ONELOOKSATONEPoems byMORGAN GIBSON3/21/20033-17-604 Sakashita-cho, Isogo-ku, Yokohama 235-0003 JapanPhone/Fax (045) 761-9223E-mail: [email protected] mac.com
2ACKNOWLEDGMENTSI am grateful to Karl Young for issuing online selections of my poetry and my book,Revolutionary Rexroth: Poet of East-West Wisdom (originally published by Archon in 1986).Thanks also go to editors and publishers of the many American and Japanese periodicals andbooks in which these poems have appearedCopyright c 2003By Morgan Gibson
3CONTENTSPART IONE BREATH POEMSWAVES TELLING THE SAME OLD NOTHINGSEARCHING FOR DAWNIN MUMMYBAGSNOW GLARE OF ABSENCETHE MOON IN MILKMINDING THE MOONDARK WINDOW TO THE WORLDPART IIFLYING AROUND TO FIND MEI AM HOW I BREATHEMORGANMOTHERTHE TABERNACLE WHERE MY FATHER PREACHEDTHE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMASWHEN I WSAS A WISE MAN FROM THE EASTGRANNY GRUNTWAS I THE SON?SHORTcummingsBICYCLEMAN AND TELEGRAPHMANRENOUNCING MATH AND GODTHE WAR OF MY CHICAGOFILLING THE WOODS WITH MUSICLAKE MICHIGAN NOW AND FOREVERFLYING AROUND TO FIND MECRYSTAL SUNLAKEFIVE FOR THE FIRST AMERICANSBEYOND LIFELINESINCENSE OF SPRINGTHE SEASIDE OF YESTERYEARNEIGHBORSON CABIN HILLIN WOODS AS DARK AS INO ONE IS ANYTHING NOWAFTER LEAR IN BERKELEYI SEE MY BREATH, THE SNOWING LIGHTTHREE SNOW SONGSMOON BONESHARDBOYTHE MOON OF YOUR MIND IS THE MOON OF YOUR EYESPART IIISHADOWS OF BUDDHALANDWAITING FOR LAO TZUSTAYING IN THE BROOKA CHINESE TEAPOTWASHING IN A RUSHZAZEN AT MYOSHINJIAFTER YEARS OF CROSSING MY LEGSTHE VOID A VOICELOOKING FOR MY FACENIGHT CLOSES IN ON THE LIGHTTHAT NIGHT, THIS NIGHTYOUR SHRINE BEDROOM
4MATSUI KEIKOHOW THE SUN GODDESS ROSE FROM ISE BAY AND SANK INLAKE MICHIGANCHRIST AND BUDDHAS IN PILGRIMHEARING HIM DRONE IN JAPANESELOSING OUR FACULTIES IN JAPANIN THE WISTERIA GARDENTHREE FOR THE MOONSEA SWIMSTHE SKY HAS CLOSED ME OUTTHE CAVE THAT YAWNS WITHIN YOUA MORNING OF NOTHING TO DOWATER MUSICTHE BATH OF SPACEREXROTHON A PHOTO OF ALLEN GINSBERGGINSBERG AND FATHER MARQUETTECOMES DER REVOLUTIONNO ONE THE ONEPART IV MIND-BODY IN A KNOTA KNOT YOU TIED AND LEFTHUNGRY GHOSTSHUNGRY BY THE BAYNO ONE WOULD LET ME KNOWI AM STILL AN OTHERTIGERS DREAMINGWHO CRAVES THE SACRED MUSHROOM?PASSING PASSINGMORE OF LESSTHE SLAVEDARK MISSISSIPPIGOING GOING GOING GONEMIGRAINE VISIONA BOY GNAWS FLESHLAZARUSTHE MASOCHISTS OF BOSTONTHE TORTURER SMELLEDRUNNING FOR HELP ON MELTING LEGSICE LIGHTPART VTHE WAVERING WAYWARD WOEBEGONEWANDERLUSTERLESS WANDERERPART VI A DEFENSE OF POETRY IN COMPUTERLANDNO VERB FOR MAKING ITFACT AND FANTASYCAT SCRATCHINGSPLOWINGMEDITATION FROZE ME IN JAPANNO MEAN FEETTHE POET THAT I AM SEARCHING FORFIRST WORDS OF SUMMER
5ONELOOKSATONEPART IONE BREATH POEMS
6WAVES TELLING THE SAME OLD NOTHINGWavestelling the same oldnothing.*Waves over wavessound seachanges.*Churningwhitecan't fool me.*Stormson the surface.Rest in depths.*People all gone.Sand's waitingfor footprints.*Who'sdrifting from shoreto shore?*Who'sdeeperthan I?*Who touchedall the waydown?
7SEARCHING FOR DAWNGoldfishswam as weslept.*Arms going uphands spreading outbody a flow of slow waves.*Searching for dawnI pad through leavesto the lake.*Light from the lakeleaks throughwoods.*Reachinga little moresky.*Dew dripsfrom beachedcanoes.*I lookat the lakeface to face.*That fisherman'spaddlingout of a Chinese painting.*Swallowsstitchlake and sky.
8*Fish ripthe surfaceand fall.*I dipmy mindin the water.*Does the sunrise from wateror mind?*Sounding the skybubbling poetrythrough it.*Pine boughsshadowmy poems.*A spiderclimbs down from my capto read my poems.*My poemsblow all overwith leaves of Tu Fu and Whitman.*Clouds passbudsbrighten.*Weedsin first lightlook good enough to eat.*
9The ease of growing weeds, the joyof their perfection.*Raindropsquiveron the line:I am thirstybut only look.*The sparrow on the wallwatches mewatching himwatching me fly away.*In the gardensquirrelsquarrel.*The blue airbathesa bluebird.*A bluebird's airbathessilence.*Moss on birches.Clouds on sky.Where am I?*Stones, moss, dirtin greenery of light.*A garden before gardening:we have been here all along.*
10Panickingredleaves.*Bewarebe awarebeware.*Above allmindthe birds.*Leaves burnin the sunlike suns.*A newlitworld.*Sunshinemelts medown.*Clouds of the minddrift on.I touch the skywith my tongue.
11IN MUMMY-BAGIn mummy-bagin a tomb of leavesI gasp for you.*Here, love secretsin my bones:too long.*I lost allfriends but you.Now you.*Snow foolswith yellowing leavesas you fooled me.*Thunder growls overthe mountains.I gasp for you to return.*Ghosts blowfrom tamaracksyellowing in snow.*Land ofloess andloss.*The Buddhastares at headlightsin the rain.*Overheatedhungry for youI try to write off love.
12*Like youthe skyshuts me out.*Snow chokesand blinds mein pursuit.*Watching snowlistening to snowand "snow."*Soundingshapingdarkness.
13SNOW GLARE OF ABSENCEThe snowglare ofabsenceunderthe moon.*Moonlit falling snowshapes faces flyingpast, forever lost.*Snow breathing on snow.Deer are bleeding in snowthat drifts behind the summerhouse.*Washing my face in snowin the middle of the nightmy heart still beatinghalf my life behind mehalf before meliving half a life.*Under the December moonI broke off a twig of pineand a twig of Washington Hawthornewith wrinkled orange berries.Inside I planted the twigsin a cup filled withJapanese stones.The needles were dusty cold.Among them berries glowedlike distant villages burning.*The snowholds the deadtogether:the wholeworld is onecold eye.
14*Birds before dawnsingingtogether.I am readyto letgo.Listen as ifwhen they stopwe die.*Is the snowtoo brightfor form?Shiningsurrounds meabsorbs me.WheredidIgo?
15THE MOON IN MILKThe moonin milkhunts for you.*Whereis a rayof your eyes?*Who is as brightas the moonand as clouded?*The moonhunts hidingmoonstones.*The moonflares meadowstonesback home.*Hazed moonin forbidden treeswe played under anyhow.*I golostin glow.*Slow moon, I amyours on the hill ofsummers, lasting.*A nightI could swim throughto you.
16*The moongoing downI give upgoing.
17MINDING THE MOONBaby breathin moonlightastonished eyes in moonlightghost of a dog in moonlightMoonlightmoonlightmoonlighton hedgesbetween glancesbeyond barracksWanderershowlersdevourersin moonlightin moonlightin moonlight*Hellooooo!Everybodyunder the full moon:are you anyone at all?Enough of ordinary life.Everybody's orneryunder the full moon.Anyone at all?Everybody's blindedby full moonlight:enough of everybody!Hellooooo!No oneunder the full moon!No oneat all!At all?
18DARK WINDOW TO THE WORLDIn the window who looks in at me, no less alive than I, writing on a table too, propping his elbowon it, chin on hand, knuckles highlighted, what kind of poet is he?--unfluttered by moths, animalsin leaves, chilled air from the lake, certain his poems will be read around the world, while I worryabout each word, moth, cold, face, who am I, why is he there?Who stares atme?Who?me?*Whoseblank eyesopen mine?*Whosemute lipsecho?*Whosefrown websthe window?*Whosehead floatsin the night?*Whosehands lie cagedon the page?*Whosehands joinin depths?*Whosoundsthe void?
19*O window windowwindow:open to the wind!*The wind in the window wastes its breath ona night of nobody.*I waste my breath onnobody while the windmixes up my mind.*Windin leavesin the darkI am still.*In the dark windI forgot I stoodin the dark wind.*Wantingthe windthat wants.*Wind on my face.Hair risesI riseand fall.*Windtouches my cheekslike a womanforgotten.*
20You?From anotherworld?*Are youforgettingI remember you?*What do we knowof youor me?*Windin the woodswhere are you?*Windaway.*Listeningwhere the windwas.*Flyin web of windowI?*Ibuzz anddie.*Webbedin the windowto the world.*
21Whohears my buzzas anyone's?*Who's moved?Who buzzesback?*Whosewords rip websoff the world?*Where am I?In world orword?*In worldI'm webbed.In wordsI fly.*Darklywebbedin world.*Brightwordsfly.*Wordsknow noworld.*And I?In lightor dark?*
22Sickeningin the dark worldtill the bright word.*The airwaitsto be breathed.*A breath.A poem.*Sinking. Singing.*Are these wordsin orout of mind?*Father coughsin his sleep, Mothersighs in hers, nothingI can do for them.*Growing coldand old.*Raccoons screamover garbageand a skunk streamsinto my light.*Animals quietenin the center ofdying.*
23In the pane of nightI stare at memore real than me.*Knowing painlike a difficultfriend.*QuakingI do notcrack.*This nightof visionary headachecould not be improved.*Milton sawlights of creationand judgmentblind.*Birds twitterbutno light.*Lightning!Too latefor truth?*How strange.My life.No other.*The lightof not tryingfor light.*
24I could liftthe world off my mindbut where would I rest it?*The night is open-mouthedholding its breathabout to speakor swallow us.*The night is deeperthan darknessbut I see to the end of it.*Stars look backknowing whateverI see.*The skymy skinhome.*Doing nothingbefore the firefills the night.*Moths, and theirdust on the windowwordsand the dust of their wings.Moths on the glassflutter to enterthe mind that thinks they are outside.In mind of nightin the mind of mothswhat are they thinking of me?Thanks for bringing me backto our glass after wandering-the glass reflecting mein your fluttering, dying wings,
25reflecting you in these faltering words.In the dead of nightwe suddenly wake to wingsof the sky, and far beyond the sky.*Leaves on the window.Wind from the meadow.Face leaves the window.*The meadow liesout there, out of mindminding the strangers of night.*Speaking of shadowsof strangers departingI am on my way.*Preparingfor exilefrom death.*Where am I going sitting stillso long?So long!*Where are weif not here?Not here.*The night is soclear I nolonger look.*I have sat so long with the Buddha who is notand my self that will not go awaythat I no longer know which is which.
26*The night is tooquiet for words.Are only Buddhasawake?
27PART IIFLYING AROUND TO FIND MEI AM HOW I BREATHEI am how I breathebeech smoke in rainleaves eyeing me at duskrustling me asleepeyes harboring a seabirds swimfish flyin tidal greenmasts flowertrunks bobfrom mossy wrecksI swimthrough fragrantlaughingasIdrownleaves
28MORGANMorgan am Ifrom Welsh sea-dwellersBreton mermaidsIrish moon-goddessesCeltic miragesand Fata Morganaof many forms, many loverssorceress-healerbearing world-treasurefrom womb-caves in the sea:the son of singingMary Elizabeth(mothers of Jesus andJohn the Baptist)enchantress of children anddaughter of ClayMorgan Leeper(sorceress-healerof babies and liliesleaper of faith).George Morgan Gibsonam I, the lastson of sons of theprotesting Word ofGeorge who stabbed the dragon.All in the name that I am.
29MOTHERYou were born in a Texas sandstormyour mother's long hair on the pillowtwisting in wind and pain.Just before Easteryou died.You are here as you always were.Our smiles and frowns disguised us.I ran free of your loveand misunderstandings.Now our struggle is over.Rest.Let me rest.We are finished.
30THE TABERNACLE WHERE MY FATHER PREACHEDPilgrims knelt herehearing the Wordin wind and book.They dreamt of Jesusdividing trouton a Michigan beachwalking on waveswhere tanned grandchildren now sail free.*The tabernacle where my father preachedstands in spring woods.When summer children dance and singis it less holy than during sermons?Is the wood of its walls more sacredthan autumn trees from which it came?Does it stand empty all winteror echo my father's Father?
31THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMASWhen I imagine the baby tearingthrough the cervix into the nightgasping for love like all of uscrying for a breastI ask you,I ask you not to laughbut tell me if you dare:did he glimpse the star?Did the Magi’s adorationcomfort him?Did he love anyone but the onefrom whom he camewho held him tight?Did he taste his own divinity?Did he smell animal death?Did his heart beat for everyone of us?Did he breathe eternal lifefor all of us?Or did he suck and sleep?Did he dream or do we?
32WHEN I WAS A WISE MAN FROM THE EASTChicago, Christmas 1941When I was a Wise Man from the Eastblinded by the burning bulb of Jesusdeafened by angelic gloriasitching in burlap robes and Persian beardfrozen by the snow of faiththat blew in from prophetic starsI lost the war, the world, my mind, myselfhow long I never knewtill those church doors squeaked shutJesus was only a bulbthe cradle an orange crateMary rose from her knees to grab her fursJoseph stood upright with a jokeshepherds stretched into kids againangels giggled, the light went out“Who pulled the plug?”everyone was groping in the darkand we knew not even that we knew nothing.
33GRANNY GRUNTYour fatherdroppedin the garden.Your motherroamedthe desert.Risingor sinkingyou groaned,"Jesus diedfor our sinsbut could donothingabout themOJesus!put me to sleepforever!"Now closerto medeadthan when wejabberedtogether.*"Your Papa ruined you, poor boy,"said Granny"and I don't know what all.""You won't drag me north,"said Granny""every which way.""O Jesus save the poor boy,"cried Granny"and lay me down forever."Down dead she calls meI don't know what allsave us Jesus save us!
34WAS I THE SON?In the Parsonage way backMary Elizabeth mothered megauzy among candlesmy father's voice the Father'son earth as He was in heavenand Granny the Holy Ghostfloating like a mothwhispering I was the Sondoomed to saveunsaved.
35SHORTcummingsIher sighed bluesobslipped ever so slowfrom the tip of the tearto the lips belowand bounced so blackedto my heart(alonesunk sleepily underthe walls of bone)IIsonnetdick and billyjack seek spring in mudbut essiejane and babs hunt flowermaywhat matter? winter will spin dizzy thudand die that spring may after playit always happens: after snow gets tiredand yawns for spring to carry on awhilearound she comes ‘til in the mud she’s mired:so why keep lookout? a year’s a longterm stylethat’s just the is of life: the isn’t singsand laughs and makes the soul a carnival:that’s the spring that’s sung in wanderingsof mind and legs--of fred and margymalthe world revolves, and yet i’m wonderingif hungry searchings might wake the spring
36BICYCLEMAN AND TELEGRAPHMAN1Bicycleman had stumpslegs were left on trackswhere nobody lays pennies anymore.He wheeled himself on a stoolto an airhose under a bulb:"You need a new tire," he said.My father gave him a buck.2Telegraphman swirled dustclicking in shadows cold as the butcher's freezer."Try the key," he told me:clicks from down the trackswhere a couple of legs were lying.
37THE WAR OF MY CHICAGONeighbors in tenement windows fought.I watched through a scabby screenin Granny's bedroom where she prayedto ancestors and poor Jesus.After shots in the alleyall the lights went outexcept the bloodied sky.Sirens twinged my teeth.That was peace.Did I dreamPearl Harbor screamedin Chicago flames?Never stepped on a minenever dodged snipers nortanks on the meadowy Midwayno groans of anyone hitnone of my teachers held hostagenone of the Jewish students sent awayonly a couple of fathersreported killed far off:but war was in my bonesas if Nazis battered the door.A-bombs flashed usinto Peace at last I was told.Neither child nor man I staggerednot quite awakenot wellbones still throbbingcommuniqués from the frontof the loveless worldcalled Peace:I call it convalescenceand the cure is still the disease.
38RENOUNCING MATH AND GODI renounced mathematics whenI fell in lovelicking evening snow from evergreensinstead of proving theorems.I renounced God when his worshippersbombed each other’s childrenin the cause of Love and Justicein the name of the Prince of Peace.
39FILLING THE WOODS WITH MUSICGulls circle skies of my childhoodwhen from the highest dunemy head was a constellationand every cloud a gesture-my eyes keen as jackknivescutting woods to whistlesfilling skies with musicmore piercing than dawning birds.
40LAKE MICHIGAN NOW AND FOREVER"Meditation and water are wedded forever."--Herman MelvilleSunlight like moonlight now and foreversparkles waves into battlefield crossesgulls dip and touch and sails pass over.Five boys and a girl dive into the roaringwhitecaps, kick down, rise, callingeach other out to the gray horizonwhere black hulls move like memoriesof destroyers they'd gladly drown for.Too soon, a thin voice calls, "Come back!"They turn toward shore. Two dogs circlean old man holding out his handsto heads in whitecaps, and calling again.When I was a boy before the warbreakers churned me in the rubblebearing me forth again and again.Now I watch from a dune, unwillingto roll in currents of death and birthunable to move like moon or sunstanding beech-straight, young and oldleafing in my dazzling visionof Lake Michigan, now and forever.
41FLYING AROUND TO FIND MEIn the Congregational Women's Loungean old preacher's portrait flapsin wind rising from the lake.He scowls downI listen up:no Word.I have nothing against him.What has he against me?His Word is lost in the wind.I am lost in the wind.I am flying around to find mebeyond the Word of the Lordout of the Congregational Women's Loungesoaring into the sunand splashing in Crystal Sunlake.*In shadows on the flowered beach toweltiny hairs on my hand glow.I breathe in and out with the ebb and flow.A gray lady staggers from Sunlakecollapsing beside me, a motherof aging children.Looking away I want herwhen her breasts were sweetand her eyes didn't squint away bodies.A blonde’s smile rising near herlooks for small ones in the water.I am scared of the bearded professorsloshing through Sunlaketo harsh blond laughter.She lifts her hair for Bronzetanhe smears on her back. "One finger"he sneers, "is all you get."She pulls up plastic strapsstaring at me through violetlenses as if to rub meraw.Wind on my hot back risesaway from loveless bodies.Why must they sit beside me?I am loud enough to be heardwithout a sound.I do not want them to hear me.
42But I will not be silenced.The old preacher is long gone.New words wind in the wind.I give myself to the wind.It lingers, laps me, lifts me.Flying around to find meI will dive into Crystal Sunlake.
43CRYSTAL SUNLAKEI walk through smiling heat.I walk into Crystal Sunlake.My body stiffens, the chillstands off from my center.Smiling Igo under, swim under, stiffas a waterlogged log, still smiling.Now I stand on a raftfloating cold in airstaring across Crystal Sunlakeat shore-faces strangely smalluntil they freeze in view.You break the ice of the mindchurning the blue towards me.Diving, my stiff bodyshatters the body of water.We float in watery light.I walk into the airblood surging through my bodybody surging through airman I did not knowheavy with watery lightfacing your faces in sandall eyes sun crystals nowseeing one sun one seeing:nothing more to say.Always more to say.We went in less than onecame out many togetherturning sounds of waterinto the flow of fire:one body of watery light.
44FIVE FOR THE FIRST AMERICANSand for Gary SnyderThe Indian graveyard washed away.For years we stumbled on ribsand skulls, picking teeth from sandwhere storms had washed them downfrom bluff roots where they were buriedat some tribe's end of the worldthe great lake dyingwashing our soles and their bones.O burn my bones when I'm through!*In deer woods, burying Indians'brown bones gathered from the beachI enter again dark memories of birth:mosquitoes over the fungus-pathwhining waves of annihilation on my cheeksshudder me into damp growth of deer woodswhere buzzing light flows painfully newover fresh trillia and fernsof mounds of trees and graves of Indians.*So far I have walkedso far I forgotwhat I started for:from dune rootsto luna leavesmushroom woodssuicide bluffbeach of bonessumac farmmeadow stonesbetween pine woodsin the skin of spacein the breath of timeI wait for the skyto take me in.*
45On hands and kneesin cemetery wildstrawberrieshere I am:Pilgrimwoods dreamt of in city wintersrooted in graves of Indiansherewherever I go.Their sky in my skull.Clouds passleaves darkenglowI am here and therebreathing their airwalking their earthone bodyrisingrainingburningstorming.*Leaving the lake of moons and mushroom woodstearing my roots from Indian graves and dunesI'm going back to city masksmuscle-minds and babel stormsoff-beats of the heartbattle-swirl and snow of death.
46BEYOND LIFELINESReturning to Pilgrimwoods after city winterhave I been here all along?June dusk melts oldmachinery of snowthat packed the heartand senses flowto crickets in sweet grass.Leaves stir faint light from old summersold love snowed out from cities.Still leaves of green flamegold dust in the airbirds sing more sweetly than choirs of Christians.Passing the field where we captured the flagin dusk of Depression and WarI hear Red Rover Come Overand the King of the Mountain roaras if I had never lefttrees that never grow old:reunion of boy and man.*Heat circles trees and my limbs too.Leaves fan leaves.I wipe sweat from my hair.The gray sky sags.Something is going to happen:a change of life?A storm arising out ofwhat we have survived?*Paring my clawsclenching jawstongue digs teethinstead of tellinghunger and angerfeet sleeping on the cabin floor:I want to go where?bay? bridge? ocean? wise
47mountains of ancient mist?I wait for what to move meout, up, away?Blood surge? A war?*I could have seen thedawning lakebut I stayed inafraidof what? The kettlesteamed. On the porchI sipped tea.Why should I bethe firstawaketo dawnand death?*Flames come and go.Coals glow.Winds come and go.Woods sway and stay.Wherever I've goneI'm always herelike trees thatfeed our fires.Sighing, drinkingLapsang Souchongsmoky as woodsburning before me.Errors burnto befreeof my skin.What's on my mindbut words for silencebeyond the wind?What's in my heartbut words for stillnessbeyond the fire?
48*Returning to my skullcrawling into it to stareI am body-glow.This is my body speaking!I am all about me.Not the lonely methat holds itself like golda part from an otherO no, no other nowmy years flow into yoursI see through your bodyyou are all about you.*Lines of treeslines of poemsfire of treeslines of firehow I glowpaper fishswim in heatwanting outinto raininto cloudswe go*All summer, waiting for summerto hold us forever.June storms into JulyAugust friends crowding like citywinter, when we waited for woodsand now, in woods, for fallwanting to stay all yearyear after year untilwaiting would be forgotten.*The dog dozes in the open doorlying belly up with no suspicionsamong cornstalks on the porchwhere raccoons left them.Chinese ginger and jasmine teasummer me back to my body.
49My daughter drops dead leaves on me tillI am gratefully dead.Looking inwardwe are about to wake upto the green glowof old summers.Leaves sighing, I amleaving the cottage of sleepcreeping towards crickets inleaf moldscouring rush, shadeof birches bright as whitecaps:sunshine spillingthrough groves of songblue smoke from cottagechimneys flowingacross green swaysof leaveswoods breathing meout and in.*Certain our lake is theredark as loveweleanover the dune's warm contoursextend beyond our worldlylimits, our certaintouch of sand and airand could, with a light lift, soareverywhere.*Saws whine, hammershurry cottages upbut no one needremake me
50for doing nothingis right for now,I go overnosumi-e strokejust sighand pee:Lao Tzu'swu wei.*Beginning each lineas if finishing my lifemoving as endlesswaves of lightsummeringhome in waterswimming beyond lifelinesinto clouds.
51INCENSE OF SPRINGIncense lingers.The spark has gone out, ashessprinkle your poem.You have gone awayyour smile and everything else.The air is nearing springand I am looking out for you.The snow is nearly forgottengraying under the birches.You are like none of the othersin their separate bodies.Your incense lingers, your smileand mind of earth and fire.I have always known youin the feel of earth in my handsfire on my faceand the incense of spring.
52THE SEASIDE OF YESTERYEARThe seaside of yesteryearis very much with us, stillwith its parasols and heat.The light is steady and free.On the pier, children runto the lighthouse and back to the sandas children are wont to dobut their faces are turned awayand their voices are turned awayso I hear nothing at allas if sounds had drained away.You are no longer in sightnot even in shadows of birchesup from the hill, towards loverswho hid till they passed awayas we have passed away.I cannot find our bowernor any sense of you.Fish lie in murky poolsquiet as Quaker prayersand a ship waits on the horizonperfectly bright and stillas if the chronometer stoppedwhen you slipped over the edge.O what would bring it all backyour lips and full body of sound?Listen!--till you feel meon you embedded in sandin our heat again.
53NEIGHBORSI saw my neighbor sawingthrough the night between usat mid-day.Teasing the woodhe wouldsay nothing to me at all.I saw himeyeing me eyeing himtill I saw through his cuts.Laughingwe softened likemud.
54ON CABIN HILLOn Cabin Hillin grayish lightI sit hard on granite.A woman meditates.Cars rush below.Mountains melt into clouds.Between her and car-rushhaving told too muchI stop between breathsand listen, listento the sky:her huge breathenfolds me.
55IN WOODS AS DARK AS II look at myself as a strangerlooks at a stranger he suspectsof suspecting him of suspicionswatching him enter the woodsat evening and disappear.Now that I have been looked atsuspiciously I might speakas if I had something to saybeyond suspicions, smiling,if he were not lost in the woods.I am inclined to preachholier than thouholier than Godtelling everyone offas if I did not knowI too am lost in the woodsas if they did not knowtheir glaring imperfectionsas if they were not mineas if I had notanything to saythat they had not readsomewhere and forgottenas if I could possibly speakto anyone but meoutside the midnight woods.I am inclined to stareat myself, as if possessedpossessing you in nightmaresas if in lovewith nothing but myselfas you, all you, in lovethat burns us up, as ifyou did not knowyou are as nothing as Iin woods as dark as I.
56NO ONE IS ANYTHING NOWBirds sang in rainy woods.Boarded cottages glowed.In a rush of raindarkness rose from the earth.Then the woods went out.They drip on dead leaves in the dark.Sounds sink in my throatas a sailboat sinks in fog.I lie where we made our first childwho has hitched to San Francisco.The woods breathe warm and coolmusic from the lake through the openwindow across my neckas she dances in strobe lightning.Rain gentles the roof and starsthe window where firelight strikes it.Flames come and go and coalsglow oncold banana soup in a Chinese bowl.I glow, full of jasmine. Moodsooze from smoky doze.I am only an animal whose home is earth.*Rain comes and goes.My head on her painted window throbsmusic through dull light.She has gone, is gonewill be gone tomorrowwith rain on her hair. There she goesonly a child how long agonow west with himto swim in seasat the other end of the eartRainy jungles waitbirds sing in steamfrom seas where they will sail.Where will they build?In trees where monkeys play?Mountains where gulls hover?Beaches where seals sport?What am I waiting for?Her rainy voice from the sky.*
57Kneeling by meadow stoneswhere I stood last winteralone in the Milky WayI am not praying, just hominghere like golden lichenscolonizing stoneswhere a dead farmer lovedmy body crawling with bugswedding me to weedsdying into sunlight.*Starlight rains on leavesand my face where I float freeamong galactic trees.Stars snowin August heat.We swim over moonlit stones.*Starlight snowing leavesamong galactic treesyour face floating freeamong moony stonesno wonder I despairtotal other thereno wonder, I could floatinto the darkening lake.But knowing you dream of meknowing we are dreamsthere is nothing to holdnothing of you to cling to.Memories cloud by.No one is anything nowbut wonder. I floatin a lake of light.I am swimming around you.You are swimming awaydown moonlight to weeds that freezeyour mouth and thighs.Your cries bubble through moonlightinto stars of wonder.
58AFTER LEAR IN BERKELEYLear raged himself out.I lie on my bellybetween birth and death.Near dark, near dark, go away.Take your fire out. My eyesturn from yours, out near dark.Ancient rages of Learhang at the edge of my earhang at the edge of sleephis face wrinkling,seeing no more than bones.The sky was brightmy mind too, once upon a timein a legend no one believes:I knew all the answers, brightas your eyes, as we loved.Tonight with you on flowered sheetsI am too tired for touchtoo low from Lear to tellhow low I lieon my belly on flowersbones sore, dyingto you, to oneafter anothermy lids heavy against them.But I will not sink, not yetinto the flowers, feelingthe flowers move meknowing I will wakeif only I let golet my kingdoms of women go.*San Francisco floats in fog.I sit, having nothing to say.I want to start over, all over.I want to say a first word:new name for a life unimagined.I watch you dance in the fogeach turn dancing meout of my self to youas you dance me tooin and out of the fog.
59I SEE MY BREATH, THE SNOWING LIGHTI snowshoed to the brook and backthumping along in semblance of a poemwanting to tell my life straight throughbut finding no beginning, shape, nor endwanting to stop wantingwaiting for stopping to comebut woke to a blinding setting sunwhere there is nowhere to go.*I went out to gaze at stars.They came bright into me.I would drift gladly among them:mind cloud.Looking for little words(but they are too big, too loud)I am tired of people-mindall the bad dreams of faces.I am tired of the manyand The One is beyond me, far.How can I driftbeyond stars?*Shoot, shooting starthrough my eye:shoot me to sleep.*Singwhip-poor-willwhip me with your songawake.*I see my breath, the snowing light.I hear the breathing of my mind.I do not wait for stepping stones.I went on too long for lightStreaming from the mouth too fartill
ONE LOOKS AT ONE Poems by MORGAN GIBSON 3/21/2003 3-17-604 Sakashita-cho, Isogo-ku, Yokohama 235-0003 Japan Phone/Fax (045) 761-9223 E-mail: [email protected] mac.com