Read Under the Sign Online

Authors: Ann Lauterbach

Tags: #Poetry, #American, #General

Under the Sign (7 page)

BOOK: Under the Sign
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Not to swerve off the road
dust runs in the family

of the dream
speaking into the sheet

shrouded in you
in which you

shortly after the curtains
addressed the flood

the ratio
were detained, saying

repeated frequently
need to want

near the foxed copy of Yeats
under the stained eaves

had been abused
thematically after the earrings

whispered at the door
want to need
ushered in

as the dream is not in the real
the door is not in the dream

rose cloth shade
hidden dark assembly

charged objects in space
what is called optimism

among the not dead
certain distributions

leaning toward the mouth
spoken in the

western sky
embrace or image

not biography although
this too, dear instructor,

and the thump of footsteps
that cruel intimacy

at the threshold
above the abrasion:

Did you cry?
Prayer spoken, arrested.

to Nat Tripp



Gray wool rags

                              peripheral rider

        a column has broken


                      desert well

you haven't seen            

                        a girl's head against a white tent

not blue

                not blue.

                                    Look where?

Some small

differences in shade

                form to form

a splinter on the road

the bait raining.


                                  Desperate empirical!

You see nothing   the drab
walks by

                                                                into the forgotten

into the shuffle

                          sun flaps its white wing

inhales the landscape

nobody is looking   nobody sees


                                                    exhales poem.



The writer's swan passes, quoted

in a dark interior.


No signal.

The photos, however,

are sincere. The light

dull on the swan

equipped with mean beauty.

Some motion

among those who belong

and those who visit.

Make no mistake.

The land, its uses, its

little shingles,



Among us we hunt the fickle root.

Slide on over, Hon.

My brim is too wide, I cannot

see out.

Earnest collaboration among birds.

Sing sweetly now that the branch is clean.

Fix the roof.

I'm warming up for the real thing

although I still can't hear you

under this sign, this

sky booth.


Unblessed forum counters relative merit.

Truth vortex!

The day wet, late, wet, late.

The light, dull.

The barn massively pictorial.

The house massively perfect.

Barn not empty.

Barn full of the weights of the dead.

Here, have this, a clay

sculpture of a

naked girl

on her hands and knees

before a black thing.


Gist trouble markets war talk.

The irreducible bad guys at the door.

The sad gray cadets.

Stone the infidel!

Vocabulary of lost causes

meets vocabulary of

found causes

and we and they

launch combat.

No signal.


Of course the present

is open is

calamity in waiting is


previously unharmed

in a frame.

The present is endangered.

Sell it.


Incised on the heels of the domain

no time to set the sleeve      ratty logic

of the shield     misgivings

traced along the shore's bony apparatus.

Come back!
A call in the septic dream.

The trees are marked for departure.

The river is laced with icy aisles.


The negative is a posse! See how it rides

across the game, how it

spells exception after the ship, the ripped sail,

the extinguished horn, the engulfed mast

passed on. The one we love is

in this dungeon of blur, this mobile thread.

How lucid this is

depends on where you are from.

Back home, shuffling

men in slippers, a woman asleep in a slip.

Or else, back home, she is

awake and the sun lays stripes on her face

through the blinds. We hear, more recently,

that the estate has been

abandoned, the marriage collapsed.


Sometimes there's an altar:

world, dressed

flagrant & discerning

   stopped above        or          lines of flight

arrested       seemingly arrested

an altar:

      quotidian in pace         a cart's wheel,  a  tag

made for the mildest enterprise

to follow       and so        anticipate an edge

as if wanting to sail

or to move closer        along the periphery

a table or cloth                 or now a hole

through which a needle

cannot pass

the sign having landed on the wall

in its garb of light

waiting for its name

after nature

not web not wing       marked

for some better foil

than the diction of the real

       hovering   or   suspended         a call

to pivot on the unconsoled as

an image

       drawn from the lover's pocket

into the nearly opaque blank

straining the ordinary from its only         or also         there

crawl space of the lungs mold dust

not, dear instructor, auto-


while listening to

Richard Rorty          talk of



kestrel, cedar waxwing, rare

orchids, his hurt companion stymied.

to Joan Richardson



And Diogenes placed a crown of pines

on his head       victorious Diogenes

spitting in the face

of the ignorant teams

Diogenes crowns the horse

who stood his ground


the dog              illumined.

Because he said so

                trussed under the moon

the blessing garbled as usual


spilled on all the stones.

Historical stones, as they were what

touched the core

        trussed behind a shut door

under an invisible moon.

Because no one mentions

rust across the river

sun tissue     streaked or hairy

the familiar beasty hills

the atomic flaw

breasted and phallic

across the wide gray surface.

All this, dear instructor,

our material journey

blown onto a radiant scarf

as some remnant rhymed with

scant flow

or distilled into thought's

crowded integers     not to turn away

to acknowledge the tracks of sky

marking our way

or drawn above

in such yields no market could furnish.

The affinities      their stake

at the terminal hour

you will not recall the willow

you will lie down

how on the train

others exist

along the way    passages

her floral scansion


the horizon divided


of love's song to the ghosts

they or        Diogenes

who might


reading    ashes    leaves    cards

no preference

among their habits      the ghosts

bored at rush hour

among the gossips

knocking sparks from each other

the tide withstanding

habit     bored by any occasion

rising from lamps along the tracks

moving under a huge blue tarp

as if something had erupted

opening the book.


But if love of data refutes mystery

must the philosopher walk away?

The poet is a procrastinator

and a revisionist. She observes

the river is for the birds. She recalls

the sacred Nantucket coast.

Her vision is empirical

even as a love of mystery refutes data.

Geese on the baseball field.

A flag, red tile, a metallic balloon.

The aggression of sorrow.

Marianne's orange jumpsuit.

Had better launch another trial

without jury

without the old cavern

endowed with a seamless, impervious argot.

If the last revolution

discovered silence

while the rest heard

over the swerve

a telltale scream

braided or sewn down onto the field—

what now?



That we might find here

that we might hope to find



or sleeping with everyone

or guided by questions

the neutral

sitting like a duck on the river

as an argument

unbound in the face of it

the fact of it

and such easy equations

reminiscent scores

to trip out over the exquisite form

the ancient in rags

the past as an arrangement

with knowledge

forgive these slight durations

the moments of prosody

outside our chamber

haunted by an

articulate sublime

without coastal reference

without the bloodied narcolepsy of desire.

Try the pathos of ghosts on your side

the riven energies of need

the rabbit is waiting

the sparrow is waiting

a creature lurks below the broken adage

and so beware of whatever is next

whatever has been left out

about to turn up

in the known stories of the home

—she ran away, he did not stay—

in the sarcastic iterations of the norm.


Or instead we might find

the neutral

on a bright morning in

late July, and wonder, in this shade, what

is happening all along

the scintillant edges of time.

to mourn is

to be alive

and if the shape of knowing

is only the shape of not knowing

what else is riding

along this edge

as it leaks

onto the shapes of things—

blurry cascade


until it touches

the evident.

Is that

Circling over the tidy episode

a constant

as of a bird over prey

the heart's insistent refrain

wingless as a chant

but then elsewhere


how the mind wanders

into the verbal shade

leaving and returning

iterated as echo or prayer

summoning from the shade

inarticulate benevolence

care enters the dismissal of care

drawn across the virtues of a stage.


A rustling in the wings.

Restless mercurial

annoyance: nothing gets started.

You are waiting for me

but I do not appear, even in disguise.

The stage keeps unfolding its infinite domain.

At the final curtain, certain names

are cut into morphemes:

fall from their origins in the adored dark.

Meanwhile atrocities are creased

into the percale

one by one, as if drones

left behind in a prohibited archive.

No one is writing this act.

Author! Author!
calls the diminished crowd

wandering from the plummy sunset

caressing the hills. Backlit

hawks turn and turn above the scenery.


Dear instructor,
tonight I am

word poor and so unchained
and the world seated

could be
sensed partially

your back to it my looking away
trace of a cry in the air

accumulating from afar
a clarity of means

entrenched in beloved


to climb into the given as

music or the simplest conduct—

touching the threshold


serene as matter or


traveling—the wind—

made only for space


as elegy's long flight.

And so

darkening chanced over the neck

the shoulder's ache

not referral to the outside

            having not yet aspired

darkening yet

the test or turn savored

the instance     leaning forward

to hear

a song of some duration

shelter of what is not said

chanced, here and there, over, darkening—

               splendid matter erased.

Could look through to the voice—

could look to find where the voice—

have you a word,

dear instructor, for this?

BOOK: Under the Sign
5.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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