
mud, saliva-slick,
they doze, cutlass bodies,
stillwater drones
with pock-punched muzzles
and humming hulls
like bright citrus—
a buzz of low-volt
slumber,
a thick black ribbon
of muscle, a ripple
in the murk—
their bodies rope
over a threshing flank
churning in the slip-stream,
battery-bullet cells
punching, punching,
punching each charge
into an embrace,
and the shock
does not kill, only
stuns, suffocates
the victims as they drown,
as they fold into the electric
clamp of knife-fish bodies
that caress, searching
the numb body twitching
in its neural collapse.

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SHE-WOLF.

we had a ‘fun day’ in class for halloween. we had to write a persona poem as a werewolf. so much fun.

Lycanthropy

My ribs unlace like folded fingers
as the red vessel-pocked moon of my heart
travels its ecliptic expansion, beating
with the lunar phases: white crescent leering
to a waxing gibbous, to a full iris-less eye,
catching glimpses into the inconsolable
twists of my mind. No one knows
the things that howled through me
last night. No one knows the agony I bore
in the black timber, in the moonbright,
in the ribbons of river I swam. I hunched
into the flaming mantle of my fur,
the stretch and compression of muscle
and tendon—is this my body, this new
architecture meant to run, to kill?
I hear its voice like breaking bones, keening,
ravenous for the long high note of blood
on the cedar air. Constellations wheel
while I freeze in time, reduced
to a scream-shredded trachea
and steel-trap jaws. I am racing
to meet you at the place of your death.
You’ll find me, predatory brilliance
like a lunar flare and with a smile—
human, save for the dire tang of lupine fangs.

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running poem

i have a huge backlog of stuff i want to put up, so. here it goes. they’re mostly all from class prompts, the following creation a result of contemplating what one considers a successful day. obviously, if i run then the day is successful. i literally don’t feel inclined to do anything else.

The best days open with the longest runs:

A calf to which the sweat clings, cut
with the curved continent of heavy
muscle and the sharp jut of the femur,
humming, ready. Sleeping mind
and streaming eyes. Early morning

is the slate-gray prelude to sunshine,
the shell-shocked wake of late-night apocrypha:
streets bleached, scored with silver rivulets
of rain and sprigs of sumac shivering
in their wash of dew. Where does the rhythm

of this road flow? From concrete islands
to mulchy trails to gravel paths and back,
canopied by a kaleidoscope
of limbs, lampposts and leaves. Lungs tear
under the erratic flood-pump

of blood. Breath stabs, a hematic bite
behind the teeth. Steam streams
from the rusted beards of storm grates,
pools of divination, tunnels
to dreamscapes beneath dark driveways.

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Filed under for class, New Writing, Poetry, Unedited, Unpublished