PoetryEtc Featured Poet: Mark Weiss   

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In the quest the rider on the grey horse
disappears into the swirling white    cold horse
cold rider.
Or maybe it's a pale car
that's seen better days,
heater on the fritz.

In motion    as it's always
in motion.
Its tongue    like an arrow    searches the undergrowth.
The satisfactions of birds.
Wiping a piece of dust from your picture
as if picking a hair from your lip.
As if to turn away
were to be invisible.
If myth is metaphor through time it's walking
the border,
the boundary-walker.
After you tell the one story. After,
you tell
the one story.
The vague idea of a consort.
In the war with the ants
prince of the wee-folk.
Carrying her own shadow in hand,
training her shadow.
Lost hold of the tail of language.
Each loss the first loss.
Willing the time to pass quickly.
Nervous gestures, the tearing of paper. The telephone
By now she's waking up
holding her lover
greeting the cat.
Her feet are on the floor by now she walks
to the shower her long
body glides upwards through the water,
gets out, shivers,
puts color
under her eyes and on her cheeks,
does her lashes,
and goes to work.
Searching for the thread that leads outwards.
The harsh grass of a dry place.
The russet among the wheat.
I am your worst fears come to light
I am the night
I am the dark place beneath the stone.
Under the hill.
Under the ivy.
Moon riding the black back of the wave.
At rest in the shallows.
The eye begins to articulate night.
A gull among the ducks.
A duck    and another duck.
The fierce sheep that ride the surf.
It was dangerous
sometimes to swim
in that lake the fish
bit at their nipples.
The crowd
of knights and ladies
descending into the earth and all.
The great glow to the west that wipes out the stars.
In that quadrant the city,
80 miles away,
more powerful than night.
Three doves feed from a tray on the lawn,
fly off as I pass.
Dandelions and white clover by the side of the road.
Three deformed cygnets, each
with its right leg folded over its back. They manage to swim, but will never
be airborne. Goners by winter. Their parents
magisterial, perfect.
Encouraging the spiders,
discouraging the deer-flies.
Bog-laurel, deep
deep pink
with purple eyes, one
to a petal,
five in all, each blossom
a small
scalloped cup
in the scalloped vase that my love gave me on the bureau
beneath the painting of a woman
offering a drink
to a blue bird. In the night
in the small forest beyond the next houses
the whole understory
bog-laurel the rustle of twigs in the welcome breeze.
Nothing but night between her and me.
Between here and there.
When for a moment
the two songs come together.
The swan's hiss.
The rustle of leaves.
The swift beak of a skimmer as it beats the shore.
different kinds of peace
at each hour.
A small bug circles its shadow. Then
it appears to carry its shadow on its back.

Large burden
for a small bug.
Irony is the exile's deformity.
In exile among the ducks.
The crowds the waves
the terrifying laughter of gulls.
Fucking with the generative principle.
Storm coming in    in the distance
Midnight. My shadow on the beach a giant
ungainly presence,
arms at its sides,
walking towards the waves.
Listen to the voice
humming within me.
The woman reminds him of someone what was
her name and he realizes it was a girl he had loved once,
whose name he had lost.
In place of the promised storm
a fine, quiet wind into morning, my bed
tending to its usual chaos.
All night the air
almost sickly with honeysuckle
and the scent of grass. In the dark,
gliding through it    my bike
whirring patiently, the smell
as palpable as light.
Steering    by the sky    just visible
between the trees.
This or that spotted stone.
Followed by the fog.
Worked by the waves.
Asking the language to do new things.
The young girl, dazed
by the eyes of men    so many glances
to find an answer for.
Like joyless children.
What a pleasure your hands are!
The web of muscle and skin
connecting thumb to hand.
The wind freshens
and lightning
to the west.
A low groan
a few stars.

Despite the screens, my cottage
a wilderness of small insects.
Up to my thighs in bay-water,
feet in the muck,
looking for clams. The low shore
the flat landscape
the fat blue sky.
A pair of skimmers overhead, unique among birds
for their lower lip, and a duck in the distance,
in for a landing.
The windsurfer, her back to me, again and again
hauls up the sail.
The laborious flight of a swan. By the pond
the corpse of a gull,
beaten and drowned. Around it,
the cob's feathers.
By afternoon the ants have begun their work.
A second spider in my bed, as if
the messenger of lightning.
In the shallows, a horseshoe crab
with a mane of algae.
Invented night.
Black and a black-bird, dead,
beneath the bush at the edge of the lawn where a cat
perhaps had left it. Seen,
and told.
There are now three spiders
and a great many moths.
Big one, smaller, smallest.
My door is always open.
I destroy
only those
that land on me.
A drop of water like a metronome, then stops,
then starts again.
Clotted foam sliding down the beach.
Down to the inlet to look at the moon. An egret
floats over the fog and is
The black dog riding the waves.
All night the ducks complain.
Four of them float
across the moon.
First bullfrogs of summer,
none too soon.
Turtle feels my shadow
and plunges. Many turtles.

Trees    and the reflections of trees.

The moon and its shadows.
The voice of consciousness like the hum of blood
in a total silence.
Slow gathering,
shard by shard,
handful of seed,
the field unsorted.
Squint-eyed. Rye    barley
ragweed    corn
plantain-grass    clover.
Small cottage    grey shakes
door always open    screen door
for the flies. A sickly birch
an old red
picnic table with bench and stools the same    covered with shells and stones
on a red
brick patio in front of the door. Inside,
a bed a table dresser
shelves another table for the computer
a fridge a microwave a range a sink.
Sliding doors. Bathroom and closet.
A shower stall.
Many spiders. Carpeting. Three pictures.
Two lamps. Five small high windows with blinds or curtains. Tight ship
if a storm should come.
So long to find my solitude.

Long enough
that her presence
became my solitude.
Tattered wings of the gull—storm—struck
or combat? The sea
breaks higher today after three
incessant days of storm. To the west
where the winds come from,
under purple and grey    ochre,
denoting fair weather.
Men in baseball caps hold small children and talk.
Sandy contentment.
All urgency drained from the act,
while as though the bulls of Poseidon continue their attack on the beach,
reshaped in the night. I sit
at the edge of the surf where surf was yesterday,
the crest of the wave broken to spray
by its fierce momentum and the implacable
slow drift of sandbars.
Supposing a fish.
Taxed    with the luck of the human.
Evening    glorious
with mimosas and the flights of swallows.

Moon twitters in the branches.
Humility of other people's dreams.
The aborted gesture. And beyond,
the trees.
One butterfly across the tennis court.
The pong of the ball.
She saw me watching her watch herself
and turned away.
One bright planet to the south
and another to the east,
sky full of stars. Dark,
until the eye,
and the grass dew-thickened
where the grass is, in a place
said to be dangerous.
As a matter of fact,
they weren't laughing at her.
Feathers of a black bird.
Scallop shards
cleanly broken at the growth-ring.

Fragments of a lost iconography of stripes.

What meaning can anything have outside the context of these colors?

Sea-froth seething, and bubbles at the margin

the sand churning into cliffs and canyons.

A gull's wing turned to nostalgia by the actions of wind and wave.

The music seen thus clearly
despite the flies
outside of all engagement with human life
despite a sudden sympathy for the fat families and their sandy offspring. If I could lift this weight.
If I could find the treasure-box hidden beneath the breakwater 40 years ago
before the great bull bellowed its threats quite so loud as now.
Starlings going crazy in the one tree at sunset.
“She moves
from one crisis to another. Her life's
like that.”
Attendant nausea.
Everywhere the rich
aspire to cleanliness.
“Go”—urinate, “come”—orgasm,
“go”—evacuate, “come”—
arrive at a new place.
Light penetrating to the deepest forest,
to the last
low tree.
I have warmed your place.
The behavior of animals in crowded cages.
for a long walk
by a sail
that's caught the sunset where the mountains
drop to the sea.

The ghost of an island southward.
The miraculously preserved nipple of the Virgin.
A voyage to a white space.

as is the light.

The structure, or at least
the process
of improvisation

to travel
in search of the light, as if
sampling    tasting

chasing it.

Even the sky in patches

as if there were depth to the water.
Raped by her brother sun, the moon

Refusing the easy comforts

the arbitrary and implacable facts. Look,
today the beach assumes its cliff-aspect
and the cannibal sheep attack the sand in a landscape
where the only bright colors are poison.
and doing.
The hierarchy of sensation.
Wed to trajectory.
Cn ah have a dollah
fo rice and beans?

Beaming. Ah loves
rice and beans.
And chomps
her toothless gums.
That happened to other people.
Herding their animals between winter and summer.
Wondering if the noise is thunder or gunfire.

It all goes down, is
going down.
Before nouns

before verbs

chaotic reach of a single tree

the southern limit of maples
in the unpredictable changes of seacoast climate, currents

replace the dying with a date-palm. Central Park
the peaceable kingdom
according to

rain, and the dark stain of the water
turning the asphalt purple.

That terror is your only strength.

You will always have access to the terror now.