Issue 3

Averill Curdy
Four Poems

                  --YouTube, 126,000+ hits

     Because the weather of old film is Northerly
You find me as if looking through a window
          Flawed in January. How ardent your breath,
     Pent, like the gray mares of the bareback queen,
          Restless in their freight-car shunted
               To the margins of a year early last
     Century, which opened with this minute
Of scandal and camphor, acid and shadow
          Embezzled from my death. I’m little now.
     The moon is old, the moon is a bald clown
          Peddling arthritic routines; there are nights
               When it is not too late, and something
     Original remains, still powerful enough
To hurt you. Mumbai, Naples, Chicago,
          Your wan vitreous midnights shut like lids
     On so many incubators in torched pavilions
          Of the Midway. Between the kootch show
               And a numerate horse, plugged-in coffers
     Performed before crowds, cow-eyed, as if
They witnessed reliquaries of blood liquefying.
          I balanced the world on my back, violent
     With chance and you called me Topsy; am I
          Only that slave to you, or else victim?
               I was uncontaminate, unprofane as those
     Aisles of babies saved in their paradisal heat.
No sound attends my fall. I fall and I keep
          Falling, a toy Ophelia. I repeat,
     What failure or end of yours am I the dream of?
          Before the electrodes’ skinny crown,
               Before the smoke anyone, alone,
     (I repeat) together, can watch boil
From my feet, there were your catarrhs, your
          Furtive, strangled unwrappings, vagrant lusts
     And irritations, everything (I repeat) my entrances
          Converted into one clean current of feeling:
               I was always that spark and apocalyptic


Though others may serve me elsewhere,
For this time I must speak only to you
Who would not confess yourself ignorant!

My baroque hair had kindled the night
I ran through the door of the storm,
Thunder buttressing and vaulting the air

Over porches and gables, sashes and sills
And pediments of rain, which built a city
In the unfinished sleep of a blind girl. I, too,

Was tired. Tired of wandering around
This world like an eight-sided church—
With so many corners to stumble against!—

Vagrant at the crossroads looking for you,
My darling and dahlia exegete, if you could
Take this smoulder on my horizon of vision,

Receive these words and translate them
Liberally. That you’ll find this in your hands
Afterwards I might have helped but did not

I would have wished to write a poem
That listens but my boat left on the tide—

          --Tristia, for G. N.

Moving from winter to winter
Who are you, so far from home?
The suit woven of wool & glade,
Your polished cheek & leathers
Scoured away, as are the letters
On your T-shirt.
                    O           VIDEO,
In this short space of warmth
& light, I’ve watched you pass
Your hand across your face
Again & again, stoking a blue
Furnace until it alone burned,
As wastes flare in the night
Outside city limits, a kind of
Monument to our ingenuities
& unease.
               You were my friend,
My colleague, and could be still,
Until you bend to your task,
Collecting a tribute of burger boxes,
Like 600 deer hearts, opened.
All things broil with an awful begetting.

               We have both seen
The pear tree axed, dismantled,
& the branch broken for the fire
Blossoming again. Try once
More to remember every poem
Is written within this shadow
& all our changes costume,—
Exile, wretch, stranger, wanderer,
                    Pilgrim, luckless man.


From cliffs the natives plummeted, sealing
Themselves within the frigid waters,

And if out of their throats unskeined
Bird-calls of grief, only the murres,

Who dove as if to show them their way
Through the waves’ corridors, heard.

Understand, like you, they chose to endure
Among the names, not vanish like steam

From another perfume, insipid ghosts
Confused by our hurry of instruments,

Honey, wool, & ginger jars. Returned
A year later the English found the island

Empty. Silence, like centuries’ heaped up
Solitude, and a world pallid as a patient

Bled by winter’s scurvy of light.
At first I can only suck at air. I feel

The men’s lungs, then, freezing like sails,
Intricate rigging of bronchioles & alveoli

Singed in hoarfrost. Chilblains greased
By soft, fat talk of wealth, they gave shape

To their dis-ease through those grey weeks:
Pease, corn, & grain around a stone house

Filled with knives, bells, glimmerglasses,
Whistles, and the oven, leaving the smell

Of bread to haunt the air as they sailed away
Holds heavy with fool’s gold, the vision,

Corrosive as salt that waits also for you:
In the winter night alone is this the sea to come?